The founder of Dri Eaz discusses life before, during, and after property restoration
The term “Founding Father” comes from the March 2007 cover of Cleaning & Restoration Magazine. Pete Consigli wrote an article titled The Four Faces on Mount Restoration wherein he said this about Claude’s entrance into the carpet cleaning profession,
“In the mid to late 1970s, Claude was a struggling young father and carpet cleaner with two little mouths to feed. With only $35 dollars in the bank, he moved his family to Skagit County, Wash., about 60 miles north of Seattle. After paying $27 (of the $35) for a partial rent payment on his apartment, he had $8 to fill the refrigerator. He had no choice but to get out and knock on some doors; he needed money and he got it by cleaning carpets.”
His story reinforces the truth that there are no substitutes for hard work in this industry which has been built up by people both willing to try something new and willing to share what they have learned by trial and error. Mr. Blackburn’s first invention, a high density foam block that he would mail to cleaners nationwide and thereby founding Dri Eaz from his basement. Out of fear of being copied by others he set out to create his first air mover.
Claude shares an interesting story about the device that would become the flagship of his company that would grow into the industry leader for water damage restoration equipment. The man credited with creating the first air mover, Lloyd Weaver, publicly challenged Mr. Blackburn which only deepened his commitment to making his then fledgling invention work.
Pete writes of Lloyd, the second face on Mount Restoration, “Lloyd introduced the first specialty designed Porta Dryer for on-location wet carpet drying. While that might not seem like much in today’s sophisticated world, 35 years ago Lloyd’s methodology challenged the rug cleaning establishment and its in-plant wet carpet service.” With the help of Harlan Wright their plastic mold prototype was developed in the early 80’s.
Claude noticed a negative trend with carpet cleaners, “Twenty percent of our industry is going out of business every year,” and wanted to find a way to keep entrepreneurs like himself working in the slow season. As he innovated products, he also developed methods for training contractors to utilize the tools in a manner that could be repeated. Consigli notes, “Claude was sometimes mocked for pricing his seminars under $100. But he knew exactly what he was doing; he consistently played to packed rooms, while the attendance of others’ seminars dropped off.” Claude wanted to help his fellow professionals to shorten their DANG learning curve.
In addition to providing greater details about his journey in water damage restoration, Claude shared some interesting principles that transformed his business while a guest on IAQ Radio (Episode 473). Mr. Blackburn and a third member of the Founding Fathers Quartet, Cliff “The Z Man” Zlotnik discuss the evolution of the industry. Claude discussed the benefits of profit sharing, “That decision made me the most money of anything I ever did. Most other business owners are afraid to share the financials, I made more money in the five years after implementation than in all the years before.”
When Claude sold Dri-Eaz in 2006 it had:
The opening segment of The DYOJO Podcast goes into some depth regarding Claude’s post retirement activities which include efforts to elevate pickleball to an Olympic sport. A local paper dubbed him The Pickleball Philanthropist.
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