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August Spotlight

IICRC Spotlight

Steve Rotay, President/CEO
Paul Davis Mid-Atlantic, Lancaster, Pa.

How did you land in the restoration industry?
After considering various construction companies to purchase and expand our offering, I discovered Paul Davis Restoration franchise system. The culture, system and practices aligned with my personality and I found fulfillment working in an industry dedicated to helping people. It became apparent; I could enjoy this industry and provide a respectable lifestyle for my family. I abandoned my previous employment and dedicated everything I had to the restoration business.

How are you involved in the IICRC?
I’ve been involved with the IICRC in various ways. Like most respected restoration professionals, I have taken numerous courses to improve my technical knowledge. I participate in annual education classes as well as served on advisory councils over the years. As a company, we have a standard that all field personnel are required to earn and maintain specific IICRC educational levels.  Over the years, some of our employees have participated in committees and advisor surveys.

What do you do to market your business?
Today’s business environment is very competitive. We have been successful in using numerous methods of marketing. First, we promote our technical and educational capability. We call it, being a “Pro.” Our people are proud of their knowledge and leadership within the industry. Through social media and affiliation with industry leaders, we build trust and instill confidence that we will do the right thing for the situation at hand. Finally, we are one of the few companies that continue to have field sales representatives. Our customers want to know us before an emergency. They want people they know and trust in their home or business.

What's one unique thing about cleaning and restoration in your area? Are there any specific challenges you face due to your location?
The communities we serve are very familiar with the cleaning and restoration industry. Property owners understand the importance of skilled staff and standards. The challenge is that there are a large number of registered restoration contractors in our area. This does not include the growing number of carpet cleaning companies and janitorial companies that supplement their business in the restoration industry. This makes it very difficult to maintain highly skilled staff, a quality fleet, new equipment and offer professional development opportunities in an environment where companies drop prices and standards to generate a bonus. Also, the companies that decide to dabble in restoration services lower the quality standards, due to a lack of knowledge. This creates a need to constantly educate our community on the benefits of using skilled staff vs. non-trained, uncertified individuals.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young professional starting out in the business, what would it be?
Have courage and patience. Have the courage to set a path for yourself and the culture of your developing company. Many people will attempt to give advice that is short sighted or based on making money on a single job. While you hold your course, maintain patience to let it grow. Our industry changes quickly. It’s the nature of emergency services. Develop a plan, work the plan and have patience. There will be peaks and valleys. The successful people hold the course through the storms.

What do you like best about your job?
The pace… When the phone rings, it’s show time. The fact that we can take highly skilled people, answer a call for help (residential or commercial) and literally turn a chaotic situation into an organized and productive event is very rewarding. I love being a part of the initial response, strategizing, mobilizing and helping families and businesses reach their most important goal.

What is the most rewarding thing about owning a cleaning and restoration business?
Our ability to help people. In an emergency, we are helping people during their most challenging times. As an employer, I’m able to provide a great opportunity for a lot of people and their families. I’m always very proud of seeing our staff grow as professionals and as people. Finally, as a business we help people in our community. As one of our core values “we care”, we donate tens of thousands of dollars a year to the community and countless hours from our staff. Everything is pointed to helping improve the community that we live and work in.

Can you talk about a restoration "horror" story or anything funny you have encountered during your career?
Recently, we received a call regarding a flood in the country’s largest Bible College library. Three stories of damage and the building needed to be emptied for drying and repairs. In a strategy meeting, the President asked for options regarding the books. He needed to be assured that the students and faculty had access during the restoration process. After bouncing a few ideas around, all unsuccessful, I blurt out “We’ll put them in our warehouse!” The President said, “Really, you can do that?” No problem, I replied. In relief, he shakes my hand, gives everyone a great vote of confidence and returns to other duties. As he walks away, my managers and the director of the library pull out their notes and begin pounding on calculators. Feeling like I solved the problem, I asked, “What’s the problem? We have the biggest warehouse in the region.” They state in concert, there are 250,000 books. If each book is one inch think, that’s over three miles of book shelves, needed to hold the books. After swallowing very hard and feeling the blood leave my head, we all sat down and figured out how to shelve that many books in our warehouse. In the end, it all worked out.

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