Embracing the future of the restoration industry is as imperative as ever. At a time when finding skilled workers, retaining labor and adopting new technology are among the top challenges restoration companies face, the unique traits of Millennials and Generation Z pose great promise.
Not only are Millennials the largest adult generation in the U.S.; they are also the largest generation in the labor force at over 56 million, according to Pew Research Center. For organizations looking to attract new talent, this cohort is anything but short in supply.
What’s more, members of Generation Z, born after 1996 – the oldest just launching their careers – are “digital natives.” For them, an existence without smartphones, internet and other relatively recent technological innovations is unfathomable. This second-nature connection with the digital dimension bodes well for addressing the challenge of adopting new technology in the digital era.
Promise also lies in the coming of age during crises these generations share – Millennials during the Great Recession and Generation Z during the COVID-19 pandemic. As extraordinary disruption and uncertainty drive up demand for resilience, grit, creativity and the ability to swiftly pivot in the workplace, their perspective is unmatched. After all, they grew up honing said attributes, carrying forward in a world flipped upside down.
That these are the people who hold the future of restoration in their hands implies that continued growth and innovation lie ahead. We are pleased to celebrate their contributions to the industry through our second annual Ladder Award. Launched in early 2020, the award honors outstanding young restoration professionals 35 years and younger who are climbing the ladder of success and shaping the future of this industry. These individuals exhibit leadership, drive, innovation, care for clients and colleagues, community service and a clear passion for the industry.
This year, 19 young restorers were nominated for the Ladder Award. Each nomination was carefully scored by a panel of industry judges and, of course, one rising young star rose to the top.
Watch Andrea’s Ask the Expert interview with R&R’s Editor Valerie King for her full story, including how she accidentally stumbled into restoration, her most memorable project, her self-proclaimed addiction to skill building, being a woman in a male-dominated field, advice to others in the industry, and more.
Andrea Stenberg is Emergency Services Production Cleaning Manager at Paul Davis Restoration of Portland/Vancouver. She started her career in restoration in 2008 at age 19 as a warehouse contents cleaning technician and commercial post-construction cleanup technician. Then a surplus of work came in one year and the company pulled her from her prior duties to assist in fire cleanup. Within three months, she was leading crews for fire and smoke mitigation.
Having developed a new passion for fire and smoke work, Andrea began studying every manual and article she could find to advance her understanding.
“I was hooked immediately. Everything about it, from what we’re cleaning, what we’re using, the systems involved,” she said. “It was like, I felt like a chemist mixing all the cleaning solutions that would take smoke and fire out.”
Soon she was assisting project managers with site inspections and estimates while also integrating production crews with the new ultrasonic restoration cleaning equipment.
An All-In Approach
Today, Andrea wears many hats at Paul Davis Restoration of Portland/Vancouver. She has mastered the Fireline Ultrasonic cleaning system, Poseidon textile cleaning system, fabric and upholstery extraction, high-detail hand cleaning, and electronics and appliance cleaning station. She manages this department with a high level of skill, efficiency and profitability.
Over the course of her career in restoration, Andrea has continually invested in professional development.
“I like to be mentally stimulated as much as possible. So I’m also training in something,” Andrea said. “At least 50% of the credentials I have were either done on my own or I was, I don’t want to use the word forceful, but very convincing to the company that I needed them.”
Her industry certifications and awards include:
- IICRC Fire and Smoke Restoration Tech (FSRT)
- IICRC Odor Control Tech (OCT)
- IICRC Carpet Cleaning Tech (CCT)
- IICRC Upholstery and Fabric Cleaning Tech (UFT)
- IICRC Trauma and Crime Scene Tech (TCST)
- IICRC Health and Safety Tech Equivalent (HSTEQ)
- IICRC Journeyman Textile Cleaner (JTC)
- IICRC Journeyman Fire and Smoke Restorer (JFSR)
- IICRC Master Designation for Fire and Smoke Restorer
- OSHA Outreach Training: 10-Hour General Industry Certificate and 30-hour General Industry
- Fireline Training Centers: Ultrasonics Restoration Technical Training Program - Certificate
- Fireline Training Centers: Packout, Estimating & Contents Invoicing Strategies Workshop -
- Paul Davis Challenge Coin Recipient: Award Coin for Excellence in Emergency Services
“I read a lot of manuals. A lot from IICRC. My FSRC manual looks like it’s been through the shredder (laughs). One of the things I did learn is: When you get your certification, keep your manuals because you’re going to be in that thing over and over again to get refreshed because there’s no one I know that walks away from a class retaining 100%.”
Helping others grow and thrive is an area of passion for Andrea. She has an impressive ability to train people utilizing a variety of teaching methods tailored to their unique learning styles. She serves as a key trainer and advisor for the in-house production cleaning team and emergency service field team. Beyond contributing to the education of her company’s production staff, her efforts have impacted employees at Paul Davis locations across the nation. Andrea has written modular training programs, provided project managers and response crews with training support, held the chair position for the company’s safety committee, coordinates OSHA compliance standards for the Emergency Service Department, and issues respirator fit testing.
“Training others is one of my favorite aspects of the job,” she said. “A lot of people learn in a lot of different ways and what I’ve noticed is they kind of stick with PowerPoint or they stick with manuals or they just kind of show you in the fly out in the field. And I wanted to do all of that at once so I could capture my audience.”
In the next five years, her goal is to be assisting the IICRC as an instructor through Paul Davis.
In Her “Spare Time”
Andrea enjoys spending her time outside of work with her 12-year-old, 9-year-old daughter and husband. She is also Mom to a Blue Boston Terrier puppy named Pickles. In addition, she enjoys reading the latest literature about business modeling, project management, safety and cleaning techniques.
First Runner Up
Director of Commercial Marketing, First Onsite
Tiffany started off as a residential marketing representative, moving to commercial marketing representative before taking on her current role. She used to think you could only make a difference if you were an owner or shareholder, but has come to realize you can make an enormous difference at any level of an organization.
“I have been serving in the restoration industry since 2008, and what an awesome career it has been! I have had the privilege to work with some of the top restoration companies around the country. This was my first job right out of college, and I will never forget what my future boss told me: ‘Here is a car, a credit card and I want you to go make friends.’ At 22, you are like, ‘Wow, this is the job for me.’ I have learned over the years that making friends and building relationships in this industry are very important, but gaining knowledge and helping your business partners in times of need is more important. I realize they truly rely on you and your experience to help guide them through some of the toughest times.”
“To the young, growing professionals in this industry, the best advice I can give you is gain as much knowledge as possible because knowledge builds awareness, awareness builds confidence, confidence builds trust, trust builds relationships, and relationships build partners. Learn from every single person around you, absorb as much information as possible, listen and listen again.”
Second Runner Up
Director of Operations, ServiceMaster by Gilmore
Cameron has been in the restoration industry since 2010. He started as a technician when he was 18 years old, fresh out of high school. He followed an impressive upward trajectory to his role now as a major leader in the company’s growth.
“After about one year I moved into the role of crew chief. As a crew chief I was able to grow each year, as I gained valuable experience. After a few years as a crew chief, I became an assistant project manager on some of the larger jobs. Then in 2015, I made the jump up to project manager, where I oversaw several jobs at time. These jobs ranged from small residential jobs to large commercial projects. Today I am the director of operations for one of the larger family-owned companies in the country.”
“Always continue to learn and build off the day-to-day experiences in this industry. You also should value anyone that you meet in this industry. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge in this industry as a whole. Use your connections to help advance you further in the industry. It is always nice to bounce ideas or situations off of others with in your company or in the industry.”
Meet the Judges
Rachel Adams has been involved in the water damage and environmental health industries for more than 27 years. She holds a Master Restorer designation from the IICRC and is currently a corporate account manager for Aramsco. Rachel was founder and president of Indoor Environmental Management, Inc. (IEM) in 1994, where she conducted inspections of residential and commercial buildings throughout the country. She served on the Board of Directors for the IICRC and was appointed to serve as the Technical Advisory Committee Chair for the development of the IICRC Applied Microbial Remediation Technician (AMRT). Rachel serves on the committee to write and establish guidelines and updates for the S520, Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation and currently teaches AMRT, WRT, ASD, HST, OSHA and other classes. She is an honorary board member for the Society of Cleaning and Restoration Technicians (SCRT), and an associate member of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).
Larry Cooper loves to create and produce inspiring events and gatherings that have an impact on people's lives. He is the managing partner in Meetings and Events, LLC (ME). ME produces The Experience events conventions and trade shows, Restoration Journeys events, and dozens of other events including workshops, seminars, symposiums, expos and international journeys. Larry's contagious laughter can lighten the energy and mood in any room...he loves to laugh while at the same time making you feel important and cared for.
Scott Walden holds an IICRC Master designation in Water Damage Restoration. After a 23-year career as an Army engineer, Scott joined the restoration industry in 2013 and has grown increasingly passionate about the scientific aspects of the industry and technical training as he and his team are directly responsible for ensuring their organic offices and franchises are technically proficient. Scott will also lead the way in the operation of the VetCor Training Academy scheduled to be fully operational in early 2021.
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