Air Date: 4-18-2014 | Episode: 323
Spotless Carpet Cleaners and Janitorial Services, Inc. was started in 1975 by owner Bob Pakrul. Bob was a recent graduate of Milligan College and entered a tough job market…
Spotless Carpet Cleaners and Janitorial Services, Inc. was started in 1975 by owner Bob Pakrul. Bob was a recent graduate of Milligan College and entered a tough job market. So in 1975 Bob found himself with no job, over-educated, under skilled and a wife expecting twins. The company evolved from its one man start up in the janitorial business to the company it is today. A company voted 11 out of the last 12 years as the best carpet cleaners in the region. A company world renowned in water mitigation, having won the “Phoenix Award” from Restoration Industry Association in 2010 for its work on “Crantzdorf Castle”. Bob’s quirky commercials poke fun at him but his work is serious business and he has always been on the cutting edge of equipment and processes in the cleaning and restoration business.
When I know what they know, I’ll have a Cadillac too
In 1975, recent college graduate Bob Pakrul found himself: overeducated, married and with twins on the way. Looking under his kitchen sink he found both inspiration and the materials needed to start a janitorial service. When Bob met the Dick Bernson, he had gotten himself into trouble with a rug. Dick Bernson (owner of Bernson’s Rug Cleaner and founder of the MidSouth Carpet Cleaners Association) came to his rescue and solved thre problem. When Bob asked Dick what the fee was for his services and Dick told him to give back to the industry. After attending a regional carpet cleaning association meeting he was introduced to fire and water damage restoration and decided to diversify. It was in the parking lot at this event where he told his wife in their ragged VW Beatle that “when I know what they know, I’ll have a Cadillac too.”
Nuggets mined from today’s episode:
- The biggest changes Bob has seen have been technology, thermal imaging cameras and monitoring instruments. Bob is an early adopter of new technology.
- Bob made the decision to avoid conflicts of interest by limiting his services to restoration only and not doing structural repairs.
- According to Bob, the EPA has no exemptions for inspecting buildings for the presence of asbestos containing materials (ACMs). On projects with suspected ACMs, Bob’s techs contain the area and summon an industrial hygienist who samples and obtains test results quickly. Some insurance companies resist paying for the testing.
- Citing the example of attempts by an insurance company to push him off a project for a 30 year client, he opined that preferred contractor programs may interfere with contractual relationships. Spotless has opted not to join preferred vendor programs.
- While Spotless doesn’t perform mold remediation the firm does perform sewage cleanup.
- Bob has an outgoing personality and is a bold marketer. To attend the 1980 Nashville Claims Association meeting he commissioned making of a rhinestone and air brushed “king of clean” costume. At the event he strategically timed his entrance to the awkward moment before the band begins playing where the spotlight shone on him. Bob makes crazy TV commercials that poke fun at him.
- Bob won the prestigious RIA Phoenix Award for fire and water damage restoration performed at Crantzdorf Castle, a 25,000 sqft mansion in Tennessee. The castle was furnished with items that previously adorned other castles. The owner who had gambled on self-insuring was motivated to restore rather than replace.
- Bob immersed his children in his business by using industry trade publications to teach them to read. It’s fact that his son was born into the business.
- A people person, he is frustrated over movement away from contractors maintaining personal relationships with local insurance adjusters to impersonality of remote claims adjustment where adjusters work other cities. He opined that restoration services are being commoditized.
- Tips for working in a family business: learn to listen and have patience.
- Three tips for those in the cleaning and restoration business: 1) Be sure to have the contractual paperwork signed. 2) Documenting everything helps avoid trouble and gets you paid. 3) Free is the magic word- giving the customer something free is an important tool for dispute resolution.
- Do-over or business mulligan was not to have gotten involved with chlorine based ceiling cleaning products, which were destructive to some building materials, home furnishings and bleached his hair white.
- Bob gives back to his local community, through programs to introduce vulnerable youth to fishing.
Many members of regional trade associations have similar experiences, they get into a business related jam and someone form the local association helps them out. Bob, has kept his promise to Dick Bernson by serving the MidSouth Carpet Cleaners Association. He has also written two books: First Degree Burned and Second Degree Burned which humorously impart important restoration business knowledge and which the Z-Man considers to be mandatory reading.
I know that Bob Pakrul knows the cleaning and restoration business, I forgot to ask him what type of vehicle he is driving?
Today’s Music: “Cleanup song” by Dora the Explorer
Z-man signing off