(Press-Enterprise (Riverside, CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 23--At 21, an age when college graduates are scrambling for jobs, Trevor Walker, has been running his own company for more than a year.
The college dropout is doing so well, he can afford a house in Corona, a new truck and a vacation at the Colorado River. Eventually, he can expect annual revenues of between $150,000-$200,000.
Walker didn't gamble on just any business, but a niche that's been all in the family for decades.
In April 2013, he purchased the Riverside/Corona franchise, a one-stop mobile screen repair business from his father, Scott D. Walker.
"My truck and trailer are my best billboards," Trevor Walker said of his logo-lavished vehicles.
Since 1980 when Trevor's father, Scott, his brother Monty L. and their father, Monty M. Walker rolled out Screenmobile in Thousand Palms, the company has expanded to 88 locations in 25 states, opening about 10 sites a year. Growth has been steady, coming slightly unhinged during the recession, which caused Screenmobile to lose 5 percent of its locations.
"We've recovered," said Scott Walker, 53, who lives in Palm Desert. With annual revenues not quite $5 million from screen sales, franchise fees and royalties, Screenmobile's goal is to build the brand to 350 locations, he said.
Trevor Walker and other franchisees drive trucks hauling utility trailers which are equipped with a generator, materials, tools and a table top. During a single visit to homes, warehouses or office, Screenmobile measures, repairs, replaces and installs window, door and porch patio screens and related products. There's a flat fee of $39 for building each new screen and frame.
Trevor Walker, who services up to five homes or businesses daily, said a typical job brings in $300 to $400. However, he reaped $10,000 from his largest project involving motorized roll-down screens.
Ed Dumaine, 75, praised young Walker's expertise for putting together and installing in his Riverside home an indestructible stainless steel screen door. "You can't kick through it, punch through it or break through it with a sledgehammer," Dumaine said. "Trevor did a great job. Nothing is going to happen to this door."
Screenmobile owes its creation to a bit of happenstance. To support his wife and four kids in 1979, patriarch Monty M. Walker needed another income besides that from his purchasing job for an aerospace company. He invested a few grand in a handyman franchise and enlisted his son, Scott as his service technician who learned to build screens in the family's Glendora garage.
The franchise fizzled, but the concept of making and installing screens meshed with the Walkers. At the time, there were at least 4,000 screening companies, but not one on wheels, Scott Walker said.
The Walkers saw a window of opportunity -- with screens on it. Monty M. Walker quit his aerospace job. He and his sons converted a used tent trailer into a completely mobile screen repair service as a convenience for customers. Charmed by the popular Batmobile concept, Monty M. bought about $5,000 worth of materials and christened the company Screenmobile. Scott Walker dropped out of college and moved to Palm Desert to jump start the business.
After six weeks of futile marketing, the flashy Screenmobile truck and trailer hooked its first customer. A man in Desert Hot Springs, in need of a rescreening job, spotted the eye-popping logo and told the Walkers, "Follow me."
And Screenmobile has been traveling door-to-door ever since, still very much a family affair. Trevor's brother, Dillon Walker, 23, moved into headquarters after selling his successful Lakewood-area franchise. Founder Monty M. Walker, 80, of Glendora, is semi-retired and handles special projects. Scott's brother, Monty L. Walker, 51, of Cherry Valley, also works at the corporate office.
"We promote a family-oriented culture and most of our franchisees are family teams," said Scott Walker, who knows every franchisee on a first-name basis.
It costs $69,500 to buy a Screenmobile franchise plus royalty fees. Trevor Walker, who took out a loan to become an enterpreneur, said he quickly began turning a profit.
"It's working out really well," he said. "But if that changes, I can always go back to school and try something else."
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