What's your story?

(Blake T. Spann, CMI) #1

I’m always interested in hearing how people got their start in the home inspection industry. I’d like to hear some of your stories…

1.How old were you when you first opened up your company?
2.What made you decide to become a home inspector?
3.What was the biggest challenge you faced during the entire process?

(Nick Gromicko, CMI) #2
  1. 16 or even younger.
  2. It’s a high-margin business.
  3. InterNACHI didn’t exist at the time… no www.nachi.org/benefits.htm It was horrible. I really don’t even understand how we operated without InterNACHI back then.
(Ian M. Robertson, 16000067783) #3
  1. 15 (beat you by one year Nick :))
  2. It just made sense.
  3. Balancing family and work (in that order)
(Blake T. Spann, CMI) #4

wow 15 & 16…can’t imagine trying to start a company that young

(Nick Gromicko, CMI) #5

I didn’t have a company till I was 18, but I was in business before that. I made more money than both my parents combined by the time I turned 17. I had the best business in the world (K-Mart made me rich). I should have stuck with it.

(Ian M. Robertson, 16000067783) #6

What was that?

(Chris Jacobi, HI01200061) #7

Blake,
what is your story?

(Nick Gromicko, CMI) #8

K-Mart used to sell an entire above-ground pool kit including pump and filter for $99. I started installing selling them installed for $399 then went to $499 (financed, pay me a little whenever you can). I could install 3 myself on a weekend. 4 if I hired my friends to dig out the sod and rake up the stones.

I would hit Ryan Homes plans. Nice level lots. Middle class neighborhoods. Lots of kids. Most homes had both parents working. Perfect.

Once I install one, every neighbor in the plan ordered one. I spent zero on marketing.

So one day I’m eating dinner across from my parents listening to them tell me how I’m going to one day make $12K a year some day, if I keep up with school, go to college, and get a steady job (at this point in life, I’m in H.S., but still can’t read. I later taught myself to read). This is 1978 mind you.

Anyway, I just couldn’t take it any longer. So I asked them what they earned. I about fell off my chair. So they asked me how much money I was making installing above-ground pools on the weekend (I was making way more on my weekends than both of them combined). They then fell off their chairs. Well actually, they both stood up out of their chairs with their jaws hanging open and their eyes all bugged out. I looked at their facial expressions and knew right then and there what I had to do. The next day I quit high school.

(Greg W. Mathias, CCHI, CMI) #9
  1. I was 40 when I started my inspection company but had a contracting company when I was 21.
  2. I broke my knee playing baseball with the scouts on night (shattered the top of the tibea and blew out the side). Couldn’t go back to heavy framing and finishing because of the injury and always wanted to be an inspector. While I sat on my behind for 9 months I started to take courses and bought a franchise.
  3. Money was likely my biggest obstacle. When you don’t have a paycheck for nearly a year it’s tough to come up with the start up costs. It’s all good now and I wouldn’t change my life path for a second.
(Travis J. Coleman) #10

Great story!

(Frank Rotte, , CPI, San Diego Home Inspector) #11

That’s funny. I did the same thing with the pools. I worked in the patio dept. at Gemco (membership store similar to Kmart) . I sold pools, among other patio and yard items, and would install them for people on my day off. I was 16 at the time.

(Blake T. Spann, CMI) #12

Great story!

(Blake T. Spann, CMI) #13

What about you Chris?

My story is pretty basic…

  1. I opened INSPEKT this year at the age of 27.
  2. At the age of 21 I wanted to leave Indiana so I packed my car and moved to SW Florida…I drove around everyday walking into HVAC,electrical,roofing shops to see if they were hiring. Finally found a roofing job(pretty rough job in south Florida during the summer)but did it anyway to make a paycheck. About the time I was almost dead from heat exhaustion, I saw an ad on craigslist for “Jack of all trades” Ended up being Russell Hensel. He took me under his wing and taught me everything I know about home inspections. Years later after I got married,we made the tough decision to move back to Indiana and I decided it’d be a shame to let all that experience go to waste.
    3.The biggest challenge BY FAR was money. Its a sickening feeling spending every dollar your family has on something that may or may not work. Also had to borrow some, which is never fun.
(Tim Spargo, CMI) #14
  1. About 29 years old (had been contracting before that).
  2. RE Broker suggested that I look into performing Real Estate Inspections, never had any plans to do so.
  3. Challenge is/was probably communication between all parties of what we as an industry actually do, and the perception of what is done. Disparaging differences between REA’s and consumers between expectations etc.

The other challenge is that, like others… I’ve though of expanding, but the more I’ve learned about topic, the help we would have are really employees, and Worker’s Comp/OSHA etc are challenges (Confined spaces, hazards etc that we as Sole Inspectors are exempt from… employees are not). There never really seems to be much information/discussion given except, here’s how to get more business :smiley: I’m familiar with employees and safety as a contractor, but would seem that from the inspection side of things, there probably is more safety concerns for employees in this business than the other. Maybe a topic?

All said, it’s been a great experience to have helped others!

(Chris Jacobi, HI01200061) #15

Lived in Indiana all of my life.
Graduated from Purdue University in engineering in 1995.
I really wanted to own my own business and wanted to get away from a desk job, so I started Excellent Home Inspections in 2012.
Here I am at age 41 inspecting homes part-time. I love it!

Next year I’m going full-time.

(Greg W. Mathias, CCHI, CMI) #16

Once you do you will wonder why you didn’t go full time from the start.

Great stories everyone. But we still haven’t heard from the OP!!:mrgreen::mrgreen:

(Andrew A. Griffin, CMI) #17
  1. 30 when I started my company
  2. Had the background and education, didn’t want to be a GC anymore, and inspections were a natural fit.
  3. Money, and making sure my wife didn’t kill me in my sleep when I had to buy something (when there was no money). I now believe that it is easier to start a business when you are not married because if you fail you only have to worry about yourself. As soon as you add a wife/kids into the mix everything becomes more complicated.
(Blake T. Spann, CMI) #18

I agree…If I had kids I probably wouldn’t have tried it, it was hard enough to pull the trigger as it is with just a wife, dog and cat

(Joshua L. Frederick) #19

Should never let thought cross your mind or be in your vocabulary.
Make it work, period.
FWIW, I have a piece of paper taped to my desk that I see everyday, and it’s my “life motto” so-to-speak. It reads, “If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”

(Joshua L. Frederick) #20

Bingo! You’re on to something here. A huge challenge/problem in this profession, IMO.
Why doesn’t INACHI do a training video on something like this?