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PuroClean boss knows his disasters


Disaster-mitigation firm PuroClean repairs the damage after fire, flood and more.

Here’s something to think about the next time you’re lying in bed counting sheep: One in 55 homes will experience water damage and one in 250 will be damaged by a fire. If these actuarial stats don’t lull you to sleep, they might get your gears turning about the business opportunities to be had in the disaster mitigation biz.

Mark Davis is one of the few people to find comfort in such alarming odds. He’s the CEO and chairman of PuroClean, a Florida-based disaster mitigation franchise that’s in the midst of a growth streak. Now in his fourth stint in the category, after buying an 80-percent stake in the company in 2015, PuroClean is expecting 60 new franchisees and a 30 percent revenue jump thanks to steady population growth, a cultural shift at the company and two big-ticket insurance partnerships that led Davis to increase his growth projections for 2017.

“There’s absolutely population growth, which leads to facility growth, meaning there is more square footage every month in the U.S. than there was the month before,” Davis said. “Our industry has a built-in growth mechanism even if it were to remain static, which it doesn’t because of the fact that the country’s growing.”

In franchising, nobody knows a disaster like Davis. He purchased Rocky Mountain Catastrophe in 1996 when he was just 27. He later sold the company before co-founding Belfor USA Group, which grew from $35 million to $400 million in annual revenue during his tenure. Eight years later, he sold out of Belfor to purchase Signal Restoration, and he remains its co-CEO.

These days, he’s been the CEO and chairman of PuroClean for a year and a half, and is proud to announce he’s spent more than 130 days in airplanes last year visiting the brand’s 240 units in the U.S. and Canada.

“You can’t be aware and involved from behind. I actually love it, it’s in my DNA and I’ve done this all my business career,” Davis said, referring to his high-touch style and many traveling miles. He expects to add even more frequent flyer miles during 2017.

Mark Davis

Mark Davis is CEO and chairman of PuroClean. He bought an 80 percent stake in the company in 2015.

Last year, its first full year under new ownership, PuroClean added 25 new franchisees. Its annual revenues are divided 70/30 between residential and commercial/industrial clients—although its commercial and industrial business is growing at a faster rate.

Beyond changing its corporate culture and bolstering its training program, PuroClean has worked to blanket future markets with awareness about its brand and services offered. It’s spreading the word with preemptive Facebook, LinkedIn and radio advertising with a goal of enticing prospective franchisees and owners of non-franchised disaster clean-up companies.

“It’s more and more difficult for independent restoration companies to get business,” Davis said. “A conversion is a fantastic option for a small- to medium-sized restoration company who can’t go out and get national accounts themselves.”

Like the auto and collision repair industries, disaster mitigation is increasingly dependent upon partnerships with national insurance providers. Davis said his industry is seeing a similar situation where mom-and-pop-type operators are missing out on insurance work that’s largely divvied up among associated service providers with national footprints.

PuroClean was owned by Service Brands International co-founder David McKinnon. SBI was acquired by the Dwyer Group in 2015, and its other brands include Molly Maid, Mr Handyman and ProTect Painters. McKinnon retained a 20 percent stake in PuroClean in the deal, which closed in October of 2015.

Davis said the previous ownership was overly focused on franchising, rather than the specific industry, and he said the franchisor’s new aim is the down-and-dirty details of the business through an improved training program that includes a new online component that’s accessible outside the initial training period.

Davis said he’s leading by example and demonstrating that the company and its management team are on the move.

“You can’t ask people to do things that you aren’t in essence setting the pace for,” he said. “We’re elevating our tempo, we’re elevating our expectations we have in ourselves. We’re elevating the expectations of franchisees to have for us.”

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