In May 1949, the Trinity River levee broke, causing major flooding in Fort Worth that many older folks still talk about. Blackmon Mooring, a nascent furniture cleaning and reupholstery shop founded by Bill Blackmon and Scott Mooring, rushed into action, quickly adding rug cleaning to its services.
Almost seven decades later, the iconic Cowtown company has grown from residential and commercial carpet cleaning and air duct cleaning – still the cornerstones of its services – to become a global player in fire and water restoration and reconstruction services. With the addition of two divisions, BMS CAT and BMS Global, Blackmon Mooring has 20 locations across the United States that employ about 1,000 people, including 200 in its corporate office and about 110 at its flagship location in Arlington.
The company, now owned by brothers Kirk, Greg and Bill Blackmon, follows the same principles it was founded on and has earned a reputation for providing quality work and outstanding service.
“The key to our success goes back to when our dad and Mr. Mooring started this,” Kirk Blackmon said. “We have one class of service and that’s excellent. We don’t offer anything other than that. We also have and retain the best employees. That’s been our approach from the beginning and we still do that today.”
Recently, Blackmon Mooring marked a major milestone, moving to a spacious new Haltom City headquarters in what had been the home of Hawk Electronics Inc. on Airport Freeway.
The company purchased the 56,666-square-foot, two-story building and renovated it into 51,000 square feet of office space and 6,000 square feet of warehouse space. The finishing touches are being put on a 34,000-square-foot building specifically designed to house the firm’s document restoration equipment and services.
“We were bursting at the seams in our old place. We couldn’t find space large enough in Fort Worth. This came up at the right time,” said company president Tom Head. “The move into our new headquarters is a significant moment in our 67-year history. It reflects the growth we have experienced and represents the continued expansion we are driving toward.”
With all divisions and services now under one roof, the company is poised for growth. Plans call for six more locations nationwide within 36 months, according to Head.
“Our owners have great wisdom and vision. They’ve grown up in the business with their dad and Mr. Mooring. They’re the flywheel of all this,” said Head. “They knew that the way for us to be successful was to add more dots on the map around the country in strategic locations. We go to where our customers need us the most. We continue to see expansion in our future.”
BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
The corporate move also has given the company an opportunity to reflect on its beginnings and its founders.
Bill Blackmon and Scott Mooring met while playing sports at Texas Christian University and became best friends. They fought in World War II, one in the Pacific and the other in Europe, and wanted to start a business together after the war. Blackmon talked Mooring into opening the furniture cleaning and reupholstery business he had learned from his grandmother.
“What catapulted the company was that flood. The flood forced them to salvage their own homes. That morphed into helping their neighbors,” Head said. “It’s a great entrepreneurial spirit on their part. They didn’t have quit in them. They always found a way to reinvent the company and they had a perpetual optimism.”
By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Blackmon Mooring had invented new methods and machines for carpet cleaning, added air-duct cleaning to its service line and begun restoration services. BMS CAT was founded in 1981 and the company developed a new process to respond to emergencies, including fire and flood. High-profile projects included fire restoration of the Diamond Shamrock Tower in Dallas, the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving and University Christian Church in Fort Worth.
The biggest break came when the company secured the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel fire restoration project. While other companies estimated it would take six months to restore the casino and hotel after an arson fire swept through the building on Feb. 10, 1981, BMS CAT did the job in 29 days. The casino was back in operation in four days, and 350 Blackmon Mooring workers put more than 2,200 hotel rooms back in service in 22 days.
“That’s that entrepreneurial spirit, which has made the company a success,” Head said.
In the late 1980s, BMS Global was formed to provide transportation disaster services. When a US Airways jetliner ditched on the Hudson River in New York in 2009 in an accident dubbed “The Miracle on the Hudson” after all passengers and crew members survived, items from the plane were brought to Fort Worth to be restored.
This division has responded to other major transportation disasters including the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco and a recent Amtrak derailment.
The company has five freeze-drying chambers in which a pressurization process extracts moisture from fire- or water-damaged documents, X-rays, microfiche, film and the like, restoring them to their pre-loss condition. BMS Global is now one of the largest restoration companies worldwide using this freeze-drying technique. It has helped restore archives and documents for numerous government agencies, libraries and law firms as well as for homeowners and businesses that suffered losses during Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
“We make quick decisions because so much of the business is about emergency response,” said Kirk Blackmon. “A lot of the work we do has to do with some type of disaster. It’s sad but it happens to folks. We try to help them see their way out of it and make it easier for them. Putting families back together again or restoring a company so employees can go back to work as soon as possible is rewarding. It can be stressful working here but it’s also very rewarding.”
Six years ago, Blackmon Mooring started its construction division, which now makes up 40 percent of its overall business. In its 67 years, the company has seen growth year over year between 10 and 20 percent, Head says, with the construction division now responsible for 20 to 30 percent growth year over year.
The construction division dovetails into the company’s restoration services, he says.
“On the front end of someone’s loss we would go in and get the water out, and as we would walk out, the construction company was coming in. We wondered why we couldn’t do that. It was one of those V8 moments,” he said. “Construction is what is allowing us such great growth. It’s been one of our most successful ventures in the company’s history.
“We like what the future holds for Blackmon Mooring and BMS CAT. We’re upbeat and optimistic,” Head added. “We’re so proud of our great story and our employees. It’s really a calling to do this. It’s 24/7, 365 days a year. We’re always here ready to respond and help when needed.”
1948 Blackmon Mooring is founded
1968 Invention of Steamatic Hot Water Extraction System for carpet
1970 Invention of Lambrite Dry Cleaning Machine
1972 Cleaning of 31,000 square feet of carpeting that was used in the month-long festivities of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race
1975-76 Expanded Blackmon Mooring residential services into five markets
1976 Invention of the air-duct cleaning process; restoration of the Cullen Davis mansion after the slayings of two people there; four men clean the 68,000 square feet of Tartan turf at Texas Christian University’s Amon Carter Stadium
1981 BMS CAT founded; Emergency Response Process developed; Diamond Shamrock Tower in Dallas fire restoration; hired to restore $1.6 million worth of fire damage at the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America in Irving; restoration of University Christian Church after fire damage; Las Vegas Hilton Hotel fire restoration
1986 Expansion of franchises overseas. A few years later, BMS Global was formed to provide transportation disaster services.
2015 Move into new corporate headquarters
BLACKMON MOORING/BMS CAT
5718 Airport Freeway
Haltom City 76117