Exeleon Magazine

Ron Shimkus – Taking the Risk out of Restoration

Ron Shimkus_Influential CEOs_ExeleonMagazine

“Have you ever driven through the mountains at night with your headlights off?” Ron Shimkus asked. “Me either!” he said, not waiting for an answer. We were beginning our discussion and the topic was “uncertainty.” This year will long be remembered for COVID-19 which is a stark reminder that life will undoubtedly take unintended turns. A sharp curve might lead to surprises or disruptions (especially at night with your headlights off). If your business has just run off the road due to a physical catastrophe caused by fire, wind or flood, Ron is a guy whose v-card you want. His company, Electrostar, is a name to remember.

“You can prepare for a disaster with a written contingency plan and a great management team. Suddenly, WHAM! Now you’re in it. All that matters is how you respond in the aftermath.” Businesses prepare for property and casualty losses through safety measures and insurance, but when they survey the damage it can be difficult to know where to start and how to proceed. “You need right answers and you need them right now.” Electrostar’s mission is to provide economically viable solutions to the multitude of real and tangible complexities that all companies face in a catastrophic disruption.

As Ron observes, “In many cases, your business risk spikes and so does your stress. You are diverting your supply chain. Your customer base is fragmenting daily. Your employees are dislocated. No insurance covers losing customers to another vendor. We have seen companies get immobilized by the burden and run out of options. We can slow the clock if they call us to mitigate the damage as soon as the building is cleared for entry. We have often triaged the equipment so the policyholder can resume some or all operations while awaiting replacement.”

Electrostar has earned a stellar reputation in the commercial insurance community by deftly focusing on policyholders’ priorities and delivering cost-saving outcomes in the hundreds of millions. Its expertise lies in providing the only ISO 9001:2015 CERTIFIED process for restoration of contaminated equipment, something business owners looking to get Back in Business pdq would prefer. Ron Shimkus, the mind behind such a venture, is now a name that a growing number of insurance adjusters, general contractors and industry consultants keep in their emergency directory to get their clients back on foot after getting thumped by disasters.

The Spark

There was a fire at a Fortune 100 Oil Services manufacturing facility near downtown Houston. A large national restoration contractor was hired to restore the structure and called Electrostar to evaluate the giant CNC machines that could grind deep-sea drilling gears as large as six feet in diameter out of solid steel. Ron’s native calculus and logistics experience had prepared him for this moment.

Rewind to 2010. Prior to opening Electrostar, Ron researched the industry. He was referred to an Electrical Engineer in Chicago who offered an Electronics Restoration certification course. The hands-on portion was taught by a man that had done telecom restoration at Ground Zero and had spent months in Louisiana post-Katrina. “Torres….Just Torres” Ron smiled and continued, “If you’re a legend you just need one name. Pele, Bono, Tiger, Cher, Madonna, Torres.” Torres was well known in the industry as a skilled technician and a keen-eyed project manager on large commercial equipment losses. “Torres would call occasionally to check on us. The call would always end with his tagline, ‘I’m only a phone call away.’”

Ron Shimkus texted photos and called Torres. Ron laughed, “I think before the call ended, Torres was halfway to Houston. ”In January 2014, oil prices were at their peak, hovering around one hundred dollars a barrel. The affected machines come from Germany with a lead time for replacement of 12-18 months. Plant management knew their options would be clean up or shut down. “They had five critical machines with complex PLCs and peripherals. Approximately $12-15 million to replace.

We offered to get them back in business in less than 30 days and under $300k. They had to THINK about it.” Ron rolled his eyes. The Production Manager had been there 20 years. “He was like the character in every blockbuster movie. ‘That will never happen! These machines are airtight.’ ‘That piece can’t be cleaned. It’s too precise.’ ‘You people don’t know this equipment.’ Just like the movies, he was wrong about everything and we saved his job. The fact is the gentleman knew his equipment. Most Owners and Managers do. They don’t know the effect fire and water contamination has on their equipment.”

Torres, now Electrostar’s Senior Vice President and Technical Director lead the 100% successful recovery effort.

The Future is Now.

Ron envisioned Electrostar as a highly mobile, nationally recognized large loss equipment specialist, expanding its reach without affecting its footprint. With Torres in the fold, Ron negotiated to purchase the training course that started Electrostar off on the right foot, Certified Technology Restorer. Last year, Electrostar rolled out its updated version of the training. As Ron explains, “We have a process. It is teachable, repeatable and successful” In fact, the second scope of Electrostar’s ISO 9001:2015 certification is for “Training and Certification of Electronics Restoration Professionals.”

Why would Electrostar train other companies to do what they do? “We do but we don’t.” Ron continues, “First, we are showing them how to restore mostly consumer electronics. It’s a quantum leap from there to MRIs, water treatment, manufacturing and industrial facilities. Second, without expanding our footprint our members will be challenging our competitors for and with us. They will be well equipped to do so.”

Electrostar recently embarked on a strategic alliance with the North American Restoration Drycleaners, training several of their members to confidently add Electronics Restoration to their list of services provided to insurance carriers and affected policyholders. Ron endorses his new allies, “I have known some of the owners for 2 or 3 years or longer. This is an organization that exudes quality. Based on my initial perception of their engagement in our training, these outfits intend to bury their competitors with the same commitment to quality and service that has made them successful in their core business.

NOTE: As we are about to go to press it is announced that Electrostar Electronics Recovery Solutions LLC has been named to the INC 5000 “Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America” for the second straight year.

Why Call Electrostar?

Our discussion turned to Electrostar’s competition. Equipment restoration is a niche market in the insurance industry. There are few players with Electrostar’s capabilities. Fewer still with as many Certified Technicians. “We have agreements with two of our larger competitors to provide technicians for jobs where they are short-handed. They pay a premium for our techs. Last year at least one Electrostar technician was on a competitor’s jobsite more than 180 days. ”Just call Ron directly next time.

“Our biggest competitor is the trash heap.” Ron is referring to the information gap regarding the capabilities of Electrostar and other qualified equipment restorers. “At least once a week I meet a potential client who says, ‘I didn’t know you could do that.’ Then there is the full-service restoration contractor that doesn’t address the equipment at all. There is a gap between their notion of full-service and mine.”

Ron attempts to distill the message: “When a loss occurs and the equipment is more valuable than the structure, call Electrostar.”

Ron as Protagonist

A Visionary CEO like Ron Shimkus needs a deft touch to oversee daily operations, marketing, logistics and financials and still find time to develop and implement the constant flow of innovations streaming through his head. How does he do it? “Honestly, I don’t. Some of my ideas just don’t get the follow-up they require. Most days I’m the guy on Ed Sullivan spinning plates.”

Ron’s credibility as that one guy to call is skyrocketing. It is not just getting thrust from his ability to counter obstacles faced by his clients but also from his quantitative moves including best-in-class technologies and superior technicians. Ron concludes, “Equipment and Electronics is all we do and we do it better than anyone.” No wonder, his brand is emerging as a coveted one.

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