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No more corporate red tape for entrepreneurs

Stephanie and Alan Sage, owners of Sage Restoration, in front of their company van. The couple opened their Overland Park business in 2010.
Stephanie and Alan Sage, owners of Sage Restoration, in front of their company van. The couple opened their Overland Park business in 2010. Photo provided

Alan and Stephanie Sage are a long way from the corporate world in which they began their careers 30 years ago.

Back then, the Overland Park couple’s 9-to-5 jobs were filled with budget meetings and long hours behind a cubicle. Now, their dealings are in water and fire damage cleanup, mold inspections and hoarding cleanup services.

The two decided to leave the corporate world in 2010 to start Sage Restoration because of the real estate market was floundering. They knew they wanted to work with homeowners, so they hired a business broker to explore their options.

Among them was a lawn care business and a painting business. But the restoration business made the most sense.

“We felt this business is really recession-proof,” Alan Sage says of the business endeavor. “No matter what happens, people have to get this done.”

They’ve never looked back. After taking certification courses in fire and water cleanup, they opened Sage Restoration, located at 6520 W 110th St. in Overland Park, in 2010.

The company has grown from a one-man-band to six, full-time employees and around-the-clock work in its seven years. Their hard works has earned them a nomination 2017 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award.

Long gone are the routine days at the office. During rainy months, the Sages work whenever they are needed. In July, the couple worked 23 days straight due to flooding.

“One phone call can totally throw your day out of sync,” Stephanie Sage says of the unpredictable schedule. “Yesterday, we got awakened at 3 in the morning with phone calls coming in,” she says, noting that the call was flood related.

But the 50-hour workweeks and the heavy lifting — the job is physically demanding — don’t deter the Sages.

“When I make a commitment to something I just jump in and I do whatever it takes,” says Stephanie Sage.

“I always said I wasn’t very smart, but I could work my tail off,” Alan Sage says, citing his upbringing on a Kansas farm where hard work was built into the DNA.

The hard work has paid off.

Last month, the company was nominated as a national finalist for the 2017 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award among 17 other finalists from across the U.S. The nomination secured their spot to the Dream Big Awards Celebration in Washington, where the winner will be announced Sept. 12.

Five awards will be given in the areas of Emerging Business Achievement, Community Excellence, Green/Sustainable Business, Minority-Owned Business Achievement, Veteran-Owned Business Achievement and Woman-Owned Business Achievement. One business will win the Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award.

Sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the award celebrates small U.S. businesses in areas including consistent business growth and performance and employee relation practices.

Sage Restoration is “growing like crazy,” the couple says. The company’s first year in sales is “a slow month” for the Sages now.

Both credit their ability to build relationships in the community and their commitment to customer service to their success.

What sets them apart from bigger, corporate companies, they say, is their free range to make and execute quick decisions without all the red tape.

“In the corporate world you’ve got all the politics,” Stephanie Sage says. “Where family-owned businesses, anything we talk about we are going to do it.”

If they win, the Sages will use the money to upgrade their technology to move to paperless transactions, they say. If not, they will still walk away happy.

“It’s been a lot of hard work and a huge learning curve,” Stephanie Sage says. “We are just so proud and honored to be selected among small businesses across the country. I’m really proud of what we have accomplished.”

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