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Business Planning / Restoration / Sales & Marketing
August 2013

The 2013 Restoration Industry Leaders Review

Here they are... the 2013 success stories in restoration.

August 08, 2013
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Each year, Cleanfax magazine profiles three successful restoration companies and analyzes what they do to better compete in a touch marketplace.

With solid business management and marketing platforms — along with a strong entrepreneurial spirit — these companies have proven to be successful and are great role models for any restoration company looking to increase profitability.

Read on and learn what you can do to continue to build your own restoration business.

Allied Restoration Services

Most business owners just want to own and operate a successful company. It is not that simple for OP Almaraz.

Almaraz is the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Allied Restoration Services Inc., in Diamond Bar, CA. When he and his brother, Victor, started the company, they had the vision of owning the “customer service market.” And that they did — right from the beginning.Allied restoration for ILR

Since 2008, the Allied team of professionals has serviced the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange County and the greater Southern California region.

Almaraz grew up in El Monte, CA, and began his career as a flooring installer in 1989. He was first introduced to the world of large scale restoration in 1994, working with ServiceMaster on large carpet restoration claims.

It was easy to see the potential in the restoration industry. As Almaraz quickly learned, the jobs came from insurance companies and there was a continuous flow of work that was very lucrative.

Stepping out

After more than a decade with a large, full-service restoration firm, Almaraz decided to start his own company.

Today, his firm offers a full spectrum of restoration services: Water damage, fire damage, mold remediation, reconstruction, plumbing and management consulting.

The Allied team has built a strong network of contents restorers and affiliates that allows the company to deliver outstanding service for every aspect of the restoration claim.

It is company priority to offer an all-encompassing solution for the needs of every project, no matter the size.

Expansion and growth

In just over five years in business, Allied has built a strong client base, and has earned a reputation for quality work and excellent customer service.

Each year since the company opened its doors, revenues have increased. In 2012, Allied had revenues of more than $3 million.

As for its future, the company is looking at additional counties to service in California, using a time-proven metric Allied workers are eager to implement.

The goal is to duplicate the team strategy Allied has facilitated in its first office, but on a larger scale.

Getting the work

The Allied marketing strategy is to create “raving fans” of every person they serve on a claim.

It’s all about referrals, Almaraz believes. His company has enjoyed dozens of referrals, most ending up with high-ticket restoration jobs. As he said, it’s the best marketing anyone can have.

In addition, the Allied team has created a series of video testimonials that recount client’s experience during their claim. When a homeowner considers Allied along with other restorers in the area, the Almaraz team sells itself with reviews left by people who have been in their exact situation.

Creating a culture

Education is critical; expertise is required, according to Almaraz. Creating a high standard of operation and dedication to quality work is a key component to success.

Work will always be there. The insurance companies provide a steady stream of business. Simply put, this industry makes money. Insurance restoration is an opportunity to be well compensated, if you're committed to serving others, Almaraz believes.

As you continue to work, you cultivate important relationships with insurance companies, insurance adjusters and your clients that are essential elements and the life-line of your business, Almaraz said.

In five years, Almaraz and the Allied team has created and fostered a culture that is committed to a higher standard of service in the restoration industry.

ICC Restoration & Cleaning Services

Looking at the ICC Restoration & Cleaning Services’ 27,000 square foot facility today, it is hard to imagine the company’s beginnings as a “by your own bootstraps” venture 24 years ago by founder and president Tom Laska.

Having spent four years working for a local carpet cleaning company, Laska asked the question, “Where is the opportunity for me here?” The answer was clear, and so Laska decided to open his own carpet cleaning business at 21 years of age.ICC restoration for ILR

Becoming a father at 18, and gaining custody of his baby son at 19, he found himself a single father raising a child. Laska had no option but to succeed.

Growth from the start

Laska solicited three of his prior clients and all were thrilled to support the driven young entrepreneur. Because of this, Laska was running a profitable company from the first day he opened his doors.

In recent years, Laska has enjoyed strong growth. His company has seen nearly 40 percent revenue growth in the past year or so, and has enjoyed a 76 percent increase in water damage revenues.

How did Laska accomplish this? By putting his company in front of the right people and partners, before consumers had an opportunity to call the competition.

In addition, Laska engaged Business Development Associates (BDA) three years ago to build the company’s marketing and sales operation so he could predictably grow his restoration business. This resulted in an immediate 30 percent growth the first year, and Laska continues to aggressively grow the company.

Natural progression

Laska began doing some water damage in the early days and added reconstruction services in 1992. Today, ICC offers the widest range of restoration and cleaning services in the area and has 20 full-time employees servicing the Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN metro area and western Wisconsin from his location in Woodbury, MN.

Laska isn’t alone on the management team. His wife, Brenda Laska, serves as vice president of the company.

The ICC team

The ICC management team leads by example in regards to teamwork, responsibility and dedication — which, in turn, creates a positive work environment.

Laska is very selective of the people he hires. He wants to ensure that he is hiring people that are both a fit technically and culturally for ICC. During the interview process, time is spent asking questions that dig into potential employees’ non-technical skillset so it is assured they have the right drive, desire and work ethic expected at ICC.

Everyone at ICC is in tune with the company’s goals and mission, which translates over to the work performed.

Laska said that he wanted, from the beginning, to be a different kind of restoration contractor. So he asks his team to “think outside of the box.” He expects them to do something different, make a decision as if this was their company, “show up” and do their very best each day they work.

Future plans

Laska plans to continue to grow the company to be a force in the restoration industry, and will implement as many advanced marketing methods as possible.

His philosophy is, “If you aren’t growing, you are shrinking.” He doesn’t plan to see his company shrink, so with better education and keeping “ahead of the curve,” Laska expects to see his company continue to grow and provide a great working place for his employees.

South River Restoration

Taking something that is damaged and bringing it back to its original state, or back to life, is what drives Bryan Agee, president of South River Restoration, Inc.

As Agee believes, there is no better feeling than rebuilding a home that suffered major fire damage and seeing the client’s face when the finished product is delivered.

That caring attitude is one reason why 15-year-old South River Restoration Inc. (SRR) is a major force in Maryland, Washington DC and the greater Dallas/Fort Worth locations.SRR restoration for ILR

This IS0-9001-certified company handles a wide range of services, from floods and sewage backups to complete property reconstruction resulting from fires, floods, hurricanes and more.

SRR takes policies, procedures and customer service very seriously.

Building the business

With 15 years in business, SRR has three offices with more than 120 employees, plus a vehicle fleet of more than 60.

The company offers 24/7 response, water extraction and structural drying, contents restoration, packing and storage, sewage contamination cleanup, fire and smoke restoration, mold remediation, emergency board-up and tarping and pre-disaster planning.

Like many entrepreneurs in this industry, Agee got his start with carpet cleaning. He spent several years building a client base with repeat business. On occasions after heavy rain, his clients would call him for carpet cleaning, not realizing the company also offered water damage services, which was a different service with a different level of training and skillset.

Training and certification

Agee, after starting his company, found the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) and learned about all the training they offered in the restoration field.

During the past 10 years, he has obtained more than 14 certifications in the restoration industry, including Master Water Restorer and Master Fire/Smoke Restorer. In addition, it’s important that Agee’s field supervisors, project managers and other key employees are also trained and certified.

Overcoming obstacles

Challenges over the years, for SRR, range from securing a qualified staff to finding the best facility and office location. SRR constantly interviews, even when they are not hiring. Why? They are looking for the next leader on its team.

Accounting and understanding critical data is extremely important. You need to know where your business is coming from and then you must monitor any trends. 

The size of the SRR facility has always been an issue, and still is today, as the company has already outgrown its headquarters of 22,000 square feet.

Landing the jobs

Building a reputation in the industry as a company that will “get it done” is a great marketing tool.

SRR belongs to different associations and spends a lot of time marketing, but there is no secret sauce.

The key in this business, for SRR, is relationships, whether it is with its business-to-business (B2B) clients or the business-to-consumer (B2C) clients. 

South River Restoration does a great job in all that it does, and delivers on its promises. Doing that keeps current clients and brings in new business.

The future is bright

Agee and his staff plan to expand, and quickly.

The goal is to expand into surrounding states and eventually build a CAT team to handle disasters around the country.

Using the same great business building principles from its current three locations, South River Restoration is sure to succeed wherever it goes.

Do you own a successful disaster restoration company that you feel should be featured in Cleanfax magazine? If so, please submit a high
resolution image of your company logo and a brief description of what your company has accomplished. Send all material to Senior Editor Jeff
Cross at JCross@NTPMedia.com.