Case Studies

Disaster Kleenup/Better Floors and Restorations: A Total Service Concept Company

  • Written by: Disaster Kleenup/Better Floors and Restorations: A Total Service Concept Company
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Better Floors and Restorations is a full-service firm based in Placentia, Calif., that has specialized in residential and commercial restoration and floor construction for four decades. “I started working for this company in 1972, and bought it out in ’74,” recalls Dennis Blake. In 2014 Blake will celebrate Better Floors and Restorations’ 40-year anniversary, but simultaneously prepare to say goodbye to the company he has spent so many years developing.

Blake sold the business to his daughter, Corinne Lindquist, in 2008. She is now the president and Blake considers himself the founder/vice president. “I’m still here every day,” he says. The business has concentrated its resources to provide water, sewage, mold and fire damage restoration, environmental services, flooring repairs and replacement, doing work throughout Orange, Inland Empire, Los Angeles and San Diego counties.

Teaming Up with Disaster Kleenup

Two decades ago Better Floors and Restorations hitched up with Disaster Kleenup International (DKI), a franchise that has built a network of preferred restoration businesses across North America, forming Disaster Kleenup/Better Floors and Restorations (DKBF). Blake serves as a chairman and is the president of the western division DKI, which helps companies like DKBF market themselves nationally and gain recognition from large insurance companies so that when claims come through for flood or fire damage, insurance companies make a call to the closest member of the network with the appropriate inspectors, restorers and equipment.

“It’s very difficult to succeed in this business by yourself,” Blake explains. “The insurance companies have a preferred vendor program.” If a company is not on the list, it will have a hard time marketing itself to vast insurance companies often with corporate locations only in one area of the country, he explains.

Insurance giants contact Blake frequently, however, not only for the high-quality service that DKBF provides, but also for consultation. His expertise is highly valuable and lies in both restoration and flooring. “I actually just had a call from an attorney,” he explains. “There was a situation involving a marble floor, and the insurance company wasn’t paying what the contractors thought was right. They want me to make that determination for them.”

It comes from the insurance end too. Another recent consultation came from a company whose client had a damaged kitchen. The client wanted everything remodeled, but if damages can be repaired the insurance company would rather save the money and have repairs done than buy someone new granite counter tops. Blake explains, “I write up a report on the incident and what’s necessary to put this kitchen back the way it was before and that’s what the company will pay out.”

DKBF stays fairly local in order to offer full access to cutting-edge technology and provide immediate resources to handle any job, no matter how large or complicated. “We don’t follow the hurricanes around like they do on the East Coast, but we did a few million in repairs down in San Diego, Calif., when they had the fires.” Large projects are clearly worthwhile for DKBF especially when travel is involved, but Blake says, “I’m not going to go to Santa Barbara for a kitchen and a bathroom.”

Silver Linings and Gold Bathroom Fixtures

DKBF’s reputation for following a strict code of professional ethics has led to some interesting projects in some pretty swanky neighborhoods, including a $200 million home belonging to entrepreneur Ty Warner, the inventor of Beanie Babies. “We finished that one in 2011,” Blake recalls. “The total loss was $13 million, but we just did the cleaning. Our portion was about $3 million.”

The home is right on the water in Santa Barbara and in the same neighborhood as the famous Biltmore Hotel. The then nearly finished construction project features ancient flooring pulled from European castles and $50,000 solid gold shower heads. “The place was phenomenal,” Blake says. “These are the projects you brag about – not the ones where you’re cleaning up raw sewage.”

The project took three years and many of the antique furnishings had to be completely replaced including gold leafing around chandeliers and guest bedroom walls etched in gold lace. Blake has experienced a handful of such showcase projects in his experience. “We even did a casino when they had all the fires out in San Diego,” he says. The company worked 24 hours per day for a week cleaning up, using all means to expedite the process. “They were losing a million dollars a day while it was closed,” he explains.

It is DKBF’s ongoing commitment to training and maintaining skilled crews to efficiently handle all aspects of clients’ needs has assured maintains a healthy backlog. The restoration industry rarely slows down due to slumps in the economy because the business is based on unprecedented disasters. Blake has found, though, that when related industries take hits, many contractors rush to pick up some of his company’s highly specialized work and they find it’s not as easy as it may seem, however.

“What we do is very different from new construction,” he relates, which is also why DKBF subcontracts only the same qualified drywall and painting professionals who know that proper accountability is the key to this industry. “You know, I’ve seen it in the ’70s, the early ’80s, the mid-’90s – you hit these downturns, construction falls off, and people are trying to find something to do,” Blake explains. New construction contractors trying to blend the lines often fall short of clients’ expectations, however, and Blake finds that he often gets the call when it doesn’t pan out.

With no shortage of work, DKBF is looking at a future of steady growth in the industry. Corinne Lindquist has been with the company for a decade already, holds a degree in business management, and will further the reputation DKBF that Blake and his team has reinforced. “If they have a problem we have the answer,” he explains. “Maybe it’s not always at the price that they want, but it’s always the right answer.”

Dealing with the aftermath of a flood or fire can be stressful, even traumatic for home and business owners. DKBF strives to combine excellence, professionalism and convenience with integrity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Disaster Kleenup/Better Floors and Restorations furthers an industry-leading standard of quality service that keeps its customers at ease – and coming back for more.

Published on: March 9, 2013

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