Tasker Tucker – March 17, 1928 – April 26, 2010, by Phillip Rosebrook, JR

The restoration industry just lost a great friend, resource, industry pioneer and great influence. If you live outside of Canada you may not know the name, Tasker Tucker. Task started in the restoration industry before the industry really even started, over 60 years ago. Like many other pioneers, Task worked for a construction company that was called to repair a fire damaged home. That is when Task realized that there was an opportunity in this business and they became one of the first companies in Toronto to specialize in disaster restoration.

The story starts a little before this and I think that World War II was the foundation of the values that he brought to the business world. Task was determined to serve his country and used simple trick of changing dates on a birth certificate that allowed a 17 year old boy to enlist in the merchant marines. He supplied troops for nearly four years until a German U-Boat attached his supply ship. Task lost a kidney in the attack and received an honorable discharge. He learned skills during his time at sea that allowed him to become a shipwright on his return to Canada. The opportunity arose to move to Toronto and start a construction career with a large building company. In addition to being an interesting story this also likely served as the foundation for the values that led a successful career in restoration, although it could have been any business.

Task was a quiet leader. He knew that he would not be successful without good people. He treated his subcontractors and employees like family. He liked to say, �if you pay peanuts you will get monkeys.� When a project was successful or if the company was performing well then it was shared with the people that helped make that possible. Task believed in pay for performance and long before it was customary, he implemented pay for performance compensation systems. This was implemented based on a fundamental belief that if you treated your people well then they would provide exceptional effort. He felt that for the best results you needed work with and not through people. This partnership with his staff helped create a successful company as well as successful individuals within that company.

He was known for his ability to walk a large fire and determine the value of the damage within a very short period of time. He had a knack for understanding scopes, values and pricing without looking through the lens of a pricing database. An insurance company once called him to consult on the damage to a large church after a fire. He spent less than an hour inside with a flashlight and determined the cost would be near $750,000. When the bids were received they were near the same price. You will often find in today�s world that the estimators do not know the price until all the unit costs are assembled and the computer tallies the numbers. Good estimating requires a grasp of costs and knowledge of construction. These skills are not always present, as software has fundamentally changed estimating and even adjusting. Understanding estimating at this level requires a lot of work, experience and discipline. Task spent time learning trends that were impacting costs and also researched prices so that he was aware of the current cost for repairs. In his retirement he was contracted by several companies to train their estimators. These business owners understood that they could dramatically improve their businesses by applying the skills that Task brought to their company.

Adjusters have said that when Task wrote an estimate they did not even need photos to document the damage. The scope and notes told a complete story. Good estimating includes not only understanding the nature of the damage, the cost of repairs, and properly documenting the damage but more importantly it requires a level of trust with the insurance companies. Task was not a person to take advantage of an insurance company but worked to create win-win relationships with the people that he was working with and for. He felt that if he gave great service, and a great value, he should be compensated fairly for that work. People of virtue understand that success in business is not about getting the best price; rather it is about providing the best value. This idea of value helped Task become a very successful restorer as well as a successful businessperson.

Perhaps one of his greatest strengths was that he cared for people. Some might also refer to this as passion for others. For Task, work was fun. He was able to do things that he liked and work with people that he enjoyed while providing a service. Whether visiting a hockey rink or fishing with an adjuster, people felt that Task cared about them. This was genuine because Task did care. Dale Carnegie understood this concept and it formed one of the foundations for his book, How to Win friends and Influence People. Task didn�t need to read this in a book, because he lived it.

For those of us that have been in the industry for less than 30 years, it seems as though the industry did not begin until the 1980�s or perhaps the 1970�s, we are wrong. However at times like this, we should take a strong look at the pioneers of the industry. Perhaps the business skills required to operate a restoration company today are greater, yet the lessons of the founders stand the test of time. These lessons include: Treating your customers as partners and providing value; caring for your employees and subcontractors and treat them with respect; leading by example and practicing behavior that you want emulated; giving your clients and stakeholders reason to trust you and never violating that trust; and operating your business with integrity. These are the lessons that Tasker Tucker brought to the restoration industry over 60 years ago and held true to these principals his whole career. There are many business owners and employees that are grateful for having met Task.

In closing I want to share a thought from Ken Tucker, Tasker�s son. Ken said that one of the greatest moments in a son�s life is when he wants to be a friend with his father. Ken was able to spend time with his father and his friend over the past few years and he is grateful for that. Whether you knew Tasker Tucker or not, you can be thankful for what he brought to this industry.

Phillip Rosebrook, JR is a partner in Business Mentors. He has worked closely with Ken Tucker for the past 6 years. Business Mentors has helped hundreds of disaster restoration contractors across North America improve their businesses since 1997.