One Florida franchise is restoring homes and businesses while it helps veterans build livelihoods after their military careers.
VetCor is a Tampa-based restoration company that deals with water damage, mold and other related services in commercial and residential properties and, as the name implies, they primarily deploy veterans as technicians.
“Our policy is that we hire veterans and those who share similar values,” CEO and president Paul Huszar explained during a recent interview with Franchising USA.
Along with their headquarters in Tampa, the company has offices in Fort Myers and Davie in Florida.
They’ve just started franchising to veterans and their family members and, in fact, held their first discovery day recently.
VetCor was formed in 2013 and started operations in 2014. Huszar bought the restoration company in October of 2014 and has been running it since then.
It was founded by David Howard, an army officer of five years who had a distinguished career in the insurance industry.
Howard had been hired to run a forensic engineering company which performed investigations for insurance companies to protect those firms against fraudulent sinkhole claims.
However, state legislation was passed in Florida that helped combat these fraudulent claims, so that company’s revenue started waning. They hired Howard to take over as CEO in October of 2013 and his experience with that position led to him creating VetCor.
Howard found that about 60 percent of homeowners’ insurance claims are water related and he saw an opportunity to create a company that would help home and business owners while also doing something for veterans.
Huszar was brought on board because he is a professional licenced engineer who had just retired from the army after 23 years. A graduate of the prestigious United States Military Academy West Point, Huszar holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Masters of Civil Engineering from the University of Washington.
Howard received Huszar’s resume and called him up.
“I thought I was interviewing for the forensics engineering company and he offered me the opportunity to be the president and first employee and to start VetCor,” Huszar recalled.
He saw this as a golden opportunity.
The last job Huszar had in the army was the Dean of the Army’s Engineering School. In that position, Huszar was trying to find a way for army engineers — who are primarily involved in building trades like plumbing, electrical and carpentry — to get civilian credentials in their given trade. However, because that accreditation is done at the state level, it was not possible.
Running VetCor gave him a kind of workaround for that.
Now, as president of VetCor, he could help veterans get jobs in restoration because restoration credentials are simpler to procure and consist of a nationwide certification rather than a state license.
“I was passionate about this opportunity to create more opportunities for veterans,” Huszar said.
Post Disaster Relief
The need for a service like VetCor is an obvious one in Florida where the state is subject to monumental amounts of rain during the hurricane season. But, outside of major storms, there are still many instances of water damage in homes and businesses from things like dishwashers, air conditioners, washing machines and other water reliant appliances breaking or malfunctioning and causing water damage, which can quickly lead to mold damage if not handled correctly.
Apart from water related damage, VetCor also handles fire and tornado damage among other restoration services.
Insurance companies say their biggest challenge is hiring contractors who are able to respond quickly after natural disasters. VetCor can do that, Huszar pointed out, because everyone involved has military training and nobody enters a disaster zone and executes an operation plan better than the military.
That is also what makes veterans ideal franchisees.
“The essence of franchising is really training, standardizing and replicating,” Huszar noted, “and nobody does that better than the US military.”
Training & Support
Ideal franchisees for VetCor are veterans who still hold military values close to heart and who are looking to get into a second career after they’ve served, especially if they have business experience and are keen to start their own business.
Franchisees can expect full training and support.
Huszar said COO Scott Walden, who was a sergeant major in the army, has developed both the internal training and franchisee training. Initial training for franchisees will take place at the VetCor training academy in Tampa and will consist of how to run a VetCor franchise.
Eventually, Huszar wants the academy to be a certification center for the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, which is the governing body for the restoration industry.
Initially, VetCor will target Florida, as the company is a preferred vendor for over 40 insurance companies in that state. But, Huszar added, they are ready, willing and able to accept franchisees right across the country.
Veterans make ideal franchisees, he noted, because they are familiar with following a standard operating procedure and then refining it and making it better.
Although VetCor doesn’t have a veteran discount for their franchise fee, the president noted that the fee is kept low to act as a constant veteran discount.
“Our franchise fee is lower than the other restoration companies in the industry, even with a veteran’s discount,” he noted.
While they are just getting started with franchising now, VetCor is well on its way to establishing itself as a premier restoration company and a destination for business-minded veterans who want to use their training and experience in their civilian lives.
2019 – Recognized as Fast 50 company by the Tampa Bay Business Journal
2018 – Top 50 Companies to Watch by Grow Florida USAA
2018 – Mission Award Winner
2018 – Patriots in Business Award for Small Business, sponsored by Chief Executive Group and Thayer Development Group
2017 – Greater Tampa Chambers of Commerce Startup of the Year Award
2016 – Brighthouse Regional Business Award for Startup of the Year in Tampa Bay