Case Studies

Secure Foundation Systems, Inc.: Providing Ground Support to Central Florida

  • Written by: Secure Foundation Systems, Inc.: Providing Ground Support to Central Florida
  • Produced by: Secure Foundation Systems, Inc.: Providing Ground Support to Central Florida
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Florida is known for many natural wonders: oranges, sunshine, the ocean. Unfortunately, it’s also known in the construction world for something that may be natural but isn’t so wonderful: sinkholes.

The number of sinkholes in Central Florida is so great that Ryan Gummer and Jim Alexander got together in 2007 to form Secure Foundation Systems, Inc. (SFSI), a company that specializes exclusively in residential disaster restoration due to subsurface sinkhole activity. This involves soil remediation, foundation underpinning and deep soil compaction grouting. In total SFSI draws on three decades of experience in geotechnical stabilization, structural repair and general contracting, allowing for the company’s full-service approach to return a structure to its pre-sinkhole condition.

“Secure Foundation Systems was founded in 2007 by myself and my partner, who are equal owners,” expounds Gummer. “We saw a demand for a quality-driven sinkhole stabilization firm in Central Florida, and decided to venture out on our own, focusing on the residential sector.” Gummer brings 12 years of experience to the company, which performs about 85-percent residential and 15-percent light commercial work.

Gummer and his partner – SFSI’s president and vice president, respectively – situated SFSI in the heart of “sinkhole alley,” which stretches from Tampa to Tallahassee. Along with its subsidiary, Secure Restoration Systems (SRS), SFSI has 40 to 50 highly skilled, detail-oriented employees who work from offices in Ocala, Fla., and a warehouse facility in Spring Hill, Fla., to address sinkhole issues and reinforce clients’ need for security.

The Spring Hill office abuts Hernando and Pasco counties, where sinkholes damage hundreds of millions of dollars of property each year. “Secure Restoration Systems comes in as our sister company; we focus on sinkhole damage, but together we perform the entire range of geostabilization and rebuilding that follows a sinkhole,” says Gummer.

Growing Industry

SFSI’s a niche that has grown 150 percent in the past three years, generating annual revenues of $7.5 million for the company. Just five years old, the company is surprisingly one of the oldest in the residential sinkhole business and is building a national name for itself. In 2012 it was named the 70th fastest growing construction company in the United States by Inc. Magazine.

A sinkhole is a phenomenon that occurs due to the “karst processes,” or karstification. The rock – usually sandstone, limestone or a carbonate – that’s providing support for the ground above is easily eroded by an underground water source. Eventually, after enough stone has disintegrated, what’s left is a hole. Then it’s only a matter of time before the unsupported ground above caves. The results can be as minor as foundations cracks or foundation shifts, or as dramatic as a partial sinking.

SFSI handles the complete project: stabilizing the structure, resetting a foundation, repairing water and cosmetic damage, and relandscaping. While SFSI is not alone as a sinkhole remediation firm, its comprehensive approach helps make them a leader in the industry.

“There is a lot of competition,” explains Gummer. “When we started, there were 20 firms and now there are roughly 80 in Florida. And more than half of those have just entered the industry within the past year. What separates us out is that we offer complete service. We’re a one-stop shop. We offer our customers turnkey service, from beginning to end, without compromising quality.”

The Right Tools for the Job

SFSI’s equipment is specifically engineered from the ground up with the needs of the Central Florida soil industry specifically in mind. Unlike some competitors, SFSI does not modify drill rigs that are better suited for other industries. This enables SFSI to often complete projects in half the time it would take some of its competitors.
The customized equipment is well-maintained to ensure projects are completed on time. Hydraulics, machinery and other repairs all go to different shops, where each specific need is tended. SFSI operates multiple compaction drill rigs of different shapes and sizes, which enables them to drill outside, indoors, on pool decks or other tight spaces to minimize additional damage.

While SFSI has the cure, it does not write the prescription. A civil engineer, specializing in geotechnical construction, starts the process with a two- to three-month evaluation of a property, and then designs a remediation plan. That’s when SFSI steps in to fill the void. Homeowners and insurance companies appreciate the convenience of dealing with a single contractor.

Sinkhole insurance is an especially touchy subject. A full-blown – and controversial – insurance reform in May 2011 allows insurance companies to no longer be required to offer sinkhole coverage. Many of the new policies do not contain comprehensive coverage for sinkhole activity, leaving some homeowners vulnerable.

SFSI works with insurance companies to make sure as much of their work as possible is covered. Eighty percent of the work is performed on exterior load-bearing walls. The company’s range of services includes pressure grouting, slurry grouting, foundation underpinning, grouted injection pier systems, chemical grout injection, concrete slab jacking, sinkhole loss cosmetic restoration, and new construction underpinning.

“In the last few years we’ve had great success with a process referred to in the industry as chemical grouting,” enthuses Gummer. “This process is the injection of a two-part polyurethane resin directly beneath the load-bearing walls of a building. During installation the product expands, compacting the underlying soils and providing uplift to the foundation. This has become a standard process over the last few years. It’s fast, clean, and is recommended in 50 to 60 percent of our projects.” SFSI self-performs all facets of the job except for the new chemical foam process that is subcontracted to Uretek ICR, a company headquartered in Houston, Texas, with a division in Florida that holds the patent on the process.

SFSI is proud of the work it accomplishes for homeowners across Florida. Gummer says he and Alexander expect to experience steady growth as they gain even more of a foothold in the industry by comprehensively countering sinkhole damage. As Florida sits on a giant aquifer, Secure Foundation Systems Inc. appears to be on solid ground.

Published on: March 13, 2013

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in US Builders Review” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


Spring 2018



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.