People of a certain age will recall the Howard Johnson restaurant and motor lodge chain with its iconic orange roofs. By the 1970s it had become the largest restaurant chain in the U.S. with more than 1,000 locations (’28 flavors’ of ice cream) plus 520 hotels.
In 1979, when Howard B. Johnson, son of the founder, sold the motor lodges to Marriott and the restaurants to a British company, Senior Operations Analyst Eliott Zeprun found himself out of a job. “I knew the hospitality industry inside-out. I also had long-term personal connections with hundreds of service and maintenance contractors and hotel and facility managers across the U.S.,” Zeprun recalls. “I wanted to find a way to preserve those relationships and turn my experience and contacts into some sort of business.”
Zeprun is not afraid of a little hard work. After all, he had worked since he was a teen at his father’s Zeppy’s Bagel Bakery, a Boston area landmark for 60 years. “In our heyday, we were baking and shipping 2,000 dozen bagels every day to customers like Stop & Shop, BJ’s and many others. Some days I supervised the baking ovens at 4 am and made store deliveries at 9 pm the same day,” he says with a characteristic smile.
Armed with an idea and a Rolodex (before computers!), in 1984 Zeprun teamed up with a former HJ colleague to launch EZ Maintenance Services LLC (www.linkedin.com/in/eliott-zeprun-969a452b/ ), focusing on the hospitality, restaurant and retail industries with an East Coast focus – from Maine to Florida. “My initials – EZ — made it easy to create a company name!” Today his late colleague’s wife Janice Charles handles customer calls from a Florida office.
Asked about the keys to the company’s success, Zeprun provides several reasons: (1) All contractors are continuously monitored for performance and quality assurance, ensuring only the most qualified contractors are dispatched; (2) EZ promises rapid response, 24/7, ensuring safety and comfort for guests; (3) Because EZ pays vendors within 14 days, they like answering EZ’s calls; (4) Clients receive fast service, thanks to EZ’s excellent long-time relationships; and (5) Vendors are local and know if they respond quickly with competitive prices and quality service, they’ll get a steady stream of business from EZ; and (6) All service calls are answered within five minutes.
“We work with pre-qualified vendors in most trades who respect our high standards and pre-established rates,” Zeprun says. “We screen vendors for proper licensing and insurance so customers have peace of mind.”
By working closely with client facilities on a regular basis, EZ and its vendors know the properties well and provide strategic proactive and reactive maintenance that protects and extends the life of the asset while saving the owners time, money and headaches. EZ’s network of contractors specializes in a wide range of fields including plumbing, HVAC, electrical, elevators, sprinklers, drywall, locksmith services, roofing, glass, overhead doors, and much more. Another key to EZ’s success: They have an on-call 24/7 noted electrical/mechanical engineer with decades of experience who specializes in hotel facilities maintenance solutions.
Client Services Rep Noreen Adams provides an example of EZ Maintenance’s modus operandi: An early morning call to EZ from a panicky hotel manager: “No hot water! Help!” She contacted EZ’s local HVAC vendor. Within two hours, all guests had as much hot water as they needed. In another case, hotel guests reported a gas smell. EZ dispatched a trusted local vendor within an hour and resolved the issue without alarming or disturbing guests. During a heat wave in South Florida last year, dozens of hotels reported AC issues to EZ Maintenance. “We responded promptly to cool things off,” says Adams.
Zeprun says, “Hotel managers need a solution that eliminates complexity and results in speedy work order resolution. That’s where EZ Maintenance Services comes in.”
• By Stan Hurwitz / email@example.com.