Kurt Bolden – Hydro Lab Training & Equipment Rental, LLC – Thinking Outside of the Restoration Industry Box

Air Date: 11-20-2015| Episode: 392

This week on IAQ Radio we talk to a restoration industry entrepreneur, inventor, and trainer Kurt Bolden. Mr. Bolden is the founder and president of the Hydro Lab Training & Equipment Rental, LLC…

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This week on IAQ Radio we talk to a restoration industry entrepreneur, inventor, and trainer Kurt Bolden. Mr. Bolden is the founder and president of the Hydro Lab Training & Equipment Rental, LLC.  Backed by more than 30+ years of hands-on cleaning and restoration experience, Kurt has earned a respected reputation for his groundbreaking work and contributions to the industry. Kurt started Bolden’s Cleaning & Restoration, In Noblesville, IN, from the back of his truck in 1979 and grew his business at an unprecedented rate and to a level only rarely reached as an independent operations,  He sold to his employees in 2004 in order to focus educating restorers at the Hydro Lab.  This state-of-the-art training and research center was one of the first of its kind in the industry and emphasizes Kurt’s philosophy of “Hands-On” training.

Kurt’s inventiveness and passion for doing the best has given the restoration industry the HYDRO-X and VAC-PAC, two extraction tools that has redefined the approach to water damage work.  His vision brought about the creation of the Hydro Lab in 2000. Today, Kurt is a leader in the industry and his rental division is one of the largest suppliers of rental drying equipment in the United States. LEARN MORE about the restoration industry past, present and most importantly future this week on IAQ Radio!

Z-man’s Blog

“Make something and become a millionaire”

Kurt Bolden got into carpet cleaning because he disliked the family’s dry-cleaning business. From carpet cleaning, he diversified into disaster restoration to help the victims of fires and floods he encountered as a city firefighter.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

Kurt’s big idea came to him while standing in line at a rental company. He credits the suction screen of a trash pump as the inspiration for his HYDRO-X; a device which removes standing water from carpet and cushion by “compression extraction”. The invention removes more water more efficiently than other methods dramatically reducing drying time and offering the contractor the option of “in-place drying”.

Kurt Bolden and Chuck DeWald, the early proponents and at the time the sole practitioners of in-place drying, were scoffed at a Dri-Eaz symposium when Kurt made a presentation on the topic. Kurt even received an angry fax from Finland. Bolden and DeWald decided to prove the naysayers wrong by building flood houses to prove their concept and to train others. The two have a long history of friendship and collaboration.

When Kurt build his HYDRO-LAB training center monitoring equipment and data logging was built-in so that data could be recorded, studied and amassed. Strategically located access panels were installed so that microbial sampling could be conducted. According to him, the HYDRO-Lab has been flooded and dried almost 100 times without adverse effect.

“You can’t fix stupid”, training courses shouldn’t use only one brand of equipment, students should be given the opportunity for side-by-side product testing.

Kurt is open to trying new ideas, if it works he says he’ll buy it. For example, he credits Charlie Cressy’s WaterOut trailer with the fastest dry down of his flood house. When offered to him he opted out of trying the “nuclear option” which involved radiation after reading the product warning label that mentioned testicular cancer.

He once had a “honey dipper” (septic tank cleaner) dump sewage on a large cement slab so that he could study the most effective method of cleaning it up. He advocates the use of Hotsy™ steam cleaners for sewage cleanup. He first learned about the power and benefits of steam as a dry cleaner.

Bolden admits to being fascinated by the workings of a clothes dryer. As an RIA member Kurt is very aware of the association’s “Safe Harbor” settlement agreement with ThermaPure and counsels his students how not to exceed the 105° F limit.

Bolden remains an advocate of “in-place drying” on both commercial and residential losses.

Vapor pressure is the most difficult concept for students to understand.

He is working on a high pressure system for pressurizing and depressurizing drying interstitial spaces to dry insulation.

His dream is to “drive up to a wet building and zap it dry in an hour”.

IICRC water damage courses are frustrating to teach. Instructors must jump back and forth between providing solutions for real world challenges and the correct answers for the exam. Insurance companies want IICRC certified technicians. The only time anyone ever asked him if he was IICRC certified was when he was testifying in court.

Pros and Cons of industry standards. Pro-The standard does mandate the use of AFDs. Con-The new IICRC S-500 standard is 12 years behind the times and doesn’t include the latest and greatest innovations.

The best training method is hands-on where students can see, smell, and touch. He will be touring the US with a mobile training unit. Course subject matter includes: how to drop the top, how to change energy conditions in 15 minutes, how to dry things that people commonly throw away, learn how your equipment works best, etc.

On-line training, he opined “you can pay your secretary to take the exam”.

TPAs are carving bills down because contractors don’t have the necessary knowledge and training to defend their invoices.

Contractors don’t know how to invoice and get paid for their services.

Most new product development is being done by little guys working in their basements and garages.

Kurt credits both Lloyd Weaver and Claude Blackburn as being mentors to him. He battled with Claude and Dri-Eaz.

Consigli- The power of association, the place where honorable competitors can collaborate and share information to stay ahead of uneducated, government regulations and TPAs.

Brace yourself, Kurt plans to pushing the industry to the next level by flooding and drying his own home, a car and a boat. He’s flooding and drying his own home because someone challenged him to do it, he’s flooding the car and boat to improve salvage values for insurance carriers.

Bolden commented: If you aren’t confident in your own skills, should you really be working for others?

Status of the IICRC-Outside of the board of directors, officers and instructors the industry is unaware of the recent goings on at the IICRC. Plagued by politics, conflicts of interest and drama, the IICRC has lost sight of who they represent. Bolden commented: At the October meeting all he heard about were the problems and no solutions.

Bolden’s last word: As an industry we need to work together. We need to encourage the small guys to go make something, sell it and become a millionaire.

Today’s music: “We’re gonna move” by Elvis Presley  YouTube

Kurt is known to invest heavily both to educate himself and to prove a point.

Z-man signing off