Personally, and within the community, Georgetown businessman remains active

GEORGETOWN — As a boy, Ray Hopkins envisioned himself growing up to someday make it big as a ball player.

“I had aspirations to play ball — baseball. I played a little bit. Then in high school I hurt my knee playing football and that kind of dashed everything for me,” said Mr. Hopkins. “But growing up I always thought that I was a pretty good athlete and that would be what I wanted to do.”

Ray Hopkins

At present co-owner of ServPro in Georgetown with his wife of 22 years JoAnn, Mr. Hopkins’ employment has spanned the spectrum.

The 67-year-old New Castle native worked for DuPont in the printing division. He worked part-time at the Hotel DuPont as a bellman/doorman.

And upon graduating with a master’s of divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. in 1978 he worked as a United Methodist pastor.

“Up through 1993 … where upon I bought this business. And moved here in June of 1993. I changed careers,” said Mr. Hopkins. “It was personal, just basically needing a change.”

A graduate of William Penn High School, he was part of Delaware Tech’s first graduating class in Wilmington. He also attended Delaware State University in addition to Wesley Theological Seminary.

With ServPro Mr. Hopkins has been an active member of the Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce for well over a decade. An outgoing board member he presently chairs the chamber’s Economic Development Council.

He is also a member of Georgetown/Millsboro Rotary for some 22 years.

Mr. Hopkins and wife JoAnn together have five kids and six grand-kids.

This week’s People to Meet: Ray Hopkins.

Any truly influential person in your life?

“My grandfather. My mother’s father; very strong faith; a very kind-hearted, wise man. He was always happy to see us. I would say my grandfather is probably the most influential person.”

Your decision to join the Greater Georgetown Chamber?

“Selfishly, it was for networking purposes. But ultimately it turned to help support business to come to Georgetown. And that is part of the economic development, to grow jobs and to get business here and maintain what businesses are here besides encouraging new businesses.”

A little bit about the family business?

“We have 19 employees, all fulltime. We service all of Sussex County; the license is Sussex County. An owner buys a territory. There is Kent and Sussex and in New Castle; there are three. So, there are a total of five ServPro offices in Delaware.”

What happens if the problem is water-related?

“We would in the case of a water loss. We would come in and remove what we can that is wet. For example, with carpet it would be wet padding. We would try to save the carpet and dry it. If dry wall was affected, we would probably take 12 inches or 24 inches of drywall out up from the floor. If the insulation was wet in the wall cavity, then we would cut the insulation. And we would spray for any kind of bacteria growth and then put in air movers and dehumidifiers to dry.”

And when there’s fire?

“In the case of a fire we just clean everything. For example, in a restaurant we would have to do dishes, walls, tables, do the bar area, pots and pans; everything gets cleaned. And the same thing in a house with a house fire. When kitchen cabinets are affected, and smoke gets inside we literally take everything out and clean the inside cabinet and put clean dishes, pots, glasses whatever is there. It’s pretty thorough.”

“In the case of mold, we remove, again, things like drywall, carpet and treat. In most cases we try to get an industrial hygienist there to follow us to make sure that there are no traces of excessive mold.”

What’s form of advertisement works best?

“The best advertisement of course is word of mouth. We have a sales staff that goes out and what I like to call ‘shoe-leather,’ where they literally knock on doors of businesses, property managers …”

Your business pledge, motto or mantra?

“We want to leave the house in better shape than what we found it. We have the philosophy as well that we are problem solvers. We go in and there is a problem. We pool all of our resources. A lot of times there is not a silver bullet that we have to utilize different avenues to accomplish our goal of cleaning up after a fire, getting a house dry and eliminating visible mold. Mold is everywhere, so you never get rid of it. But what you see, it’s visible, we do.”

“And no matter what the economic background of someone we treat all of our customers the same. Because a home is someone’s castle. It’s their security and it’s important for them that the problem be solved. That is what we believe. That is what we have gone by. We are honest, and we are fair.

You follow major league baseball?

“I’m an avid Phillies fan. I also go down to spring training every year to watch them play at Clearwater. That is a big interest of mine.”

Got a favorite all-time Phillie?

“Probably Mike Schmidt or Larry Bowa. I like Larry Bowa because of his hustle. And, Shane Victorino … also Mr. Hustle.”

Anything else in your spare or leisure time?

“I love to read. I take two newspapers a day; Wall Street Journal and the Wilmington News Journal. I enjoy gardening. And I work out four days a week at the local gym, at Flex World. I’m there at 4:30 in the morning.”

Any firm retirement plans?

“For a while it has not been in my sights. But I am beginning to see it happening, where I won’t leave here completely. I mean I grew this business along with my wife. We share the ownership. It is hard to leave it after you grow it. But yeah, it is going to happen, hopefully within two years, or a year or two. We have three current employees, one of which is a son, another is a son-in-law and the other is a friend who between them have 35 years of experience here. We are talking about how that is going to happen.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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