National Flood Protection LLC
- Written by: E.C. Gregg
- Produced by: Ian Nichols
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Russ Ellington remembers installing his first set of flood panels.
It was 2013, and a post-Hurricane Sandy and Katrina world. The U.S. government, in response to the hurricanes, required larger geographic areas to have flood protection in order to be federally insured, and general contractors and engineers were scrambling to include such protection for buildings.
At the time, Ellington was the business development manager for F. William Brown, a general contracting company in Connecticut, and was impressed not only with the durability of the flood mitigation products, but the growing need for such products in his industry.
Ellington began contacting flood mitigation manufacturers with the hopes of becoming the region’s go-to for the installation and maintenance of flood mitigation products. He eventually connected with Tom Osborne of Flood Panel, the leading manufacturer of commercial flood-proofing panels and equipment. A few months later, F. William Brown became Flood Panel’s representative in the Northeast.
By 2015, Ellington’s team was installing systems in multiple states, and decided to form National Flood Protection LLC, which would exclusively sell, install and maintain Flood Panel’s flood mitigation systems for commercial and municipal buildings as the company’s national rep.
This partnership allowed National Flood Protection to extend its services to the entire country, while also tapping into Flood Panel’s nationwide network of engineers, architects and general contractors. So when the company has a project in Texas, it can use Flood Panel’s network to find professionals who are already familiar with Flood Panel’s products and have been vetted for quality, even though National Flood Protection is based in Connecticut.
In the first two months of 2017, the company already had 21 projects in the works and was waiting on 60 more proposals.
“We’re really the one-stop-shop for every aspect of a flood mitigation project,” says Ellington.
Preparation is the best defense
Besides installing and maintaining flood mitigation systems, National Flood Protection also helps building owners follow FEMA requirements by creating Flood Emergency Response Plans and offering consultations in the pre-design stage.
Ellington says this is vital because, when architects and engineers aren’t familiar with flood mitigation, their contract and design drawings may not support the necessary flood panels or barriers.
“If we can get involved early on we can save time, money and potential headaches in the field because we can let them know what conditions are needed per project in order for the flood barriers to attach and function properly,” he says.
It’s all part of Ellington’s proactive approach to flood mitigation.
“We don’t just want to come in and do one project to make a large profit, we’d rather make less money and build a relationship because chances are that one building isn’t the only one in the flood zone,” he says.
In January 2017, for instance, National Flood Protection got a call from a church in Crystal River, Florida, because the church flooded every two or three years. Instead of just sending a proposal, Ellington hopped on a plane to meet with the building’s owner and members of the parish to examine the situation himself.
“We wanted to make sure we gave them everything they needed, and that we’re not just selling a product and, no pun intended, praying that it works,” Ellington says. “I mean, as cliché as it sounds, we really try to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Being this hands-on allows National Flood Protection to take on more complicated projects.
In 2016, the company installed flood barriers at the Chelsea Screenhouse, a waste water treatment plant in Chelsea, Massachusetts. This was a challenging project because the plant’s two rolling steel doors were situated on a slanted sidewalk, which meant normal barrier brackets couldn’t attach properly.
“We had to design and fabricate custom brackets, and because [the plant] had limited storage space, we also designed storage brackets to hold all the flood barriers when they weren’t deployed,” Ellington says.
Safe from future Sandys
On a personal level, Ellington sees great value in the services National Flood Protection provides.
“I believe we’re doing something that provides a certain level of protection,” he says. “We’re potentially saving peoples’ valuables and infrastructure and their money if their business is open a week after a flood, as opposed to those that aren’t protected and [are] still closed six months later, or in many cases, never reopen.”
This is one of the reasons Ellington was so pleased when, in 2014, National Flood Protection collaborated with Flood Panel in RISE: NYC, a competition that funds projects that will help small businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy to prepare for extreme weather.
Ellington spent nearly the entire summer meeting with small businesses that were impacted by the superstorm, hearing about how owners were forced to take out second or third mortgages just to pay for the damage. In the end, Flood Panel invented a thinner, more lightweight, impact-resistant panel called the Polylite Flood Panel System™.
“It feels really good to know that we are involved with a project that will help many businesses and families that were wiped out by Sandy avoid that the next time,” he says.
This is a mentality that follows National Flood Protection on every project, and is why the company has grown so much in two short years, Ellington says.
“Every time we make somebody happy by giving them a good product and a good service, word about us spreads.”
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