St. Louis Business Journal – by Rick Desloge

Robb Lax has worked his way into the St. Louis temporary housing market with Arch Interim Housing, generating revenue of $1.6 million in 2007.

If imitation is, indeed, the sincerest form of flattery, Robb Lax has flattered a number of larger interim housing firms since he launched Arch Interim Housing in 2006.

He grew revenue to $1.06 million in 2007 and attracted customers including at least one area CEO, actors from Stages St. Louis, a range of consultants here on temporary assignments and families for those in town for extended medical stays.

Lax, 41, borrowed the idea for Arch Interim during his 10 years as an area manager locally with Cort, one of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway companies that supplies furniture to rental relocation businesses. His furniture customers included national competitors in the temporary housing field. Among the national firms operating in St. Louis that cater to corporations relocating employees are Oakwood Worldwide of Los Angeles, Equity Corporate Housing of Chicago and VIP Suites of Minneapolis.

Lax said he saw how the pieces went together and started assembling his business plan. The concept is comparatively simple. Arch Interim holds long-term leases for units at various properties, then rents them to clients. It has to offer clients substantial-enough savings compared to a long-term hotel stay, leaving enough room in the price spread to show a profit. Extended-stay hotels locally will charge $129 a night or $3,870 a month. Arch Interim properties range from $59 a night for one-bedroom apartments to more than $100 a night for larger units, or $1,770 a month to $3,000 a month. Arch Interim’s minimum stay is 30 days, so the business and customers avoid paying hotel room taxes.

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