Thousands of investors struggle with stinky houses. OdorXit’s Deb Meyer found a solution—and turned it into a thriving business.
The calls to OdorXit’s 1-877 help line come practically all day, every day. On the phone are real estate investors desperate to banish the stench of skunk spray, cigarette smoke and dead animals from their rental properties.
OdorXit’s president, Deb Meyer, has heard practically every horror story out there—and has helped thousands of people solve them. Her Hamilton, Ohio-based company makes and sells four varieties of OdorXit, a powerful odor eliminator. It removes tough organic smells permanently, especially animal urine and feces, and many inorganic ones, too, Meyer says.
OdorXit’s products work in a variety of situations. Meyer’s clientele includes everyone from pet owners to bars to nursing homes. But real estate investors were among OdorXit’s first buyers and are still some of its best customers.
“They’re buying houses at a discount, and (those houses) are often at a discount because they smell bad,” Meyer said.
She has a lot of sympathy for investors—in fact, she happens to be one herself. Over the years, she’s had to grapple with her share of smelly houses. That’s what led her to start OdorXit.
Rental Property? Or Litter Box?
Meyer can still remember the property in question. “The seller had locked a cat with a bag of dog food in the house,” she recalled. The cat was left by itself for months. At first, the poor creature “tried to use the litter box, and then he used the whole house as a litterbox.”
While they were cleaning the property, Meyer and her husband came across a cleaning agent that worked wonders. It was so effective, they decided to buy that business, rebrand it as OdorXit and begin marketing it to investors like themselves.
They started manufacturing the neutralizer, at first in their home and later in their own facility. Today OdorXit employs a team of five people. The products, once available mostly at trade shows, can be purchased at Ace and Do it Best hardware stores across the country, as well as online.
One of the more popular products is OdorXit’s Concentrate option. It’s useful for clearing up medium to large messes—walls, floors, refrigerators, etc. Unlike primer-based products like Kilz, which cover up the cause of a smell, OdorXit removes that source.
If an investor decides to go the primer route, they have to coat every single surface or the odor will seep out. Or if there’s a scratch or tear, the smell will still escape.
Fighting odors often involves a little detective work, Meyer said. It’s not enough to detect an odor is present—you have to find where it’s originating. Treating a spot on the carpet won’t make a difference if the smell has actually gotten into the floor or joists.
Luckily, Meyer’s professional background has benefited her here. She used to be a technical researcher for Procter & Gamble on its line of diaper products.
‘You’ve Gotta Go With It’
In addition to the help line, OdorXit provides an in-depth “Odor Wizard” on its website (www.odorxit.com/?wizard&src=OXEmail) that covers dozens of stenches. If a customer can identify the type of smell and where it’s coming from, the Odor Wizard will explain what caused it and list possible solutions.
While OdorXit is Meyer’s main focus these days, she still owns 10 rental properties and stays active in her local REIA. The ultimate goal: To make OdorXit a multimillion-dollar business. Considering just how many potential uses the products have—from clearing away smoke smells in office buildings to defunkifying apartment complexes—that may be completely doable.
If you’re a real estate investor, maybe your daily headaches could provide the inspiration for a new product or service, just like it did for Meyer.
Her advice: Go for it. As a group, real estate investors tend to have an instinctive talent for entrepreneurship. They’re used to solving problems, and solving those problems quickly, unlike a large company that might mull over a new product for years before putting it out in the marketplace. The investor’s natural hustle can be a huge advantage.
After all, if you’re facing a problem as an investor, there’s a good chance that someone else does, too. If you find a solution, you could help them—and create a major new opportunity for yourself, too.
“If that’s your passion,” Meyer said, “you’ve gotta go with it.”