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April 2016 Certified Firm Spotlight

IICRC Spotlight


Al Frazier, Co-Owner
Arkansas Restoration Services Inc., Russellville, Ark.

How did you land in this industry?
I landed in the industry by first working as a chimney sweep in 1978. One day, our first scheduled appointment had a chimney fire the previous night. When I arrived, the insurance adjuster was trying to find someone to clean up the “mess” and I agreed to do the work. I no longer clean chimneys, but we do clean up a lot of other messes.

How are you involved with the IICRC?  
Our company is certified and all employees that work in situations that require certifications are as well.

What do you do to market your business?
After 38 years of providing quality service, the marketing or self-promotion aspect is not much of a factor. Word of mouth is our best marketing tool; however we are in the yellow pages and have a website.

What's one unique thing about cleaning and restoration in your area? Any specific challenges you face due to your location?
This isn’t really specific to our area, but a challenge that we do sometimes face is convincing people that it is okay to start the mitigation process rather than wait days for the adjuster. We sometimes have to act as the first contact for most losses and have learned what different protocols each insurance company requires. It’s been a long process and is constantly changing.

Your firm specializes in restoration – specifically water damage restoration; fire smoke and storm restoration and mold and mildew prevention. How did you end up in this particular area of the industry?
Our company has evolved over the years and we’ve grown into the company we are today. We no longer provide chimney services but have expanded our base of services offered to include carpet cleaning; water mitigation, including mold and residential asbestos abatement; and turnkey structure repairs for fire, storm and water damages. With each growth step, we were able to complement the existing parts of our business. We have been very fortunate and feel lucky to be in this business.

Is there a restoration job that you are particularly proud of?
We were called to provide dry out for a 4 level circa 1907 local mansion that had a frozen lavatory line on the top floor. All floors were heavily involved and several Oriental and Persian rugs were affected. We used a Bane Clean warm water extraction process and followed PH reduction instructions. According to the conservators, the rugs looked better after servicing than before the water loss.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young professional starting out in the business, what would it be?

From my experience, there are four keys to success when working in restoration services:

  1. You must know what you are doing (get all the proper training you can afford).
  2. Buy the best equipment, chemicals and know how to use them.
  3. Hire trustworthy, honest employees. Ask yourself, “would I want this person working in my mom’s house?”
  4. Total commitment to the job is paramount. It is not an 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. job. If you don’t provide the service, someone else will. There will be missed birthdays, holidays and even vacations but you must be 100 percent committed to this job.

What do you like best about your job?
The best part of this job is being able to help people. Early in my career, I was at a cleaner’s convention where Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was the keynote speaker. He said, “You people have the best job in the world; you make things clean again.” It took me a long time to understand what he meant, but he was right!

What is the most rewarding thing about owning a cleaning and restoration business?

Connecting with people that really appreciate the service we provide for them. We also appreciate the opportunities the insurance industry has given to us by allowing our company to become “program vendors” for them. My partner Duane Cothren and I have devoted the past 30 plus years of our lives to providing the best and most complete restoration service possible. We are not deterred by any national restoration company competition; in fact we welcome it. As long as we provide a fair, prompt and honest service, we will remain in demand.

Can you talk about a cleaning or restoration "horror" story or anything funny you have encountered during your career?
The worst thing that happened was taking a customer’s word that an adjuster approved removing wet delaminated carpet from their water loss. I got to buy that customer new carpet because the customer misunderstood what the adjuster actually said. After that, proper documentation became a major part of our business.

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