While Madison resident John Barba has been in the building business for 30 years, he's only been in the handyman business for one.
For the past year, Barba has run two companies out of an office at 66 Main Street above : House Doctors of Morris and Barba Builders Inc.
"We contract for everything from a $200 handyman repair to a $1.5 million new home," he said.
Barba opened the House Doctors franchise a year ago after seeing downturns in the construction industry. While he had experience in residential construction, House Doctors was able to provide support for aspects of the handyman business that were new to him, such as dispatching and accepting credit cards, he said.
"The real estate market is still challenging in that respect, so here we are," he said.
Franchises have assigned territories. Barba said House Doctors was doing well and he planned to hire a third full-time technician.
Barba's start in construction came by working for his family's construction business, the Barba Company, after he graduated college in 1979. He earned a law degree attending night classes at Seton Hall Law School and opened opened Barba Builders in 1986. In 2004, he accepted a vice president position with K. Hovnanian Homes, but, with the real estate market hurting, Barba went back out on his own after a few years.
In a coincidence, Barba is responsible for a Madison family winning $2,000 toward a family vacation. For Bottle Hill Day, Barba had a House Doctors booth on Central Avenue. The Elsner family came to the booth, and while they were there, filled out an application to enter a national House Doctors contest. With only one winner picked from around the country, the Elsners were it.
Debby and Darren Elsner, and their 6-year-old daughter, Rebecca, recently visited Disney World over spring break.
"It was the perfect age for her to be there," Debby Elsner said. "She had a great time."
Barba said it was great they won.
The Elsners also have worked with Barna, and found it was a good experience, Debby Elsner said. They hired House Doctors to add insulation to keep a bedroom above a garage warm.