In 1992, after twelve years of working at Telephone Field Service, Steve decided to buy his first of four General Nutrition Centers franchise. Twelve years later, in 2004, he decided to get his license for commercial real estate. After four years and a downturn in the real estate market, he decided to purchase one of several of his restaurant listings, Summer Freeze, a seasonal ice cream & grill in Concord, New Hampshire. When closing down for the season in November 2008, he scheduled an appointment to have his kitchen exhaust system cleaned. He made a call to the same company the previous owners used, and when Jerry came out to clean the system, Steve helped him with the work. They made small talk, including what Steve planned on doing while closed for the winter months.
Once the job was complete, Jerry commented to Steve: “If you ever want to start a business in hood cleaning, you would probably do very well at it and I will help you by giving you some Asian cuisine customers to get started.”
This stood out to Steve! Rarely had he ever encountered someone who would suggest something like that. Later that year, at Christmas dinner, Steve began speaking with his brother-in-law, Richard Amador, who was discussing how poor the construction industry was. Rich was interested in pursuing something else for work, when Steve told him about the conversation he had with Jerry about starting a kitchen exhaust cleaning company. Steve asked Rich if he would enjoy this new venture together and they agreed to pray on it.
After a few weeks, Steve and Rich decided to move forward with the hood cleaning company plan. Steve had a credit limit of $20,000 and Rich had a 2002 Dodge 2500 family van. Thus, Dependable Hood & Duct Cleaning Company, LLC was formed in February 2009. Jerry helped out, as promised, but not with Asian cuisine customers. Jerry introduced them to Joe Dunn with Dunnwell Company, a national management company for the larger restaurant chains, colleges, and venues. After six years of kitchen exhaust cleaning, they decided it was time to diversify.
In 2014, Steve began buying products through KEC Supplies and made friends with the owner, Jason Wellman. They would talk at length about business and found each other to be a good, rare friend in a pretty lonely industry. Over the next two years, Jason talked a lot about his filter exchange business, FilterShine USA. This was the exact opportunity Steve and Rich were looking for to diversity the business. In July 2016, they sent Jason the down payment for the New England territory and in October 2017 had their FilterShine New England operation installed.
They began servicing their first FilterShine customer in early December 2017. They took the next eighteen months to convert their existing and new Dependable Hood customers to include their new FilterShine Exchange program. Due to the EPA’s increased interest in the kitchen exhaust cleaning industry, specifically the mishandling of contaminated gray water released into the environment, they have taken a proactive approach to protect the environment, customers, and the companies’ exposure to this liability.
Dependable’s future goals include expanding the FilterShine New England operation into the city of Boston in hopes of building a strong, successful route down the I-93 corridor. They hope to have between four and six New Hampshire & Maine routes, with another six to eight Massachusetts routes, and three to four Sprinter Vans with eight to twelve FilterShine employees. They also anticipate having two to three full-time hood cleaning crews comprised of their signature three-man work crews with an office staff of eight to ten. Over the next three to five years, they are looking at purchasing land to build an industrial flex building to move their operations. Steve hopes to sublet to other trades to diversify, while simultaneously creating an exit plan for Steve and Rich to retire while their sons take over the family business.
Some of Rich’s favorite kind of people to be around are entrepreneurs; men and women who exude an enthusiasm and a passion to provide a product or service that is useful to society. Restaurateurs, in his estimation, seem to epitomize that entrepreneurial spirit. One has to respect a person who would take their life’s savings, put it into building a restaurant business, and then work 24/7 to get it off the ground in such a competitive industry. Most of the small businesses in the U.S. begin this way. That is why small businesses are the backbone of the American economy.
Being in the corporate world for fifteen years, supplying and contracting with small business people who radiate entrepreneurial passion, was a key ingredient and the inspiration for Rich starting his own businesses. For the last eighteen years, Rich and his wife have built several small businesses that have kept them running all this time, and in 2009 the Dependable Hood & Duct Cleaning family was born.
The small restaurants that dot our map are started and run by people who are committed to their product and service. How can one, who aids these small businesses with their life safety needs, be any less dedicated than they are? That’s why, when Rich’s brother-in-law, Steve Kassaras, approached him with the idea to begin Dependable Hood, the very first thing they dedicated themselves to was being the best kitchen exhaust cleaning provider in the New England area. They set out, from the beginning, to seek and employ the finest people, learn the industry inside and out, have the best equipment, and try to set the industry standard in their area.
Dedicating themselves to these goals and their customers, Rich and Steve reached their ten-year goal in the first five years and continue to grow at a pace far exceeding their dreams. Their customers have learned to trust in their fire code expertise to keep them compliant with the demanding national, state, and city standards. Happy, satisfied customers is the ultimate goal for Rich, and he reaches that goal daily.
Field & Operations Manager
Levi is the field manager and operations support at Dependable Hood & Duct. He’s spent the last nine years growing with the company and learning management skills under Rich and Steve, with the latter eight years as a crew manager and estimator. The years of hands-on work has given him a deep understanding of the industry and how to provide an experience Dependable’s customers require. Also, through this experience, he has learned to engage his customers and build their trust. Dependable’s realized goal is for their customers to have peace of mind, employees to feel comfortable, and for them to be able to live with the confidence that things are done correctly.
Elias began working at Dependable Hood in 2013 but has been on the sidelines ready to help since 2009 when the family business was started. He has watched Dependable Hood grow an incredible amount in just eleven short years. He attributes their growth to the company’s business model, the team’s hard work, proper tools, and a mindset to protect life and property.
Elias’s role has changed over the years, so he wears many hats. From cleaning the kitchen exhaust systems to setting up printers and computers, whatever Dependable Hood and the team need, Elias is there to fulfill it. His many talents make him the perfect team member to help wherever is needed. Being in a family business has its own challenges, but he sees the entire experience as being extremely rewarding and a great advantage in life. It allows them to grow closer together as a family and work team and gives them a safety net to fall back on. His goals for the company are simple: educate his customers and provide a well-rounded kitchen exhaust system cleaning service.
Finances & Bookkeeping, Owner/Partner
Free survey/inspection estimates are provided within 60 miles of Manchester New Hampshire. Outside of 60 miles is at our discretion or over the phone with customer provided pictures and information.