Restoring Success: Four F's of Restoration: Fear, Fun, Failure, & Family (& Doing Good)
A 17-year restoration journey.
Kids, dog, new house, all in the year 2000, I was 26 years old and working as an accountant, pregnant with my second child. My life was going as I had planned: graduated college, got a job, got married, got a dog, had children, and bought my first home.
Very pregnant with my second child, my husband and I (he was a claims manager in an insurance company) decided I would take a couple months off and find a job closer to our home. It would be easy for me to find a job in my field after I had our daughter. It was a plan.
Things were going according to plan until they were not. Soon after I resigned from my job, my husband was sent away on a business trip to be told his division was eliminated. My husband, who grew up in construction and had spent 10 years in insurance claims, had a vision. “I want to start a restoration company”.
FEAR. We had no money and a lot of responsibility so the idea of starting a company in an industry that I knew little about was terrifying. Armed with a vision and few resources; the journey began. I would never recommend this type of capital funding but the truth is we maxed out all of our credit cards, cashed in our retirement savings, and borrowed from family to buy dehumidifiers, air movers, and some other business essentials. Our company colors are green and gold, not because of strategy or a marketing plan, but because the vehicles we already had were green and gold and we wanted to have a professional presentation. As I look back, I see this FEAR was a driving force for me.
Everything was going very well and we added to the team. Today, I work alongside some of the same people that were there in the early days. We were having FUN. The company was developing its own personality and becoming a being.
In less than 4 years, FEAR was back. I woke up, I remember the day and the feeling clearly: panic and chaos. I was an orderly accountant that focused on numbers, documents, and process. There were lots of people in the company, jobs coming in, everything was flying at a fast pace in what seemed like disorder. It was not; however, it felt this way to me. I knew we needed to grow operationally to support our evolving team and company and I lacked the know-how that I needed to have a positive impact. My husband was the technical person who could dry, build, and fix almost anything broken or damaged. “There is no crying in restoration…” (a friend once told me) but I had a melt down and cried. I wanted process and order and I exclaimed to my husband, “I don’t know any of it! You have to do it!” He calmly looked up at me and said simply, “then learn it.”
I angrily stomped off to my office, sulking a bit, and within the hour realized, “he is right.” I picked up the phone and scheduled an in-house Water Restoration Technician class with Ron Valega, who today remains a life-long friend, and the person who changed my view on my new career as a restoration professional.
I became very passionate about my own restoration education as well as our teams. I had so much FUN learning the science behind what we do, I used my new-found knowledge to develop our processes and operating procedures.
Armed with successful growth and education, we were ready for more. We attempted to open a satellite branch. For all intents and purposes, we FAILED. This attempt to open a branch location was the first of many FAILURES I experienced in my journey. Each failure was actually a reward. I learned and grew with each failure and these experiences have made me who I am today and helped me grow professionally.
In 2012, we opened our training center, the Restoration Technical Institute. It is FUN meeting other restorers, making new friends, and sharing passion and experiences in the industry. It FEELS GOOD to share with other restorers and be a part of their educational journeys.
FAMILY: I have the opportunity to work with my husband and father who is instrumental in our human resource department and is also an instructor of insurance-related courses. My co-workers have become my extended family and now my youngest son has a dream to become what he refers to as a “Professional Restorer” someday, like mommy and daddy. At age six, his first-grade report about a hero in the community was about a “Professional Restorer”. He proudly showed his class moisture meters and explained how they worked. He drew a picture of how he would rebuild a house damaged by fire. He told them it is sometimes challenging because you have to work long hours but he wants to do it so he can help people. I held my breath during his meter presentation when one of his class mates asked him how much the reading would be if the house was “flooded full of water.” He paused and gave it a moment of thought and proudly responded, “100%!”
FEEL GOOD: Over 17 years later, I was working with people who started as inexperienced technicians and apprentices; now have key leadership positions and are leaders in their fields as well as advanced restoration designations. Being stopped by customers as I go about town, they tell me of their gratitude to the team who helped them. As members of our community who give back of our time and resources, it FEELS GOOD to give. Meeting other restorers, seeing students’ light bulbs go off and watching others pave a pathway of success in our industry all FEELS GOOD.
It is the FEAR that I had overcome, the FAILURES that I had learned from, the FUN that I have, my FAMILY, and because what I do every day makes me FEEL so GOOD that I love the restoration industry.