Advantage Kwik-Dry & Flood Pros: A Business Built Around Customers’ Needs

Home flooding is never fun, but the team behind this Rockford-area business have spent 30 years cleaning carpets and saving basements from a more dreary future.

Chris Picot, vice president of Flood Pros, in Rockford, oversees a team that can mitigate property damage and restore homes and businesses through several approaches.

When Mickey Bennett founded his Rockford carpet cleaning business, Advantage Kwik-Dry, in 1992, he asked customers what other services could help them.

“We were doing a tremendous amount of carpet cleaning business including a couple hundred commercial customers,” Bennett says. “We began to realize the need for a quality restoration service that could respond in an hour and focus on mitigating property damage quickly. That’s when Flood Pros was conceived. Now, we are usually the first to be called in to help.”

Flood Pros technicians know how to dry and save drywall, plaster, carpet and hardwood floors. Both Flood Pros and Advantage Kwik-Dry operate at 11137 Bertram Road in Machesney Park, Ill.

“We focus on drying and saving versus tear-out and rebuilding,” says Bennett. “This saves the insurance company a lot of money, plus there’s less inconvenience to the homeowner with our proprietary methods of mitigating property damage.”

Both sides of the business have grown steadily, even during the pandemic. The company now has offices in Rockford, Janesville and Madison and employs about 23 people. All technicians are certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoring and receive continuous training in the latest technologies and methods.

“We’re one of only a few providers in the region with this certification,” Bennett says. “We’ve committed ourselves to gaining the highest level of education and we strictly follow the cleaning procedures that your carpet manufacturer recommends.”

While several things set the company apart, it’s the level of care that stands out to Chris Picot, vice president of Flood Pros.

“Being locally owned means we can be nimble about adapting to customer needs in a quick fashion, without some national corporate office looking over our shoulder,” he says.

Picot has worked at the company since 2010 and likes the way customer input has guided decisions about expanding services.

“Today, Flood Pros offers three main areas of service – mitigation, repair and waterproofing. That wasn’t always the case,” Picot says. “At first, we only offered mitigation of damage. Then we added repair, because when you take apart a basement wall or remove cabinets to thoroughly dry an area, whatever you removed needs to be put back. It simplifies life for the customer and for the insurance company that we can do both mitigation and repair.”

But mitigating and repairing damage are pointless if the whole problem repeats itself. So, Flood Pros added waterproofing to its portfolio of skills.

“We can address an emergency and mitigate the damage, repair the damage and prevent that problem from reoccurring,” says Picot. “That three-pronged skill level uniquely positions us in the market. I don’t know of a competitor that does all three of these functions. We also try to get to any emergency location within an hour and we’ll return a phone call within 10 minutes.”

It’s important to respond quickly when damage occurs so that it can be minimized. In the case of water damage, mold and mildew growth should be stopped as soon as possible, as should the growth of bacteria.

If homeowners try to fix problems like flooded basements themselves, the extent of the damage, seen and unseen, may grow.

Flood Pros can extract water quickly, including sewage and other contaminants. After thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting an area, it uses high-powered fans to dry them quickly.

Flood Pros can repair foundation wall cracks, install drain tile, and do window well and pipe injections. It also does air duct cleaning, mold testing and eradication of the smoky odor left behind by a fire.

Likewise, Advantage Kwik-Dry has expanded its services over the years. It professionally cleans carpets, upholstery, air ducts, tile and grout. It also specializes in removing pet odors.

It’s important to Bennett and Picot that technicians use best practices when solving problems for customers. At Advantage Kwik-Dry that means not only providing the cleaning products and labor, but also the water itself.

“We show up with our own tank of clean, softened, fresh water,” says Picot. “We also scrub traffic-lane areas, something not everyone does. Then, once the cleaning is done, we take all that water back with us and properly dispose of it. We don’t just dump it on your lawn.”

Another service that’s grown in demand is air duct cleaning.

“People don’t realize how much smoke, dust, dirt and other contaminants are lodged in their heat/air conditioning ducts, and they don’t do enough to keep them clean,” says Bennett. “When we show them photographs of before and after cleaning, they’re astounded.”

Water damage is by far the most frequent type of problem Flood Pros addresses for customers. Sadly, it could often have been prevented.

“Frozen pipes, roof leaks, worn-out appliances, leaks in waterlines, cracks in the foundation and seepage around windows and doors are some of the things we encounter,” says Picot.

Prevention measures can be as simple as turning off water lines before you travel, opening cabinet doors near outer wall plumbing during deep freezes and taking a close look at your plumbing pipes now and then.

“In general, just staying on top of home maintenance can prevent a lot of headaches,” says Picot. “If you see a pipe that’s occasionally dripping, get the problem sorted out before it becomes a big issue. If the top of your water heater is looking rusty, maybe replace it before it leaks. I recently replaced all the water valves in my home just because the old ones were not working as well as they should have been and I want to prevent problems.”

Wherever moisture is allowed to remain, mold and mildew are likely to grow. The more time that passes before fungi is removed, the further it penetrates a home, sometimes causing or aggravating health problems.

“No matter what type of mold it is, you don’t want it growing in your home,” says Picot. “My advice is to remove it and fix the problem that allowed the moisture buildup. Then, if you want us to test the type of mold it was, we can do that. But no type of mold is OK to leave in your house.”

Every home has mold spores that enter through open doors or windows, Picot explains. If the home is dry, these spores don’t gain a foothold. But the spores can thrive in moist areas, especially in dirty, dank places people may not notice.

“Air circulation is very important,” says Picot.

Fire damage occurs less often than water damage but leaves behind very stubborn odors. While Flood Pros doesn’t repair structural damage caused by fire, it is able to thoroughly clean an area and remove smoke odor from the air.

“We use certain tools and devices and techniques to clean the air,” says Picot. “We don’t just cover up an odor. We actually clean the air using either ozone or hydroxyl gas.”

The success of this business is easy to trace back to its roots. Listening to customers and delivering the highest possible quality of service, consistently, has worked out well for Bennett and his staff. Look for more services to be introduced in the future.

“We have big dreams,” says Picot.