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April Certified Firm Spotlight

IICRC Spotlight

Brett Clem, Vice President
ZIPCO Cleaning & Restoration, Kansas City, Mo.

How did you land in this industry?
After six years in the commercial general contracting and tenant finish business, we began receiving calls from existing clientele that had experienced fire, water and mold damage. We realized very quickly, the trust we had established with this client base allowed us the groundwork for marketing a truly complete range of services to our clients.  

How are you involved with the IICRC?
We stay involved with the IICRC for mainly the training aspect. Although we train our staff internally, we feel it’s very important to ensure our staff of estimators, project managers and technicians are IICRC certified and always try to utilize the very latest in industry technologies.

What do you do to market your business?

We take a very personal approach to marketing by building relationships with specific decision making personnel or to individuals who can directly refer us to new work. Once we get that first job however, that is when our true marketing kicks in. There is nothing you can say in a sales pitch that can’t be tarnished by poor workmanship. Providing high quality service sells more jobs for us than any marketing campaign ever has. When repeat and referral is the foundation of our business stream, quality wins out every time when compared to mass marketing.
What's one unique thing about cleaning and restoration in your area? Are there any specific challenges you face due to your location?
The Midwest climate can be very rough on homes and businesses. It’s not uncommon for there to be over 80 freeze/thaw cycles in a given year which wreaks havoc on building envelopes. These ever fluctuating temperature variances also require us to be ever ready for any number of possible loss scenarios.  

If you could give one piece of advice to a young professional starting out in the business, what would it be?  
Properly train your staff and provide them the very best tools and equipment to perform the job correctly. Upon entering this industry with another company, I had to make due with minimal resources which in turn negatively affected the quality of our service. At Zipco however, we made the equipment and manpower investment up front and it has expedited our growth and maintained great employee morale.

What do you like best about your job?
There is never a dull day in the restoration industry. Our knowledge base is tested everyday with various numbers of circumstances. For those with a solution oriented focus or problem solving mindset, the restoration industry will always provide an exciting day at the office.

What is the most rewarding thing about owning a cleaning and restoration business?
The ability to restore a client’s home or business after a loss and help them regain their sense of security is very rewarding. As the vice president of Zipco, it’s also a great feeling knowing we have created a fulfilling work environment allowing our employees to provide for themselves and their families all while providing a very necessary service.

Can you talk about a restoration "horror" story or anything funny you have encountered during your career?  
Most business or homeowners affected by fire, water or mold damage would say every job is horrifying because it has upset their life in some way. But when you see it every day like we do, it takes a very special job to truly horrify you. I speak for myself and probably just about everyone on our staff when I say the very worst jobs we have the privilege to clean up would be those cases of animal hoarding, much like you would see on TV. Nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming smell and visual disturbances we have encountered when 62 cats have been locked in a tiny one bedroom apartment without adequate care.

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