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Service: Restoration and disaster-cleanup company American Craftsman offers specialized service

Posted: July 29, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 29, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Co-owners Jon Clapper, left, and Mike Cosley of American Craftsman stand in their Valencia facility.

 

A business idea was born in a garage 24 years ago, and has since grown to acquire a 37,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in Valencia.

Mike Cosley, president of restoration and disaster-cleanup company American Craftsman, said he has watched his dream blossom into one of the top full-service companies in the country.

When business and privately owned properties suffer from fire, flood, wind or other natural disasters, a restoration company is able to do more than a basic construction company.

American Craftsman works with a wide range of disaster results, including complex chemical reactions caused by synthetic materials often found in flooring and furniture, and addressing biohazards involving mold as a result of water damage.

While most restoration companies occupy smaller units, or share buildings with other businesses; two years ago, Cosley rented the building next door to their current residence and broke down the walls to expand a warehouse.

The expansion made room for a $450,000 cleaning station, including an Esporta Wash System, a wet-wash cleaning machine designed to restore “soft contents” from water and fire disasters.

Soft contents refer to anything from footwear to linens, sporting goods and children’s stuffed animals, according to the Certified Contents Restoration Network.

The patented Esporta Wash System removes smoke, soot, bacteria and other contaminants through hydraulic pressure, according to the CCRN. The machine is priced at $100,000.

American Craftsman is reportedly one of the few companies in the industry to own its own CCRN, as many restoration companies send items out for cleaning.

Once recovery experts identify contents that are salvageable, all contents are digitally inventoried, photographed and bar-coded before the company moves the contents to its restoration center. 

Green cleaning
American Craftsman’s cleaning station also includes plumbing that makes it possible to purify recycled water running to the Esporta system; important to Cosley, as he wanted his business to remain as green as possible.

The company is currently labeled Certified Green Risk Professional. The certification affirms that if a property to be restored was once considered green in some capacity, American Craftsman can return that property to the specified green certification once the project is complete.

American Craftsman works alongside other restoration companies to assist it in recovering a home or business’s soft contents with the Esporta, since most restoration companies do not offer soft-contents renewal.

Self-financed
Founded in 1988, Cosley got the business off the ground without any outside funding or investment.

“I had saved; this wasn’t just a spur of the moment thing,” Cosley said. “I had planned for a long time to start this business.”

Cosley attributes his success at American Craftsman to continuing to invest in what he believes in and the standard he hopes to maintain.

“I haven’t really taken anything out; every penny earned has gone back into the business,” Cosley said.

When American Craftsman first began, $1 million a year in revenue was a pretty big number, according to Cosley.

Currently revenues are right around $5 million to $6 million, Cosley said.

“In the next five years we intend to be doing more than $10 million a year in business, and that is what we’re currently on pace for,” said Cosley.

Disasters
In 1994, when the magnitude-6.7 Northridge earthquake hit, it was clear to Cosley that a full-time restoration company was needed. 

As a result, Cosley keeps his business available to customers 24/7, 365 days a year.  The building, occupied by approximately 40 some employees, technically never closes.

Cosley remembers one recent Sunday over Memorial Day weekend, when he and his partner, COO Jon Clapper, were called to board up a home in the area that had just suffered fire damage. 

“The two were the only help available while everyone else was on holiday,” Clapper said.

The company serves a geographic area within a 50- to 70-mile radius, but it has gone outside these boundaries in special circumstances.

American Craftsman has assisted in major disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ike and the Santa Barbara/Montecito fires, Cosley said. The company also completed $1 million worth of work in the Rancho Santa Fe fires in 2007.

Customer-driven
American Craftsman prides itself in its standard of customer service. Holding weekly training session for employees, the company also reviews the results of survey completed by a client.

Cosley has acquired more than 10 certifications applicable to the restoration industry, and is qualified to teach training classes to other companies around the country. 

He’s also received requests to act as an expert consultant in court cases that could benefit from his expertise.

It’s not uncommon for Cosley and Clapper to receive unsolicited letters from families or insurance agents thanking American Craftsman for their work, according to Kailey Gray, director of business development.

 “We’ve had people write that this is the best experience they’ve ever had,” Gray said. 

“Which, to me, is crazy, especially when you just went through a major disaster and you’re able to say that.”

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