in the lap
The final frontier of home improvement
By Steve Fisher
FOR MANY PEOPLE, a car is a necessity: a tool to
convey the individual and family to work, school,
shopping and recreation. But others have created a
much deeper bond with automobiles. They have a
passion and need to collect as many as economically feasible. Others have made such a substantial
investment that protection of that asset is of the
utmost importance. Some might consider it an
obsession. Costco member Michael Rhodig considers it his niche.
“There is one part of the house that has been
neglected!” declares Rhodig. “The garage is the final
frontier of home improvement.”
Determined to go where no garage-builder had
gone before, Rhodig started GarageMahals, a company that offers a unique soup-to-nuts (and bolts)
approach to high-end garage design and construction for the serious car aficionado. “My average customer has a million dollars in cars,” claims Rhodig.
The Fountain Hills, Arizona, resident had
bounced around, workwise, prior to discovering his
calling. “I had an eclectic career,” he laughs. After
graduating from Oregon State University with a
degree in mechanical engineering in 1987, he worked
at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories on “Star
Wars”—the defense program, not the movie—then
segued into mortgage banking and software company mergers and acquisitions. “I had a couple
garages done for me by the typical garage guys,” he
recalls, “and one day in 2003 it just came to me: The
garage could be so much more. I saw a market poised
for tremendous growth, and decided to give it some
product and services it wasn’t otherwise getting.” He
began a long research-and-development phase, and
GarageMahals was born in September 2005.
Rhodig’s clients are mostly in the United States
and Canada, but the idea has a worldwide allure. He
has received calls from Australia, New Zealand,
England, France and Dubai. The smallest
garage he designed was 150 square feet,
the largest an 18,000-square-foot multilevel, multiuse structure. Price tags have
ranged from $30,000 to $500,000.
“The half a million’s for a client in
Chicago,” says Rhodig. “He has a fascination with Las
Vegas. The design would have him driving into a recreation of the Strip with facades of famous hotels
This garage also contains a private casino as well
as a “showroom” for the owner’s daughter, complete
with a stage and karaoke and drop-down panels featuring different themes.
Other than the price tag, the process is painless.
Rhodig conducts an in-depth interview, by phone or
in person, to learn the client’s interests, tastes and
budget. He then uses computer modeling to create
3-D design renderings so the client can visualize the
final space. Once a design is approved, Rhodig works
with contractors to construct the garage.
Rhodig is set to drive into a new phenomenon.
From coast to coast, wherever car collectors or luxury car owners abound—but parking spots don’t—
developers are building car condos: dwellings in
which to store prized automobiles or automobile
collections. Many feature lavish, climate-controlled
environments. They have started to spring up in
New York, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.
The ever-optimistic Rhodig says, “If you build
it, they will come.” C
The Costco Connection
Whether you’re planning a dream garage or
something more basic, Costco and costco.com
have shelving, accessories and flooring to help
make it a reality.
Top left, GarageMahals’ first
creation. Above, 1,500 square
feet of auto luxury in Paradise
Owner: Michael Rhodig
Member at: Scottsdale, AZ
Creative garage design,
Contact: 16537 E. Laser
Drive, Unit 8, Fountain Hills,
AZ 85268; (602) 315-4473;
Comments about Costco:
“When it comes to everyday
business supplies, there’s no
better than Costco. Prices
are great; products are
great. You won’t find better
products than the Kirkland