ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. - Sometimes the best business ideas happen almost by accident. During a cold winter Saturday, nearly four years ago, Mitch Groters set out to tackle his "honey-do" list and spent two frustrating hours on the phone trying to locate a contractor. Feeling he was getting nowhere, he came up with the genesis for what has become Home Project Central (HPC) (, a home improvement print directory and online directory for southeast Michigan.

"Trying to find a contractor to tackle my expanding honey-do list was such a frustrating experience," Groters said. "I felt there had to be a simpler way. Why couldn't I go to one source, the Internet, find multiple local contractors in my area, type in one e-mail address, and zap it to all of them at one time?

"This process could take only a few minutes as opposed to half a morning. The result - I could have a list of contractors, their name, phone number, address, e-mail link, and a Web link to their Web site. No more chasing for contractors. That was the start of the idea for Home Project Central."

Groters designed an integrated marketing program for contractors to centralize their marketing. HPC provides packaged and ala-carte marketing for contractors in the form of listings in the print directory (which will top 1 million copies in 2005), listings in the online directory at the Web site, a personal Web page, business cards, flyers, door hanger programs, trade shows and trade show support, seminars, and a variety of programs geared towards helping contractors maximize their marketing dollars and simplify their marketing messages.

From the consumer side, HPC realizes Groters' dream of being a one-stop shop for finding a contractor to complete the ever-growing honey-do list.

Groters has also begun a consumer education campaign, so that consumers have the knowledge and resources to hire the needed contractors and has added ancillary service providers to the site and printed directory.

What's next for HPC? Groters plans to bring the HPC business model to other industries, while continuing to build on the success of HPC in the Michigan marketplace and nationally.

Publication date: 01/17/2005