I dove into the restoration industry in 2003, when three circumstances collided. First, I was a small business consultant for a moderately large printing firm, and I was looking to get on the other side of the phone. I wanted to open my own business, but like many entrepreneurs I was struggling on what to do and when.
Circumstance number two, in 2002 my father still owned an office building in his hometown in Arizona. It flooded one weekend while I was there. I had never seen anything like it. The basement level of the building had about two inches of water in it. We cleaned it up ourselves, by extracting the water, pulling the flooring and borrowing a bunch of domestic fans. It eventually dried-out.
Circumstance number three, my brother Mitch was an insurance agent at the time and about six months after our dad’s building flooded, so did Mitch’s office. I had to ask my dad, “Does this happen a lot, and is there a special service that only deals with floods?” He answered “Yes, water damage is his most insurable event, and yes, a carpet cleaning company stops in on occasion and has said they are certified in structural drying.
In March 2003, we decided to get into the restoration industry at the same time. My brother leaving the insurance Industry to open his own location in the East Valley of Phoenix metro, and myself leaving the printing company, thus delving myself and my family into the scary world of small business ownership as a restoration contractor in Flagstaff and servicing northern Arizona. The industry itself was still in the infancy stages. I say this, as the leading institute for education on structural restoration is the “Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification” or the IICRC for short.
The IICRC and it’s role
The IICRC has a standard guide called the “S500” which is the Bible of Structural drying. It helps insurance companies and contractors find common ground on what should be done, and what should “not” be done when restoring a water damaged house or structure. Taking the IICRC classes, along with a few other institutes and having the certificates is the first steps to getting into the industry. There are certificates and courses for water damage, structural drying, fire damage, content cleaning, mold remediation, asbestos, blood pathogens, carpet cleaning, deodorization, biohazard and a few more.
The very first S500 standard was released in 1991, and although the restoration industry is not regulated by the government, such as asbestos is, the industry itself is truly less than 30 years old. However, you will find some restoration contractors and companies who said they began experimenting with the idea of structural drying as early as the late 70s. Before then, contractors would likely just tear out all affected materials, wait for it to dry, and begin rebuilding. This was expensive and time consuming. Fast forward to the early 2000s, and in some cases, we could dry structures in 72 hours, clean the carpets and have the customer back to normal in less than a week.
What has changed in restoration since 2003
So, my original question I am answering was “what has changed in the 17 years I have been in the industry?”
My number one answer would be – technology.
When I began, cell phones were flip phones, great for keeping in touch with emergency crews, and dispatching them to new jobs. However, we had no real database for new jobs and jobs in progress. We had a sheet we called a claim sheet. We would take all the information down on that sheet, then make copies and distribute them around the office. The job would go up on a dry erase board, and we would huddle daily to talk about the jobs at hand. Technicians had cameras and a flash drive, every night they would download the flash drive to the computers and distribute to the different job folders. We would fax everything to the insurance companies. We would send carpet samples to a company called ITEL via FedEx or UPS for product evaluation. We had moisture detectors and thermal hygrometers. We had to take several different drywall readings, floor readings, indoor and outdoor air readings, moisture content readings, and then use a formula or a cheat wheel to prove on paper that we were properly drying down the structure. Equipment has changed, our dehumidifiers have gotten smaller with higher output. My first set of air movers, each one weighed about 14 lbs and pulled 7 amps a piece. It was a nightmare to set up and figure out how to keep the circuit breaker from popping. Now we have air movers that you can select your speed, thus selecting your amperage draw, and they also “daisy chain” meaning each fan offers a “eGFI outlet” that you can plug other fans into each other.
That has ALL changed, today we have smartphones, apps, WIFI, moisture detection devices that performs all the math for you. Mobile databases that integrate with office. I work a lot from home, however I can see instantly, what new jobs came in, where they were at, the damage pictures of the job, the equipment in the home, the finish photos, the insurance company, technician and office notes, contracts, address, phone numbers, email addresses, approvals, directions to address, special instructions such as garage codes, lock boxes, tenant names, pets, etc., all from my phone or iPad. Instantly. Communication is the key. Insurance companies, homeowners, contractors, building managers, all want to know it and know it NOW! Our vehicles have GPS units so we can always track their locations.
We did several sketches of the building by hand, and then input that into our CAD software programs. Now there is a new camera that you can set up on a tripod in the home, it will take 100s of pictures, upload to a powerful software program and create a floor plan, a 3D model of the home, and lets you edit it. Thus, saving both the Emergency crews and our Rebuild and Reconstruction estimators valuable time in sketching and measurements.
Online classrooms, and education. Mobile timecards, and Human Resources are online, allowing employees to access their information make changes to their taxes and follow their vacation accrual hours.
The other biggest change in the restoration industry would be the claim portion. We no longer fax claims, it is all is done by email.
A smaller change would be in regards to homeowner deductibles. Homeowner deductibles used to be $250 – $500 on average. Today, $1000 is the average minimum with $2,500 also being common, and now 2% of the value of the home is an option for a deductible.
A lot has changed in the restoration industry since 2003 with technology being the biggest source of change. Technology has impacted both the restoration process as well as the in-house operations of running a restoration business. We can now dry flooded homes and structures in 72 hours instead of tearing them down and rebuilding from scratch. There have also been major improvements to restoration, remediating, and cleaning gear that allows our team to work smarter and not harder.
In our office, technology has increased our efficiency, communication, and ability to provide better service for our Clients. We now can process claims faster, store data better, and provide more accurate and complete restoration services using CAD/3D modeling software and GPS units.
The changes to the restoration industry over the last 16+ years have greatly impacted our teams and ability to provide faster, thorough, and more transparent restoration services for our Clients in Flagstaff and northern Arizona.
Mammoth Restoration is the most trusted name in emergency restoration services celebrating 15 successful years of business in Flagstaff and northern Arizona. Whether you are in need of water damage restoration, water damage repair and cleanup, pack out services, mold remediation services, carpet cleaning, biohazard cleanup, fire damage restoration, restoration and reconstruction, or trauma cleanup, give us a call at (928) 714-0003.