Business

Executive Home Care takes care of homes and businesses

My Biz: Tim David's 100 employees can do about any maintenance job

Tim David, president of EHC Services, stands in the EHC Services office at 115 North Towne Lane NE in Cedar Rapids. His office is filled with movie memorabilia and other collectibles, including a vintage Macintosh computer and a desk chair styled after a racing seat. The relaxed decor, he says, helps people relax so he can get to know prospective employees and other visitors to the office. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Tim David, president of EHC Services, stands in the EHC Services office at 115 North Towne Lane NE in Cedar Rapids. His office is filled with movie memorabilia and other collectibles, including a vintage Macintosh computer and a desk chair styled after a racing seat. The relaxed decor, he says, helps people relax so he can get to know prospective employees and other visitors to the office. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Prospective new hires may do a double-take when they sit for an interview in Tim David’s office.

“I’m a movie person,” David said, nodding toward the souvenirs, star photos and memorabilia on the walls and shelves of his northeast Cedar Rapids office. “I have a lot of stuff in here that kind of has to do with movies, so I’ll just start talking about stuff, and find out how crazy they are — or how cool they are.”

The unconventional approach has worked for David, 47, for 25 years. He launched Executive Home Care in February 1993, about five years after graduating from Cedar Rapids Washington High School.

“You treat people like you want to be treated. I’ve done that with my customers, I’ve done that with my coworkers."

- Tim David, co-owner of EHC Services Inc.

“I had three jobs,” he recalled. “I worked in a factory as a tool-crib attendant, and I worked in a restaurant as a server on weekends, and I worked at Best Buy when they only had 20 stores. That’s how old I am.”

Income from those jobs allowed David to own three rental properties by his early 20s, but he couldn’t find anyone to maintain them.

“I could never find people to do quality work for me,” he said. So David did it himself, acquiring some specialized equipment along the way.

“A few other people asked me to mow that place or fix that wall, so soon I figured I could do that for a living,” he said.

David had a few hundred flyers printed. He left them on car windshields and hanging on doorknobs.

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“The first call I took, they wanted to know if I could roof a building,” he recalled. “I had to say that’s one thing I didn’t do.”

But soon enough callers were asking about things David and his first employee did do. The list of residential services today includes lawn care, carpet and window cleaning, painting, power washing and “deep cleaning” for homes when someone moves out.

Basic maid service became, and still remains, a staple.

“There’s the man and wife, both work, one kid’s out for soccer, the other kid’s out for volleyball,” David said. “So we go in once or twice a week and clean (the house).”

One of David’s earliest maid-service customers was a Cedar Rapids car dealer.

“He said, ‘Hey, you do a great job here, can you clean my business?’ ” David recalled. “So we started cleaning the dealership.”

One commercial account soon led to others and that led to a new name for David’s young company. Another early commercial customer was the Goss Graphics factory.

“But (the plant manager) came to me and said, ‘What’s the deal with the name?’ ” David said. “He’s in a meeting with a bunch of executives, and they’re asking, ‘Why are we spending all this money on home cleaning?’ So I divided it into Executive Home Care for the houses, and EHC Commercial Services.”

That was in 1995. Today, more than 100 EHC employees care for hundreds of homes, businesses and commercial properties. They perform janitorial services, mow lawns, plow snow, stripe parking lots and wash windows, among other jobs.

“We’re very diverse,” David said. “Most people specialize. This is all our own employees. We can power wash a building, mow a lot, do (litter) pickup. That’s where we have so many employees. We have people work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, somewhere. On Christmas, somebody is working somewhere.”

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That means unconventional hours. EHC workers arrive at local banks, college campuses and businesses after hours. And they don’t get holidays off.

“That’s our time,” David said. “We actually work more when people have time off. We have to take advantage of long weekends” to strip and clean floors, paint walls and do other periodic maintenance.

That’s part of the reason why David wants to know the people he hires.

“We treat them very well,” he said. “We’ll do cool stuff. We realize they’re sacrificing a lot of their family time on holidays.”

EHC’s staff helped the company weather the local economy’s ups and downs, notably after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the city’s June 2008 flood.

“Between 2000 and 2002, I lost half of my maid service (customers), and I lost $1 million of revenue a year,” David said.

After the flood, EHC staff volunteered to help remove property from flood-threatened homes. They also delivered food and water to those working in flooded neighborhoods.

“We probably lost $300,000 a year in business in one night,” he said. “We lost employees, we lost jobs. I’m glad that was 10 years ago. It feels like it was so long ago. Time flies.”

It’s flown in other ways. David pulled from his files a 1998 Gazette article on his then-young company, a clipping he hadn’t read in 15 years. The 1998 David said he worked 100 hours a week, “a big reason he’s still single.”

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“Now I’ve got a wife and two kids, and they work with me,” he said. “Am I smart, or is that just luck?”

Jennifer David manages EHC’s business affairs. The couple’s youngest son is still in high school but works part-time. His older brother is a full-time EHC manager.

But that leaves plenty of work for those employees who find themselves in David’s unconventional office.

“We still have five of our original janitorial accounts that we got 25 years ago,” he said. “We’ve got 17 customers that we’ve had since darn near the beginning. Our first employee still works here, the first guy.”

But you won’t hear David call himself that guy’s boss.

“It’s one of those things you learn when you’re 12,” he said. “You treat people like you want to be treated. I’ve done that with my customers, I’ve done that with my coworkers. I’ve always introduced people as, ‘This is John, we work together.’ I’ve never said, ‘This is John, he works for me.’ ”

AT A GLANCE

Owner: Tim and Jennifer David

Business: EHC Services Inc.

Address: 2115 North Towne Lane NE, Cedar Rapids

Phone: (319) 393-8711

Website: http://www.ehcusa.com

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