This article by Michael Neibauer originally appears in Washington Business Journal
Roy Coupland is a former cybersecurity executive who now owns a Sterling-based indoor air quality, mold removal and disinfection business.
Your Green Home Solutions franchise launched just weeks before the pandemic. Was it a “Baptism by fire”?
I thought I had prepared for everything. My ‘Ah-Ha’ moment came when the streets were empty and the only topic of conversation was Covid-19. Typically, mold remediation is a focus but the flood gates opened and the largest portion of jobs were disinfecting. So I knew in order to survive, I had to focus on leveraging that superior service in a time when the community needed it the most. I partnered with a good friend of mine who owns a moving and storage company to offer sanitization services for moving trucks. We did 100 trucks in the first six weeks. It was almost enough to make payroll.
Which of your services are most sought at this time?
The demand for disinfection services were through the roof. My worry was getting the word out that I existed. Knocking on doors and networking during Covid was difficult but not impossible with regulations. Despite being new to the area, I had the support of our nationwide franchise. Who else can boast that they have a chief science officer that actually invented our “secret sauce” mold-killing product?
What did you do before this?
I worked in the telecommunications industry for 40 years with the last few being spent in cyber security. I was a CSO and a chief of staff for two very large multinationals.
Why make the career switch, and was it a risky proposition?
Risk? I retired twice and realized I was bored. I decided to use some of my nest egg and diversify. The goal being to create passive income into my real retirement when it happens. I knew that 40 years of “big business” was enough for me. Here is my track record on risk: I changed countries three times throughout my career with my family of five and I am still married! I was born in the U.K. (U.S. citizen now). I have worked in London, Paris and Amsterdam and I reinvented my career from wireline telco to cloud services. I was and still am a product manager. Price, position, placement, process, promotion and performance. If you plan well and beast the numbers, the risks can be better understood.
What room in your house could most use your company’s services?
The recreation room in my basement was a teenage hangout for many years and now isn’t used quite as often. It smells a bit like a college dorm room.
How do you keep your employees safe?
Right next to marketing, safety is my largest spend item. It’s vital to have the right tools and uncompromising on PPE. PPE is always available. It is almost always only used once and is tailored to the individuals.
What was your first job?
I had a paper route in a suburb of central London called East Dulwich. I hand delivered 216 newspapers every morning and twice as much on Sundays. The job paid $1.75 for the six days and the $1.75 for Sundays alone. I started out as an engineering apprentice in 1978 at the age of 16 with British Telecom in London City District. I stayed with them until 2016.