Vermax Industries Inc. didn't make many waves when it was founded in 1967 by two Salt Lake businessmen to supply products to the hospitality industry. And it stayed small during the next two decades until 1987.
That's when Leif W. Andersen, then chairman and president of Trespo Inc. entered the picture. Trespo, a multinational corporation, acquired Vermax that year. Andersen saw potential in the little Utah company. Andersen also was president of Charter One International, a company managing hotels and motels.While the products Vermax offers the hotel industry are not unusual nor do they have high-tech sizzle - materials needed by hotels and motels when they construct and remodel bathrooms in their rooms - Andersen believes the company's marketing package and its distribution methods are quite innovative in this marketplace.
For example, Vermax changed the finish of its bath products from the customary high glass to satin, allowing maintenance personnel to clean them faster. This is now standard in the industry.
Several years ago, hotels and motels used integrated lavatories in their vanities. Vermax urged customers to adopt its independent bowl and that has now, with few exceptions, been accepted as the industry standard.
Over the past 2 1/2 years, Salt Lake-based Vermax has expanded from 175 employees to 225.
Andersen has clearly demonstrated an ability to take on troubled businesses. Other successful turnaround in which he has participated include Southern Gas Co., Mid-Florida Service, Charter One International and currently Dakota Mill & Cabinets and Empire Mill & Cabinet.
Andersen's credo: "It's better to put 10 people to work for you, rather than doing the work of 10 people."