SECOND CAREERS, NEW PATHS
When longtime Overland Park resident Harold Bert left a position in the corporate world, he was unaware of the new path ahead of him. That bend in his career road meant starting a business for the first time, accepting both the challenges and rewards that go with such a venture.
A mechanical engineer by background, Bert is a Kansas State University graduate who also holds an MBA from the University of Missouri–Kansas City. His career has included work in a variety of settings, with many years as an insurance safety engineer focusing on commercial venues for property and casualty firms.
During a tough economic time, Bert decided to pursue an MBA to strengthen his marketability. Today, as a local franchise owner with a firm called Dryer Vent Wizard, the enterprising Bert combines his keen business acumen with strong engineering skills to run his business.
"I was not at a life point that I felt ready to go ahead and retire, so I began looking at a business opportunity that would somehow match my interests, skills, and background," said Bert, who recently turned 65.
After careful research to locate the right opportunity, he was off and running with the startup of a local franchise with Dryer Vent Wizard. His business inspects, cleans, repairs, installs, and reroutes dryer vents in homes and commercial buildings.
"Poorly maintained dryer vents cause fire hazards and cost substantially more to operate," said Bert. "One of the most important functions of a dryer is the elimination of moisture recovered during the heating of damp clothing. This moisture is held in the warm air produced by the dryer as humidity, and is normally expelled to the outdoors through the dryer's vent. If this air cannot be adequately removed, poor drying will result."
One of the things Bert finds satisfying about his new career is the opportunity to educate customers.
"The more informed they are, the better they will maintain their own safety and their dryer efficiency," said Bert. "And the utility cost savings for the consumer can be significant."
Safety is a primary concern for homeowners, as more than 15,000 fires are caused every year by dryer vents.
The structural and engineering side of the business is natural and easy for Bert, who enjoys new installations, redirected venting in conjunction with home remodeling, and routine cleanings.
Bert wanted to be as technically knowledgeable as possible in getting his business off to a good start, so he earned the certified dryer exhaust technician (C-DET) designation. He is one of only two in Kansas City to receive the designation.
Bert now performs all of his work himself, but he hopes to add staff as the business grows. He maintains a van sporting his company logo, carrying all the equipment he needs.
"The scheduling for appointments is handled through a national toll-free number," said Bert, "which frees up my time to focus on prompt service."
Bert says he believes that customers deserve someone who is competent to do the job correctly, ethically, and honestly.
Safe clothes drying
Clothes dryers can ignite fires. Follow these rules when using your clothes dryer:
- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions, especially with installation.
- Do not overload a dryer.
- Do not put dripping wet clothes into a dryer.
- Clean the lint filter regularly.
- Do not turn on a dryer and then leave the house, or sleep with a dryer on.
- Do not place clothes and other items on or around a clothes dryer.
- Make sure the area around a clothes dryer is well-ventilated.
- Do not use a dryer if it is making unusual noises, such as rubbing or grinding, or if the timer is not functioning properly.
- Have dryer ducts and vents routinely cleaned and serviced.