5 Questions With Larry Cooper
Tell us who you are and what you do.
I live in Broomfield, Colorado, with my wife of 47 years, Tryna. I have three children and nine grandchildren. I’m an active volunteer in my community and served 10 years on the city council and a few years as vice mayor.
I started in the cleaning industry at age 15 and started my own company at age 18. Tryna and I ran a very successful cleaning, restoration, and remediation business along the front range of Colorado, including offices in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder. This is my 50th year in the cleaning and restoration industry.
In 2012, the Cooper family, including myself, Tryna, Jennifer, Jillian, and Teri Wittkop, started The Experience Events. Our family-run business has produced 44 shows to date. In October 2022, we sold The Experience Events to BNP Media.
Why did you choose this industry as a thought leader and entrepreneur?
I started in the cleaning business in 1973 as a helper. A year later, I was running that cleaning company. When I went to college, I started my own cleaning and restoration company and found that the cleaning and restoration industry is just like so many other industries, and I had a huge opportunity to grow my company and serve our clients. Business is business!
In 1983, my wife Tryna was president of the PCUCA, now the Professional Association of Cleaning and Restoration (PACR), and we attended our first meeting of the IICUC (later IICRC) in Wisconsin along with representatives from three other trade associations. Ed York was bringing some trade associations together to see if they would like to join forces in the IICUC (later IICRC) at the time, to grow industry certifications and advance industry education. Ed was a master of new ideas and progress for the industry.
The associations joined the IICUC, and Tryna was elected secretary, where she served for 10 years. At the end of the meeting, Ed York called on me and told me I was useless sitting in the back of the room and appointed me vice president of the IICUC. Little did I realize that six months later, I’d be told that York had fired the president, and I was the new president. I was 27 years old and a little surprised. I served for four years. When I started, there were 300 certified technicians. When I stepped down four years later, there were over 4,000 certifications.
During my time serving as president and chairman, I learned so much, and I was able to take what I was learning from the group and apply it to my own company. We became the industry leaders in our region and continued to improve and implement the latest science and advancements into our company years ahead of our competitors. It pays to volunteer.
Your wife works alongside you in much of what you do. How has her support and the support of your family and friends helped you to accomplish your goals?
I am genuinely a really lucky man. It wasn’t just support, though. My wife and I worked side by side in our business for 47 years. We built the business while raising three great children. Being entrepreneurs, we were able to set our own hours and attended all of the kid’s activities. Later, when we started our event planning company, Jennifer and then Jill joined our company, and then Tryna’s sister Teri joined us as well. This really was a family run business. I worked closely with all of them, and they really made me look smart. They are all amazing and knowledgeable people, and they really ran the company with my support.
During our conventions, we called on so many friends to help us produce the shows. They were so much fun and have done an outstanding job for the industry. They continue to help us, and we have accomplished so much together. I can’t thank them all enough for being there with us.
You have bands play at The Experience events regularly. If you could have any band/musician in the history of all music play your next event, who would it be and why?
Wow, what a question. As you can tell, I love music and rock and roll. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, and I saw over 80 concerts during that time. If I could hire any band or musician, it would be from the time period I grew up loving rock music. Some names include James Taylor, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Neil Young, Stills and Nash, Neil Diamond, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Elton John, the Doobie Brothers, Steppenwolf, Cream, wow—and so many more. I also love Frank Sinatra and Elvis.
When it comes to “why,” it’s because music brings people together and soothes the soul. Music has messages for all people, and it brings balance when needed.
If you had to give one piece of advice to an up-and-coming leader in our industry, what would it be?
Don’t play politics and get caught up in the stupid stuff. Please don’t be in leadership positions to have power and make money. If you are going to become an industry leader, do it to raise the bar in the industry and reach out to the masses of people in the industry that we never see at events. Reach out to people who have been in the industry for years and learn what you can from them. Don’t allow a few to dominate the discussion. Please always be inclusive. Bring the latest technology and science to the industry and change the world.