ServiceMaster: Cerritos, California

Newsletter Excerpt

Masters of Disaster

A fire damage in the Century City Mall

          Imagine pulling up in front of a sheik shopping mall, a stones throw away from Rodeo Drive, and seeing a vehicle from every Disaster Restoration company in Southern California present.   It was probably very similar to a flock of vultures circling over a dying animal.  This scene was not caused by a dying animal, but by a fire that had occurred the night before.   This is what Dave Barge, owner of ServiceMaster Beach Cities in Torrance, California, saw on July 7,(1997) as he arrived at the Century City Mall near Beverly Hills.   The fire had caused some structural damage and major smoke damage to a majority of the stores in the mall.
          Earlier that morning a representative from The Limited Company, which operates such retail clothing stores as Structure, Express, and The Limited, made a call to 1-800-WE-SERVE because two of their stores had been damaged in the fire.   After WE SERVE called me (John Matthews) in the Santa Barbara office with the details of the loss, I made contact with both The Limited Company and Dave Barge.   I assured The Limited representative that we would take care of them and provided David with the details.   From there, David took over and exhibited three things that make him a successful restoration vendor: customer service, expertise, and professionalism.
          As David began to survey the damage done to the Structure (5000 sq.ft.) and Express (20,000 sq. ft.) stores, he realized this job was beyond his capacity.   He immediately called ServiceMaster Professional Home and Disaster Cleaning Services owner Ron Vanden Bosch in Bellflower, California.   Relizing that the most important thing was to get these buisnesses reopened, David and Ron went into overdrive.   Over the next two days, working through the night, David and Ron were awesome.   The fire department attacked the fire from within the Structure store, knocking three 10' x 10' holes in the walls of the store.   Thus, the initial clean-up consisted of extracting, drying, and recovering inventory items from the rubble to be counted.   Next, they moved racks and masked the inventory of both stores in preperation for Thermal Fogging.   In the end, David and Ron completely fogged both stores, the duct work in both stores, and the area between the false ceiling and the real ceiling in both stores.   Furthermore, the Structure store, due to its close proximity to the fire, required a complete cleaning from top to bottom including all racks, counters, etc.   The amazing thing is that the Express store didn't miss one single day of buisness, and the Structure store only missed three days all because of the hard work and dedication of David and Ron.   The customer was obviously grateful for all the hard work.   This was expressed by an ITT Hartford Insurance representative who approached David three times to shake his hand for doing such a great job.
          Obviously the customer service, expertise, and professionalism were vital parts of the success of this job, but one thing that stands out more than anything is the team work displayed by David and Ron.   Neither one had the capacity to perform the work on their own, but together they were able to make the job a smashing success.   Congratulations, David and Ron on a great job.   Keep on mastering those disasters.
    -John Matthews

            Matthews, J. (1997, August)  . Masters of Disaster.  GoingPlaces: A Newsletter of the ServiceMaster Franchise Markets, Vol:3 Iss:8, 3.

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Last updated: February 9, 2007