In February, Gau Salazar was named Service Partner of the Year for ServiceMaster by Hedden in Maple Grove. The award, determined by companywide voting, is based on performance, accuracy of paperwork and interaction with peers and customers. “I wasn’t expecting it,” Salazar said, “but I like the way of doing the job here.”
Salazar has been with ServiceMaster for two and a half years. He started as a technician, having some experience in fire and water damage clean-up with another company.
“My day starts at the office,” he said. “I receive a work order. I need to check with the project manager to get the project scope and information. They give me size of the job, the kind of damage and the tools I will need.” Salazar gathers the equipment and selects his work crew from the pool of employees available with the right certifications — fire damage, water damage, mold or carpet problems, for example.
“The project manager can do the estimate, but it’s different being on the job,” Salazar said. “I can discover things they didn’t see before.” If he discovers that carpet or drywall can’t be salvaged, for example, he communicates with the project manager, who gets permission from the insurance company to do demolition instead of restoration. All of the work is documented on an iPad, with extensive photos as well as the list of all materials and tools used on the job.
Salazar said he has acquired computer skills at ServiceMaster. “At first, it was like ‘I think that’s too much — to do the job and to document everything.’ But after seeing the results, how the customers were happy, I can see everything combines perfectly,” he said.
To date, Salazar has obtained five certifications: Water, fire, mold, carpet and odor.
Salazar said the classroom training is needed for promotion but also translates to better performance on the job. For example, he said, he’d been told by a supervisor that he should always spray mold-removing chemicals on a towel and then wipe the mold off. “I thought, ‘What’s the difference whether I spray the chemicals on the wall or on the towel?’ In the training, I learned that if you spray the wall, the mold spores go everywhere,” he said.
Salazar has his sights on a project manager position. For now, he said, “I enjoy my job. I take it as one step toward a higher goal.”
What is the biggest challenge on the job?
The nature of this business is to be on call. It’s a rotation — one day per week, one weekend a month. I always tell the guys the right attitude to get the on-call is, “I’m going to be available all the time. Don’t make plans. Just be ready.”
What’s the key factor for success in this job?
It’s important to have the positive attitude. On one of these big projects, this lady was in despair. Her house was a big house, three levels, water was dripping through the ceiling, the carpet was wet, drywall was falling down. She actually cried. I told her, “We’re going to take care of this. Material things are replaceable.”
What’s the most rewarding part of the job?
I like the change of attitude in the people — from day one to when things are changing. I see them more positive. They have more hope. They give us muffins and cookies and hugs. It feels good. □