New franchise wants a peek at your closet

Hugh Toland opened a Closets by Design franchise at 116 Sylvia Road in Ashland.

Hugh Toland opened a Closets by Design franchise at 116 Sylvia Road in Ashland.

For his second act in the business world, an out-of-town former white collar worker is opening a national storage brand’s first Richmond location.

Hugh Toland later this month will open new franchise of Closets by Design, a made-to-order closet organizer and storage remodeling company, with facility at 116 Sylvia Road in Ashland.

The 6,000-square-foot storefront will be a showroom, production and storage site. Closets by Design builds, sells and installs closets, garage cabinets, home offices, and other organizing units for the home. Based out of California, Closets by Design was formed in 1982 and has more than 40 locations nationwide. The Ashland outpost is Closets by Design’s second in Virginia – the other, in Gainesville in Northern Virginia, is owned by a different franchisee.

Toland had been doing operations and accounting work in the aerospace and defense industry for more than 30 years. Recently, he decided to try something new.

“I spent 37 years working in corporate America and decided it was time to try out the entrepreneurial spirit within me,” he said, adding a franchise appealed to his sense of planning. “It was the right combination of structure. With purely a startup, it’s not as structured.”

The 6,000-square-foot storefront will be a showroom, production and storage site. (Michael Thompson)

The 6,000-square-foot storefront will be a showroom, production and storage site. (Michael Thompson)

When it came to choosing which brand of franchise to go with, Toland liked Closet by Design’s model of manufacturing and delivering its products as well as its focus on customer service.

The company has sold franchises since 1998, according to Entrepreneur.com. The initial investment for Closets by Design franchisees runs between $126,000 and $296,500.

Toland owns the Closets by Design territory from Fredericksburg to Petersburg. He lives in Manassas but may relocate to Richmond to be closer to his new venture. He said he opened his first location in Richmond because the company convinced him there was a market in the area. Its service area covers Charlottesville and Williamsburg.

Other storage companies in Richmond include the Closet Factory in Mechanicsville and California Closets just north of Scott’s Addition.

Toland said he’ll hire about 12 employees to start in Ashland. He plans to source materials from the A&M Supply in Henrico. Eventually, he hopes to bring on more staff and upgrade equipment.