Local Dallas businessman and Backyard Workroom founder Eric Benavides’ idea was simple: develop a space for workers who are now working from home where they can work in peace and avoid unexpected interruptions.
A self-taught design and construction engineer, Eric made his money developing salt water wells for the oil & gas industry. He understood that innovation was needed during a global pandemic.
He’d also been watching a lot of tiny home shows.
“I like those little construction shows,” he says. “What this taught me is that people are after that upcycling type of product or the cool product. I have dealt with shipping containers before in the construction business. We would use them for storage or a makeshift office. So, the shipping container was really me trying to find what an upcycling niche would look like.”
He knew that turning a shipping container into a home office space wouldn’t work out in the long run. “It looked great,” he says. “The biggest challenge was dealing with city code. We had to use a giant crane to get it into someone’s backyard. Also, the cost was enormous. To be honest, I was trying to capitalize on this niche upcycling product, but the reality was it was not the best product.”
A backyard shed, on the other hand…
The Backyard Workroom
He calls it “the Backyard Workroom.” The unique prefab shed resembles a tiny house in the comfort of the backyard. It comes in a variety of sizes—from 10×10 to 10×20—and styles from traditional to contemporary.
But it’s not just for an office. It can also be used as a workout room, a playroom, or a yoga studio.
“I view business strategy as a chess game,” Benavides says. “I pay attention to trends and what’s going on in the world. When the pandemic hit, I felt working from home was a trend that would last.”
From a young age, long before Backyard Workroom, Eric has worked with his hands in the construction industry. A native of Oak Cliff, he attended high school in Midlothian and college at Texas State Technical College in Waco. Eric got a taste of the construction industry in high school and focused on it after he graduated. Also, he spent the next several years working for various home construction companies around the area before he went on his own as a homebuilder in the late ‘90s, building custom homes and offering his services as a consultant.
Eric was doing consulting work for an apartment in North Dakota when the 2008 financial crisis hit. Like many Americans, he had to reevaluate how he wanted to move his business forward. He found an investment opportunity in saltwater disposal wells for the oil & gas industry. Next, he raised some money and built several wells. He spent the next 10 years focused on the gas and oil industry until COVID hit.
In February 2020, he was working in the oil refinery business, and his team were poised to have their first closing at around $90 million. Then the stock market collapsed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They began losing employees. He was able to utilize the federal government’s PPP program to help pay his remaining employees, but it wasn’t enough.
“We kept them around as long as we could, but the market never came back. We wound up laying off a lot of people and closed three of our offices.”
Designing the Future
From the beginning of his career, Eric always used his talents and insight to stay at the forefront of innovative ideas. After making the tough decision to lay off a significant portion of his staff, he felt determined to keep moving forward and came up with the Backyard Workroom idea.
He knew it was a good one because thousands of people now finding themselves working from home, and he also realized that COVID-19 virus wasn’t going anywhere. So the long term potential seemed like a no brainer to him, especially with a growing need as more and more companies adapt to remote work.
He experimented a few times with the design for the Backyard Workroom. After a while, he set some specifications that worked for him. A 10×10 product made of plywood felt right, he says. Then he thought about how he was going to move it from the front yard to the backyard. He didn’t want to use a Bobcat or a crane. He wanted to be able to carry it; they had to bring it in pieces.
“Through trial and error, we experimented with every aspect until we got it right,” he says.
Soon Eric hopes to reach their “final frontier” after utilizing some groundbreaking SIP panels designed by Horton World Solutions. These state of the art structural insulated panels allow for more straightforward construction and deliver a multitude of benefits. They are incredibly lightweight, he points out, but at the same time, they are also a durable building material. He built a prototype with the new material and hopes to bring it to the public soon.
“I have always been a believer that you need to build what people want and not what you think they want,” he says. “The problem is some people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
To purchase a Backyard Workroom for yourself, visit their website to configure and buy the perfect one for your needs. Backyard Workroom provides delivery and installation up to 50 miles from their Richardson, Texas location.