As senior franchise consultant with Rainbow International Restoration, Sandi Taylor has more than 20 years of experience in the drying and restoration industry as an RIA Certified Restorer (CR) with extensive IICRC education, culminating in Master designations. She has worked on multiple weather-related catastrophe situations, including Hurricane Floyd and Hurricane Isabel, among others, with experience in varied large loss, including commercial (manufacturing, multi- story, retail), complex residential, industrial and institutional.
1. WHAT INITIALLY DREW YOU TO THE RESTORATION INDUSTRY?
I originally planned on a career in the restaurant industry, training as a classical chef in Atlanta. After deciding on a transition into management, I moved to the Mid-Atlantic area and met my future husband, who was a carpet cleaner. I gave up my career plans when I became pregnant with our first child and graduated into becoming a carpet cleaner’s helper in the early 1990s. Restoration was becoming an “identified industry” at that time, and I was attracted to the practice, due in part to the science behind it. I attended every seminar, trade show and industry conference I could find, and thus began the journey of education, both self-development and formal.
As I took over our small family-owned carpet cleaning company and directed it more toward restoration, I learned that to be competitive, I would need to become a specialist in the field. I found myself always hungry for ways to improve my craft and contribution to the industry at large. I am blessed to have been trained by some of the best, as well as to have worked for and with some of the humblest and dedicated mentors. Each of them has had an impact on my dedication and quest to make a further impact.
2. WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE RESTORATION INDUSTRY?
With the evident emergence of advanced available industry-specific technology, I fear we may see unintended consequences due to an absence of accepted operating procedures or consistent application. Also, reliance on technology alone may make the mastery and knowledge of the individual obsolete. Accordingly, it is crucial that the industry establish more professional and rigorous educational demands. After working on the CR Curriculum Redevelopment Committee for RIA the past several years, it was a general consensus in the group that as new applications, technologies, etc., were introduced, the training track would also need to be updated in order to remain relevant. The absence of a ‘true” certification in our industry will only promote the diminishment of our craft.
Driven by the current and future economic climate, the professional restorer should also prepare for additional industry regulation and participate in the discussions and parameters. Accordingly, insurance trends seem to be moving back to a full-service model, and those who intend to be relevant will need to plan, restructure and train to keep up with the demands required. As can be seen in the past decade, sales growth cannot be forecasted on predictions of catastrophic storm seasons, so diversification and proactive response to need will prevent organizations from closing their doors.
3. WHO ARE YOUR MENTORS WITHIN THE INDUSTRY?
I had an opportunity many years ago to work for Munters, both as a vendor and later as a full-time employee. From that experience, Mickey Lee and Lloyd Krueger were instrumental in helping me to grow, both technically and professionally. They provided me a higher level of understanding of not only the science of climate control, but also many other skills that are better learned in the field. Every day holds the opportunity of learning and growth, and through my journey, I have had the privilege of interaction with Ken Larsen, Daniel Sadeh, Barry Costa, Kurt Bolden, Jeremy Reets, Joe Dobbins, John Rybski, Randy Rapp, Chuck Violand and so many others who are esteemed in the industry. My hope is that by the end of my career I will have inspired, led and mentored some of the next generation of restoration professionals.
4. WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING RESTORATION CONTRACTORS TODAY?
Recruiting and retaining quality employees seems to be a challenge I hear on a consistent basis. I believe this challenge is faced by many service industries seeking the skilled employee; however, potential restoration technicians and other staff are not recruited out of specific programs currently. Perhaps the heartburn comes with the disconnect with the Millennial prospect, but until companies can “speak” to future generations and supply them with a value-based proposition, this will continue to be an issue.
Potentially, as credentials are enhanced and additional trade school and higher learning offerings are made available, the industry may see this change as candidates will view restoration as a viable career. For now, we should strive to keep focused and not accept mediocrity in exchange for profitability.
5. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING OUTSIDE OF WORK?
Having recently moved to Waco, Texas, when I’m not working I’m definitely exploring the beauty and character that is unique to Texas. I travel quite a bit with my current position, and I appreciate the beauty and sights of new places. Most of my friends and family would tell you, though, that most of my time is spent with my two dogs, Elvis and Sugar, who are planning a family soon. Since my children have all “left the nest,” I found it was necessary to find an alternate way to channel my nurturing side so I could stay tough on the job!