Providing Help When Disaster Strikes

Written by Nate Hendley

If you own or manage a property that has been devastated by a fire, flood, storm, or crime, 24Restore of Ramsey, Minnesota can help. The company—which also handles more mundane tasks such as mold removal—is available around the clock, as its name implies.

“It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. It doesn’t matter what day of the year it is… If you [contact] our company, one of our team members will answer the phone,” states Christopher McAlpine, Network Development Partner at 24Restore.

24Restore refers to its employees as team members because the company views itself as a team, not a corporate entity with a strict hierarchy, says McAlpine. In addition to offering a broad array of services in the aftermath of catastrophe, the company emphasizes staff collaboration, empowerment, and opportunity. As for the specific nature of its work, the majority of 24Restore’s assignments involves fire and water damage.

“We’ll do everything from start to finish for fire and water,” states McAlpine.

Following a fire, 24Restore might board up a property, remove ash and soot, and perform content and structure cleaning and restoration. As the company points out, a fire can be devastating even when a property isn’t badly burned. To this end, 24Restore specializes in getting rid of the smoky odor that lingers long after a blaze has been extinguished.

Water damage caused by floods, broken pipes, overflowing toilets and bathtubs, and sewer backups is another kind of calamity 24Restore routinely deals with. The company’s water damage duties include sewage flood cleanup, water removal, decontamination and sanitization, repairs, and restoration.

Trauma scene cleanup, a service rendered following a violent incident, can entail the removal of blood and biological material. Storm damage services range from roof tarping and board-up to tree removal, temporary power, flood water cleanup, structural drying, and reconstruction. The firm also performs mold and environmental hazard removal and remediation.

All work is done in-house, save those duties that require tradespeople with special licenses.

24Restore servers sectors including residential, office, commercial, and warehouse facilities, and its customers range from individual homeowners to municipalities. 24Restore has a contract to do board-up work for the City of Minneapolis, for instance, and has a similar contract for public housing units across the State of Minnesota. Regardless of who the end client is, the company primarily works within Minnesota, particularly in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The firm does much more, however, than just board up ruined properties and remove damaged contents. 24Restore’s partners include 1-800-BOARDUP, a self-described “national disaster recovery organization with locations all across America” that “assists victims of disaster on one of the worst days of their lives.” People who contact 1-800-BOARDUP can be connected with a personal victim advocate who provides practical assistance. This might include offering cell phones, diapers, or putting a family up in a hotel, says McAlpine.

Originally, 24Restore was established in a slightly roundabout manner. Founder Derek West initially worked in the carpet cleaning business but kept being contacted about water damage issues.

“[West] started carpet cleaning, and the biggest thing he found was that a lot of the older crews didn’t want to clean up water, so they would call him in. So, he basically happened upon this business because people weren’t willing to do things and he was,” recalls McAlpine.

24Restore was founded as a full-service restoration company in 1994 and a few years ago, West, who remains owner of 24Restore, spun off a new company called Cloud Contents. Cloud Contents recovers documents following floods or fires. The recovery process can involve cleaning, duplicating, and reconstructing business records, legal documents, paintings, X-rays, manuscripts, medical records, and more. Once again, this firm was launched to fill a niche.

“No one [else] was willing to step up and help people save memories and save their contents versus just throwing stuff away and purchasing new,” states McAlpine.

Also based in Ramsey, the new company serves a wider geographic region than 24Restore. Cloud Contents has done document recovery work as far afield as Des Moines, Iowa, through North Dakota and into Minnesota.

24Restore currently has between 50 and 60 team members while Cloud Contents has around 25 to 40 personnel. Staffing levels at both companies were roughly the same this time last year. Some 24Restore members are IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration) certified drying technicians.

Regardless of experience or skill level, commitment is an important prerequisite for anyone looking to get hired at 24Restore: “Are you willing to do your best every single day, and show up and improve? If we’re to hire anyone, it’s someone who is humble and hungry—an individual that really wants to be the best they can and be a better person,” states McAlpine.

Indeed, the company motto, “serving others the way you want to be served” neatly encapsulates the 24Restore ethos. The firm has embraced the concepts of selflessness, authenticity, and servant leadership (a school of thought that suggests managers can achieve better results by empowering staff, rather than bossing them around). Authenticity, for its part, means “be true to yourself. You’re not posturing to be something that you’re not,” explains McAlpine.

The company also follows a core set of operating principles, for staff and customer relations alike. These principles include “be impeccable with your words, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, always do your best. If you treat people that way, then people know your heart is in the right [place],” he says.

Given the environments that 24Restore team members routinely encounter, the company places a strong emphasis on safety. Frontline team members are equipped with appropriate PPE including respirators, while the firm has a safety committee and hosts regular safety meetings.

In a similar fashion, COVID didn’t put a halt to the company’s work (as a restoration company, 24Restore was deemed an essential service and wasn’t required to shut its doors at the height of the pandemic). The firm took steps to keep its personnel safe while continuing to service its customers. “We took care of our team members, by making sure they had a safe environment to come to work. Then, we took care of our customers. We showed up to help,” recalls McAlpine.

The company emphasizes continuing education and ensures that frontline staff receive up-to-date training and equipment. Continuous improvement is a key objective: “We’re improving our processes daily. Our training is, I dare to say, second to none for restoration,” states McAlpine.

Clearly, people seem to enjoy working at 24Restore. The company recently earned a spot on the Top Workplaces for 2022 list which was compiled by the StarTribune newspaper based on information gleaned from employee surveys. 24Restore ranked 73rd for best small business employer in the state of Minnesota. “Our commitment internally is what makes us stand out,” says McAlpine. “Our team members voted for us because we created an environment that allows opportunities for others.”

The company’s service-oriented philosophy extends into charitable and community initiatives as well. The firm started an annual Serving Others Event in 2013, in which 24Restore and other various businesses participate in a friendly competition to serve community organizations. Serving Others takes place before Thanksgiving, with a view toward helping charities that provide food for the needy. 24Restore is also actively involved in blood donor events.

“Doing a blood drive, we’ll go there, bring tables, chairs, and food, and serve people. We don’t ask for a single dime from people. We want to be a blessing, to go above and beyond,” states McAlpine.

As for non-COVID related challenges, McAlpine cites growth issues. Namely, “how do we keep improving our processes as we grow?”

One way of achieving this end is to “find people who have the same values we do and put them into play… while we could grow at an alarming rate, you have to do it properly, with the right people,” he continues.

As for the future, “we’ve got a lot of goals,” he says, one of which is for the company to stay laser-focused on its core competencies. 24Restore would prefer to enhance its existing services rather than branch off into brand new fields outside its areas of expertise.

On top of carefully expanding revenue and personnel, the firm wants to remain at the forefront of the industry. In the years ahead, 24Restore would like to be seen as “the leading restoration company [in the United States]—to set standards, and then to raise those standards,” states McAlpine.



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