5 Minutes With: Chris Eichhorn
Chris Eichhorn recently spoke with Applicator about his work in the industry.
Applicator: Did you always know that you’d work in the industry?
Chris Eichhorn: Actually, no. I was trained and worked as a barkeeper in my native country, the Netherlands. When I immigrated to Canada, construction employment opportunities were was plentiful and I decided to make a change.
Applicator: What was your first job in the field (internship, etc.)? How did it prepare you for where you are now -- owning a business?
CE: I started as a roofing/ waterproofing apprentice and worked up through the ranks, which eventually led me to start a roofing company with my wife Vicki. Many years later at an industry-related convention, we were introduced to this new leak detection methodology and decided to take a closer look. After witnessing what this technology could produce first hand with a trained technician, we decided to add this type of service to our existing business. However, we soon came to the realization that trying to ride two horses at the same time had its challenges and decided to “retire” from the roofing business and concentrate on developing and introducing the leak detection methodology (EFVM®) to the North American market.
Applicator: What’s your favorite part about owning a business?
CE: Well, especially with our existing business, International Leak Detection (ILD®), it is the ability to save time and money by performing the EFVM test for roofing and waterproofing contractors. I also enjoy being able to work as a team with membrane manufactures and contractors, and deliver a true watertight membrane system.
Owning your own business obviously has its challenges, but in the long run the benefits make up for a lot of the challenges of owning a business. The ability to create and build long term relationships with not only our clients and peers in the industry, but also with the team members that are employed and serve an integral part of the success of our business, is a huge bonus for us. We value this relationship building. In addition, perhaps unique with ILD, is that we have been able to crisscross across North America and provide our services in every state and province.
Applicator: You’ve been at ILD for 14 years and are the owner -- how did you build up your company? Who helped along the way? Has being a member of SWR Institute helped?
CE: We built this business by providing information to the industry. We performed presentations and demonstrated our abilities with integrity testing and troubleshooting. As “seeing is believing,” we were able to demonstrate and create confidence in this testing method that, over time, peaked the interest of contractors, manufacturers, specifiers, and building owners. The “seeing is believing” was generally demonstrated, especially in the early years, by others making a small hole in the membrane prior to performing the test, and the EFVM test in turn, pin-pointing the location of the small hole. My greatest supporter was and still is Vicki.
As we sometimes reflect back on this journey with ILD, we think about the days that we hit the road on a Monday morning and sometimes would not make it back until three or four weeks later. However, we worked as a team and we were on the road together. That changed when our business grew to a point, but was not yet ready for an employee to be trained. During that time, we ended up going on separate treks to take care of our clients. There were times when our paths did not cross for several weeks. As we grew, we have, and still are, attracting like- minded team members who deliver the same quality services that our clients value and are accustomed to.
We joined the SWRI Institute in 2004 and attended the first convention in Puerto Rico in the winter of 2005. We value our membership and the relationships that followed we became a member of the Institute. The support we have received from the members has been wonderful and assisted in the growth of our business.
Applicator: Where do you see ILD in the next five years? Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
CE: We will see quite a bit of growth through the next five years. At present, we are in the midst of developing enhancements to our EFVM methodology services and additional inclusions to elevate information on membrane performances. Our five-year growth plan is on track and we continue to be a leader in the field of integrity of leak detection services. As for Vicki and me: We have a new addition to our family and are first time grandparents. We are looking forward to spending more time around the home savoring this moment. We are obviously still engaged with the day- to-day operation of ILD, but perhaps not as much in the field as the earlier years of our journey with ILD. (Although, we both miss that part of our business.)•