Global reach began at the kitchen table
They've come a long way from their origins in the Yost family home in Waterford.
Over the past five decades, Yost Home Improvements Inc. has grown to encompass two generations of the family, an expansion into manufacturing with a global clientele and a home-improvement business with commitments far beyond the firm's Waterford headquarters along Route 85.
"It's not work if you love what you do," says George Yost, who with his brother Albert runs the day-to-day business. Always a family business, George's wife Kathe handles payroll and George and Albert's mother, Catherine, still stops by to check on the business she started in 1961 with her husband Albert Sr. after he retired from the U.S. Coast Guard Band.
The business literally began in the kitchen of the Yost home in Waterford - where the couple also raised five children.
In 1983, the firm grew to include Yost Manufacturing and Supply Inc. That firm distributes gutter-making machines and supplies across the globe and across the United States. Its global reach includes China, the United Kingdom, Australia and Israel, says George Yost. He adds that his company was the first seamless gutter company in southeastern Connecticut.
Five years ago, the two brothers further expanded their base of business by opening a manufacturing branch in Auburn, Mass., which serves as a key distribution facility for orders across New England and beyond.
On a typical day, Albert Yost - he's the older brother - oversees the crews the firm sends out for various home-improvement related jobs, from installing new energy-efficient windows to roofs, gutters and room enclosures.
"I work with the crews and George does the sales and administrative," says Albert Yost. "It works the best that way."
Much has certainly changed over the past 50 years, with the company and with the business environment. "We've lasted through a lot of recessions," says George Yost. And the most recent recession was tough, he admits. But the orders are returning, the crews are busy and the Yost brothers say the manufacturing side of their business is more than holding its own with orders.
The brothers are also proud of the innovation they've brought to the firm, both in the way they manufacture and the methods they use to install their home-improvement products. They easily tick off the many attributes of their energy-savings windows or the snug fit and solid workmanship that goes into their sliding patio doors or exterior doors for homes.
One of those changes is the firm's growing use of the Internet to get the message out about Yost Home Improvements.
The website at www.yosthomeimprovements.com, designed by George Yost's daughter Gretchen, features a minute-plus YouTube video of the Yost brothers, who explain the firm's products and services from its Route 85 showroom.
The company also has a Facebook page link on its website, which encourages visitors to become fans of Yost Home Improvements. The site already has nearly 120 fans.
Always eager to market the firm's offerings, the Facebook page offers some testimonials from customers, along with YouTube videos on different topics, including short clips on how to reduce heating and cooling costs using more energy-efficient products from the firm. Those products are marketed under Yost's Energy Vault Technology banner.
The website also includes reviews from customers via Yahoo and Google. And what about a not-so-friendly review? The Yosts say the company stands behind its work, and using independent websites such as Yahoo and Google for comments gives the Waterford company more credibility.
And, says George, in today's competitive markets, companies like Yost need to understand social media marketing techniques and to use them, from posting YouTube videos to how-to tips on Facebook and "before and after" photos of renovation projects. He even recollects a story where he used emails with photos of his gutter-making machines to help a global client address adjustment issues on one on the machines bought from Yost's manufacturing division - saving a costly globetrotting trip by the Waterford businessman.
"It took a few emails and phone calls, but we got it straightened out," says George Yost.
Name: Yost Home Improvements Inc.
Location: 1018 Hartford Turnpike (Route 85), Waterford
Services: Gutters, siding, windows, doors, room enclosures, awnings, railings.
Telephone: (860) 442-8032