Mike Ferris, 36, exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit. At the helm of two startup businesses, he is making his mark in the business community on the Grand Strand.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Ferris attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, majoring in hotel and restaurant management. He also met his wife Lisa Ferris while they were students there. He lives in Myrtle Beach and the couple has two children, McKenzie (9) and Logan (3).
Here for 14 years, Ferris arrived after securing a job at DeBordieu Colony in connection with Ritz-Carlton management – a gig that was certainly in line with his major. “I managed their golf and beach club and did a lot of events for them,” he says.
He later worked for Carolina Cool for 12 years, managing day-to-day operations and eventually doing mechanical sales for the HVAC outfit – and picked up skills that would lead him into entrepreneurship.
In December, Ferris launched two businesses in tandem with each other: Simply Maintenance of the Carolinas - www.simplycarolinas.com - as well as Chem-Dry of the Grand Strand - www.grandstrandcd.com - a carpet cleaning franchise utilizing an innovative hot carbonated cleaning process.
Simply Maintenance is a multi-tiered enterprise, pulling together routine maintenance, home watch and concierge services.
“If someone is from New Jersey and they have a house down here – we’ll go in on a monthly basis on a simple package and check the place – change their air filter, smoke detector batteries and make sure the place is secure,” says Ferris. “We check all their appliances to make sure nothing is possibly wrong that could cause any damage. It’s just some peace of mind for them.”
But Ferris has kicked this business up a notch by mixing in concierge services.
“We pick them up from the airport and stock the refrigerators with beer or food – whatever they want.” Other services can include changing out pine straw or mulch once a year, pressure washing the home and cleaning their carpets, using his Chem-Dry franchise. “The whole place is taken care of,” he says. “They have one contact and that’s me.” He adds that folks can sign up for multi-tiered memberships on the Web site.
And the Chem-Dry process goes back to the old saying – a little club soda will take that right out.
“We heat a carbonated solution up to 160 degrees and shoot it into the carpets. It brings the dirt and everything to the surface. It is agitated and we suck it back out. Carpets are clean and they are dry in about 45 minutes to an hour.”
“We will put Scotchguard protectants back into the carpets and clean their upholstery.” If there is spilled bleach in the carpet, Ferris says he can inject dyes back in to bring the colors back. He also goes to Utah to the Chem-Dry corporate offices for extensive training.
“Last week we did 32 condos in Myrtle Beach,” he says. “This week we’re doing some custom residential stuff. Next week down the line we’ve got a bunch of breezeways for another condo complex – so every week is different on the Chem-Dry side. With Simply Maintenance I have had people call me to literally go sit on their couch. A guy from Colorado had a cable guy coming to install their Internet, and I just sat there.”
Ferris says he is looking at teaming up with local timeshare companies to take on mobile concierge services.
His family hasn’t forgotten about the water – and he takes his kids to the beach several times a month if weather permits. “We have a pool out back so we do a lot of swimming.” He says he plays golf – but that has ramped down a bit because of the businesses and small children.
The family enjoys Dagwood’s Deli & Sports Bar in Surfside Beach on Friday nights. “Even the bartenders know my kids,” he laughs.
And Ferris is staying put on the Grand Strand.
“We’re here to assist people with properties who want one person to go to. We want to be that company.”