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April 02, 2009 - Image 41

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-04-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Business & Professional

ENTREPRENEUR

Peace Of Mind

Multi-city company helps long-term travelers protect their homes.

Shelli Liebman Dorfman

Senior Writer

B

enjamin Gene and Mark Nestor
don't only believe in being at the
right place at the right time. Their
philosophy is to be there even earlier.
The owners of BenMar Property
Solutions founded their business to help
prevent — or discover and repair at an
early stage — problems that can arise
in homes left unattended for extended
lengths of time.
They serve clients in Commerce
Township, Waterford, West Bloomfield and
Bloomfield Hills plus four cities in Florida.
Because many of their 103 clients — a
large number coming from Detroit — have
homes in Florida that are unoccupied most
of the year, the company's base is in Boca
Raton. The business is run by Gene and
Nestor, but a part-time operations employee
in Birmingham cares for clients' Michigan
homes while homeowners are away.
The cost of basic, weekly home-watch
services, that include regular checks to
maintain property and catch problems
early, begin at $40 per month. For an addi-
tional fee, Gene said, "We provide other
services, a la carte. We can build in spe-
cific services to suit our clients needs, like
changing air filters or cleaning air ducts."
Company staff is also on call 24 hours a
day, seven days a week to deal with unex-
pected situations.
"What if there's a flood or a fire or a
hurricane while the owners are in another
state?" asked Gene. "They need someone
nearby to take care of things. Imagine
if someone's security alarm goes off in
Boynton Beach while the owners are back
home in Commerce. The alarm company's
call would go directly to us and we would be
immediately on the way to the house. We are
typically listed as the first responders on our
clients' alarm company profiles and will be
there to meet with police or fire officials!'
That was the case for a Michigan family,
whose alarm sounded in late January in
their Waterford home while they were at
their Boca Raton residence. "The tempera-
tures were excessively cold, followed by a
thaw, causing an indoor pipe in the home's
fire suppression system to burst': Gene said.
"It was 10 o'clock at night and the water
was continually spraying everywhere!"
Before the family left Michigan, BenMar
had turned off the water in the rest of the
home to prevent such a break, but safety

Benjamin Gene and Mark Nestor outside the Boca Raton home of a BENMAR client.

laws required that the sprinkler system's
water remain on.
After a sensor in the sprinkler set off
the alarm, BenMar was called. Personnel
arrived quickly to turn off the sprinklers
and restart the heating system that was
short circuited when water flooded the
furnace room. "We also detailed the extent
of the damage immediately after the loss
occurred;' Gene said. "That is instrumen-
tal in guaranteeing a payment on the
claim — or at least getting more money
— because the insurance company will
see that we did everything possible to pre-
vent further damage from occurring!'

A Business Or Two

Friends since they were kids growing up in
West Bloomfield, Gene and Nestor, both 25,
created BenMar — named with a blending
of their first names — this past August.
"After college, I moved to Florida to work':
said Nestor, a Michigan State University
graduate. A public insurance adjuster
— licensed, bonded and insured in both
Michigan and Florida — he first was
employed by a Florida company and then
formed his own, Nestor and Associates.
Gene, a graduate of Columbia University
and the Jewish Theological Seminary, both
in New York, joined on as a partner. He
brought work experience as chief project
manager in a Michigan-based general
contracting firm, specializing in renova-

tion and maintenance of housing units.
Soon, the two founded BenMar.
"I did a lot of work on behalf of cli-
ents who made insurance claims during
Hurricane Wilma',' Nestor said. "I watched
the 'snowbirds' who live in Florida in the
winters and in Michigan in the summers.
I was thinking, `What if they were in
Michigan and a hurricane hit? Who would
put up their hurricane shutters or check
afterwards to see if there was damage, and
who would arrange to have it repaired?'"
He and Gene began to consider other
services that could be needed by residents
living in two states and sought to find
ways to relieve homeowners of home
maintenance aggravation while helping
them prevent expensive damages.

Versatile Service
What Gene and Nestor came up with was
almost any service a homeowner might
need, contracting out what they couldn't
do themselves.
Clients of BenMar, which is licensed and
bonded, can benefit from regularly sched-
uled interior and exterior home inspec-
tions as well as repair, maintenance and
auxiliary services. Regular visits include
everything from turning appliances and
lights on and off, forwarding mail and
watering plants to checking for insect
infestation and mold, flushing the toilets
and starting the family car.

"Much of what we do is preventive main-
tenance," Gene said. "Little leaks become big
leaks so we check things like making sure
the washing machine and dishwasher hoses
are in place so when the homeowner turns
them on they don't flood!'
They also do safety checks including
inspecting dryer vents, door locks and
smoke detectors and also removing fliers
and notices from front doors and porch
areas. Each visit is followed up by an
update to clients.
"We will do these things all year round,
too, even when the homeowners are in
town:' Nestor said.
In addition to routine assessments,
BenMar provides or subcontracts services
ranging from airport pick up, grocery
shopping and opening the home for visi-
tors to arranging for car shipments and
moving services, hurricane upgrades,
computer installation or making a home
handicap accessible.
They also refer clients in need of baby-
sitting services to Sol Sitters, owned by
former Detroiter Rachel Charlupski, serv-
ing areas from Boca Raton to Miami.
And Nestor and Associates, now a
subsidiary of BenMar, aids clients with
insurance issues, offering public adjusting
services, homeowners' insurance reviews
and inventory of home contents.
"Having someone look in on your home
and maintain it properly can save hom-
eowners a great deal of heartache, time
and money long-term': Gene said.
Nestor described what a first-time client
from France could have found when enter-
ing her Boca Raton home after it had been
unoccupied and unchecked for more than
a year. "When we arrived, we discovered
it was overrun and infested with rodents,"
Nestor said. "They had been nesting in
her oversized furniture and had basically
destroyed her home."
Lucky for the homeowner, Nestor said,
"We were able to get experts in to exter-
minate the rodents, demolish her furni-
ture, damaged baseboard and dry wall to
eradicate the pest problem, and have it all
repaired before her arrival." _1

For information on BenMar Property
Solutions service packages, begin-
ning at $40 a month, visit the Web
site benmarpropertysolutions.com
or call (561) 705-4549.

April 2 200 :::Ti

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