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October 2016 CF Spotlight

IICRC Spotlight

Bryan Bradley, Co-owner with Floyd Carns
Empire Services West, Tempe, Ariz.

How did you land in this industry?
I started out carpet cleaning out of my pickup truck and eventually worked around to mainly restoration work.

How are you involved with the IICRC?
For years I have participated in classes and certifications to gain more knowledge.

What do you do to market your business?
It’s all about who you know and not what you know. For me, I ask property manager friends to introduce me to their co-workers, and I try to take a new prospect to lunch once a week. I also work with adjusters, agents and property managers on a regular basis. We also have a website that we recently updated.

Your firm specializes in restoration work. How did you end up in this particular area of the industry?
I learned about top down drying and three day drying 15 years ago and used that in my sales approach to get out of doing primarily carpet cleaning. I positioned myself as an expert in water damage after becoming certified.

Are there any specific challenges you face due to your location?
There is a lot of competition in this area of Arizona. After the housing market crashed, it seemed like every homebuilder and sub-contractor put a sign on their truck that they were doing restoration. We stand out though because many of them aren’t certified or don’t know the insurance process.

Is there a restoration or cleaning job that you are particularly proud of?
Several years ago I was called to do trauma scene cleanup for a shooting in Tucson where Debbie Gifford was shot. It had a lot of national attention and our company and trucks were shown working in the background of NBC’s “Dateline.”

If you could give one piece of advice to a young professional starting out in the business, what would it be?
Hang in there; it takes time to develop consistent accounts. Also make sure to join some associations so you can get your name out there.

What do you like best about your job?
I like the flexibility and freedom to work for myself. Also being able to help people and guide them through the insurance process.

What is the most rewarding thing about owning a cleaning and restoration business?
Seeing the company grow each year and the ability to write employees their paychecks. You have a lot of responsibility for the families that work for you.

Can you talk about a cleaning or restoration "horror" story or anything funny you have encountered during your career?
This year we got called to bid on an asbestos abatement and cat urine odor cleaning for a home that had over 100 cats living in it. You could smell the odor from outside on the street. The city got involved and was going to condemn the house, so the owner paid us to do the abatement and gross odor removal. When we finished, there was a small trace odor which we had told them that there would need to be a final treatment and sealant applied to lock in the odor. The city required the contractor to give a seven year warranty on odor returning. After seeing all the potential problems with this and not being able to guarantee that no animals will return in seven years, we gave an estimate for having to give such a warranty. We didn’t end up getting to finish the job but we were happy that they went in another direction.

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