HL Restoration’s Steve Tutt Interviews Cindy Van Heest from Restoration Affiliates

The HL Restoration Impacting Midwest Industries vlog series is where our very own Steve Tutt speaks with our industry partners and others about what they do, their passion, and the great things they are doing in the Midwest all while having a little bit of fun! Check out our videos and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Steve Tutt This is Steve Tutt with HL Restoration Impacting Midwest Industries. Today, we have Cindy Van Heest with us from Restoration Affiliates. How are you today, Cindy?

Cindy Van Heest I’m doing great, thanks. Happy to be here.

ST Cindy, I’ve been anxious to get you on this show because HL Restorations is an affiliate with Restoration Affiliates, and we have used your company for quite some time. 

We love the organization and what you guys have done for us, and I want to dive into this a little bit, and kind of help people understand why they should get involved with Restoration Affiliates.

Introducing Cindy Van Heest and Restoration Affiliates

Can you give us a little overview of what Restoration Affiliates are and how the concept was started?

CVH I’d be happy to. So, Restoration Affiliates was started around 2012 by a group of companies out on the East coast that really wanted to be able to compete against national franchises, as well as grow their businesses and be a great resource for each other.

So, they came together and designed the whole thing from scratch and created an organization called Restoration Affiliates. 

The whole goal was that it would be a unique opportunity for independently-owned and non-franchise companies to come together to partner with other like-minded firms to grow their opportunities and their capabilities and to make a greater impact on the market.

It’s completely voluntary, but people come together mainly for the benefits of the organization, and it’s going very well. We’re very thankful for the core group that started it so long ago.

ST It has been a great company to work with, and you guys have brought in some great affiliates.

Achieving a Nationwide Audience

ST I know so many people across the United States now, and it’s always nice for a company like HL Restoration, which never had a nationwide presence, but now we do through Restoration Affiliates, and it’s so nice to be able to compete with the bigger nationwide companies by presenting Restoration Affiliates through our pitch.

Let’s dive in a little bit more about what kind of markets you guys pursue now?

CVH So, Restoration Affiliates set up the five markets that we are really are wanting to grow in, or as we call them, verticals. So those markets would be commercial, multifamily, insurance, senior living, and hospitality. 

Then we designed an organization around those verticals, and we have provided an opportunity for business development or operations or owners, whoever might be interested, to come together to share best practices, have an opportunity to learn from each other, learn what works, what doesn’t work, and to try and encourage each other to grow in those markets and provide strategic steps to help do that. 

Out of those markets, Restoration Affiliates, as an organization, attends national trade shows to get out the message that we even exist and that we’re here to help companies or homes across the United States that might experience losses.

ST I love the conferences that you guys put together and the way that you bring all the affiliates together in trade shows and conferences that you hold. Besides the great confidence conferences that you hold across the United States, what are the benefits of the membership?

CVH Well, I would say that there are so many, but since we have a limited amount of time today, I’ll just kind of focus on the ones that I really hear back from the membership that has meant the most to them. 

So, we developed a strategic network of affiliates that share resources as well as opportunities with each other. So, if you would ask me as the director, I would say Restoration Affiliates is really about relationships. 

It’s about the ability to build from those relationships. So, an owner can contact another owner in a completely different state and bounce some issues off of them like, “How do you deal with this same with our business development teams?” 

So, one of the main benefits is really the relationships and the opportunities to provide that national coverage. A second one would be the opportunity to take care of your client. So, you take good care of your Kansas City clients, but I know you have some clients that have national offices. 

One of the benefits is that you could say to your client, “Hey, I can take care of you and other cities, as well,” and know that the jobs will be done with the highest standards, just like what would be done there. 

So that’s another kind of outflow of the relationships through Restoration Affiliates. I would say the third benefit, which has been a growing and very helpful benefit to our members, is the procurement side.

So, instead of being one organization that might do sales of 15 million, because you are a part of Restoration Affiliates, you are part of a progressive organization that did over $639 million of annual revenues last year. 

That gives you a lot more purchasing power to go to a national supplier and say, “Hey, altogether, we’re going to purchase this much drywall or paint,” and because you’re a Restoration Affiliates member, you can receive discounts at the point of purchase. 

You can receive rebates as well as priority. If there’s a loss and you needed to rent materials, there are so many benefits on that procurement side that our members are truly receiving and greatly appreciate it as well.

ST You know, what a lot of people don’t realize what you can take away from that. You have so many great companies coming together and all the great minds of ownership there, and you’re sharing all these great ideas and thoughts. 

I think that puts us above all the nationwide companies because they don’t have that opportunity to see what other companies do. Now, your tagline is a national coverage, local expertise. Could you break that down for us a little bit?

CVH So, we really want to be able to compete with the larger franchises, and we have found an opportunity through Restoration Affiliates to do that.

So, again, we can provide that national coverage. We have 25 members currently and growing, and they are spread out across the United States. 

So, what makes us a little different, though, is that if you had a client who had an office in Birmingham or Atlanta and they experience a loss, rather than a restoration organization sending in a team from out of state, staying at a local hotel, doing the job, and then leaving, the nice thing about Restoration Affiliates is that we are local. 

You’re supporting your local market, your local economy, as well as the fact that you know it’ll be done with the same level of expertise and to customer satisfaction. 

So, that is a big difference between us and maybe a franchise that just sends teams all over the United States, doing a job, and then moving on to the next city. We’re there, we’re local, and we’re good. 

We know what we’re doing, we’ve been doing this a long time, and we’re going to do it right the first time.

Getting Down to the Nitty-Gritty

ST I want to rewind a little bit. What does Restoration Affiliates actually restore?

CVH Well, not to sound cheesy or anything, but I think we really restore people’s lives and businesses. So, we might get a call from a home that’s either been destroyed by a fire or a hotel that’s had a bathroom leak that’s gone down six floors.

Whatever the situation might be, our members go in with the idea to restore these families or businesses back to what they were before the tragedy or disaster happened. 

This is what they do all day, they are filled with kindness and empathy, and they are really working with people who could be kind of in a state of shock. If your house just got demolished, that would be very upsetting. 

So, we come in, we will work with you and with your insurance company, and we’ll make sure that they not only clean it up but that they restore it by rebuilding and getting you back to what you were like before.

ST I’ve got to say, Cindy, and I forgot to even bring this up in the beginning, but you are pretty much the face and voice of Restoration Affiliates. 

You handle everything, and I give you so much kudos because of all that you take on, and you are so professional. We love dealing with you here, so I just want to thank you for all that you do.

CVH I am happy to do it, and you guys are just one of many members who are just amazing to work with. You all make my life and my job easy and a joy to be here. I’m really thankful.

ST Well, thank you. Now, I’m going to turn the tables on you a little bit. I’m going to ask you a few more questions, and this is going to be fun. The first question, if you could be guaranteed one thing in life besides money, what would it be?

CVH I would guarantee that I could wake up every day and see the ocean. I would be very, very happy. I do not know why I live in the middle of the country. 

Every time I drive home from the beach, I think to myself, “Why do I live in the Midwest?” Except for family, you know, but if I could wake up every day and open the curtains and see the ocean? I’d be happy.

ST If you could magically become fluent in any language, what language would it be?

CVH Spanish, primarily because my kids can all speak Spanish, and they’re really good at it. Sometimes they talk about things, and I don’t know what they’re talking about.

ST What is the funniest Christmas gift you ever received?

CVH Oh gosh. I can’t think of any right now. I know I’ve gotten some through the years that I thought, “Okay, we’ll re-gift that one.”

ST So, you’re telling me, if you do say it, then all your family members are going to watch this, and they’re going to like, “Wait, don’t get that gift card.”

CVH No kidding. I’m going to save my family members and not share any of that.

ST Fair enough. Well, Cindy, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the show. How can people that are in the restoration business that is not Restoration Affiliates members get ahold of you?

CVH I work with the membership committee, and we are definitely looking specifically at different locations throughout the United States to grow our membership. 

I think the biggest thing that we run into from that side is that people think that there are a whole bunch of rules to join Restoration Affiliates, but Restoration Affiliates is about relationships. It’s about sharing those best practices and being a giver rather than just receiving. 

So, that’s been very encouraging as we’ve been talking to some new potential members that they really understand that this is a great opportunity to get to know other people who are the best of the best in their industries and to help all of us continue to improve and grow our presence in the United States and compete against the national franchises.

ST Well, I can definitely say for HL restoration, it’s paid for itself ten times over. Keep up the good work. We appreciate everything you do, Cindy. We’ll talk to you soon. Until next time, we’ll talk to everybody later.

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