By BOB JACKSON
After a few years of putting some home improvement projects on the back burner, Jack and Barb Barringer decided this is the year they’re going to get things done.
“You name it, it needs done,” said Jack. “I want to get at least a couple of them knocked out this summer.”
So the Barringers drove from their North Jackson home to the Tri-County Home Show, taking place this weekend at the Metroplex Expo Center, 1620 Motor Inn Drive, just off Belmont Avenue. The event, in its 32nd year, features nearly 100 vendors and businesses with just about everything imaginable for inside and outside home projects.
The show kicked off Friday and continues from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today.
“People are looking for the latest trends, ways to upgrade their homes without spending a lot of money,” said event coordinator Tara Stitle of Mid America Events. Stitle is a daughter of Dominic Baragona, creator of Mid America Events, who died last August.
One of the displays that caught the Barringers’ attention was the creative look of products made by 3C Custom Countertops, a small company in Poland created about a year ago by Charley and Sharon Grimes.
3C manufactures and installs countertop, bar and vanity designs using an epoxy resin that is applied over wood. The finished product can be made to look like quartz, marble, granite or stone, Charley Grimes said.
“Our material cost is half of what it would be for real stone,” he said. “The durability of the product is really what sells it.”
He said the epoxy countertops cost about the same as wood laminate products, but stand up much better to heat. The epoxy coating is heat-resistant up to 500 degrees.
“So if you take a hot pan off the stove, you can put it right on the countertop, and it’s not going to melt or separate,” he said.
Customers select the colors they want used and can even choose a specific design, which Grimes then creates and installs.
If homeowners don’t want to replace their kitchen cabinets and counters, they can simply choose to have their existing ones re-faced, said Bob Eusanio, general manager of MVP Home Improvements in Poland.
“Right now, the big thing is kitchen cabinet refacing, and walk-in showers with built-in seats, especially for the elderly,” Eusanio said. “The last four years, walk-in showers have been huge.”
He said the company installs vinyl showers with built-in overhead LED lights, in patterns and designs that look like marble or granite, giving a high-end look at a more affordable cost.
MVP started 30 years ago as a window company, but has expanded to a full home-improvement business, he said.
Technology for home products is also a lure for homeowners, Stitle said. As an example, she pointed to A to Z Plumbing and Drain Service, which sells sump pumps with a digital control box capable of alerting homeowners when there is a malfunction, or even when there’s something that needs to be checked before a problem happens.
Some systems can be coupled with the homeowner’s cellular phone, so the owner can connect via smart phone and have the system run a diagnostic check to make sure it’s working properly.
“You can be sitting out in Las Vegas and hear that it’s been raining for three days in Youngstown, and just pick up your phone and make sure your pump is working properly,” said Frank Gerthung, facilities coordinator. He said the system can even be set up to send a text message to the homeowner if the pump fails.
Other models can be connected via telephone line to a home’s security alarm. If the pump develops a problem, or if it fails and the basement floods, an alert is sent to the security company, which then notifies the homeowner.
“I like the fact that you can tweak it to have it do anything you want,” said Joe Swistok of A to Z. “It’s a versatile system that can be designed to whatever the homeowner needs.”