Hurricane Harvey Special Report! – Dave Howard – JonDon | Ed Ranieri – Master of Disaster | Sam Simon – ServiceMaster by Simon’s Chicago

Air Date: 9-8-2017|Episode 476

This week on IAQ Radio we go into disaster mode and talk to professionals on the ground in Texas plus the JonDon Director of Marketing for their perspective on the recovery from the devastating hurricane that recently hit southeast Texas.

Full Description:

This week on IAQ Radio we go into disaster mode and talk to professionals on the ground in Texas plus the JonDon Director of Marketing for their perspective on the recovery from the devastating hurricane that recently hit southeast Texas. Hurricane Harvey was massive and many IAQ and restoration professionals have been called in to help. The recovery will take years and many of our listeners will be involved. Learn from these pro’s what mistakes and pitfalls to avoid. Also, get first hand eyewitness accounts from your colleagues on the ground and one of the major companies helping with supplies, materials and expertise in the recovery. Harvey and now Irma are the two most powerful storms to hit the mainland United States in over ten years. We all knew sooner or later this type of scenario was possible. Now that it’s here how do we deal with it? What should IAQ and Restoration professionals watch for while responding to the needs of those devastated by these storms? How do you help out yet not lose your business by making judgments based on feelings vs. rational thoughts? Do you go to the hot spots or stay put and service the clients of those that left for Texas or Florida? Radio Joe and the Z-man have lined up some experts to help you make these important decisions

Z-Man’s Blog:

Hurricane Harvey Report

This week’s guest on IAQradio were:  Disaster Restoration Contractor Sam Simon (ServiceMaster by Simons- Chicago, IL), Disaster Restoration Consultant Ed Ranieri (Master of Disaster) and Dave Howard Director of Marketing at Jon-Don. All three of our guests are catastrophe response veterans. Sam Simon has responded to major events on the east coast, west coast and the gulf states. Ed Ranieri is the star of the TV show Catastrophe, Inc. where he traversed the US working on disasters. Dave Howard was a restoration contractor prior to joining Jon-Don. While at Jon-Don, Dave has worked on the ground at the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, 2005 Katrina and other national events.

Category 4 Hurricane. 50” of rain fell in four days. Texas got its normal annual rainfall in four days. An area the size of New Jersey is affected. As the terrain in Houston is flat, large areas including some downtown areas remain underwater. As waters recede people are returning home. Some schools will open next week. Some schools are closed indefinitely. Big Red Cross presence. Public transportation is operating. Traffic volume is returning to the normal Texas craziness.

ServiceMaster Corporate relies upon preferred franchises to assist with emergency response. ServiceMaster by Simons is currently working for Exxon-Mobil. They are receiving a growing number of calls for mold remediation. Texas has strict mold licensing law. Texas has temporarily suspended mold licensing. Some building materials and supplies are in short supply. Beaumont, TX is underwater.

Everything is bigger in Texas. Currently working job sites 10-60 miles away from their temporary base of operation. Lead paint and Asbestos Containing Materials are less of an issue as many buildings are newer.

Southern hospitality is amazing, clients are feeding the workers. Strangers are providing food and water. People pulling together makes you proud to be American. The temporary labor force is tapped-out. ServiceMaster by Simons need more staff.

Tips for firms considering working in Texas

  • Can you Juggle keeping main operation running while working remotely?
  • The added costs of working remotely are crazy.
  • You’ll need for business licenses.
  • If you want to play, remember those who are the first in are the big winners.
  • Consider partnering with a local firm of good repute that has excess work.
  • You must be self-sufficient.
  • You will be scrutinized, you’re a city slicker.
  • Clean underwear? Make a checklist for workers of what to bring.
  • You may end up working out of state 3X longer than you think.
  • You must take care of yourself first, to take care of others.
  • Getting paid- collect down payment, progress payments. Collect 50% cash up-front. We aren’t involved in and or part of the insurance settlement.
  • You must remediate whether you are receiving insurance proceeds or government money. If you delay, secondary damage will occur and cost more to fix.
  • Local HAZMAT firms that remove asbestos are backed up.
  • Only one chance at first impression, worker appearance and grooming is very important.
  • Search for housing away from ground zero. Rent an available home rather than hotel rooms.
  • Consider the psychological impact and drain on employees who are both working hard and dealing with stressed customers whose property is distressed. Try to have group dinner and unwind each night.
  • Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Don’t burn out the staff, limit work to 10-12 hour a day.
  • While equipment, products and technology improves, good basic skills are what’s most important.
  • Don’t underestimate the Importance of good communication.
  • Any legal aftermath will be decided in Texas.


The founders of Jon-Don, Nick and John Paolella are highly family orientated. Employees are working extended hours on a voluntary basis. Jon-Don’s business philosophy is to service everyone, both old and new customers alike. Their sales staff proactively works with existing clients and gives them a heads-up; all orders are time stamped as received. Those who ordered first will always get their product first. The whole Jon-Don team is pitching in, warehouse staff, credit department, sales, etc. With an existing store in Dallas opened an additional location in Houston. Jon-Don has ample inventory. They’re pulling inventory from both manufacturers and their large inventory reserves in stores throughout the US. With an existing store in Tampa, they’ll also be setting up an additional location in Florida. Some equipment manufacturers are talking about building equipment into November. While some customers have brand loyalty others are willing to purchase alternatives products with the same or similar performance. The three biggest types of equipment in demand are: airmovers, LGR dehumidifiers and air filtration devices. Traditional disinfectants are selling, uptick in mold stain removers and coating sales.

Shipping is a logistical nightmare, as there are fewer freight forwarders than previously. Some freight charges have increased tenfold. Jon-Don is using their own drivers to move inventory. Don’t wait until an event occurs to get your credit approved.

Americans pull together after disasters. All three guests are happy and proud to be Americans. It feels good to be the Knights in shining armour who ride in and to save the day.

Z-Man signing off

Trivia question:

Name the two possible origins of the word hurricane?

Trivia Answer:

Hurricane is derived from the Spanish word “huracn”, the origin of which is Carib term for “god of Evil.” Other sources, postulate the word is derived from the name of the Mayan storm god, “Hurrakan.”