Accident Cleaners and Restoration helps local families overcome unexpected tragedy.
By: Caitlyn Finnegan
When Crystal Pinkston drives up to a scene in her company’s unmarked truck, she never knows what to expect.
Some people cry. Others get angry. Some come up and wrap her in an embrace of relief.
The business that Crystal and her husband, Dan, operate restores peace of mind when tragedy strikes in the place families value most: their homes. Accident Cleaners and Restoration was one of the first crime scene cleanup companies in the state when it started 12 years ago.
Now the niche industry has its share of competitors, although few could say they take the same level of dedication on each case as the team behind Accident Cleaners, Pinkston says.
“To be successful in this industry, you have to be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You have to be there and be prepared when the call comes in, even if it’s 3 am,” Pinkston says. “It’s not just a job to us. This is families taking care of families.”
An Underserved Need
A firefighter for more than 22 years, Dan Pinkston got the idea for a crime scene cleanup service after responding to emergencies and seeing the families left to deal with the aftermath. Families often didn’t know what to do next, and the stress of being displaced from their home could be overwhelming, he says.
In the event of a homicide, suicide or unattended death case, Accident Cleaners provides decontamination and cleanup services so that families can get past the tragedy and begin healing.
Accident Cleaners’ services start with the first phone call from the client. Families usually have a lot of questions upon discovering that it is up to them, not law enforcement, to clean up the scene after traumatic property damage.
“The biggest misconception is that people think this is strictly a cleaning job. You can’t just walk onto a property with a towel to wipe up water damage or use an air freshener to help mask decomposition,” Pinkston says. “We have to proceed with a thorough service. Otherwise the lingering affects of an improperly restored home can create a health risk.”
The staff gets to work developing a remediation plan and breaks down the best course of action for each family. Payment is often taken care of entirely through insurance, and the staff’s billing department can work with families to develop payment plans for situations not covered by insurance.
The company has slowly expanded into other work, adding water damage services three years ago and hoarding cleanup services soon after.
“The worst thing you can do is jump out there and not know what you’re doing. We make sure we are completely confident in our ability to perform a service before we offer it,” Pinkston says.
Quick Response, Quick Recovery
The goal with each response is to restore the property back to the original condition as quickly as possible. When a trauma occurs, homes are often overtaken with law enforcement, insurance representatives and reporters, so the last thing the company wants is to be is another intruder. The company’s service area ranges from Jacksonville to St. Petersburg, with local offices in each area.
“It’s not something where you call us today and we get there tomorrow,” Pinkston says. “When we get a call, I’m probably going to be in the truck and heading your way in the next 10 minutes.”
Vacations can be hard to come by in this industry, especially when each member has multiple responsibilities and a job can come calling any day of the week.
A fleet of trucks sits fully stocked and waiting to be dispatched at any time of day from the company’s offices in Williston. The business has also invested in its own specialized equipment to help remediate property damage such as water, mold and crime scene cleanup, including decompositions.
Trained and Ready
Each staff member has years of experience in emergency response to any situation they might encounter. Both Dan, a licensed mold remediator, and Crystal, a licensed contractor, have taken the extra step in training to be knowledgeable in proper restoration techniques.
The Pinkstons get to know potential team members and contractors on a personal level and develop a deep trust in their ability to handle required responsibilities before they join the staff.
Team members start from the bottom up, and each service department includes a mentor to help guide training priorities and ensure quality service. For a company that does its best to be a leader in the industry, such a strict line of operation is essential, Pinkston says.
“Honesty and integrity are the best policies in this industry,” Pinkston says. “We are working beyond just restoring a home; we are helping to restore lives.”