Taylorsville » Being a franchisee didn't appeal all that much to Frank and Kris Rudarmel.
So they left the commercial-cleaning business and established their own company focusing on carpet cleaning and flood damage -- Anchor Water Damage & Restoration. Then they did their best to become active in the west-central Salt Lake Valley business community.
As the family operation's marketing director, Kris Rudarmel joined Chamber West, the chamber of commerce for the West Valley City, Taylorsville and Kearns communities. She donated free carpet cleaning as prizes for chamber-sponsored golf tournaments and provided other types of physical and financial assistance to the organization.
Because of that aid -- and the local company's ability to survive in an environment filled with national chains -- Chamber West recently designated Anchor as its "Small Business of the Year" at an awards ceremony.
"I was in shock and awe when we got it," Rudarmel said. "We started from the bottom up, with $200 in our pockets. We're just high school graduates. We don't have all the business skills you need to build a successful business ... But our last four months have been our biggest yet."
Companies like that make for strong business communities, said Chamber West President Alan Anderson.
"A lot of elements go into that award," Anderson said, "but what made it stand out was the business's involvement in the community. They seem to be at all the events, all the functions and into community service.
"So many times people think that the government will handle everything for us. That you don't need to clean parks or go to ribbon cuttings or welcome new businesses. But you do. A little volunteer help can make a community stronger," Anderson added.
The Rudarmels got into the cleaning business more than four years ago, buying into the system operated by Jani-King, which has more than 12,500 franchise owners in 19 countries.
They built it into a franchise that at one time had 20 employees. But income was always tight, Kris Rudarmel said. And with the past year's sharp downturn, "we couldn't pay our employees, and my husband hated laying them off."
So they bought a carpet-cleaner truck and enough equipment to be able to respond to emergencies. And water problems arise more than anyone would think, she said.
"We've had three to four cases lately where kids were playing with the hose and left it in a window well and water went into the basement," Kris Rudarmel said. "Sometimes the line behind the toilet breaks and sprays water. That can fill a room fast. The refrigerator ice-maker line also is common. Those little buggers break or come loose, and the water starts pouring."
Leaving a big mess -- at least until Frank Rudarmel arrives.
"It's rewarding to help people get their homes restored after the devastation of a flood," his wife said.