Wearing The Pants at Men In Kilts
Malcolm Parry of the Vancouver Sun recently stopped by MIK HQ to speak with Tressa Wood who..."expects to see Wallace-tartan-wearing men climb ladders to clean windows and roof gutters all over North America. She's the CEO of Men In Kilts, which Nicholas Brand and Brent Hohlweg started in 2002 and developed into a 15-staff operation by 2009. The Richmond Chamber of Commerce named them young entrepreneurs of the year. Now, their entrepreneurial eyes are set on the Richmonds in Ontario, Quebec, California, India, Kentucky, Maine, Texas, Virginia, and elsewhere. Enter Wood, who joined Brian Scudamore's 1-800-GOT-JUNK? firm as operations director in 2002 and left as vice-president of operations in 2008. In that time, she said, revenues rose from $10 million to $130 million via some 330 franchisees, many of which she signed.
With 35 staff today, Men In Kilts wants fewer franchisees but with larger operating areas in the one-million-residents range. Wood expects to contract five in 2011 (including Seattle and San Francisco), perhaps 15 in 2012, and a metro-market total between 100 and 150. She's close to two likely early signers. Rob Watson is a 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchisee, and Nicholas Wood is her four-year husband and father of the eight-month-old and two-year-old children she had while working full-time and taking seven-day maternity leaves.
As for how junk-hauling and window-and-gutter-cleaning differ: "At 1-800-GOT-JUNK? we were pioneering an industry, and had to educate people about the service," Wood said. "This is a very established industry, but not with national franchises or brands." It is also a "fun" industry she said, chuckling about the kilted chap who returned from a particularly windy shift to say: "I'm finally getting the attention I deserve."
Regarding the attention her firm deserves: "You need a more entrepreneurial type of franchisee in the early days, when you are building, testing and refining your systems. They are the types who'll give the feedback you need." They'll also give $60,000 to $120,000 as an entry fee to don their own kilts, "which cost under $100," said Wood, comfortably business-like in tailored slacks.