Attacking the Market
How the new restoration company in town is building business and expanding nationwide
CEO: Darren Gradus
I came to Canada four and a half years ago from Israel. I landed here with a three-week-old baby, a two-year-old, my dog and my amazing wife. We moved into a hotel for 10 days, found a house and then immediately started Canada Restoration Services, which provides solutions and services for water, fire, mould and asbestos. But I started building the company six months before I even came to Canada. I had my strategy, mission, vision, values, expansion plan—everything was set in place. I became interested in restoration through my brother, who does restoration in the US. So I analyzed the Canadian market—the more competition there is means the bigger the market is—and there’s a lot of competition here. So we came to Canada with a very aggressive, ambitious goal and as soon as we got here, we got started.
The company began with just three employees—my wife, a friend and myself—working in the Greater Toronto Area. After a year and a half, we decided that we had the right people, the right training and everything in place to carry out the expansion. We opened in Montreal in 2010 and Ottawa-Gatineau in 2012. At the beginning of this year we opened in Edmonton and Calgary and we’re going to open up in Vancouver before July 1 this year. If all goes well, we’ll open an office out east this year as well. Over the years, we have grown the company very carefully—surgically—into geographic areas in which we think we can make a difference. But breaking into the current market and gaining market share has definitely been a challenge. People still believe that the bigger you are, the better you are. I’m not hoping to become the biggest company in Canada. I really want to be the best. In fact, users of HomeStars.com have rated us Best Mould Removal Company in Toronto for the past two years. One reason for that is we return customer inquiries that are submitted to us between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. within 10 minutes. Instantly there is a response to the customer. We get into the home before other companies even call the customer back. We’re constantly looking to improve the methodology, to reduce the actual losses, to raise customer satisfaction, and to raise broker satisfaction. The key, for us, has been to perform quality and honest work and establish very good relationships with the various different organizations and people we work with.
Another challenge has been hiring and then training the right people. But it is essential. My employees are trained to not just know what to do, but how to think. What is the best course of action? How can we do it differently? How can we save? How can we make it a win/win situation? Our motto is, ‘It’s not just what we do, it’s how we do it.’ ” I have a background in the Israeli army, which is considered top notch, and we attack losses in the same way that I learned in the army: there is a system to identify the problem, we fix it, minimize casualties (make the claim as low as possible), and we do what we can to help.
As told to Regan Reid
Copyright 2013 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the March 2013 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.