By JAMISON COCKLIN
In less than two years, Joseph Chevraux has put 56,000 miles on his car traveling an area that
encompasses Canton, Youngstown and Ashtabula, meeting with senior citizens who hope to make their homes more livable.
In April 2012, Chevraux resigned from his post as executive director of the Multiple Sclerosis Services
Agency, a small nonprofit in Canfield.
The job wasn’t paying the bills, Chevraux said, adding he was devoting
more time to the HandyPro franchise he began in September 2011.
It’s no secret that the country’s population is aging , but it’s also
giving rise to an industry from which Chevraux benefits.
“I have zero-tolerance for those that try to gouge seniors — I’m trying to keep integrity in the business,” he said.
Chevraux, along with 32 other HandyPro franchisees that serve communities from New York to California, provides home-modification services. The company specializes in renovations for people who are aging and can no longer live in their homes as they are designed by widening doorways, making bathrooms more accessible, removing dangerous obstacles and installing better lighting to help prevent falls and reduce accidents.
“You should see some of the homes I go into,” Chevraux said. “They need serious help, and I’m glad to be able to do it for them.”
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that between 2011 and 2012, 1,135 of the nation’s 3,143 counties are now experiencing “natural decrease,” where deaths exceed births. According to a report released in 2012 by the Ohio Department of Aging,
the population over 60 in Ohio is projected to increase by 25 percent by 2020 and nearly double by 2040.
Those statistics don’t
surprise Chevraux, who
employs four workers on two crews that renovate area homes. He says demand for HandyPro services is so strong as of late, he’s
hoping to add another two-man crew soon.
HandyPro conducts in-home assessments to determine the unique needs of seniors and the disabled. Chevraux spends most of his time with those assessments, estimating project costs, billing and working closely with home-health care agencies and service administrators.
A typical job can cost anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars depending on the needs of a specific customer.
“All and all, people want to stay in their homes,” Chevraux said. “We come along and put a grab bar or a stair lift in so they can. We make their living space
barrier-free and try to find solutions to their problems.”