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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Second Act

Don Lanier’s successful roofing franchise expands

Don Lanier planned to retire after a long career in construction, moving with his wife, Deborah, from California to Indiana in 2017. Instead of relaxing, a year later he opened the first franchise of Honest Abe Roofing, which was founded in 2007 in Terre Haute, Indiana.

In those four years, Honest Abe launched nearly two dozen franchises in seven states, with the Evansville location being the first franchise to reach $9 million in sales. In August, Honest Abe opened its first location in Kentucky, which the Laniers also own.

“We opened the Louisville store, and we’re making it. We hit some milestones,” Lanier says.

Evansville Business: How did you find your way to Evansville from California?

Don Lanier: I wanted to get out of California, and a buddy of mine moved to Indiana, just outside Terre Haute, four years prior, so I bought 18 acres with a five-acre fishing lake. My plan was to just get a part-time job and fish a lot. Six months came, and I got bored. I walked into Honest Abe Roofing, got an interview, and they said, “You’re qualified, but we think we have something more suitable for you. We’re looking for our very first franchisee, and we haven’t found that guy, and we think you’re the one.” I came back to our travel trailer on the lake and told Deborah. To my surprise, she was open to it. We met with them, agreed on some terms, hired an attorney, turned around, (and) went to Evansville. The rest is history.

EB: What you’ve accomplished in four short years is impressive. That doesn’t happen by accident.

DL: It’s a combination of everything. It was just a good fit. It took us a while to break into Evansville. We made our money in Kentucky on the outskirt towns; they’re underserved. We then worked our way into Evansville. I don’t want to say we took over, but we’re in the top three to five. It’s a big team effort, hiring the right people.

EB: What are some of the core tenets of your business philosophy that have driven your success?

DL: I think it is having a servant mindset. We’re there to serve the homeowner, whether they don’t have any money or credit. We show up anyway and treat them like a buyer. Treat them with respect and dignity, and they’ll become a buyer maybe down the road.

EB: How is the transition into the Louisville market?

DL: We’re just hitting the ground right now. My son Jeffrey was my sales manager here. He stepped up and moved to New Albany, and he’s running the Kentucky location. I feel blessed that I’m able to provide him a solid, good career and experience.

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