ARS Mitigations Inc. aims to support families and business owners during some of their toughest times.
By Lindsay Field Penticuff
Your hot water heater bursts. There’s been a terrible fire in your office breakroom. Rainfall after a storm has flooded your basement. What’s next?
This is when Rick Sands and his team at ARS Mitigation Inc. in Marietta step in to help with their expert services. Founded in 1988, this Cobb County business is specially trained and certified to respond in the event of a disaster — fire or water — and they understand that time is precious and that your family needs a reliable restoration service.
“Our mission is to provide service with guidance, support, and empathy at a time when our customers have experienced a loss to their home or business,” Sands says when sharing the ARS mission statement. “We understand that when you need our service, you are going through an emotional and trying event. Our aim is to assist you through the process with professional, quality service and care, and to bring you a solution.”
How it all started
Just a few years after moving to the Atlanta area from Connecticut in 1984, Sands was looking for a profession that wouldn’t require a lot of relocating and travel. He worked with a business broker, who showed him several business-purchasing options to consider. “I really liked the idea of being self-employed,” Sands says. “Through my business broker, I learned about a guy who was selling a carpet-cleaning business over in Doraville.”
Sands was fortunate enough to be able to borrow money from his father-in-law to help start the business, and that’s when ARS was established. “I realized early on that you need to clean a whole lot of carpets to feed kids,” Sands says. “So, over the years, our business has evolved to where we are today.”
The carpet-cleaning business evolved into cleaning up water damage in the 1990s, because Sands says that the water extraction system they use to clean carpets is also the equipment used to remove water after a home is flooded, for example.
Technology during this time also advanced. Approximately 20 years ago, they would simply touch a wall to try and determine if it was still wet, not knowing whether the insulation or anything else inside a wall may still be wet. “We left a lot of stuff wet, and not just ARS, but our industry as a whole,” Sands says. “So, the industry in the ‘90s got really serious about the science of drying. We now use infrared tools that don’t necessarily show that a wall is wet by scanning it, but you’ll see the temperature change. Wet [walls or insulation] typically [are indicated by] a cooler temperature.”
They also have meters that help the ARS team determine whether they need to investigate an incident even more when there’s flooding. Sands’ team participates in four-day training sessions to earn certifications in using this type of technology.
In the early to mid-2000s, Sands learned while having conversations with insurance adjusters who referred his team’s services to clients that there was a need in fire restoration. “We started learning more about fire damage and how to clean smoke in a home,” Sands says. “Our industry started getting very good at using Fireline equipment and resources, and we learned that ultrasonics are a very effective way to clean items damaged by smoke.”
The packout process
After a fire, Sands says the ARS team is tasked with cleaning a home or business, even in areas where the fire may not have caused direct damage, but soot has maybe lingered and settled in a space. This might include them cleaning baseboards in a nearby bedroom or wiping down tabletops in a dining room after a house fire, for example.
At the same time, they also box up items that they and the homeowner or business owner believe are salvageable, and take them back to the ARS warehouse, where they are stored for clients. This is referred to as a “packout.”
When ARS gets the call that a homeowner or business owner is ready to move back into a space — renovations after a kitchen fire are complete, for example — they will start the cleaning process using the Fireline series of equipment. The process is as follows:
- Station 1: They will carefully unpack all the soiled contents inside the boxes and place them in a metal tray.
- Station 2: Each item is pre-rinsed, and/or prepped for the ultrasonic cleaning process.
- Station 3: The tray is submerged in the ultrasonic cleaning machine, in which millions of bubbles, smaller than an air molecule, clean the contents thoroughly.
- Station 4: The tray of contents is then hand-rinsed.
- Station 5: The tray will go through a turbo dryer tunnel to make sure everything is completely dry.
- Station 6: Someone will repack all of a homeowner’s or business owner’s contents into new, clean boxes.
“We also have an electrics cleaning station,” Sands says. “We can take a TV apart, because it has smoke inside it, and clean it. We can do the same with laptops, desktops, iPods, tablets.”
ARS will then deliver and help a homeowner or business owner not only unpack the boxes of contents, but sort them throughout a home or business, per the request of the owner.
Offering these three tiers of the business — water, fire and contents, or packout — ARS has helped homeowners and business owners through some of their toughest times. “Having your home flooded or a fire in your business is disruptive,” Sands adds. “You have 18 different questions, and you don’t know where to start. And if you have kids, their world is rocked, too. They want to know: Where are we moving? What’s going on?”
That’s when the ARS team steps in with their 20-plus employees and can offer decades of experience to support residents and business owners across the Atlanta area. “The thing I’m proudest about is the people who work here. They have good hearts. Everyone here is hurting for the client. This is someone’s home, and all our people take that to heart. They are good-hearted people, and when we can go through and get people their stuff back, it’s huge.”
And ARS was recently recognized for their hard work and dedication to the community, being recognized as the Northeast Cobb Business Association 2021 Small Business of the Year. “I didn’t see it coming. I was honored and humbled, and very surprised,” Sands says. “It never occurred to me, but it helped show that we are doing something right.”