Flexibility Places US Best at Forefront of Renovations
US Best Repair Service Inc. learned a valuable lesson in 2012.
After becoming very successful as one of Bank America’s primary field service providers, the company was notified that its services were no longer needed. Another servicing company had purchased Bank America’s field service operations, leaving US Best with a sizable portion of its revenue needing to be replaced.
“It was tough for us,” said Samuel Tucci, business development manager at US Best. “We were very fiscally responsible, so I am happy that we were in good hands and we didn’t have to close, or it didn’t get dangerous for us like that. But it put some strain on us.”
US Best was no stranger to having to accommodate for changes. The company was started in 2004 as a home handyman service by contractor Mark Zaverl, who is now US Best’s CEO and majority owner. In those early years, with a recession looming, Tucci said the renovation business was beginning to dry up. That’s when Zaverl had the foresight to get into the property preservation business. With the housing market crashing soon after, there was a lot of work available.
“It was actually excellent timing on his part,” said Tucci. “… meeting with the partners he did, getting it going, and then having the strategy to align it all.”
“We had to diversify. We had too many eggs in one basket, and it taught us a good lesson" — Sam Tucci, US Best Repair Service, Inc.
US Best incorporated in 2006, and Tucci said the business really began to grow when the company started to do property preservation work for Countrywide Financial. Countrywide was bought by Bank of America in 2008 for $2.5 billion, and US Best was kept on to continue doing field service work for the bank.
When Tucci joined the office in 2009, US Best had a staff of about 20 or 30 people, servicing about six states. By 2012, US Best had full-time work in 26 states, with smaller contracts in all the remaining states. At the time, US Best was responsible for about 40 percent of Bank America’s field servicing work. For its efforts, US Best was becoming one the leaders in the industry -- but then the contract ended.
“Up until then, it was just absolutely fantastic,” said Tucci.
US Best found itself in the unfavorable position of having to develop new business opportunities to replace what it was losing.
“We had to diversify,” said Tucci. “We had too many eggs in one basket, and it taught us a good lesson. … We had to work very hard to get some new clients to make up for that loss of revenue.”
He said looking for new opportunities put him on the industry conference circuit. It was around this time that the US Best business development department was created. As he and others attended these conferences, they began networking and seeing the expanding need for property renovations in the industry. Tucci said since US Best started out as a renovation company, they already had a good foundation in that area. The company started taking on more contractors and growing its REO department.
“I was very happy to get in there when it was still relatively new,” said Tucci. “I think we stayed ahead of the curve there (by) expanding the department and (bringing) rehabs back to the industry."
Tucci said that while US Best still does a large amount of property preservation work, REO work is taking on a greater significance due to the strengthening economy. This is a trend Tucci has seen since 2013.
“Up until then (mortgage holders) were spending as little as possible on these properties,” he said. “Once it became REO, they would just dump them off as REO. What happened is that capital started to open back up, and investors started saying ‘Wait a minute. What are we doing? Why aren’t we buying these properties from the bank and making 18 percent or 30 percent?’”
It’s those investors that US Best finds itself working a lot with today, including real estate investment trusts and property management companies like American Homes 4 Rent, US Residential, and Progress Residential. Tucci said he expects 2018 and 2019 to be very good years in the renovation industry.
As US Best was diversifying and widening its focus into home renovations and multi-family work, MFS Supply was strategically adding the types of supplies to its catalog that businesses in those industries need to succeed. US Best and MFS Supply have partnered together for years, and Tucci said the relationship has helped them out “tremendously.”
“We have used a few different companies,” said Tucci. “But MFS has always been reliable.”
He talked about a time when someone told him that US Best “just had to try” such-and-such company because they were, “Way better than MFS.” He said he gave them a shot, allowing the company to work with some smaller orders to see how it fared.
“And it was the worst experience. … It really was,” he said. “And so, since then we said, ‘You know what? We already have something good going. We’re not even interested in trying another company at this point, just because we know that we have an excellent contract with MFS. (They) have always taken care of us. The logistics are phenomenal and pricing is great. It just doesn’t make sense to (look) anywhere else.’”
Part of the logistics Tucci appreciates is that MFS Supply has “…always been able to get stuff out there fast.”
“All of our vendors when they sign up, we go, ‘Guys this is who you need to use -- MFS. Order your locks there. Order all the supplies that you can,’” said Tucci. “We know that the logistics are going to get (the products) there, and (that there) won’t be (the) excuse: ‘We don’t have the materials.’”
One of Tucci’s roles in his position is overseeing the vendor management department. He said vendors for US Best get price breaks because of the contract that the company has with MFS Supply. This helps to keep costs low.
As a business developer, Tucci works to gain new clients, but also knows the importance of taking care of current clients’ needs. Whether the issues are big or small, he knows that continually working to improve service is vital to making the relationships stronger.
Tucci says he is constantly looking for better ways to do things for his clients – asking himself what is that “one small thing” that can help the business move a little quicker and more efficiently. He said saving even a nickel or dime on each order can make a big difference in the long run.
For more information on US Best Repair Service Inc visit their website at http://www.usbestrepairs.com/
To see more of our blog articles on the world of property preservation, renovations and real estate news, click here: MFS Supply blog