In 1975, the recession hit. Tom Broertjes had built four spec homes. "I lost my coat but was left with my shirt," he says. A decade later, with interest rates soaring at 17%, he lost his shirt -- but stayed in business. In 1985, he entered insurance restoration franchising and in 1992, became part of Disaster Kleenup International (DKI). His company grows through marketing to adjusters or agents and referrals in Lake County (pop. 500,000).
Broertjes delegates so well that he doesn't sell any of his company's jobs (225 last year) and works less than 35 hours a week. He relies on a well-trained team, schooled in infrared camera technology, to find water leaks, and soda-blasting equipment for fire cleanup. His daughter, Yvette, is the company bookkeeper.
Employee tenure and training (he has four CLCs and two Certified Restorers on staff) are key to his success. He doles out $40,000 annually in incentives to field staff when they beat job budgets. One of his main goals is a lofty one: increase employees' personal satisfaction.