By Charlotte Mulhern
Last year when Kaile Warren Jr. renamed his home-repair business Rent-a-Husband Inc., he got some strange responses. "A lot of people thought I had an escort service," Warren remembers. Not quite--his company helps people with household tasks, from doing laundry to staining decks, shingling roofs and installing appliances.
As it turned out, renaming the company and targeting a specific market (women aged 20 to 50) transformed Warren's struggling Portland, Maine, business into a million-dollar nationwide franchise operation that expects to have 200 locations open in three years. The name has even attracted national media attention: Warren has appeared on the Maury Povich and Montel Williams talk shows, and Jay Leno has cracked jokes about Rent-a-Husband in several opening monologues.
"[The name `Rent-a-Husband'] is simple to remember," says Warren, 38, whose franchise can be run from the home. "Once people hear it, they never forget it. It stays with them forever."
Despite its moniker, Warren has no intention of excluding women from his payroll. But so far, his only "husbands" are men. "They're every woman's fantasy," he says. "Tall, dark and handy."