Friday, April 24, 2020

Stories of Triumph

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Business Development Board of Martin County

" Don't worry about failure. You only have to be right once." 
Drew Houston

Former nurse’s new venture as small-business owner tapped for vital role in fighting virus
After decades of delays and detours, Karen Argus finally achieved her dream of owning and operating her own business.

Amazingly, its opening in the middle of a national nightmare—which looked like the worst possible timing—proved perfect.

Karen finished her training as a new franchisee of PuroClean on Feb. 28—one year to the day after leaving a long career as a nurse—and planned her grand opening for March 16.

By then, the virus was systematically altering everything.

“We thought we were dead in the water and that was the end of that,” says Karen, whose Stuart-based business primarily services Martin and St. Lucie counties.
A nurse for 20 years in acute care, Karen worked in California, New York, Virginia, Connecticut and Florida, moving from location to location with her husband’s military career as a Marine Corps pilot. Upon retirement, he prioritized the realization of her passion, conducting copious hours of research into finding the right fit for a franchise.

They kept coming back to PuroClean , which performs home and business restoration after fire, water, mold and biohazard damages.

Karen’s father served in the Army and met her mom in Germany, where she was raised. She arrived in America as an adult and worried how she’d make a living. She’d long admired her grandfather for managing a successful business as a butcher, but feared taking an entrepreneurial risk.

“I knew that no matter where I went and what was going on,” she says, “people would always need a nurse.”
After taking a chance with PuroClean, she marvels at how quickly her business came together, first receiving—despite her previous lack of experience—an essential loan.

She also got help through the Business Development Board of Martin County and Indian River State College’s Small Business Development Center in selecting the location of her Stuart facility.

“Everything fell into place,” she says.

That was true even when it wasn’t obvious.

During her training at PuroClean Academy, Karen took a mold-treatment course including EPA-approved disinfectants that could also eradicate COVID-19. But with the public skittish about strangers entering their homes to perform services, it seemed she wouldn’t get to apply this timely knowledge.

Then she got a call from her regional director.

He offered an opportunity outside of her traditional service territory to regularly sanitize a large warehouse leased by one of the nation’s top three automakers reassigned to engineer ventilators.

“The engineers are coming here, living in hotels and assigned to engineer every portion of the ventilator. They’re putting them all together. At the end, you have a ventilator, which they hook up to a machine that tests it for 10 hours and then it can be shipped to distribution.” —Karen Argus
Karen’s team disinfects the facility for COVID-19, ensuring a safe environment for engineering of the vital medical devices, and performs the janitorial services as well.

“We bought a vacuum cleaner just for this,” she says.

The mask she dons today for work is similar to the one she once wore as a nurse. While at times she misses the chance to help patients amid the pandemic, she’s grateful that the services of her new calling are supporting the same important cause.

“We’re supporting the ventilator team,” she says. “We’re very proud—very excited. For us to land a job like this, it just feels really good. It feels like we’re lending a hand.”
Call the 211 Help Line for families needing resources

Small (Business) but Mighty
The Business Development Board of Martin County is showcasing these inspiring efforts of local business leaders, innovators and entrepreneur in a reoccurring feature called “Stories of Triumph.”

If you or someone you know is using their small business to do something innovative and inspiring to help our community through this crisis, please email me so we can share their Story of Triumph.

Joan K. Goodrich
Executive Director
Business Development Board of Martin County

The Business Development Board of Martin County, a public-private partnership for economic development, is dedicated to championing and strengthening Martin County's economy. The team provides complimentary site selection assistance, business intelligence and market research, community connections, workforce development programs, industry and entrepreneur support and assistance with its investors and partners. To learn more, visit or call 772.221.1380.