Written on the 20 November 2009
NICSON White came up with his innovative business concept after staying in ‘questionable’ accommodation as a teenager, but it was his entrepreneurial drive that transformed the idea into success.
The managing director of Health Protect International (HPI) co-founded the sanitation service provider after discovering the idea hadn’t been commercialised elsewhere.
“The sanitising industry has been around for 15 years though no one was really doing it properly. We were the first to start using specialised equipment and developing a business plan,” he says.
“Since then there has been a handful of competitors making a better attempt at it than prior companies, however no one comes close to the level of organisation and coverage that we have.”
With the major focus initially on guest accommodation, White says the hospitality industry has responded very quickly to the concept of mattress and carpet sanitation.
Hotels are starting to incorporate sanitising notices into their advertising and more than 100 organisations have signed up for his Healthy Hotels Program — an initiative that allows the public to book accommodation according to hygiene via the Healthy Hotels Guide.
“Many people think hotels are already doing this but they’re not,” says White.
“Guests now have the choice of paying five to 10 per cent extra for an ‘allergy-free’ room as opposed to a room that has just been sanitised. Hotels are starting to make a really strong profit from this.”
While HPI has expanded to include more than 150 licensed operators in Australia and New Zealand in just four years, White says the company is just on the verge of really dominating the market. Clients include 15 Gold Coast Mantra hotels, the Radisson Group and the Marriott.
“The last four years has really been about setting up for major growth. It has taken us this long to get the recipe right and we’ve now got a foothold in the market,” he says.
With expansion into commercial sectors including government buildings, childcare centres and corporate events venues, White aims to further establish the concept locally before taking on major international markets.
An important factor in his success has been learning how to heed the advice of mentors.
“There really is no formal business education that I’m aware of that compares to actual experience,” he says.
“Many people don’t realise how accessible mentors are, all you’ve got to do is pick up the phone.
“I believe there isn’t one mistake you need to make that hasn’t already been made by someone before you. The key is to make sure you have the advice of those people before you need it.”