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The KleenRite Story

As the founder and owner of KleenRite, Damon Hackleman knows about looking at the bad and finding the good. KleenRite provides water damage and structure drying services for homes and businesses. It also offers fire and smoke damage services.

In other words, rebuilding after a tough situation.

This isn’t just the nature of the business, though. Damon has seen the same in his own life. In fact, KleenRite got its start in 1998 after he lost his job.

“I was working for an audio/video store in town that had to terminate some positions and reduce their overhead,” Damon says. “Looking back on this now, it was a blessing in disguise. Had I not been fired, I may not have made the leap into entrepreneurship.”

The business got off the ground, but in its early days it wasn’t smooth sailing. Despite starting the company with a friend from high school, the partnership dissolved after only two-and-a-half years. Damon says the circumstances “soured” the friendship. They also made him wonder whether he could keep going.

“My partner quit and left me holding what we had started,” he says. “At that time, we were fairly small with only one employee with us. I had some long soul-searching talks with my accountant and my wife, Darla.”

The uncertainty was real, but Darla supported Damon from the beginning. When KleenRite was still trying to find its legs, Darla’s steady income as a home healthcare nurse helped keep the couple afloat.

“When my partner quit, [Darla] was able to support us both while we made some tough decisions,” Damon says. “We decided it was worth the risk to keep KleenRite going and to move forward.”

Fast forward to now and KleenRite is an established presence in the community. In addition to helping families and businesses after emergencies with flooding and fire damage, KleenRite also offers cleaning services for carpet, upholstery, tile and grout. They also concentrate on refreshing fine rugs with specialized cleaning agents and a humidity-controlled drying room.

A few years ago, after repeated requests from clients, KleenRite added duct cleaning to their services. Damon says this will help people suffering from asthma and allergies make spaces more comfortable.

Building on his personal experience, Damon goes to work every day with a simple goal.

“Our inspiration comes from solving problems,” he says, “and, believe me, owning and managing a business will throw lots of problems at you every day.”

Originally from Champaign, Damon runs his business on the philosophy of treating others the way he would want to be treated.

“We live by this all the time,” he says.

His wife, Darla, is from Arcola. The two have been together since they started dating at the age of 19. They got married the year KleenRite started, and Damon credits her with helping him stay strong and making sure the company could grow.

“This growth would not have been possible without Darla by my side, helping make decisions,” he says.

He and Darla now live in Robeson Meadows West where they built their home.

“It’s simply a great area to be and raise a family,” he says.

That family includes the couple’s daughters, Courtney and Emma, and two dogs, Lucy and Clementine.

Credit: Article written by Ekta R. Garg for Neighbors of SW Champaign Magazine