Not so long ago, Rowland Kimbrough and Jack Iverstine were late in their careers working traditional jobs for two of Baton Rouge’s largest employers. Kimbrough was an electrician at Georgia Pacific; Iverstine was in operations with ExxonMobil. But Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts planted the seeds of entrepreneurship, and today they run an innovative company that specializes in managing properties, contracts and projects for a variety of governmental and municipal entities.
Iverstine took early retirement in 2003, and eventually found himself working part-time transporting cars in a large tractor-trailer rig. When FEMA began dispersing temporary housing units around the state in the wake of the ‘05 hurricanes, he began working with contractors to deliver and, eventually, recover and dismantle mobile homes that had been used to house the displaced.
Friends since childhood, Kimbrough and Iverstine began talking about the massive volume of work FEMA had in front of it—and the general inefficiency that was occurring as the work proceeded. By the summer of 2006, Kimbrough was hooked. “I really got interested when we started talking about the deactivation process,” he recalls. “I took vacation in August 2006, and started working deactivating trailers for FEMA. I never went back to work.”
The two partners cleared space in a front bedroom in Kimbrough’s house for an office, and Task Force LLC was born. Formed through the Louisiana Economic Development Hudson Initiative Small Business Program, the company had one big idea that would produce more growth than Iverstine and Kimbrough ever could have dreamed: thorough, transparent, reportable stewardship of public funds. They found their niche by developing a robust management tracking system that allows clients full access to monitor the company’s tasks, actions and spending.
“We knew there were some glaring errors and inefficiencies in what we had seen,” explains Iverstine. “So we knew we wanted better recordkeeping, we knew we wanted transparency, we knew we wanted to use pictures to document what was done and how every dollar was spent.”
A month later, Task Force was awarded an $18 million contract from the Road Home Corp. to maintain and manage properties that had been acquired through the massive federally funded buyback program. “They told us straight up, ‘Your proposal for how you were going to monitor and track the process is what won you the contract,’ “Kimbrough says. The company’s growth has been extraordinary. Just five years later, Task Force has its own office building on South Harrell’s Ferry Road and is managing 9,000 properties for the Road Home Corp. and thousands more for the city of New Orleans.
It involves a lot of property upkeep like mowing grass—the company has the capacity to cut 1,000 yards a day. Task Force has managed more than 10,000 properties that have generated in excess of 39,000 individual work orders in a month’s time—and completed the work with less than a .001% error rate.
These stats, however, were not achieved alone. The company has entered into dozens of contracts with local subcontractors to provide services across the state. When Task Force signs on a subcontractor, it helps that company grow by expanding its reach to encompass an exclusive right to service accounts within a geographic area. In the process, the joint venture provides the subcontractor with access to Task Force’s innovative tracking system that enables their clients to stay informed about their accounts. These seemingly simple changes allow local contractors to focus on more clients in a smaller geographic region, cutting down on nonproductive trips across towns, cities, parishes or even larger areas.
Today, the company is concentrating on growing its share of the market in the Baton Rouge region. At the heart of this plan is a focus on growing its customer base among commercial property owners. The company was founded and formed in Baton Rouge but has largely expanded and grown across south Louisiana and into areas further north. Kimbrough and Iverstine are hoping during the course of 2011 to pursue more work in the Capital Region.
“Our future is expanding with what we have learned,” says Iverstine. “This year, we look forward to growing while keeping transparency and integrity as the forefront of our management company.”
Business Report’s 2011 Annual Report, Profiles of Success (see full report here, Pg 74)
At A Glance
Rowland Kimbrough and Jack Iverstine
Property and Project Management
Work Orders Processed Monthly
17,800 - 45,000
Stored Documentation Photos