ONEIDA — Tune into the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” and you’re sure to see some flashy neon, shiny chrome, and other retro features made popular by diners in the 1950s and 1960s.
Fans of that look can do more than enjoy seeing it on TV, thanks to Heffron’s General Contracting, Inc., in Oneida. Last year, the construction company officially launched its A Moment in Time Retro Design division, which can retrofit existing rooms and structures or build new ones with a retro flair.
It all started about two years ago when company President Gary Heffron fixed up a shed so the interior looked like an old-school diner complete with chrome, neon lights, tin Coca-Cola signs, a booth, and a bar/counter.
The shed was such a hit — a popular gathering spot for friends old and young alike – that Heffron says he began researching creating a business division featuring the retro look and capitalizing on a down economy that caused more people to look for fun
ways to relax at home.
“We researched for two years,” Heffron says. He also spent that time getting a website (email@example.com) and formally launched the division late last summer.
Right away, it was a hit, Heffron says. “It’s kind of growing like crazy,” he says. The division has already logged sales in all 50 states and into Canada, he notes.
One thing Heffron credits the division’s success to is the wide range of products and options available. Customers can order individual items like neon lights, tin signs, stools, booths, or jukeboxes, or they can go for a complete redesign of a space for the full retro effect. Heffron’s can even renovate existing structures, including restaurants or home kitchens, to give a retro look.
And starting April 1, Heffron’s will make retro styling available to even more people with the addition of a rental retro trailer unit. The 26-foot trailer will feature awnings on both sides, air conditioning, a bar area, and booths and tables to seat about 15 to 20 people inside. Additional seating can be set up under the awnings outside.
The trailer is perfect for outdoor events like weddings, birthday parties, or graduation parties, combining a fun theme with a comfortable place to sit and relax, Heffron says. The trailer will rent for $500 a weekend, which runs from Friday afternoon through Monday morning. The goal for this year, Heffron says, is to rent the trailer out every weekend.
Going forward, he has even bigger plans starting with adding more trailers for rental and ending with plans to manufacture more trailers locally to sell to places like Taylor Rental. Heffron says franchising the retro-trailer rentals is another future option.
He’s also branching out and adding other options besides the retro theme, although still with an old-time flair, including an Adirondack-themed look.
Heffron declined to disclose revenue figures, but did say the company is receiving calls for retro business daily and the retro business has already grown to become a significant part of Heffron’s General Contracting’s overall business.
“Orders are coming in from out of state every single day,” he says.
To market the business, Heffron says he advertises in several trade publications and partners with websites dedicated to retro design such as www.retrorenovation.com.
Currently, Heffron’s has three office employees and anywhere from six to about 20 employees in the field, depending on the season and workload. Pretty soon, Heffron says he’ll probably have to add more employees to keep up with the growing retro business. In the meantime, he says the company has been able to facilitate the increased sales with the company’s current staff.
Located at 2051 Genesee St., Oneida, Heffron’s General Contracting (www.heffrons.com) provides commercial, industrial, agricultural, and residential contracting. Heffron founded the company in 1998 after more than 20 years working in the construction industry.