When hail and flood waters pummeled the Billings area in early September, the disaster kicked off a massive cleanup effort for the crew at Alpha Omega Disaster Restoration.
“It’s been 80-hour work weeks ever since the storm,” said Julie Johnson, who owns the Laurel business with her husband, Willy.
Torrential rains that swept through Colorado during September resulted in at least eight deaths and billions of dollars in damage. As tempting as it would be to come to the rescue of flood-weary Coloradoans, Alpha Omega has found plenty of work in the Billings area. Johnson sat down recently to discuss a business that helps people cope.
Q: How did Alpha Omega come about?
A: Alpha-Omega Disaster Restoration started in 2006 as Alpha-Omega Construction and Restoration. We had two employees in addition to ourselves, and began our venture with company meetings in our garage. Our initial plan was to do only a small amount of water damage restoration to supplement our new construction and remodel projects. Not long after we started, however, we became a preferred provider for a large local insurance company. This initiated substantial growth for our water restoration division and launched us into fire damage restoration as well. As our business grew in that direction, we became more established as a restoration contractor with other local insurance companies, and we decided to discontinue our remodel/new construction division and ultimately changed our business name to Alpha-Omega Disaster Restoration.
We definitely would not have experienced the growth and success that we have for the past seven years without our top-notch employees. They are very committed to our vision and mission and they are invaluable to us.
What’s the most common type of disaster you deal with in Montana? Floods? Fire? Frozen pipes? Lightning? Meteorites?
Floods and fires. Many people are often shocked to know how often homes are affected by these. Water damage occurs frequently from frozen pipes, leaky faucets, compromised refrigerator water lines, backed-up drain lines, malfunctioning hot water heaters, broken sprinkler lines, ground water and pet sabotage. Of course, we will deal with whatever nature throws at us, including: hail, wind, tornadoes, landslides, lightning, and yes, meteorites. We offer complete mitigation services (dry-out, cleanup, board-up, deodorization) and reconstruction services. Our goal is to make sure our customers’ property is in pre-loss or better condition when we leave. We work directly with homeowners’ insurance companies on scope and pricing, ensuring the work we complete is within the coverage of their policies so our customers will have no hidden or unexpected costs.
What’s the busiest time of year for your business?
We are busy all of the time. Typically our “run and gun” season is during the bitter cold of winter, when pipes freeze and break, causing water to overflow into homes. Spring also hits us hard when homeowners decide to water their lawns for the first time of the season. Many people find that their spigots had frozen over the winter and they end up watering their basement carpet instead.
Dealing with customers who have just endured such serious trauma must be a challenge. Can you share some insight on your approach to dealing with people in this situation?
This is my favorite part of what we do. It is our joy to help people in distress of having their home “out of sorts.” It is definitely a challenging situation for our customers, because it typically takes two to six weeks to get their house back in order. Customers who experience a fire in their home usually have to move out. Fire damage is often extensive and the restoration process is lengthy, sometimes lasting six months. It is our pleasure to work very closely with our customers to ensure they are 100 percent satisfied. We take very seriously our customers’ feelings and emotions as well as any special needs or preferences through this process. It is a priority of ours to listen well, be available to them whenever needed and to explain the process so they know what to expect during their restoration project.
Tell us a little bit about your building expansion.
We bought the building we are currently in three years ago with the intention of enclosing the front overhang for offices. Years ago, this overhang was used to shelter gas pumps as this was once a service station. We are in dire need of individual office spaces for our project supervisors, administrative assistant and Willy and me. We currently share a common space, which is enjoyable but doesn’t allow us the solitude that is necessary to be productive all of the time. We also need our current office space for additional storage as our business continues to grow. We are all very excited to move to our “own” spaces in the coming weeks, as well as the updated look to the front of our building.