CRISIS CLEANING was interviewed by Harmon Leon writer for Maxim Magazine on June 25, 2012 when he visited one of our job sites and learned what it takes to cleanup meth contaminated property.
The article was published in the July/August 2013 issue.
Check out this cool article in The Fix Magazine:
Indiana Minority Business Magazine interviwed Donetta Held – see story below picture:
Finding your Niche in business
By Rebecca R. Bibbs
Always looking for ways to expand the construction business her grandfather Karl English established in 1955 in Bloomfield, Ind., Donetta Held, CEO of Crisis Cleaning, attended a 2006 trade convention for sheriffs.
Though the company had built nearly 500 homes, in addition to numerous barns, remodels and commercial projects, by 1979 when English retired and his son Howard took over, it evolved into a disaster restoration service. In 2001, Held sought to expand the services from restoration after fire, wind and water.
“I thought we were cleaning up all other kinds of catastrophes so why not do death and crime scene?” she said. Held’s booth generated a great deal of interest at the sheriffs’ trade show – but not in the way she’d expected.
“They asked if we did meth lab cleanup,” she said. “When the sheriffs started asking about it, I could see there was a need that wasn’t being filled.” Held’s story demonstrates how market forces sometime determine a Finding your in business By Rebecca R. Bibbs niche company’s niche. Since seeking the required training for her staff, Held said rarely a day goes by that she doesn’t receive several calls from landlords, homeowners and law enforcement.
“We have a lot of people who unknowingly bought a home where meth was cooked,” she said. “When the police take the drugs away, there’s still the residue left, and people sometimes find unexplained rashes in children because of babies crawling around on the floor.” With Indiana considered third in the nation behind Missouri and Tennessee for the number of operational meth labs, the sheriffs were looking for companies to remove the toxic residue from sites that had been seized. Only about a dozen companies in Indiana perform this service among the 1,300 labs seized annually.
“It’s more of our business than death and crime scenes,” Held said. As with many niche businesses, however, it wasn’t as simple as changing the wording on the company’s existing shingle.
Because meth lab cleanup is a state regulated business, Held and her 10 employees had to become specially trained in meth lab abatement.
“There is more involved than getting a business card and saying, ‘I do this,'” she said.
Meeting the regulatory requirements has paid off. In addition to covering the state of Indiana, Crisis Cleaning has expanded into Ohio and Michigan. The products and services also have expanded to include Held’s book, The Meth Solution, and the sale of $59 test kits sold mostly to individuals, such as home buyers who have made a clean test a condition of the sale and motel owners, who suspect clients cooking in their rooms.
Having a niche business also makes marketing easier, Held said. She knows exactly who her customers are, and as often as not, they come looking for her. She’s also benefitted from exposure because of the pop culture phenomenon of the critically acclaimed AMC cable series Breaking Bad, which has led to phone calls from Maxim magazine.
Dr. Donald F. Kuratko, Jack M. Gill Chair of Entrepreneurship at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, agreed niche businesses make marketing much simpler, especially in the era of social media marketing.“You can narrow down the type of people you are trying to reach, and those individual points of contact make it much more realistic for you to deal with them,” the award-winning scholar said. “It’s too hard to do mass marketing. You don’t even know who you’re touching.”
Kuratko, who specializes in the study of strategic entrepreneurship, noted many startups begin as niche businesses and later become mainstream.
They may present a previously unheard of product or service, or they may refine aspects of an industry or clientele. “Everyone has the mountain, but the strategy for businesses is finding the gaps nobody notices or tries to climb,” he said. This is crucial for small businesses that need to differentiate themselves so they can scale more quickly. But niche business owners need to resist the urge to grow too quickly or to try competing from the start with more established businesses, Kuratko warned. It’s nearly impossible to compete against the big boys who have had time, experience and exposure.
“If you try to start big you can be eaten up by growth,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to win in volume and price.”
Advance research is key for any startup to be successful, Kuratko said. A potential business owner first must establish that the niche truly needs to be filled and that there aren’t too many other players in the field. The business does not have to be the only one, and in fact, a novice business owner can learn from others more experienced in their fields.
“The most embarrassing thing is to write a plan and have potential investors say, ‘I’ve been on Google and found five other businesses just like this,” he said.
“If you do the research and find there is nothing out there, the next question you need to ask is, ‘I wonder why,'” he said. It’s possible others already have made unsuccessful ventures into a particular niche. Someone wanting to revisit that territory will need to learn from others’ mistakes.
Next, a niche business owner needs to determine a sustainable price point. “There’s a lot of good ideas out there, but people won’t pay money for them,” Kuratko said. He suggests doing an online survey to test interest and to try out several price points to see whether there’s a realistic chance at making money.
“Anything above 50 percent response or positive reaction to your idea, you’ve probably got something there,” he said.
Repeat – Decontaminating a Former Meth House
Donetta Held is someone many would consider a pioneer in proper meth remediation techniques. Meth decontamination carries a unique set of challenges restoration companies would not likely face on a traditional fire, flood, mold, or other job.
Held grew up in the construction and restoration industry. Her grandfather started English Construction in 1955, today it is owned by her father. The company does both catastrophe cleanup and construction, and it was while working for her father that she was trained in crime scene cleanup, and her interest grew from there. In 2001, Held started Crisis Cleaning as a sister company to English Construction.
Understanding the Laws
Every state has very different laws regarding the proper way to clean up after a meth cook in a home, vehicle, or else where. Some states have stringent rules and air quality guidelines; others have none leaving it acceptable for home-owners to try to clean up after the lab on their own, and turn the home over to new, unsuspecting tenants who could then be exposed to the noxious chemi-cals a meth cook leaves behind.
So, if you offer meth lab cleanup, or are considering adding it to your service offerings, be sure to do your homework first. Held has certainly done hers.
Indiana’s Strict Meth Code
In 2007, Indiana enacted laws regard-ing meth cleanup procedures. Crisis Cleaning was one of the first companies in the state to be certified by the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management to do meth lab cleanup. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Adminis-tration, Indiana leads the country in the number of meth busts. In fact, in 2014, there were 9,338 meth busts nation-wide; 1,471 or 16 percent of that total were in Indiana.
“In Indiana, if police bust a meth lab in a home or rental property, they are re-quired to notify the local health depart-ment in that county,” Held explained. “Then, the health department shuts down the home and condemns it until it is tested and proven to be safe and sends a letter to the owner.”
That test in Indiana is strict; it’s 0.5 parts meth per 100 square centimeters. That number can differ greatly from state-to-state. For example, California allows 1.5