Daniel Estrada says his company’s resilience often resonates with investors.
As the CEO and co-founder of 86 Repairs Inc., a service provider that streamlines the end-to-end repair and maintenance process for restaurants, Estrada’s business grew sales by 146 percent from 2019 to 2020 even as the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the restaurant industry. The company, founded in 2018, has offices in Grand Rapids and Chicago.
The pandemic subsequently led to a lingering labor crisis with an estimated 1.8 million restaurant jobs going unfilled nationwide. The labor crunch is partly why Estrada thinks 86 Repairs has grown so quickly amid the uncertainty.
“There is just a huge pressure on (restaurant) staff to keep the ship afloat,” Estrada said. “If we can take one thing off their plate … that’s a huge time savings and cost savings for our customers.”
The company’s growth last year was followed by a recent announcement that it closed a $7.3 million capital funding round. This included $2 million in seed funding in March of this year followed by an additional $5.3 million last month. The company has raised $8.8 million in capital since launching in 2018.
Investors in the latest round include Chicago-based food industry investment firm Cleveland Avenue, led by former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, and Relish Works Inc., the innovation and investment arm of Wyoming-based food distributor Gordon Food Service Inc.
“We’re really proud to have some heavy hitters in the industry supporting us,” Estrada said. “It’s not just capital — we get a lot of strategic support from our investors. It’s great to have capital, but to have capital from those that know the industry and know this pain point really well, it proves the value of what we’re doing for the industry at large.”
Estrada said 86 Repairs will leverage the capital for growth even as it serves clients in nearly every state in the country. The company is also hiring for essentially every position, Estrada added.
86 Repairs will also use the capital to further invest into its own technological resources in order to provide more effective service for customers. For example, the company uses advanced technology to troubleshoot issues to avoid unnecessary repair visits. It also uses machine learning to provide repair cost estimates for clients based on the specific market in which they operate.
“We’re investing in that technology to keep giving customers better insight while increasing the amount of time we can save them and the amount of money we can save them,” Estrada said.
Like its clients in the restaurant industry, 86 Repairs has had its own set of hurdles during the COVID-19 pandemic. Skilled trade workers are at a shortage while supply chain issues can make it difficult to source parts and equipment. For example, Estrada said it currently takes around three to four months for restaurants to access a new fryer.
Still, Estrada said 86 Repairs can help restaurants from facing the pain points on their own.
“We manage all of those headaches for our customers so they don’t have to,” he said. “That doesn’t mean we can magically make a service provider appear whenever we want. But when there is that back-and-forth coordination need — when there is that need to hold a service provider accountable to getting work done — our team is managing that for our customers so they can focus on running their businesses.”
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