Biz Beat

Businessman wants to fix your fire damage, bake you a cake

Here are two businesses that don’t seem to go together: sweet treats and fire restoration.

Except they do, said Harinder Toor, who invited me to a kickoff of both of his new businesses, Servpro Turlock and Toor de Cakes. (He held the event at an open house of a home he is trying to sell, effectively killing three birds with one party, so to speak.)

Toor launched Toor de Cakes almost by accident. As he got into water and fire mitigation (the companies that come to your house for repair after a major leak, flood or fire), he started meeting insurance company representatives. Nothing helps with introductions better than sweets, Toor figured, so he ordered some chocolate-covered strawberries from a national company a few times.

“They came late, they were soggy, and they were expensive — they were $65 for a dozen,” Toor said. An employee of Toor’s, Arlene Gonzalez, made goodies as a hobby. “I thought, ‘We can do better than this,’” Toor said.

So they did, and Toor de Cakes was born.

Toor came by his entrepreneurial spirit early, and really, it’s all thanks to us. Well, sort of.

“When I was 12, I delivered The Modesto Bee,” he said. Like most 12-year-olds at the time, Toor had his sights set on an Atari game system. His dad told him he had to earn the money. Then, his delivery supervisor told him if he got 20 new subscriptions, he could go to Great America. By the time Toor wrapped up his carrier career, he had three routes.

That turned into construction — he built the home he is trying to sell. But then the real estate market of 2008 crashed. So he started looking into other avenues, and working as a contractor rather than a builder.

The work in fire and water restoration was a natural outgrowth of that, sort of like Toor de Cakes was a natural outgrowth of fire and water restoration.

Gonzalez makes cakes in addition to the chocolate-covered strawberries, and also specializes in bite-sized cheesecakes. I tried the strawberries and cheesecake at the launch event, solely for the sake of journalistic integrity, of course. They were great — the strawberries were huge and just sweet enough, and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake was as awesome as it sounds.

Gonzalez’s secret? “Love and passion,” she said. And maybe a little sugar.

To contact Servpro, call 209-633-8668. Toor de Cakes is available on Facebook or at Toor Construction, 2309 Tenaya Drive, Modesto, or by calling 209-595-2821.