HouseMaster Home Inspection Founder Ken Austin (1932-2016)
December 05, 2016 // Franchising.com // SOMERVILLE, N.J. - Ken Austin, founder of HouseMaster Home Inspections and industry pioneer, passed away Nov. 30, 2016, at his home in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Leaving behind a legacy of entrepreneurship, humor, and a love of people.
Kenneth Thomas Austin was born in Queens, N.Y. on June 18, 1932, to hard-working Irish immigrant parents. As a young man, Ken worked as a uniformed usher at the local theater earning 45 cents an hour and later for his father’s tavern business as a part-time bartender.
Ken attended Fordham University and enrolled in the University’s Air Force ROTC program. He married his wife, Kay, shortly before he graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force and earned his degree in accounting in 1954. Ken then served four-years in the Air Force and was assigned to Graham Air Base in Mariana, Fla. and Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. during that time. During his service, he volunteered as a defense counsel in military courts and Officers’ Club Director. A prime example of Ken’s willingness to always help others and boost morale.
After his service, Ken immediately acted on his ambition working his way up the business ranks while working for Johnson & Johnson, Warner Lambert, and Venus Esterbrook Corporation. But the entrepreneurial spirit instilled in him by his father continued to tug at him.
In 1971, Ken discovered a great entrepreneurial opportunity as he was scanning the pages of The Wall Street Journal. He saw an ad for a company attempting to launch a home inspection franchise system nationwide. While no one at the time even knew what a home inspection was, Ken found the concept to be something that would gain momentum. He bought in as a minority stockholder and immediately began learning and growing the business. Several years later investors bought into the company including Austin’s share. After being bought out Ken launched AMC Property Evaluations, Inc in Central New Jersey and grew the business to a large multi-inspector firm serving the tri-state area.
In 1976, Ken saw the need for the fledgling home inspection industry to create unifying standards and a clear scope of services. He contacted the few other home inspection companies in existence and suggested they meet to form an industry association. From this initiative ASHI (the American Society of Home Inspectors) was born. In March of 1979, with the formula to succeed in the home inspection business in place, he began franchising under the HouseMaster trademark. HouseMaster was the first company to franchise in the home inspection industry.
HouseMaster quickly grew to be the nation’s largest home inspection company and it is one of the most respected names in the industry. Under Ken’s leadership HouseMaster has helped make home inspections an integral step in the home purchasing process.
In his later years, he enjoyed writing in his free time and authored a several books including, Murder by Accident and Razing Your Parents.
Ken’s influence was significant, and he will be remembered for much more than his business successes. His quick wit, sense of humor, and personable leadership touched many over the years. He will be forever loved and missed by many.
“It’s one thing to be successful, but it’s another thing to be significant.”
Founded in 1979 and headquartered in Somerville, N.J., HouseMaster is the oldest and one of the largest home inspection companies in North America. With more than 320 franchised areas throughout the United States and Canada, HouseMaster is the most respected name in home inspections. For more than 37 years, HouseMaster has built upon a foundation of solid leadership and innovation with a continued focus on delivering the highest quality service experience to their customers and providing HouseMaster franchisees the tools and support necessary to do so. Each HouseMaster franchise is an independently owned and operated business. HouseMaster is a registered trademark of HouseMaster LLC.
For more information, please visit www.housemaster.com or call 800-526-3939.
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