Purofirst in the News

The Hunter Doesn't Need to Search for Disasters
Business First of Louisville
September 23, 2005
by, Brent Adams

It's a soggy Tuesday morning as the remnants of devastating Hurricane Katrina bring bands of heavy rain to Louisville. Rob Hunter sits in his executive chair and stares out the window, knowing the deluge will keep his telephones ringing.

Hunter, who owns Purofirst Disaster Services Inc. with his mother, Barbara Hunter, knows his 30 employees will be stretched to their limits to keep up with the demand.

It's a way of life for Hunter, whose business is the nation's largest Purofirst disaster-remediation franchise in the United States by revenue. Tamarac, Fla.-based PuroSystems Inc. has 107 Purofirst franchisees in the United States. All specialize in fire, water and mold damage mitigation.

Hunter's franchise responds to businesses and homeowners within a two-hour drive of Louisville who encounter floods, fires, tornadoes, vandalism or any other catastrophe imaginable. They clean up -- and, in Hunter's case, repair -- damage.

Hunter said he expects revenue to increase to about $5.8 million in 2005 from about $4.9 million in 2004.

It's not a business for the faint of heart. Hunter said he and his staff often are placed in the unenviable task of trying to appease those affected by disaster, while at the same time trying to meet the demands of the insurance companies that pay the tab for work.

Hunter, who worked until 11 p.m. the previous day cleaning up water damage to rooms on the first floor of the Hurstbourne Marriott hotel, discussed the highs and lows of his business.

Why did you choose to get into the disaster-remediation business?
"I had been in construction (as an independent contractor) for years, primarily working on post offices. I wanted to ... diversify, and I saw a huge market (in Louisville) for a company that can do mitigation, but also the renovations that go along with it."

What is the business like for you and your team?
"It's very fast-paced. We have eight trucks, and they are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's pretty demanding. You're dealing with people who are distraught because they're in the middle of a catastrophe, and you have to keep that customer informed."

How do you balance pleasing the customer with pleasing the insurance company paying for the work?
"It's very difficult. Customers just want things to return to the way they were, and insurance companies are squeezing hard right now to save every dollar they can. When you have situations like (Katrina), they look at each claim that much closer."

What do you do when your 30 workers aren't enough to handle the volume of calls coming in?
"We do hire temporary help. Good temps are hard to find, but we cross-train our employees, so we can break up crews and send them to work with inexperienced workers. Occasionally, we will hire enough (temporary workers) to double our staff. We can't take on any jobs that require any more than that."

Are you facing many changes in your industry?
"We have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on new, high-tech equipment for removing smoke and mold. We also have been very aggressive in our marketing approach because many of the insurance companies have gone to (preferred) vendor programs, so we have to get our name out there. ... We have two, full-time marketers who contact insurance companies, plumbing companies, office-building managers and just about anyone else we feel could benefit from our services."

Big 50 2005: Movers & Shakers - Rob Hunter
Remodeling Magazine
May 1, 2005
by, Leah Thayer

Bad weather is good business for Purofirst Disaster Services. When storms collapse roofs or lightning ignites buildings, one of the company's seven emergency crews can dispatch in minutes “at any hour of day or night,” says Rob Hunter. Giving crew members their own trucks, so they don't have to go to the warehouse and pick one up, is just one of his trump cards in the increasingly challenging business of disaster restoration.

“The industry is changing so much,” says Hunter, with insurers “trying to squeeze out every single dollar. I'm a firm believer that you've got to change with the industry or be eaten up.”
His company, the second-to-largest Purofirst franchise in the nation, is in no such danger. Its new, $1.3 million facility streamlines the process of packing, cleaning, and storing the possessions of damaged homes. Two full-time marketers pay monthly visits to every insurance agency within 60 or 70 miles. And Hunter's employees, almost half of whom have been with him for five or more years, have “the best tools” to do their jobs, with benefits and compensation to match.