- October 21, 2021
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We’d like you to join us for our Grand Opening on Friday, October 22nd. We moved our offices from Savage, MD to Odenton a while back, but due to COVID, we never got a chance to invite local customers, referral partners, preferred vendors and neighbors to come visit our new facility and get to know the Value Dry Waterproofing team. It’s a family-friendly event with free food and fun for the kids. Hope to see you there!
History of Value Dry Waterproofing
We figured this was also a good time to look back at the history of our basement waterproofing company, to see what has changed and what has stayed the same. We’ll do that with a Q and A with President and Owner Jim Ketterer.
Q: Where and when did Value Dry Waterproofing open for business, and how many employees did you have?
A. Value Dry opened for business operating out of Savage, Maryland in September 2003. I specifically remember earning Value Dry Maryland’s first customer and running the jack hammer as the Foreman on that basement waterproofing installation. At the onset Value Dry Maryland had 4-5 employees. I performed the majority of the inspections in Maryland, DC, and Virginia and I oversaw and managed the installation process. I often worked from 6AM to 4 or 5PM installing systems and then inspected basements until 9 or 10PM at night earning more work.
For several years Saturdays and often Sundays were spent inspecting basements in order to earn work, and performing managerial duties. I was young then. I’m getting tired thinking of all that work as I type this. Perhaps my kids and family fill that void now.
Q: Why did you start Value Dry Waterproofing?
A. I think I have always had an entrepreneurial itch. I mowed lawns, sold funnel cakes, and painted houses in my adolescent and teenage years. I enjoyed being a road warrior fresh out of college and it enabled me to see parts of the country and world I would not have otherwise seen. Working for international institutions and a fast paced technology company enabled introduced me to important management styles and systems needed in a growing business. I did however grow tired of the cube and window seat life.
I was interested in applying the valuable corporate and technical lessons learned to follow entrepreneurial aspirations that fulfilled a tangible need. I apply things I learned in those corporate environments daily. I have had a diverse professional experience in the public and private sector with many great mentors many of which I still communicate with today.
People often ask me why or how I got into basement waterproofing. The truth is I fell into it out of luck, or a momentary lapse of reason or both. Both of my parents and many of my former colleagues thought I was crazy. I certainly didn’t go to college for basement waterproofing, but my University of Pittsburgh and Georgetown education along with my international institution experience here in Washington, DC coupled with my corporate experience at MicroStrategy and YellowBrix provided me with a great foundation for building a sustainable business. I was certainly attracted to the business of helping people overcome a real, tangible issue and fulfilling that need. I was excited to work with my hands again alongside customers and colleagues on a regular basis. I was also looking to get out from behind a computer for so many hours of the day.
Of course, now I’m mostly back in front of the computer again but I do make it a point to get out to inspections and installations several times a month. Once in a while my expertise is needed to design a special basement waterproofing solution or figure out how to design a solution or overcome an installation obstacle, which makes me feel good. I like that we truly help our customers have better, healthier lives, and by giving them peace of mind. We truly care about our customers and we certainly always do our best to follow the Golden Rule.
I enjoy working with and enabling employees to grow professionally and financially. We have helped many employees become first time home buyers over the last 18 years. As you can imagine many of those homes were purchased at a heavy discount because they had basement issues which we helped our employees fix.
Q: How has the company changed over the years?
A. The company started with one truck which we still have that we affectionately call Dumpy. A 2003 GMC Sierra, she has served us well for more than 18 years now. She just went in yesterday for a new engine and that is somewhat symbolic. I’ll put 3 more engines in her if her bones can take it. Now we have over 15 vehicles and we are approaching 50 employees. I recently ordered a cab over box truck that will seat 7 hard-working bucket humping fellas on a daily basis for our customers.
Our services have expanded more into crawl space encapsulation and air quality / ventilation areas over recent years. We have worked hard to remain a foundation waterproofing and basement health-focused company. I believe it is important to specialize and be really good at what you do. Not to be the “Jack of all trades, master of none” so to speak. I like to remind my employees to “let the tile guy lay the tile.”
We have been urged to differentiate and expand into other offerings at times over the years but it has proven most effective to remain focused on what we are good at and what we the have most experience in, which is keeping foundations, (basements and crawl spaces) as healthy and dry as possible for our customers.
Now I’m now really interested and focused on leveraging advancements in bandwidth, alerting and smart home technology in order to prevent flooding due to power outages and system failures for our customers. Time is of the essence when a sump pump fails. We have some very interesting service offerings in the works that I think will revolutionize the basement waterproofing industry here in our region, nationwide, and potentially in other parts of the world. We are very committed to standing behind our Brand Promise.
Q: What has stayed the same?
A. Our continued commitment to our clients. We have always worked to maintain a sense of empathy and urgency for our existing and potential customers. We can’t predict the weather or when our systems may have issues, but we certainly try to be as responsive and timely as possible. I recently saw an interesting statement on a sign at the polar bear exhibit at the Baltimore Zoo. Climate is what we expect. Weather is what we get. We do our best to prepare for the major precipitation events that are forecasted and to react quickly to the ones that are not for our customers.
We want to enable our customers to be as prepared as possible for the weather we get and the unfortunate events like power outages and pump malfunctions or failures that we cannot predict the timing of. Our Brand Promise hangs in our warehouse and our conference room for all of our office staff, inspectors, and installers to see. We will never stop fighting the damaging effects of foundation seepage and poor air quality in homes. We are committed to restoring and maintaining the value and safety of every home we serve.
Q: Where do you see the company 5 years from now?
A. Five years from now I envision that Value Dry and associated companies will have access to many more vehicles and trusted installers to serve our existing and prospective customers in a timelier fashion. We will have codeveloped, designed, and installed smart alerting technology solutions and systems that preemptively enable us to quickly identify, replace, and monitor basement waterproofing systems in as close to real time as possible with the goal of protecting the assets of our existing and future customer base.
I feel that emerging alerting technologies and available bandwidth will give homeowners enhanced capabilities to protect their assets in real time over the next 5 years. I think Value Dry can reduce the number of flooded basements in the United States and abroad significantly by combining smart pump technology with a network of able bodied and motivated on call individuals. Smart technology and bandwidth will evolve to preemptively enable companies and homeowners to know about mechanical and system issues in time to connect individuals with the materials to correct them prior to flooding for as much of our customer base as possible. This is very exciting. Think about how many natural resources could be saved annually if we cut the amount of flooded basements in half across the United States. We will certainly consume much less studs, drywall, flooring and carpet nationwide. Our Homeowners insurance bills may even be less if there is a high adoption rate of the systems we are developing nationwide.
We want to serve and protect as many homeowners as possible from having to deal with the pain of a flooded basement. The more we embrace and adopt technologies the more flooded basements we will prevent and the greater peace of mind we will be able to offer our customer base.
I want to identify, educate, and create a network of able bodied and motivated individuals willing to jump into action during and immediately after heavy precipitation events in order to help protect basements and crawl spaces worldwide. I’m trying to think big here and have the most impact for homeowners as possible.
Don’t kid yourself. Our work is very hard work that most people are not willing to do. We break up concrete, dirt, and rock, put it in 5 gallon pails, carry it out of basements and shimmy it out of crawl spaces every day. That is not going to change. It is a grueling, dirty job. We are willing to do it. I won’t ask any of my employees to do something I wouldn’t personally do. If you know me you know I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves and get in the trenches.
Weather will happen, foundations will leak, sump pumps will fail, electricity will go out. Value Dry will be around and we will work as hard and as smart as we can to prevent it from happening for our current and future customers. This is a feel-good business. We provide a needed service to our customers. We feel good about what we do. It is and can be contagious.
We have more than 15,000 customers in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. During the last major storm, I believe we had less than 30 service issues and most of them were sump pump failures. My team and I are very proud of that. Our systems work and we stand behind them.
We can’t predict the heavy state of emergency-style weather that causes power outages or unmanageable precipitation. We can and will certainly do our best to install smarter systems and make available emerging technologies for our current and future basement waterproofing and crawl space encapsulation customers.
Q: Just curious, do you and employees have basement waterproofing systems in your own homes?
A. Yes, several employees have our basement waterproofing systems, sump pumps, battery backup sump pumps, EZ Breathe ventilation devices, and now smart sump pumps in their homes. It is common that our employees will purchase homes with distressed basements, utilize our resources to make them healthy and build quick sweat equity by implementing the knowledge that they gain here at Value Dry. I’m a big believer in sweat equity.
We encourage our employees to utilize the knowledge they gain here at ValueDry. Now our employees are asking to upgrade their pumps to smart pumps as we develop, adopt, and offer our customer base the new technology. I will personally never live in a home without an EZ Breathe ventilation device or a smart pump system. Most of my employees feel the same way. We spend too much time with our loved ones in our homes to not pay attention to the air that they and we breathe and trust me we hear on a daily basis painful stories of loss due to flooded basements from our customers.
We have helped numerous employees and their families purchase and remodel homes with “banged up” basements over the years. We certainly want our employees and their families to be living in a healthy home so our resources are available to them should they have the need. My current home had water damaged drywall 6’ high when I bought it. It now has an EZ Breathe and a smart sump pump that alerts my smartphone when it is on battery power and if there is a problem with the primary sump pump. One of my former employers enabled his employees to get Lasik surgery to correct damaged eyes from looking at computer screens all day. This helped his employees, increased retention, and of course increased employee efficiency at the same time. I learned from that.
Meet Jim and the Team at Our Grand Opening
We hope to see you at our Grand Opening celebration. You can come and ask questions in person if you wish. If you can’t make it, you can also call us at (888) 768-2583 or use the contact form to set up a free basement or crawlspace inspection.