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The Albuquerque Tribune - Monday, September 26, 2005 - ShopTalk

ShopTalk: An up-close look at Albuquerque's small-business community


Kelly and Larry Borgeson

Title: Owners

Company: Rockefeller's Cleaning & Restoration Co., 5514 Coal Ave, S.E.

The business: Kelly: We're a full-service cleaning, restoration and remediation company serving all of New Mexico. We work in both large and small commercial and residential environments. Our emergency crews are on call 24 hours a day. The broad scope of our work requires that we're trained to handle every aspect of cleaning and restoration. We've dried huge gymnasium floors, abated mudslides. We've cleaned businesses around the clock to minimize lost income.

Our employees are Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration certification trained and certified to work statewide cleaning up after fires and floods.

Our fire restoration services include fire and smoke damage assessment, restoration evaluation, odor elimination, content and structure cleaning, and ozone deodorization. We are also certified drying specialists. We are National Air Duct Cleaning Association trained and certified through the Indoor Air Quality Association.

We have two certified mold remediators. We do methamphetamine/clandestine lab remediation overseen by the City of Albuquerque Nuisance Abatement Team. And we have a maid service, offering regularly scheduled cleaning Monday through Friday for homes and small offices in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We also clean occupied and vacant homes and businesses on a one-time basis.

Number of Employees: Kelly: 45

Time In Business: Larry: We're in our 27th year.

Previous Jobs: Kelly: I worked at the UNM art museum when Van Deren Coke was the director--when I was a student. In high school, I worked as an apprentice to a goldsmith.

Larry: Out of high school, I went into the Marine Corps and served in Vietnam. When I returned, I went to work in the construction industry as a carpenter.

Education: Kelly: I studied art for a year at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and earned a bachelor of fine arts in painting from UNM.

Larry: I have a bachelor of fine arts and a master's in photography, both from UNM.

How I started the business: Kelly: With a paintbrush and rake. Larry and I met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had decided to take a year off, and a teacher of mine from Carnegie Mellon said I should go to New Mexico. Larry and I decided it would be great for both of us. We enrolled at UNM. We came out to go to school.

Larry: We got married in 1979. We started Rockefeller's (the company is named after the late arts patron Michael Rockefeller) to afford a way through graduate school. We wanted to get our master's degrees in fine arts. We started the business when we returned from our honeymoon in August 1979.

Kelly: We met Hannes Parnegg of Hertzmark Parnegg Realty and his property management company asked us to go in and paint a house. So we started doing painting, then developed a landscaping company and then the cleaning came last. By 1980, we were doing cleaning, painting and landscaping. We dropped the painting and landscaping and expanded the cleaning to include restoration work.

We thought we could continue to do art after starting. But it soon consumed us. We became devoted full time to the company in 1984. We're both attracted to things and situations that need repair. We have the sensitivity to deal with the frailty and damage we come across in so many of the projects we work on. Our fine arts background has been valuable.

Main Responsibilities: Kelly: I supervise the general administrative work. We're a small company but generate a lot of electronic and paperwork. We're diligent in archiving our cases.

Larry: My day-to-day work is primarily everything to do with the restoration area. I do everything from the estimating on large losses, such as fires, to purchasing vehicles. I oversee managers, deal with problems. We have a residential manager who takes care of the residential staff. I focus primarily on the restoration.

Best thing about the business: Kelly: I wanted to be a studio artist since I was a small girl. I thought Rockefeller's would be a short-term means of earning money. But my 26 years with the company have been a one-in-a-million experience. It's given me meaningful work and the opportunity to work with wonderful employees.

Larry: Hands down it would be the people we have had a chance to meet in this community and throughout New Mexico. New Mexico is such a special place. We've been able to help so many people. And we've developed great relationships after 26 years with our clients and our employees.

Worst thing about the business: Larry: I think early on it was working 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week. Other than that, there really hasn't been much of a downside.

Best thing about doing business in New Mexico: Larry: For me it's the people. We travel quite a bit and I always look forward to coming back.

Worst thing about doing business in New Mexico: Larry: For restoration, since we cover the state, it's hard to get to some of the rural areas and have access to the things we need. We have to truck in so much of the equipment to do a successful restoration.

What is a distinct challenge to this business? Kelly: We juggle many types of jobs simultaneously-organizing manpower, vehicles, equipment, supplies, job access, weather, rural terrain. We've had some nights of severe citywide flooding and dispatched most of our staff to dry down environments. Most days we run 25 trucks statewide. It's a lot of things to keep track of.

What is your biggest worry about the business? Larry: Providing the education to our staff. We've always prided ourselves on providing the best education to out staff and services to the community.

What was your best business idea? Kelly: Choosing each other as business partners. We are a great team, and neither of us could have done it alone. And along this journey we never said no. When people said "Can you do this?" we researched, sought training. We broadened our scope of services.

What was your worst business idea? Larry: We've been extremely lucky. We've had to rein ourselves in certain ways and add things as we've grown.

Future Plans: Kelly: We are continually marketing our services statewide to insurance companies. We are constantly broadening our base and seeking work with every company - large and small--and every homeowner--large and small--in New Mexico.

Advice to someone who wants to get started in this field: Kelly: I would say make sure there is a need for the service. I would investigate the specifics of the need, the value of it. And make certain you can do the work. It's all about commitment.

Larry: First, be willing to work extremely hard, with great attention to detail. Second, be extremely customer-friendly; never turn down any job. Always be there for you client. And, third, the customer is always right.

" Thank you so much for you help, tips, and knowledge. "

- Clark, Albuquerque