Editor's Note: The December issue of R&R focused on some of the latest technological innovations in the restoration industry. Among the topics was the creation of virtual reality training through Storm Venture Group's SVG University (SVG U) Virtual Reality Goggles. SVG Founder Anthony Delmedico talks about this exciting new way to train the next generation of restorers in more depth in this web-exclusive Q&A session with R&R Editor-in-Chief Michelle Blevins
1.Tell me a little bit about yourself and Storm Ventures Group.
After high school, I enlisted in the Army and served overseas during the first Gulf War. After military service, I went on to college and eventually graduated with an MBA from a top 25 business school. After a short stint in boring corporate America and after my house in Minnetonka, Minnesota was affected by a storm, I saw a huge opportunity as an early industry entrepreneur in the multi-billion-dollar storm restoration industry. I started out knocking doors for another contractor, and soon launched my first restoration company from the basement of my home back in 1999. I eventually grew it to 18 states and $173M in sales over 12 years. Back then, we didn’t have all the bells and whistles we have now such as Facebook, Google Earth, measurement tools, Virtual Reality (VR) technology, etc.
I know the hassles and frustrations that many company owners face, and I also see the vast possibilities for innovation in this industry. I know a thing or two about leadership, training, technology, as well as what it takes to build a team and scale a company.
After almost 15 years rebuilding properties and communities after hurricanes, hailstorms, floods, and other catastrophic events, I formed Storm Ventures Group [SVG] to be the premier consulting, training, and joint venture firm for industry contractors working in the $100B+ storm restoration industry. SVG is a leader in training industry professionals how to scale and take their company to the next level. We provide contractors the training and tools to help them quickly recruit, hire, and train their teams to quickly help property owners recover after large storms and catastrophic events. The SVG team brings over 25 years of experience in commercial and residential restoration, roofing, and construction as well as best practices in leadership, training, and business foundation in the $100B+ storm restoration industry. www.StormVenturesGroup.com
In 2013, I published the Win The Game book, the first book to put the $100B+ storm restoration Industry on the map. Win The Game provides a highly-detailed blueprint for roofing & restoration contractors to learn how to scale their business in this rapidly growing and explosive industry. www.WinTheGameBook.com
We also host the online SVG Contractor Store (kind of like a Legal Zoom, but for the insurance restoration contractor!) We have provided pretty much every contract, form, document, AOB, AOC, contingency, service agreement, commercial contract and form, hiring agreement, pay plan, key position description, build contract, etc. We provide anything A to Z for contractors looking to launch, grow, or scale in the storm restoration industry. We custom brand these contracts, forms and documents, and deliver them same day to contractors all over the country. https://stormventuresgroup.com/contractor-store/
SVG University [SVG U] is our flagship product for industry contractors. SVG U is a virtual online training platform for general contractors, roofing, and restoration professionals. SVG U includes a full library of industry-specific training videos with courses, chapters, and testing to help contractors quickly recruit, onboard, and train new hires to scale their companies. This includes real-life examples of courses including knocking doors, to inspecting water, wind and hail damaged roofs, to learning water mitigation in large hotels and resorts on the coast of Naples, Florida after Hurricane Irma, to dealing with $1M+ residential fire losses in Pennsylvania. SVG U is the largest data collection point of industry-specific training, courses, skills, and knowledge.
The SVG annual Win The Storm Conference & Trade Show Expo [WTS] is the largest conference and tradeshow expo in the $100B+ storm restoration industry. We host over 3,000 attendees including owners, key managers, and top sales producers of fire/water restoration companies, roofing companies, and general contractors working in the industry. In addition to great main stage speakers and key industry leaders, we host a large tradeshow expo floor of many leading industry vendors. Contractors and their teams can also literally “Build Their Own University” this year at Win The Storm in Phoenix, Arizona (WTS-PHX), as we offer over 100+ optional industry-specific break-out sessions covering every detail on how to grow your contracting business. This annual event will be held Feb. 20-22 at the Phoenix Convention Center. www.WinTheStorm.com.
Earlier this year, we launched Contractor Rescue, a reality series for restoration and roofing companies working in the $100B+ storm restoration industry, whom are in dire need of business expertise. This is a real, raw, and funny look at what goes on behind the scenes at companies, and how SVG can mobilize training and resources from many in the industry to help them scale. https://youtu.be/aiVt_QppxqI
In early 2019 at the Win the Storm Conference in Las Vegas, we launched the SVG U Virtual Reality (VR) Goggles. Industry contractors and their teams can now train in a fully immersed 360-degree virtual reality experience. We also now offer company-specific 360-degree VR filming, editing for companies in any industry, and "white label" our new SVG U (VR) Goggles and VR app for any company in any industry to assist them in hiring/training their people on company-specific training, or help them promote their brand, product, or service to their customers. https://stormventuresgroup.com/product/svg-u-vr-training-goggles/
2. What are some of the issues you see within the restoration industry today when it comes to training/hiring/employee retention?
The labor shortage is a serious issue plaguing the restoration industry, and along with that comes the obstacle of recruiting, onboarding, and training. We are living in a Trump economy of very low unemployment. Schools for decades have focuses on jobs like attorneys, doctors, and technical, and have strayed from the trades. Contractors all over America are challenged to even get new recruits in the door, let alone attracting real talent!
It’s no secret, the construction industry as a whole is in the dinosaur ages compared to others. SVG aims to change that with our new SVG U and SVG U (VR) products for industry contractors. We are making contracting sexy and high-tech again! Previous under-investment in technology has been the root cause of low productivity. Innovation is key, and digital technologies are gaining traction. Our new SVG U Virtual Reality (VR) helps contactors attract and retain new hires and new talent, as well as provide industry-specific training to their staff and employees.
3. How did the idea of this virtual training system come about?
As a previous owner of a roofing/restoration company, I am fully aware of the difficulty in attracting new talent, and then also training new hires in the many industry-specific tasks necessary in the industry. I grew tired of training and re-training new employees, crews, and sales associates each year, as some would leave or some were hired for specific projects, leaving the company having to constantly find and train new staff members to continue to grow. The key to scaling is effective training, and nothing beats Virtual Training in this regard. In this day and age, nobody wants to read lengthy training manuals, manufacturer specs, or code books anymore. Nobody has the time or attention span to spend days or weeks in seminars or classes. Most of what they learn, they forget immediately when they walk out the door.
With VR training at the click of a button, new hires can be assigned to watch a series of courses or short videos on a variety of industry-specific tasks or job related skills. Real life, engaging examples include customer education, door knocking, how to evaluate a recently burned down house and begin remediation, how to mitigate water damage, etc. Users can download codes, statutes, rulings, in real-time, specifically related to that video, and also be tested on what they learned in that course. Company owners throughout the nation love Virtual Training, because they can see the test results of their staff and hold their new hires and employees accountable to the testing. This was never possible before.
Helping Companies Beat the Labor Shortage
The labor shortage is a serious issue plaguing the construction industry, and along with that comes recruiting, onboarding, and training.
The technology in the SVG U (VR) Goggles helps attract, train, and retain talent in the new Millennia. It has become increasingly difficult for roofing companies to recruit younger talent. Now they can use the SVG U (VR) Goggles during interviews, job fairs, career expos, etc. to motivate and communicate what the role entails, and send a message on their company culture too. This helps package up the opportunity as fun and lucrative.
The SVG U (VR) Goggles are used to train employees and subcontractors on scouting; conducting roofing and property inspections; roof assessments; storm damage and insurance claim process education; build and recovery processes; manufacturer specifications and warranties; business sales.
Easy To Use
Contractors love the SVG VR goggles because all they have to do is power it up, turn it on, and then use a laser pointer and click. They save hundreds of hours in training, save massive overhead in paying someone to train, and can train their staff indoors, regardless of weather – extreme heat, cold, rain, sleet, ice, snow, you name it!
Edu-tainment is as important as the technology itself. The SVG U (VR) Goggles are fun to use. Nobody wants to watch a boring tutorial or video that puts them to sleep!
4. Do you have ideas of how to expand it beyond roofing?
We recently completed new fire/smoke restoration and water mitigation courses with corresponding testing. We have had many remediation companies approach us to start making more courses, in addition to our traditional roofing-related courses.
In addition to technical training, the core of SVG University is about hiring people and building a contracting business with the theme: Sell. Build. Collect. Most of this type of training is applicable to any contracting business. The advanced courses provide MBA-level tactics to scale a business in essentially any industry.
Industry manufacturers and a few large suppliers have requested SVG to film and produce training courses and help them create their own custom branded University with our proprietary online university and testing platform, as well as film VR 360 courses and custom branded VR Goggles for them. So we are now producing “private label” SVG U (VR) Goggles and custom branded training platforms for any type of company, and in any industry. We are expanding our new Virtual Reality Training App Technology as well as our 360 Film and Production capabilities to help many companies who can benefit from VR! I recently launched a VR yoga class with another company and it was fantastic. Her clients loved it and she is growing her business beyond the studio.
With Virtual Reality, the sky is the limit.
5. How do you hope this type of training will draw more people into the trades?
Education & Entertainment = Edutainment
VR Training Goggles are becoming increasingly popular because edutainment is as important as the technology itself. VR is fun to use and watch. It’s tangible. It’s interesting. It’s real. And it’s brand new to the industry which adds to the novelty factor. As a former construction company owner, I know the hassles and headaches that contractors face. Attracting top talent, hiring, recruiting, training and retaining staff are at the top of that list.
6. What is required of contractors to use this training system?
SVG provides everything they need at the click of a button. If they are using SVG U, they simply need a computer, iPad, or Smartphone to access our training platform. If they are using SVG U (VR) Goggles, we provide the laser pointer and the goggles. The goggles come pre-loaded with the training courses and the customer tutorials on the insurance claim process. A business owner can reuse the goggles for multiple staff members. Rain or shine, new hires can train indoors in a real-life virtual platform with a laser pointer and a set of goggles. Property owners also love watching the insurance claim process inside the SVG U (VR) Goggles, which is a great tool for Sales Representatives and Estimators.
Courses currently include scouting; conducting roofing and property inspections; roof assessments; storm damage and insurance claim process education; build and recovery processes; manufacturer specifications and warranties; business sales. Regardless of weather conditions such as rain or cold, new hires can train 24/7 indoors in a real-life virtual platform with a laser pointer and a set of goggles.
Contractors can call 330-57-STORM to schedule a complimentary personal demo with one of our reps to guide you through the experience, and then get you onboarded. It’s that simple. Welcome to the future of the industry.
7. Anything else?
SVG is now fully committed to assisting companies in any industry film, edit, produce and develop their own company-specific training platform to train their teams with their protocols, as well as assist companies with white-labeling our SVG U Virtual Reality (VR). We have created the technology and apps, and are able to provide a very low-cost advantage to many companies both small and large, create custom training platforms to help them scale their company, and/or advanced VR technology to help them get more customers, increase sales, and dominate their market space.
SVG U Virtual Reality Goggles www.SalesTrainingVR.com
Storm Ventures Group (SVG) www.StormVenturesGroup.com
SVG University (SVG U) www.SVGUniversity.com
Win The Storm Conference www.WinTheStorm.com