Small Business

Manatee Chamber Small Business Awards: Bradenton's Overturfs beat downsizing with a clean start

EAST MANATEE -- When Jeremy and Stephanie Overturf saw their corporate jobs being eliminated or on the way to downsizing a few years ago, they took the hint.

It was 2008 and Stephanie had recently lost her job as a corporate accounts manager at the Bradenton Herald. Her husband, who was a data analyst, had just seen his company bought out and was worried about his job security.

They decided they needed to be their own bosses. That's how Overturf's Floor & Fabric Care was born.

Named as the Manatee Small Business of the Year for companies with annual gross sales of $600,000 or less, Overturf's defines the term "growing concern." Born out of the house cleaning work Stephanie Overturf took on after losing her job, the business started with a few referrals for carpet cleaning work. Over the past three years, its revenues have grown by 476 percent, according to its owners.

Today, the Overturfs say they finally feel like their business is more than just a job.

"When we started our business, our vision was just to buy groceries that week," Jeremy Overturf said.

Overturf's now employs seven people full time and two people part time. The company's service range is throughout Manatee and Sarasota counties. Other service areas include Brandon, Sun City Center and Riverview.

Working out of the company's shop and offices at 3115 81st Court E., Overturf's has made a name for itself by using cleaning trade secrets to remove dirt and stains from carpet, tile and furniture fabrics. Jeremy Overturf's parents owned and operated a commercial janitorial company, so he already knew what he was doing when he quit his job to start the company.

Both of the Overturfs knew that they needed to build a reputation for their business by doing spotless work. Stephanie Overturf said the biggest challenge for the business was building the right team. As she and her husband started hiring, they brought in some employees who "didn't work out well." They adjusted their employee search and hiring process.

On the job, company employees use cleaning methods that both remove soil and stains permanently and protect clients' homes. The onsite work the company does includes cleaning carpet, tile, grout and furniture. At Overturf's East Manatee shop, the company hand washes Oriental rugs.

The Overturfs are constantly planning for the future. They regularly attend leadership seminars and build relationships in the community by getting involved in business groups. They've also aligned their business model with five factors they believe customers consider when choosing a cleaning company -- reputation, experience, certification, cleaning systems and the guarantee they offer on their work.

On the employee side of the business, the Overturfs put effort into building morale at their company. They hold a weekly breakfast meeting at which they feed their employees and take time to read letters from clients and review company goals. They also use the time to give short customer service and technical seminars.

Looking ahead, the company has a goal of growing through marketing and company referrals. Overturf's offers current customers cash or free cleaning services in exchange for new client referrals.

Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027 or on Twitter@MattAtBradenton.