Erik Mortensen left the corporate world to open his own business with AdvantaClean.
Erik Mortensen started his career as a paper boy in Minneapolis and worked several summers at the Valley Fair amusement park. He tried out the corporate life, working at a large logistics company for produce distribution, but found little gratification in that.
That’s when he found AdvantaClean. Working top to bottom, attics to basements, Erik has been hard at work during the freezing winters and scalding summers.
The one thing he’s stressed as the owner of his AdvantaClean is a sense of urgency, something he took from the corporate world. This sense of urgency has put his franchise high in the rankings amongst the rest. His business grew 39% last year and he’s expecting another 65% growth in 2016. They were nominated for Franchise of the Year and are in the top 10 AdvantaCleans in the 100 total in the franchise. 1851 had a chance to catch up with Erik to learn about his background and involvement with the brand.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I worked in the corporate world at a large logistics company doing sales and account management. Although it became a much less rewarding role, I learned a great deal about business and team building. My 13 years in the corporate world really prepared me for starting my own business. I was looking at franchise opportunities for a while and I found a broker who connected me to companies he thought I’d like. He introduced me to AdvantaClean and I was blown away by the support from the team in Charlotte. The franchisor truly cares about their locations and offers tremendous support. It’s fun coming from a corporate culture. At my previous job in logistics, we shipped fresh produce (a literal dying commodity) all across the country and there was a huge sense of urgency with that role. In the contractor community, there is not usually this sense of urgency. If I can inject a sliver of that urgency as a contractor, it's game over. People are dying to do business with us because we answer our phone and are incredibly responsive to their needs – something that most people aren’t accustomed to.
What was your first job ever?
I was a paper boy in sixth grade while I grew up in the Minneapolis area. I also worked summers at Valley Fair for six to seven years in the games department, where working 70-90 hours per week drilled a my work ethic into me.
Why did you choose to become a franchisee with AdvantaClean? How did you learn about the brand?
The franchise consultant brought a lot of businesses to the table for me to look at. AdvantaClean seemed like the only one I could build a business off of. Everything else seemed dependent on you, where the individual was actually the brand. AdvantaClean allows you to build an asset that you can sell or do something with. You can extract yourself from the day to day operations because AdvantaClean is the brand, not Erik Mortensen.
Are you involved with any charitable organizations?
I work with a local foundation called Pinky Swear. It was founded by Mitch Chepokas, a 9 year-old boy with cancer who asked his dad to donate the $5000 in his account to buy Christmas presents for other children with cancer whose parents couldn’t afford them due to large medical expenses. Mitch had so much fun doing this he asked his dad, Steve Chepokas, to pinky swear to do it again the next year, because Mitch’s prognosis was not good. Mitch passed away three months later and his father made good on his pinky swear by founding the Pinky Swear Foundation. The foundation helps families whose children have cancer with non-medical related expenses. We are holding a customer appreciation event in June and co-branding the event with Pinky Swear in an effort to raise money for Pinky Swear. We are also sponsoring the Pinky Swear event called “Perk’s Mess Fest” which is a family oriented ‘mud run’ in Lakeville, MN. We are constructing the “AdvantaClean Dry Zone” that is a tent full of our fans designed to move a lot of air used to dry the participants off once they’re done with the race.
What’s next for you and your business? Do you have any development/expansion plans with the brand?
Right now we are comfortable with our service coverage but we do have significant growth plans in terms of the size of our teams and our sales. Last year we grew 39 percent, and we are planning on growing another 65 percent this year. We were nominated for Franchise of the Year and some members of our staff have also won “Right Hand Man of the Year” and “Salesperson of the Year.” Out of the 100 AdvantaCleans, we are in the top 10 offices.
Are there particular jobs you do more of in Minneapolis than in a different state?
We do a lot of sump pump failures, and a lot of basements and attics. There were a lot of busted pipes this winter. A tenant moved out a couple of weeks ago and all of their pipes froze and their house was full of frozen water. It was like an ice castle!