In my heart, I am a storyteller. Real joy, for me, comes from sharing about others – their stories, successes, lessons learned, and everything in between. One of my very favorite parts of being editor of R&R over the last six years has been meeting contractors – some big, some small, some offering niche services, others being full-service contractors. Some of you do TPA work, some do not. Others do mitigation, but not reconstruction. You get the idea.
In January, I had the pleasure of many back and forth emails with Ray Easterly, owner of Clean X-treme. Twenty-four years ago, Ray was working as an EMS director in his community; his now-partner was an EMT and worked in health care. Seeing the need for specialized trauma and biohazard cleanup services in their area, the pair jumped into service and never looked back. Nearly a quarter century later, they still stick to what they know, and excel at it, serving Indiana, Ohio, and the southern parts of Michigan.
“We have made a few offshoots over the many years, but our primary focus has always been biohazard control and cleanups,” Ray explained. “We do not to meth, mold, water loss, or hazardous materials.”
Just because they “only” do trauma scene cleanup does not mean their services aren’t vast. They specialize in mass casualty support and supply, difficult body recovery, bariatric body removal, offer command center and rehab capabilities, and so much more.
The Clean X-treme team looks a little different from the profile of a technician for a full-service restoration company.
“We have a good, solid group of 10 technicians that work for Clean X-treme part time,” Ray said. “All of our technicians are firefighters, medics, paramedics, or healthcare workers who are in this field daily and know how to tactfully deal with these traumatic situations and grieving families.”
When the technicians have a day off from the fire department or hospital, they work for Clean X-treme. This gives the company the ability to rapidly assemble a team 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Ray said sometimes, his team is working more on trauma jobs than in their full-time jobs. Since they are well-trained, diverse, and professional, they are able to handle just about any situation that comes their way.
“We are all firefighters and medics and treat the families and customers with care and compassion,” he said. “Sometimes we see people on the absolute worst day of their life; we always ask if there is anything else we can do.”
Serving Well & Staying Safe
Two of Clean X-treme’s vehicles are unmarked, so they won’t draw attention when on site. Plus, they are very careful with their social media, and believe in showcasing their equipment, vehicles, preparedness, and capabilities over graphic or shocking trauma scenes.
The team itself is dedicated to wearing the proper PPE. Their preferred suit is the Kleenguard A60, and they stock about 30,000 in disposable PPE supplies at all times, which saved a lot of headache when the pandemic hit and customers were requesting disinfection services.
“We always try to don and doff in private, and most of our equipment and PPE is in totes so we can move these totes into the structure and set up a base in an unaffected area,” Ray explained. “If this is not possible, two of our vehicles have actual areas where we can don and doff in a heated and cooled environment.”
Ray emphasized that this is not a “mop and bucket” operation; they have hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment for these jobs, and also believe in proper training and insurance.
Marketing an Unusual Service
Typical marketing is often out of the question for companies specializing in services like this, for several reasons. Instead, the Clean X-treme team is focused on continually building their great referral network. In addition, they do a little bit of tactful social media marketing to their, and send more than 1,500 newsletters biannually.
Ray noted they have a lot of recurring subcontract projects, and a surprising number of recurring cleanup jobs for some larger customers.
Every year, they see new companies come into their market chasing what Ray calls “fast and big dollars”; they leave the market in about a year.
“We also see the franchises come in the same way, chasing that quick dollar with a weekend or YouTube training class,” he said. “They leave the market shortly as well, as they do not have the investment in the equipment, technology, or trained technicians to do the job safely and right.”
Of course they’ve also see some national companies, who shall remain nameless, come in and try to massively overcharge. Ray said every once in a while, they look over their shoulder “to see what’s going on back there with the competition, but generally we are looking forward, going forward, helping people and providing great service.”
While being tactful and tasteful with most of their marketing, Clean X-treme also understands the slightly morbid humor that can exist between very specific referral sources. For example, they have coffee mugs with the tagline “Blood, Guts, Brains and Remains”, which are reserved pretty strictly for coroners with whom they have established, existing relationships, and that type of humor is okay. A customer or other referral source would never see them.
An Industrial Accident
To illustrate the uniqueness of some of the trauma scene jobs Clean X-treme handles, Ray thought back to an incident they handled very early in their company. Sparing the graphic details, a man got his arm amputated by an auger. The auger moved a product that was used in various items, including cosmetics, which increased concerns about contamination.
This auger was about 100 feet long and had several sections with a few hoppers, turning as pellets moved through different stages. The team had to clean the entire length of the auger and hoppers to remove all the blood and tissue twisted up and into the auger and tube. To further complicate matters, a magnetic powder used in some of the products was everywhere, and sticking to everything.
“One of our major challenges at these industrial accidents is always the safety of our people,” Ray explained. “Obviously these are dangerous machines; we must work with knowledgeable managers and staff to develop a plan to assure our safety.”
Safety meant everything was locked-out, tagged-out, and well lit. There was a lot of communication to establish an action plan, timeline, and to manage expectations of the client.
Ray called it very challenging and time consuming, but in the end, everything was cleaner and shinier than the day it arrived new from the factory.
Continuing to Evolve
The sidebar you see represents one way Clean X-treme has gotten creative recently with their marketing and community outreach. You can read more about their special operations vehicle in that sidebar, but it is just one example of how Ray and his team continue to evolve to serve their clients and community as best they can.
“We keep learning over the years,” Ray said. “We have found many better ways to do things, better techniques, better chemicals, better equipment that we can use for this unique type of work. Unfortunately, after doing this for 24 years, we don’t get too many surprises anymore.”
Meet “2-Xtreme”: 2002 Pierce Enforcer Command/Heavy Rescue/Hazmat Body
Recently, Clean X-treme purchase the Denver Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Truck. Ray and his team spend the last year refurbishing and redesigning the truck for their needs, and it is currently the only type of its kind in the country. It is equipped to handle just about anything the team is called to do. They also plan to use the truck as a way to market their services at conferences, state training venues, and some select large community events.
Truck is 35 1/2' long with a Custom Box (24'x11'9"H)
Detroit Series 40 Diesel Engine
Seating for Six in Cab with a 30" Raised Rear Cab Roof
LED Brow Light & Emergency Lighting
19" Extended Front Bumper with Q-Siren
15-kW PTO Generator
9000-Watt Wilbert Telescopic Light Tower
Six 1500-Watt Side Mounted Scene Lights
Two 200' Electric Cord Reels
Rear Traffic Advisor Arrow Stick
Automatic Air Steps
20' Awning on Driver Side
Slide-Out Tool Boards
Slide Out and Drop Down Shelving
Flag Pole with Windsock
Scotchlite Graphics Package
Command Center Equipment:
Two-Position Command Center
Two 32" Sony Smart Televisions
Two Line Phone with 300' Shoreline
Massive Power Strip with AC/DC and USB Capabilities
UPS Clean Power
Rooftop Green Command Light
Dry Erase Boards
Internal Red Light Night Vision
All Office Supplies including Reference and Guidebooks
Dry Erase Board on Side of Truck
Biohazard Clean-up Supplies
Specialty Chemicals & Absorbents
PPE Supplies (Tyvek Suites/Gloves/Masks/Goggles)
Cache of Tools including Vacuums, Pump Sprayers, Tarps, Extension Cords, Saws, Ladders, and more
Five ABC Fire Extinguishers
Biohazard Poster Compliance Area
Hand Sanitizing Dispenser and Clorox Wipe Stations
Mass Casualty Supplies:
Large Supply of Body Bags
Decomposition Body Bags
Mass Casualty Marking Flags and Tape
Bulk PPE Supplies (Tyvek Suites/Gloves/Masks/Goggles)
Bio Bags and Bio Boxes
Bariatric & Body Removal Equipment:
Bariatric Body Lifting System
Body Beam (Ceiling Eye Bolt Lifting System)
Mega Mover Device
Bariatric and Decomposition Body Bags
4-Wheel Moving Dolly
Rehab Team Equipment:
Large Cold Water Misting Fan
Sports Drinks/Bottled Water
Drink Coolers and Chest Cooler
Medical Monitoring Equipment
8' Table with Two Chairs