Disasters-natural and otherwise-can strike at any moment. Floods, fires, tornadoes, even backed-up sewers and broken water pipes can wreak havoc on homes and businesses.
Dealing with the aftermath-waterlogged furnishings, mold, structural damage and other devastation-is what Indiana Restoration Services does 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Co-owners Dan Hanlin and Darren Peck didn't start out with a detailed business plan to run a disaster-recovery business with $3 million plus in annual revenue.
"We got into the business by pure, dumb luck," Hanlin said. "I was 19 and Darren was 20 when we started a janitorial company. That quickly led to cleaning carpets and that quickly led to doing water-damage and restoration work."
Financing the business meant initially not taking home a paycheck.
"We actually started our business with $500," Hanlin said. "Neither of us had house payments or kids, so pretty much since we started, the majority of our money has gone back into the business."
They have also worked hard on building "controlled growth"-growing revenue 20 percent to 25 percent each year. And they have invested in hiring and retaining good employees, and providing opportunities for professional training and certification.
All Indiana Restoration Services staff receive training and certification from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification and the Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration.
Doing residential and commercial restoration work requires knowledge of different construction techniques. Fire or water damage can devastate a business.
One client was Hurco Cos. Inc., a global industrial-automation company located in Indianapolis. In 2003, just a week before the Brickyard 400 race, a large water main broke on a Saturday and damaged roughly 100,000 square feet of warehouse and office space.
"They had their largest customer appreciation event scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday," Hanlin said. "We started the job on Saturday evening, and we had it ready for them on Wednesday," he said.
"Indiana Restoration Services did the almost unimaginable," Hurco Plant Manager Jim Kawaguchi said. "I had heard of IRS from another company, and they were in our warehouse within two hours. They kept everyone calm and focused and were very experienced in managing a problem like this."
Tom Fee, Indiana division warranty service manager for Dallas-based Centex Homes, concurred.
"They provide all of the services we need to repair any problem associated with water intrusion. We build in dozens of neighborhoods in the Indianapolis metro area, so it is imperative that we have a contractor that responds quickly and gets the job done. IRS does just that," he said.
A big challenge facing companies such as IRS is shrinking insurance reimbursements for losses.
"Ever since the terrorist attacks, the insurance industry has changed," Hanlin said. "They're not covering as many claims; they're raising deductibles and canceling people even with one claim." People are afraid to turn in claims.
Another challenge is being an independent company instead of a franchise.
"It's difficult to compete with their national marketing, but it's not difficult to compete with their quality," Hanlin said.
So how does a company that is at the mercy of circumstances beyond its control plan for growth?
"We have to increase our market share, get good people to sell our services and have a good product to sell," Peck said.
"The quality of your work does more than anything to help with growth," Hanlin said. "Quality work will sustain longterm growth."
Dan Hanlin, left, and Darren Peck run Noblesville-based Indiana Restoration Services, which specializes in fire and flood recovery for residential and commercial clients.