These days, nothing is too big to be shrink-wrapped.
“I had so many people coming to my house and asking how I did [it] that I had to move the boat to a remote lot,” Enos says. “And then I started to wonder, ‘If all these folks need this done, maybe there’s some money to be made.’ ”
Thus, a business was born.
Now, repossessed antique cars sit in a warehouse in Los Angeles, shrink-wrapped in plastic, awaiting buyers. Dozens of pallets of construction materials, hermetically sealed against the Las Vegas desert, lie ready for a turnaround in the building trade. Plastic-covered foreclosed homes, half-finished hotels and even a church stand as silent indicators of a global recession.
But one person’s recession is another’s reward. This rash of foreclosures and mothballed construction projects has launched a boom in the business of mega-shrink-wrapping.
Enos’ Fast Wrap USA has signed up 63 franchisees in the last year alone. The company’s Las Vegas franchisee, Garth Harris, says that in 2009 nearly two-thirds of his $150,000 wrapping revenue came from contracts to cover unused buildings, equipment and supplies in that hard-hit town. Global Wrap, a Florida-based company that invented a boat-wrapping process in the late 1970s, says more than 30 percent of its business is based on sealing halted construction projects. Dr. Shrink, a $15 million wholesale distributor of wrapping materials, is enjoying a 25 percent annual growth rate. And a dozen other large wrapping manufacturers, distributors and service companies are also experiencing brisk business.
More than a decade after Enos’ lightbulb moment with his boat, large-scale shrink-wrapping as a business has won over initial doubters. “When I first heard the business idea, I was skeptical,” says Scott Jewett, a senior adviser at I-Franchise Group, a franchising consulting firm based in Homewood, Ill. “But then we looked at the numbers, saw the fragmented nature of the market [and] the increasing demand, and it just made good economic sense. Once we launched, demand exceeded even our optimistic expectations.”