There are a few unique things about living in Tornado Alley, like in Moore, Oklahoma, where Randy Antrikin grew up. First, it is said that a 30-year roof will last around seven years between hail and wind. Second, if you build brick houses there are some years where you may, more or less, rebuild an entire community.
“Bricking a house is not very fun,” says Antrikin, who grew up working with his dad in construction, laying brick. “It’s like folding a burrito. It’s just over and over. I would not want to do that all day — it’s not a long-term play.”
Those construction and brick-laying skills introduced Antrikin to an emerging market, however. Once social media took off, people started asking him for fireplaces and outdoor kitchens. His company then began selling some of the products they’d installed for other companies. Once they were no longer the middleman, they opened a retail store, Patio Galaxy, in 2005.
The company has since expanded to four locations and in 2021 started selling hot tubs, smack dab in the middle of the pandemic boom. Hot tubs hadn’t been on Antrikin’s radar, but as with the outdoor living products, he tired of referring his customers somewhere else to get a tub. Antrikin knew his company could bring something new to the market.
“There’s all kinds of great hot tub companies out there, but what are you gonna do to stand out?” he says. “This is what we do: We sell them basically everything they want. We can build it; we can pull the permits; and we’ve got all that experience and equity built up into those systems.”
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Despite his background in construction and backyard living retail, hot tubs proved to be a unique challenge — a whole different level of retail, Antrikin says. “Selling a product that’s $10 or $20,” he says, “there’s not a whole lot of salesmanship that goes into it. But … it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to get rolling in the hot tub business. You just can’t make mistakes.”
Starting during a year of inflated sales and long lead times, without years of sales history to fall back on, brought many hard lessons. Luckily, Antrikin excels at working the numbers to find savings, and at finding ways to improve efficiency and profits. He pays close attention to the bottom line versus the top line; he just wishes he’d had more time to do that over the last two years.
For most of his life as a businessman, he was able to dedicate time calculating things such as cost savings from buying in bulk, but “I don’t have as much time to go do those little nitty gritty things now,” he says.
In addition to adding hot tubs during the pandemic boom, he has also opened two new showrooms within weeks of each other in 2022 and Antrikin says the business is in a good place.
“The plan right now is to build up the war chest,” he says, “and perfect what we’re doing.”