Construction Services

Firm seeks not just to restore damage but prevent it in smartphone age

By Charles Elmore – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 19, 2013

A West Palm Beach firm that specializes in water, fire and mold restoration isn’t just pitching help after bad things happen.

It’s also trying to help hotel workers baffled by a burst pipe at 3 a.m. or a teacher crouched in a school closet during an unexpected lockdown.

The idea is a web-based system that lets workers gain access to emergency plans on their smartphone, tablets or other devices, said Paul Licata, director of business development for Dean Mitchell Restoration. He says the privately-held West Palm Beach firm is the only restoration company in Florida offering the faciliSmart software tool — and it’s currently free to clients.

“If the maintenance director is on vacation in Key West and can’t be reached, this system would let all employees gain access to information that could help them know, for example, where to find find a water valve that could shut off a leak,” Licata said.

With hurricane season arriving June 1, the system allows employees quick access to information about critical building systems that can be shut down to limit damage, he said.

“The plan isn’t sitting in somebody’s locked desk drawer,” Licata said.

Most of the company’s 140 clients in Palm Beach and Broward counties are commercial office buildings, hotels, condos and hospitals, he said, but the firm is looking to expand its reach.

Licata said a pilot project is in the works with a Palm Beach County school he did not identify.

After tragic incidents that have drawn national attention, schools in various states have been strengthening their plans to deal with emergencies including armed intruders, he noted.

With a smartphone or other compatible device, “a teacher huddling in a closet with kids can see the map, the game plan,” Licata said.

Employees also can send emergency messages to others preprogrammed into the system, he said. Or a manager could get into key records and plans away from work, he said.

Dean Mitchell Restoration, whose roots go back to the early 1990s, has revenues of more than $5 million and 50 employees, according to Licata.

Hurricane season brings an average of $1.8 billion in damage each year, the company figures — a number that can get bigger fast in years big storms hit.

The company says its service can help limit the damage in the first place, and then expedite the claims process by giving clients a full report of their property in pre-damage status.

A big goal is to “minimize loss when the unexpected happens,” said client Richard Havens, director of enginering at Merin Hunter Codman Inc. His company manages office buildings and other properties in cities including West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.

As Licata tells it, “The program is fully customizable and allows the entire team instant access to their critical systems, no matter where they are, enabling them to shut down and protect the systems in real time to reduce damage.”

Should an emergency arise, he said, “teams can pull up emergency plans right on their cell phones and know the protocol for handling the situation.”

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