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LEAP’s COVID New “Normal”: Growing and Expanding in Uncertain Times

The last update I provided was about how LEAP is operating in a manner to ensure we are protecting our staff and clients from COVID-19. Over the last several months, LEAP’s operational and nonprofit business model has evolved based on new information about COVID-19. This is of course challenging, as we are building the airplane while it is flying to a certain extent, but also needed as our clients’ needs evolve.

The biggest evolution for LEAP is focusing more and more on single-family homes instead of multifamily properties. Multifamily properties offered “easier” money, as they provided volume (lots of units or households) and simplicity (each unit is very similar). The economics of serving a multifamily property meant surpluses (or “profit”) in the tens of thousands of dollars per multifamily property – important money for keeping LEAP operational.

Serving low-income single-family homes is where the heart of our organization is, making an impact for families who need it most – but is also more challenging, as each home is unique and requires more administration per unit. These projects can generate surpluses as well (the margins can be better), but you need to serve a lot of them to generate the same total amount of surplus you would get from one multifamily property. So, how is LEAP doing all of this?

LEAP added a second box truck and two new weatherization “crew” members in early July in order for us to serve more single-family homes – but we need to generate more volume. You can’t just order a crew and truck off the shelf from Lowes, so it took us a good month to train the crew, get the box truck and necessary equipment situated, etc., before we could serve more houses. This is also happening under very tight financial constraints.

So, to use a baseball analogy, we’ve moved away from frequent home runs (multifamily properties) with a sprinkling of singles (single-family homes) to only focusing on singles with an occasional double (in this case, a mobile home) and doing four times the amount of work we used to. Fortunately, our all-star team rose to the occasion, and we are expecting to break even on the costs of the aforementioned training and purchases this month, turning the corner next month. Continued growth will be necessary (more trucks and crews, new geographies to serve, etc.) to ensure financial sustainability while serving the growing market demand. 

We are looking for partners, from municipalities to other nonprofits, to join us in this evolution, so please send me a note if you want to chat about working together to continue to expand and grow. LEAP is proud to be a NONPROFIT and we are keeping that public service mission squarely in focus as we evolve.

Regards,

Chris Meyer, Executive Director 

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