33. Expanda Van Homes
Founders: Vito Russo, Nicole Russo
Expanda Van Homes was founded in 2008 by Vito Russo, who was looking for a business venture that would supply customers with a product they actually needed.
“I felt a business with a product that was needed by customers, rather than just wanted, would make it more recession-proof,” Russo says.
“The business had to service a growth market and be able to be easily expanded by multiplication. I also had to enjoy what I was doing.”
Russo says while he enjoyed the building industry, he also thought the market was too volatile. However, he acknowledged the fact that Australia was still in the midst of a housing shortage.
“This made me look closer at the building industry and I concluded that while the housing industry booms and busts, the affordable housing market is more steady,” Russo says.
“When there is a housing boom, prices of homes increase and that makes the affordability out of reach for more people, making the affordable housing market bigger.”
This led Russo to the conclusion that affordable housing solutions represented a viable business venture, and Expanda Van Homes was born. The business now employs six staff and raked in revenue of $600,000 last year.
“The business manufactures a patent housing solution that lools and feels like a relocatable home,” he says.
“No other housing option offers the same level of affordability, convenience and flexibility. The reason being that the patent design of our home allows it to be registered as a caravan,” he says.
“It does not have to comply with red tape associated with conventional building. This allows them to be used in more situations, and they can be easily relocated.”
Russo says the ease with which the homes can be relocated makes them an attractive option for mining camps, in remote areas and as disaster relief accomodation.
He also believes the homes can cater for one of Australia’s fastest-growing industries: aged care.
According to Russo, familiarising himself with manufacturing processes proved a challenge. He advises start-ups to document everything so it is easier to teach to others.
Russo says watching the business grow 100% in less than three years has been the best part about starting the business.