Small Business of the Year Regional Finalist: Berks Fire Water Restorations

Apr 8, 2013

This is the first in a series profiling the seven regional finalists for 2013 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award. The winner will be announced on April 30 at America's Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C.

Great Lakes Region: Berks Fire Water Restorations, Inc.

Berks Fire Water Restorations, Inc. specializes in the restoration and reconstruction of residential and commercial properties damaged by fire, mold, sewage, smoke, storm, water, wind, or other damage. President and CEO Ted Lavender and COO Lisa Lavender lead a 45-member team of restoration technicians, carpenters, and tradesmen who provide 24 hour/7 day emergency services with a one-hour response time. Why and how did you start your business?

Ted: The thought process came in the late 1990s when I was working in the insurance industry.

Lisa: I was pregnant with our second child and was in accounting. I had decided to take a break in my career. A couple of weeks after I resigned, Ted’s company restructured and his position was eliminated. That kind of pushed his vision along and gave us the fuel to get started on Berks Fire Water. Tell us about your Restoration Technical Institute.

Lisa: Over the years, I caught some of Ted’s entrepreneurial spirit and had my own vision. Through years of developing our own in-house training programs and providing continuing education opportunities for insurance professionals, we recognized a geographical void in restoration and related training. In August 2012, we opened the Restoration Technical Institute as a training center for restoration, insurance, and other related industries, as well as for our in-house staff. Our goal is for students to have a memorable training experience so that they as well as their colleagues return. What’s it like to run a business together while raising three kids?

Ted: The secret is that we strategically have our offices far apart. We communicate via email, sync our Outlook calendars, and meet during the day, maybe twice a day.

Lisa: We have most of our meetings at 4:30 in the morning. But we are moving to a new building. One of our concerns is that our offices will be next to each other, and only one of them has a bathroom. I think after Ted having his own bathroom for the last 10 years, it’s my turn.

Ted: But a good leader of a company always has contingency plans. What she doesn’t know is that we are putting up another building and made sure it had plumbing and water. So I may build myself a larger office out there, and we will have separation all over again.

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