Owning a construction company in Nevada’s volatile real estate market can be a roller coaster ride, and a lot of cars went off the rails when the recession hit. At that time, Mike Grashuis and his father owned a company specializing in commercial and public works construction in northern Nevada. “It was a very good business for a lot of years,” Grashuis said. “We had 70 employees working on city, state and federal projects. But when the recession came, there were no more public works projects, and business came to a standstill.”
Grashuis and his wife, Kim, decided they needed a more stable source of income for their family. While searching for a niche in the construction market that was more “recession-resistant,” they heard about ServPro, the largest franchisor of companies doing restoration work, mainly for insurance companies. Local ServPro franchisees dispatch trained technicians to clean up and repair premises after a disaster, such as a fire, a storm, or a major water leak.
Grashuis said he and his wife researched the company for about a year before deciding to purchase a franchise in 2011, which they named ServPro of Reno East/Central Sparks. Kim, who had been a labor and delivery nurse for 18 years, left nursing to join her husband in the business venture. “At first, it was just me driving a green ServPro truck and vacuuming water out of carpets,” Grashuis recalled. “For the first year, I wondered if I had made the right decision, but things picked up pretty quickly.” In 2013, the couple purchased a second franchise, ServPro of Reno Northwest/Truckee/Tahoe Vista.
Mike and Kim Grashuis have received recognition for the hard work and persistence they put into developing their ServPro companies. They were recently named finalists in Nevada Business Magazine’s 2016 Family Owned Business Awards, sponsored by Nevada State Bank. They were nominated in the “Whippersnapper” category for businesses less than 10 years old. They were also selected last year for ServPro’s Large Loss Response Team, which dispatches franchisee teams to scenes of major disasters in their region.
The Grashuises also own a small company called Diamond G Construction, which performs repair work for their ServPro companies, including drywall replacement and flooring installation. Now that the economy is picking up, Diamond G also does small commercial jobs for outside clients. Between all three companies, the family employs 40 people.
Grashuis said he and his wife enjoy the best of both worlds by being franchisees. “I’m my own boss, and make all the day-to-day decisions on operations and finances,” he explained. “But when you’re in business for yourself, you’re constantly working out procedures on your own. As a franchisee, you’re not starting from Square One. You’re basically buying the company’s playbook, using their branding, and taking advantage of their national marketing efforts and contacts with insurance companies.”
Mike and Kim Grashuis enjoy working together at their companies and also at their ranch in the Sierra Valley, where they grow hay and raise cattle. “The best part of having a family business is sitting around the dinner table, with everyone involved in the discussion,” Grashuis shared. The couple’s children (four sons and a daughter) know all about the company and its employees and often chime in. The children still living at home also have chores at the ranch. “Between our businesses and the ranch, we feel that we’re teaching our kids responsibility,” he said. “Working together develops a closeness and connection that a lot of families don’t have today.”`
Grashuis said his biggest challenge is finding good, quality employees. “I’m always looking for young individuals who can see a future with the company and want to work into a management position,” he said.
Nevada State Bank helped Mike and Kim Grashuis purchase a building last year. Part of the funding came from an SBA loan, and the rest from a commercial real estate loan. “[VP/Small Business Relationship Manager] Angela Bradley and her team have been super,” Grashuis said. “Everything we’ve done has been seamless. We haven’t had a banking relationship like this in all the years we’ve been in business. Nevada State Bank is awesome!”
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.