Rudy Chacon, owner of a ChemDry of the Future franchise, said the recent rains both helped and hurt his carpet-cleaning business. While the phones were ringing often, traffic congestion made it harder to make appointments on time.

"I started working with a company that was doing carpet cleaning. I wanted to do it myself so I started looking for the best way to remove the stains. Most of the companies are into steam or shampoo. ChemDry uses carbon dioxide, the same like in club soda, 7-Up and Alka-Seltzer. Harris Research created the carbonated process and then my wife and I bought the rights for most of the Los Angeles area.

"It cost $40,000 and was a one-time fee, then you have to pay a franchise fee. You buy all the equipment and do the marketing. Everything is on your own so you have to look for the best way to market the business and get the customers.

"There's another ChemDry in Orange County, one in the Valley and another one in San Bernardino/ Riverside County. We are in the process of buying another franchise on the east side of Los Angeles that would include Glendale and Burbank.

"In the beginning it was really very difficult because I had to run the company and was working for someone else. Then we started growing so I quit my (other) job to solely focus on the business. The annual gross is about $250,000 to $275,000.

"Most of the time after the New Year we are slow, but this year we never stopped. We probably had 30 percent more business because of the rain and because people are selling their houses. There was a lot of flooding. We go extract the water and then we use blow dryers. This process takes three visits to the house. We leave the blowers and then we return when the carpet is completely dry and pull the carpet, disinfect the floor and the back of the carpet and put the new padding and the carpet down.

"Eighty-five percent of the customers are good but some expect more than we can do. Some customers wanted to do the job themselves or save money so they just put towels down. Then they call you a few days later when the carpet starts smelling and it has a brown color. That's when the people realize the problem is worse than they were expecting.

"The problem that we're having right now is the traffic. We are stuck on the freeways or the streets so we don't arrive to the houses on time. We're trying to resolve it by adding more vans so we can have vans targeting different areas."

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