Willy Johnson doesn't wear a cape and tights to work, but his customers, who have just gone through a disaster, often treat him like a super hero.
"We've learned how to put people at ease, to just try to get to their level of understanding. You have to learn to be sympathetic," said Johnson, owner of Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration. "You can't be just about the business. While people want the job done, it's nice to be comforted. They enjoy that. It's a little bonding that goes on."
"We know we're saving the day," Johnson said. "Every one of our team members really gets that."
Winter tends to be the busiest time in the disaster restoration business. That's because people are spending more time indoors, and colder weather can lead to frozen pipes or fires traced to wood stoves or other heating devices. And disasters don't take time off for holidays.
"We have gotten a lot of calls on Thanksgiving or Christmas," Johnson said.
Describe how you got where you are in your career:I started in the disaster restoration industry several years ago with a restoration company in Billings, learning the ropes from my employer. I was trained by experts in the industry and is certified by industry organizations. After hurricane Katrina, I performed restoration services in New Orleans. After returning from Louisiana, my wife and I started Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration in our garage. The business now has grown into a new building on main street in Laurel and five full-time employees and several part-time employees.
What's the toughest challenge in your business? Working with people who are in distress. It is a very stressful thing when your house or place of business is damaged by water and fire. We try to maintain a very open line of communication with our customers to make the restoration process go as smoothly as possible.
If you could make one positive change in Billings, what would it be? I would love to see a sense of camaraderie between the companies in our industry in Billings. We each have so much to offer and there is work in our area enough to keep everyone busy.
Which living person do you most admire? John Jirges
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Understanding and living by: Jeremiah 9:24 (The Message Bible) "Don't let the wise brag of their wisdom. Don't let heroes brag of their exploits. Don't let the rich brag of their riches. If you brag, brag of this and this only: That you understand and know me. I'm God, and I act in loyal love. I do what's right and set things right and fair, and delight in those who do the same things. These are my trademarks."
I'm happiest when... I'm with my wife and daughter.