Name: John Oelkers, 56, of Ventnor
Education: Bachelor's degree in psychology from Montclair State College
Family: Single, son, Daniel, in college
Company: HOCOA Home Repair Network
Position: Atlantic and Cape May counties representative
We offer homeowners and business owners one number to call 24/7 for whatever they need - whether a plumber, an electrician, landscaping, a kitchen remodel, a cleaning service, pretty much everything you can think of.
For an annual fee of $48, they can call a live operator seven days a week, even holidays.
I've put together a network of local contractors. For every one, I've verified that they have all of their licenses, all of the insurances required, and I've also talked to at least three other people they've done work for so I know they do quality work.
When people call, they tell me what they need done and I match them up with the least expensive way to go.
They might call thinking they need an electrician because they're replacing a ceiling fan, but a handyman is qualified to do that. And vice versa, they might think they need a handyman, but really need an electrician.
I also work out something with the contractors, sometimes a percentage, sometimes a flat fee for doing promotion and advertising for them.
Entry: When I was in college, was doing home improvement with a company. Then I worked 10 years for a nonprofit agency and part of my role for them was overseeing contractors constantly fixing things at 10 group homes. Then I oversaw the building of facilities for a food distribution company, so I've had a lot of experience checking out contractors and holding them accountable.
This is my second year and I'm getting name recognition and have been very busy.
I'm really working for the homeowner. If there's an issue, I make sure the contractor takes care of it. That's part of their agreement with me. Instead of three strikes, I pretty much go one strike: If you don't make the person happy, you're out.
About me: I play the guitar semi-professionally, right now just me and a vocalist. The other thing I do is I'm a volunteer for CASA in Somers Point, as a court-appointed special advocate for a couple of foster kids. I write reports to the court and try to make things work out for them while they're in foster care.
Business editor Kevin Post