WHEELING - Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration technicians realize fires, floods and other disasters most often don't happen during regular business hours.
Property owners needing help at 2 a.m. can call Panhandle locally at 304-232-2321 and talk to a live person. Crews likely will be at the scene well before the sun rises, according to owner Robert Contraguerro Sr.
"When there's a home disaster, time does matter," added his son, Josh Contraguerro, who serves as Panhandle's vice president of marketing. "Sometimes we'll have to go board up a house at 2 a.m., just to make sure there is no further damage.
Photo by Joselyn King
Josh Contraguerro, left, vice president of Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration, and his father, Robert Contraguerro, the company’s owner and founder, preside over a business that employs 135 full-time workers, and has 100 trucks.
"Calling us goes further than just leaving a message. Crews are on duty, and when we dispatch people to a scene, they can be there in less than two hours."
And what Panhandle technicians often find on the job goes beyond structural damage, both Contraguerros explained. There may be treasured photographs on the walls covered with soot, an antique dinette set defiled by a sewage leak or a child's treasured teddy bear that is submerged in contaminated flood water.
They say the good news is that cutting-edge technology exists that allows them to restore and sanitize 90 percent of all damaged items to meet the most strict health department codes for safety and cleanliness.
Robert Contraguerro Sr. founded Panhandle in 1977 as a carpet cleaning company.
Over time, he said, he and his technicians became experienced in the cleaning following floods and fires, and Panhandle has grown to become a full home and business restoration company.
Robert Contraguerro Sr. said he is amazed by what his technicians are able to achieve with the tools available today.
"In almost 37 years in the business, I've seen an amazing change," Robert Contraguerro said. "What was then thrown away can be dried and saved now. We focus on reinvesting in the business, and using cutting edge technology. We are using more environmentally friendly cleaners that are 100 percent organic. These are safe for restaurants, (home) kitchens, children's toys and humans. And you don't have to worry about fumes."
Panhandle invests in bringing in cleaning experts from across the nation to train not just supervisors, but all the technicians involved with cleaning and restoring a home or business, he continued.
Panhandle is headquartered in Wheeling, but also has plants in Morgantown and Pittsburgh. Crews are dispatched to respond to any disaster within a three-hour driving radius of the plants, the Contraguerros said.