When Eric and Patti Brown bought a former gasoline station with the intention of starting a cabinetry design business there, some said they were doomed to failure.
The building, constructed in 1921 at 7040 Riverview Boulevard, was in Northwest Bradenton and in a predominantly residential area well removed from the business corridor along Manatee Avenue.
So much for predictions of failure. Epoch Solutions, Inc., celebrates its 20th anniversary in April.
Over two decades, Epoch Solutions developed a loyal following of clients, allowing the Browns to raise a family of three children, weather a Great Recession, preserve a piece of Bradenton history and double the size of the building to showcase Eric Brown’s elegant cabinet designs.
Eric Brown brings design knowledge and passion to the business, while Patti Brown handles the books. Epoch Designs was able to expand its reach with the addition of Ann Marie Hoeksema, a talented second designer.
Prior to the Browns buying the building in 1997, it had during its history been an upholstery shop, a general store, a post office and a gasoline filling station.
“This area was known as the ‘Four Corners’ and it was all commercial at one time,” Eric Brown said.
Eventually, the Four Corners evolved into a residential area.
The Browns are originally from Pennsylvania and settled in Bradenton’s Ware’s Creek area 30 years ago. Eric found a job in Sarasota making cabinets and eventually moved into designs and sales.
The move to Bradenton was fortunate, because Eric Brown glimpsed his future when he would drive past the former filling station in Northwest Bradenton.
He could envision turning the property into a cabinet design studio.
I just loved this building. I was intrigued by it, and I got to know the people who owned the upholstery shop here.
“I just loved this building. I was intrigued by it. I used to say it’s so ugly that it’s pretty,” Eric Brown said.
When the owners of the upholstery shop decided to become missionaries in the Soviet Union, they put the property on the market, and the Browns bought it.
Patti Brown admits she had some initial concern about buying a building and starting a business at the same time.
But their timing was good.
“The economy was booming and the business just took off,” Patti Brown said.
It took the couple four months to transform the old upholstery shop into a design studio, but Eric Brown said it has actually been a 20-year process to make it into the glistening, modern showplace that it is today.
“Sometimes God grabs you by the collar and pulls you along,” Eric Brown said.
The biggest bump along the way has been the Great Recession. But the Browns reinvested some of their savings into the company and were able to survive with some painful belt tightening and rebound once the economy improved.
Patti Brown says the secret to Epoch’s success is her husband’s passion, talent and hard work. His enthusiasm for the business is infectious, and it is something that the customer senses.
“He just works his tail off and it pays off,” Patti Brown said.
Epoch Designs has built its residential remodeling and new construction cabinet design business on referrals and repeat business from customers, clients, contractors and others.