Ed Ranieri – Cleveland Masters of Disaster – Disaster restorer stars in reality TV show

Air Date: 2-20-2015 | Episode: 357

Dirty Jobs, Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Bar Rescue and other reality shows make good television entertainment and most of us watch them…

Full Description: 

(Left to right) Edward Ranieri, Kari Openshaw, Joe Charboneau and Enzo Maddalena star in Catastrophe Inc., an HGTV reality show that follows a Cleveland-based company as it cleans up disasters.

(Left to right) Edward Ranieri, Kari Openshaw, Joe Charboneau and Enzo Maddalena star in Catastrophe Inc., an HGTV reality show that follows a Cleveland-based company as it cleans up disasters.

Dirty Jobs, Pawn Stars, American Pickers, Bar Rescue and other reality shows make good television entertainment and most of us watch them. This week’s guest on IAQradio is Ed Ranieri, 32 year restoration industry veteran and star of the TV show Catastrophe Inc. which aired on HGTV, DIY network, DIY network Canada and now is running on HGTV Switzerland. Service Master by AmeriSteam is owned by Ed Ranieri and Enzo Maddalena and is located in Brook Park, Ohio. Ed and Enzo are the Cleveland “Masters of Disaster.” Ever wonder what goes into making a reality TV show? Then be sure to tune into IAQradio, Friday at noon eastern time and LEARN MORE when Radio Joe and the Z-Man interview Ed Ranieri.

ZMan’s Blog:

Superman syndrome


At 8 years old, Ed Ranieri’s first job in the family carpet cleaning business was shampooing the corners where the rotary scrubber couldn’t go. Ed liked being with and working with his father. From his father, who worked 3 jobs, Ed inherited a strong work ethic, an entrepreneurial spirit and an appreciation for cleaning as a craft.

Ed has 32 years of cleaning /restoration experience and gained additional experience insight and experience traversing the US cleaning up following natural disasters. Ed and Enzo Maddelena are business partners in Ohio based Cleveland Masters of Disaster. Ed is one of the stars of Catastrophe Inc. an HGTV series in which he and his team traveled the US performing restoration services.

Gold NuggetsNuggets mined from today’s show:

  • Ed credits his partner Enzo, for the inspiration to try and do a disaster restoration based reality TV show. Their idea was to make an interesting show that showcased the valuable service that restoration contractors provide. The partners called upon Adrian Michaels, a friend of Enzo’s who was in the entertainment business for pointers and guidance in the right direction. Timing was everything, as Adrian had the necessary experience and connections to move the concept forward.
  • Ed and Enzo spent $15,000 for a Los Angeles based entertainment lawyer experienced with reality TV shows to draft a contract. Regardless of how much money you spend on contracts, the network calls the shots.
  • Division of responsibilities. In the show Ed’s character is Mr Science and Enzo’s is “Project Manager”. Retired Cleveland Indians player, Joe Charboneau provides emotion and comic relief.
  • Designer decorator quality. As an HGTV show there was also a focus on interior design. Kari Openshaw was the team’s interior designer.
  • According to Adrian Michaels, “allergic” is a good thing. Allergic is entertainment industry speak for the network wants more of your product. Allergic means being in the enviable position of having leverage over the network to hold out for higher financial compensation. Being allergic creates a financial negotiation standoff until both sides come to an agreement.
  • Gaining new experience and promotional value for their business was the primary compensation received. Each member of the team received $3,500 per week + travel expenses & food.
  • Filming was done every other week for the 13 episodes. It was a challenge to balance personal life, a successful service business and to film the show. Ed and Enzo didn’t contemplate that their business would suffer while the owners were away.
  • It took 3 or 4 shows for the team to get used to and comfortable with the cameras and recording equipment. Two cameramen, a sound man and GoPro mountable cameras were used. The team and support personnel (subcontractors) worked 12 hour shifts. Both the personalities of the team members and the technical challenges were important to making a good TV show.
  • Lori Stryer was the show’s producer. Lori gave the team freedom to tell their story.
  • Nothing in the shows was scripted. Occasionally situations, drama, stress or tension were added by the producer to improve the storyline.
  • Following selection of a target city, radio advertising was used to solicit the general public for unique situations & stories. Hardship and/or the unexpected made good storylines. An incentive to each homeowner was receiving upgrades over and above insurance proceeds.
  • Strict deadlines. The entire project needed to be completed in only 5 days. Weeks of work was done in only 5 days. Depending on the project, 25-45 tradesmen might be working on site simultaneously. Harmony was a small miracle.
  • Finished projects were mandatory. Bad subcontractors made good TV. The worst complications were caused when a horrible contractor in Texas failed causing the team to need to do finishing touches right up until turning the property back over to the owners. 98%-100% of work on all projects was done before the team left.
  • Focus on safety. Workers wore proper PPE, used fall protection, etc.
  • A salute to the editors, editing is the most important component of success. The 400-500 hours of footage of each project was edited down to only 22 minutes. Editing for each episode took 3-4 weeks.
  • “Polishing a turd” is entertainment speak for a mulligan or a filming do over. Do overs were allowed during filming of the show.
  • Meeting amazing people. Out of the 13 shows, 12 homeowners were very grateful and one ungrateful complaining about the color of paint on a wall.
  • Ed’s favorite episode was filmed in Tampa where good work on the home of an active duty paratrooper was rewarded with a 13,000 foot parachute jump with the same team who jumped with President Bush’s on his 75th
  • While the networks are secretive about show popularity, 650.000-700,000 people watched each episode of Catastrophe Inc.
  • Got what it takes to be a reality TV star? If so, TV production companies in NYC, Los Angeles and Nashville are looking for people and shoe ideas.
  • The best teachers are good storytellers.
  • Everything in mind is useless until we share it.
  • A demo real of a grimier version of the show is currently under consideration by several networks.
  • The restoration business is a tough way to make a living. The restoration business takes its toll and shaves years off the lives of those who work within it.
  • Disaster restorers have the “Superman syndrome”, helping other people resolve difficult problems makes us feel good.
  • Ed has paid his dues and looks forward to sharing his knowledge with others.

Todays’ music: Sailor Moon songs from the Hit TV Series 02- “I Wanna Be A Star” (YouTube)

Z-Man signing off

Trivia:  Name the man whose 1948 tv series is credited as being tv’s first reality show Candid Camera?

Answer: Alan Funt