Excel at Grassroots Marketing

Win the Venture Capital Lottery

Moisture Can Be An Emergency Too

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Bart Jackson, Michele Alperin, and Daniel Askin were

prepared for the January 18, 2006 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All

rights reserved.

Property Managers Wanted: Eileen Yesko

The woman in 4B is 87 years old and calling to complain about the lack

of heat in her apartment. The superintendent, once again, comes by,

and with his digital thermometer shows his tenant that every room in

her apartment registers over a toasty 80 degrees. But Mrs. 4B will

have none of it. She calls you – the property manager – and refuses to

pay rent until the heat is raised and a few other repairs are made.

What do you do?

The problem is that there are not enough qualified people who know

what to do. In New Jersey, in the nation in fact, there is a dearth of

people trained to manage properties and handle problems such as this.

Christiana Foglio, veteran real estate developer and wife of Trenton

mayor Doug Palmer, has been so plagued by this specialized labor

shortage for years that she finally contacted Jackie Sanders. As

assistant to the provost at Mercer County Community College’s Kearney

campus, Sanders developed a three-course "Certified Properties

Managers" program, which earns graduates the Institute of Real Estate

Management’s certification.

The first of these courses, "Overview of Residential and Commercial

Property Management," runs eight sessions, beginning Monday, January

23, at 6 p.m. at MCCC’s Kearney campus in Trenton. Cost: $225. Call

609-586-9446. Course instructor Eileen Yesko, a certified property

manager for Pleasantville-based Community Realty Management, covers

the full range of required skills from compliance to accounting to

business ethics.

A Westfield native, Yesko attended Rider College (Class of l988) where

she earned a bachelor’s degree in finance. She then went to work for

New Jersey’s Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, which has invested

$7.5 billion to create over 134,000 homes around the state. "You

really got to see up close the full spectrum of properties that are

out there," says Yesko.

In 2004 she stepped into the private sector, earning her CPM

certificate, and going to work for Community Realty Management. She

currently manages two properties in New Jersey and two in Maryland,

with a lot of commuting in between.

"There are very few other certifications that can as absolutely assure

you work as the CPM," says Yesko. With the shortage being so

desperate, the newly certified property manager can almost be

guaranteed a job. One of the reasons for this shortage, however, is

that not everyone can handle the blend of financial, personal, legal

and maintenance challenges that fall into the CPM’s basket. "You

definitely are a multi-tasker," says Yesko.

Owner’s regent. The manager is the owner’s point person, handling

day-to-day operations. "Keep the space filled, and collect the rent,

and you are half-way there," is Yesko’s favorite maxim. A deceptively

easy job description. But all buildings crumble, many tenants have

rent problems at least once, and almost every tenant has a complaint.

In the face of this, the property manager must deliver the owner his

bottom line.

Anyone who has ever rented space can appreciate how easily monthly

rent collections can transform into drawn out negotiation sessions.

Lease and rent money may be diverted to other bills, particularly when

a tenant loses a job, has a serious health problem, or is abandoned by

a mate, or when a business owner’s vendors are slow to pay.

Meanwhile, the property manager has to meet maintenance costs. The

question becomes not how much or how little repair, but how much

should be invested today for cost effective maintenance in the future.

The subtle art of salesmanship is a skill seldom considered by those

initially accepting the property manager’s challenge. But it remains a

prime aspect of filling apartment buildings or office blocks. The

manager who can go beyond farming this task out to a local real estate

agent will certainly gain an edge. If the manager becomes involved in

showing the space, it gives the potential renter added reassurance of

an ongoing presence on site, a person who is able to respond and make

decisions. But too frequently managers’ sales technique ends with

unlocking the door, waving the hand and announcing, "well, here it

is."

Tenants as clients. "Always treat your tenants as clients," says

Yesko. "They are, you know." It is an easy trap to think of the owner

as the one and only boss, and the only person who must be satisfied.

But regardless of who signs the check, it is those renters and leasees

who fund the manager’s salary.

Turnover is the terror of all good managers. Within reason, it is

worth the extra upgrades, and even a little break on late payments, to

keep a solid tenant. In most states it is astoundingly difficult to

evict a tenant for any reason, and, depending upon circumstances – a

sick child in the house, for example, it can be nearly impossible in

New Jersey.

Residential eviction during winter months is illegal. Eviction of

seniors is virtually illegal. Commercial eviction prospects aren’t

much better. Additionally, once a tenant is lost, the space remains

empty, with funds draining away toward advertising, new code

compliance, repairs, painting, and on and on.

As with any business, keeping an old customer is much cheaper than

attracting a new one. The property manager, as sales director, must

learn to work with all tenants to try to meet their needs and bend to

their circumstances. If the manager and his superintendent become more

than periodic bill collectors, tenants are less likely to leap – and

more likely to attempt to come up with the rent in a timely manner.

Inspectors. Do wheels have to be greased? Emphatically not, insists

Yesko. In her long experience, inspectors throughout state do not put

their hands out, asking for a little extra to make problems go away.

But inspections are growing more frequent. The state’s Division of

Community Affairs inspects all rental properties on at least a five

year basis. Most municipalities make annual inspections. Also, the

idea of property registration has been sweeping through the state.

This involves annual fees for owners, and periodic re-registering

costs.

The idea of a new property manager going downtown and introducing

himself to inspectors is, in Yesko’s mind, a little like waving raw

meat in front of a hungry lion. Instead, she suggests that managers

learn local schedules, particularly in relation to construction. "Be

honest, be pleasant, and be professional," says Yesko. "Don’t

volunteer information, and for heaven’s sake, if you don’t know, say

`I don’t know.’" Inspectors want answers, but they would rather have

the right answer eventually, than an invented one immediately.

Insource/outsource. The state of New Jersey demands that every

residential rental property over a certain size has a live-in

superintendent. But some duties, such as landscaping and large

electrical, and plumbing repairs are best outsourced. "The world of

managers in a local region is usually a small one," says Yesko. "Check

around, find out who’s good, and check out their work. Also make sure

to find out whom you want to avoid."

A choice of jobs is waiting for competent property managers. Typically

owners pay three to seven percent of the property’s income to a

manager. This percentage may be based on the amount of actual income,

potential income, or income at the start of the manager’s tenure. The

rates also vary depending on locale. Individual managers working for a

management firm typically earn between $25,000 and $60,000, depending

on property value, square footage, and number of units.

As with any business, the more creatively you discharge your

responsibilities, the more likely you are to expand them. The chilled

lady in apartment 4 B threatening to withhold her rent actually made a

call to Clifford Newcomer, owner of Lincoln Management Services, which

handled her Bordentown apartment complex. As Yesko suggests, Newcomer

had already shown his tenant the Truth in Renting Code, stating that

temperatures between November and May need be only above 65 degrees.

He showed her the actual temperature. He assured her gently that if

she withheld rent they would begin legal proceedings, and he suggested

she put on another sweater. All to no avail.

So Newcomer and his superintendent, Howard Bowker, got inventive. They

fetched from the cellar an old, plug-in electric room heater on which

nothing worked except the "on" light switch. With a great flourish

they presented it to Mrs. 4 B as a gift, and plugged it in. They never

heard another complaint. Sometimes, all you have to do is show you

care.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Excel at Grassroots Marketing

In a nod to "the old days," new businesses are still pulling

themselves up by their boot straps. But as they pull shakily to a

standing position, they often find hundreds, if not thousands, of

other small companies ready to compete for their customers.

"We are in probably the most competitive marketplace I’ve ever seen,

especially for smaller businesses," says Nunzio Cernero, who has been

involved with small businesses for over 30 years, both as co-founder

of the Small Business Development Center at Mercer County Community

College and through his own Brick-based business, Nunzio E. Cernero

LLC., as financial planner. He suggests several reasons for the

increasing competition entrepreneurs face:

Increased awareness of entrepreneurship as a career path. Dissatisfied

with the culture of larger companies – or downsized from them – a

number of corporate refugees are deciding that going it alone is a

better option.

Lots of easily accessible information about how to run a business.

Entrepreneurial success stories are regularly touted in the press, and

classes in how to form a business are offered nearly every week

somewhere in the state.

An increasing demand for contract services. As businesses find that

running lean by staffing up for core tasks and outsourcing the rest is

the way to go, they are spawning small businesses at home and abroad.

Many companies farm out activities that were once done in house, like

planning meetings, advertising, graphics, copywriting, database

management, and mailing services.

Cernero gives a free talk to the River Communications Association

about "New Business Development Techniques for Creatives" on Monday,

January 23, at 6 p.m., at Union Square in New Hope. Although his talk

focuses on graphics, public relations, and communications businesses,

his approach is accessible to any small business. Call 609-671-9849 to

register.

Often what a big business has that a small business lacks is a

significant marketing budget. Cernero says that when he first started

teaching at Mercer County Community College he would give the students

$100 million of "play money" to develop a marketing program. By

contrast, he now pushes what Jay Conrad Levinson named "guerrilla

marketing."

The more widely used term today is "grassroots marketing." The goal,

as the subtitle of Shel Horowitz’s book "Grassroots Marketing" says,

is "Getting Noticed in a Noisy World."

Cernero, who taught the "Start Your Own Business Workshop" at Mercer

County Community College for each of his 30 years with the

institution, believes that cost-effective marketing can make the

difference between the success and failure of a small business. He

suggests a logical, step-by-step process:

Define your market. Determine whether potential clients are consumers

or businesses, and how widespread your market is geographically (is it

local, regional, or national?). Gross generalizations like "every

company is a prospect" are simply not true. For example, some

companies don’t contract out and others don’t have a big enough budget

to purchase outside services.

Entrepreneurs usually have a sense of who they might sell to, but this

needs to be clarified. "You don’t want to spend money reaching out to

people not in your target market," says Cernero.

Get out there. Find ways to interact with potential customers or

clients in your target market. What do you know about the members of

your market: What do they read? What kind of meetings do they go to?

Who do you know who is either in your market or who influences it

(someone with influence is called an "opinion leader")

For example, if your target market includes public relations firms,

you may know a printer who is selling to one or more of them. Keep

lists of these people.

Speak anywhere and everywhere. Give seminars and talks both to

consumers and business people. "I speak anywhere I can," says Cernero,

"to anyone who will listen." He says he has spoken to every local

chamber of commerce, Rotary, and Lions club. His one caveat is that

it’s not worth your time to talk to a group that does not include

people in your target market.

Develop a database of your target market. Include current customers,

potential clients, and opinion leaders. Track everyone you talk to or

get a business card from, entering as much contact information as you

can. Use the database to interact with the people you’ve met.

Cernero suggests sending regular mailings to clients – birthday cards,

newsletters, and announcements of promotions – but always give people

the opportunity to opt out. "My experience is that people you know

don’t mind," says Cernero. "If you have good rapport with people, they

want information." Cernero prefers sending out snail mail, because he

thinks people are more likely to read it and because E-mail addresses

change so often. But at a client’s request, he will send E-mail.

He suggests that entrepreneurs can either build their own databases or

use outside services to build and maintain them.

Use the web effectively. Develop a website if you can afford to. Check

out new services on the web being developed by Yahoo, Amazon, and

Google that are like yellow pages and can help you find local service

providers.

Build an opinion leader network. Send useful information to opinion

leaders. For example, you might send articles to printers on effective

management of a print shop.

Join groups. Find out where members in your target market meet. If

they are chamber of commerce members, start attending meetings. If

they are passionate golfers, dust off your clubs. If they are church

goers, consider attending, or at least frequenting bazaars, fairs, and

other non-religious fund-raising events.

Cernero has a client who sells to hospitals, so he joined the hospital

management association, took a booth at its annual meeting, gave

workshops when asked, and wrote a column for its internal magazine.

Cernero says that although all trade groups have procedures and

policies for marketing within the groups, they know that marketing and

networking is the reason many people join.

Include some random marketing. Make it a weekly habit to pick out four

people from your list of prospects, and send them each a letter and

then follow up with a phone call.

Search for creative marketing ideas. Plug the keywords "grassroots

marketing" into Google from time to time, and check out what other

people are doing.

Always keep marketing on the front burner. To be successful,

entrepreneurs must budget their time in order to create a balance

between running the business and marketing it. "If you don’t market

regularly," warns Cernero, "you will find that sales come in waves.

You need to figure out how to get it done on a continuous basis."

Dedicate a specific time during the week for marketing and put it on

the calendar, or pick a specific week or two where you do heavy duty

marketing to carry through the next quarter.

Cernero graduated from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, with a

bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and earned an M.B.A. from

Southern Illinois University. During his 30 years at MCCC, he

maintained a small financial planning business on the side. Following

his retirement from MCCC one year ago, he devotes himself full time to

the business.

A registered investment advisor, he helps people plan for retirement,

college tuition, and purchasing a house. He also consults to small

businesses. Cernero is vice-chair of the board of TRI/Princeton, a

research institute on Prospect Street that does fiber research.

Cernero says that grassroots marketing has been around for a long

time, and shares an anecdote to support his contention. The family of

one of his financial planning clients has lived in the area since the

1700s. She showed Cernero a picture from the 1800s of her father’s

drugstore, located at the Battle Monument in Trenton. In middle of the

store, he had a minizoo – a huge sand and water box with turtles and

other small animals.

When he saw the photo, Cernero says he thought to himself: "You know

what? That was grassroots marketing – bringing the kids in and then

keeping them busy while their parents shopped." All it takes is good

ideas and the time to implement them.

– Michele Alperin

Top Of Page
Win the Venture Capital Lottery

Just like nearly everyone else, venture capitalists have bosses – the

people or institutions who provide them with investment funds.

Although angel investors exist, most venture capitalists manage

capital for endowments, educational institutions, public pension

plans, investment partnerships, or other financial institutions, and

must answer to their investors.

This middleman position affects the venture capitalists’ relationships

with the entrepreneurs they fund. Institutional investors expect

substantial returns, usually realizable only if the entrepreneurial

company is acquired or completes an IPO. As a result, entrepreneurs

who enter into relationships with venture capitalists must accept the

possibility that their businesses will ultimately be sold. They must

also understand that, contractually, the venture capitalist will exert

a significant degree of control on business decisions.

Charles W. Crockett Jr., a partner in Ascend Venture Group LLC,

headquartered in New York City, believes that entrepreneurs must have

a solid understanding of how venture capital firms function, and the

constraints they work under, in order to make the best financing

decisions for their own businesses.

In a talk on "What Your Mother Never Told You about VCs," he hopes to

provide entrepreneurs with the context they need. He speaks at the

Venture Association of New Jersey on Tuesday, January 24, at 11:30

a.m. at Headquarters Plaza Hotel in Morristown. Cost: $75. To

register, call 973-984-9634 or visit www.vanj.com.

Crockett himself edged into the venture capital industry slowly. He

and three professional colleagues and personal friends who had worked

together at the investment firm Goldman Sachs decided to test the

waters by investing their own capital and that of friends, family, and

colleagues in private companies. For Crockett, that meant using the

"spare time" remaining after the 70 to 80-hour work week he put in as

the director of the Beacon Group, a large leveraged buyout firm. The

experiment worked. "Due to the success of that effort," says Crockett,

"we decided to raise an institutional fund."

In 2000 the partners founded the Ascend Venture Group, which now

manages $135 million across several institutional funds, investing in

information technology and educational concerns. Generally venture

capital firms offer several types of funds to provide flexibility for

their institutional investors. Institutions have varying amounts to

invest, are ready to invest at different times, and may prefer

different investment strategies. Commonly each institutional fund has,

at most, a 10-year horizon.

Access to venture capital can’t help but tempt a young company, but

each entrepreneur must decide whether the advantages of accepting this

money outweigh the downside. For entrepreneurs contemplating a

relationship with a venture capitalist, Crockett offers some insights

from his own experience:

Think clearly about your future goals. "The overwhelming majority of

positive outcomes result in companies getting acquired by other

companies," says Crockett. Entrepreneurs who are not ready to sell in

five years can be a huge problem for venture capitalists, who are

looking to make the biggest possible return for their investors.

Pursue other approaches if venture capital funding is not the right

way for you to go. If entrepreneurs want to grow their businesses

quickly, but are not desperate for capital, a reasonable alternative

is to accept slower growth.

If you get funds from a venture capitalist, expect to develop a close

working relationship. "Working with a venture capitalist is very much

like a marriage," says Crockett. "If someone is looking for a

babysitter, a gardener, or a housekeeper, then he shouldn’t get

married." He extends this metaphor to the potential relationship

between a venture capitalist and an entrepreneur.

"If you are looking for someone who is not going to be a partner,

don’t take venture capital money, " he says. "To work with a venture

capitalist, an entrepreneur must be comfortable with shared control."

The venture capitalist will have control over significant decisions,

based on negotiated documents. "Entrepreneurs are signing away certain

powers, but not all," he says. "Someone won’t invest several million

and not exert some control."

Be aware of the brutal time pressures experienced by venture

capitalists. Crockett says his company will see some 2,000 deals this

year, but will only realize six. Evaluating all of those proposals,

and doing extensive research to determine the few that fit the fund’s

criteria takes an enormous amount of time.

As time intensive as the process is, overseeing the fund’s existing

portfolio of companies takes even more time.

"If I am investing in younger companies, I am trying to help them in a

material way," says Crockett, "introducing them to customers, helping

them to hire management teams, partner with other institutions, raise

capital for future rounds, and structure an ultimate sale or IPO."

Crockett estimates that venture capitalists who focus on early-stage

companies probably can handle only five or six at a time, and maybe up

to ten later-stage companies.

Network to find the right venture capitalist. Be aware that a variety

of venture capitalists exist, with different investment strategies.

Don’t waste their time – or yours – by sending proposals to firms that

do not invest in a company in your industry, in your geographic area,

or in your stage. Do extensive research to identify a good fit, and

then try to find someone who can introduce you to one of the firm’s

partners.

The best way to one of these venture capitalists is through a third

source. "It’s a business of who you know," says Crockett. Because of

the time pressures, venture capitalists tend to spend more time with

situations that have come from a source they trust, like another

entrepreneur, a partner, a customer, a lawyer, or sometimes an

investment banker.

Look for venture capitalists in your own area. "Because it is a

marriage and an issue of shared control," says Crockett, "there is a

tendency to invest in companies that are geographically proximate."

Don’t expect your great business idea to be unique. "In most

situations, someone else has the entrepreneur’s idea already," says

Crockett. "As a result, the ability to execute is just as important,

if not more important, than the idea itself."

Take a rejection as a learning experience and never express anger.

"For most situations that get funded," says Crockett, "there was

someone who turned it down." The VC fund that passed may not have

liked the nature of the business, the type of investment, or the

management team. Crockett says that a majority of any venture

capitalist’s time is spent turning down companies.

"Entrepreneurs need to recognize that rejections are not forever.

Things change, the business might make progress, there may be other

changes in the industry," he says. "It is important not to burn

bridges."

Crockett has experienced much sturm and drang after rejecting a

company – "shouting" E-mails, name calling, accusations of `you didn’t

understand my business,’" and on and on. The entrepreneur may just be

venting, but Crockett’s conclusion is usually that "this is probably

not the type of company I want to partner with." If, on the other

hand, the venture capitalist gives quality feedback and the

entrepreneur listens well, the entrepreneur can make some fixes in the

business and then try again later.

Crockett also has some words of advice for institutions looking for

venture capital firms to invest for them:

Find a venture capital firm that uses an investment strategy you are

comfortable with. The existence of thousands of venture capital firms

means that numerous investment strategies are available. "Some firms

seek very late-stage investment opportunities, companies on the verge

of going public," says Crockett. Others are looking for seed

investments that haven’t gotten any money thus far – the "two kids

working out of the garage" scenario.

Ascertain that the venture capitalist’s time horizon fits your own

needs. Generally a venture capital fund works within a 10-year time

horizon, but this is not universal. "Some invest for long periods and

others are looking for quick flips," says Crockett. But he believes

that most firms handle what the industry calls "patient capital," that

is, they are not rushing to realize a return on their investments.

In some sense, Crockett has been preparing for his career as a venture

capitalist at least since applying to college. He received his B.S.

from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D.

from Stanford Law School. His first job was in the Structured Finance

Group at Goldman Sachs.

Yet, he doesn’t think that being a venture capitalist attracts only

one type of person. He says different sets of skills are necessary for

the varied roles performed by venture capital firms. These include

sourcing opportunities, evaluating opportunities, negotiating terms,

and managing relationships with entrepreneurs after making an

investment. But in his own small firm of five partners and three

additional investment professionals, he says, "Each of us has to do

everything."

– Michele Alperin

Top Of Page
Moisture Can Be An Emergency Too

`Wherever there is water, mold can grow," says Thomas Peter of

Insurance Restoration Specialists (IRS), an East Brunswick-based

company handling all types of disaster restoration.

Peter says that, beginning in 1999 when a Texas family successfully

sued their insurance company for failing to offer protection from a

fast spreading house mold, and culminating most recently with the

widespread coverage of Hurricane Katrina, the public has been made

increasingly aware of mold’s potential for damage.

What may be a surprise, however, is that it does not take a major

environmental disaster to trigger extensive mold growth.

As part of a program dealing with all aspects of business continuity,

Peter speaks on recovery from an environmental cleanup perspective on

Tuesday, January 24, at 8:30 a.m. at the Exxon Mobil facility in

Paulsboro. The event is being organized by Edward Hogan and William

Beneduce, environmental attorneys for Somerset law firm Norris

McLaughlin & Marcus, and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s

Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the New

Jersey Industry Communication Alliance (NJICA). Cost: $25. Call

908-252-7200 for more information.

Among the thousands of projects Peter has worked on, he mentions a few

that were especially devastating. He worked on several houses where

families left on extended vacations during the winter months only to

return home to an absolute nightmare – inch-thick mold covering their

walls and the entire contents of the house contaminated.

If a pipe freezes without anyone’s knowledge, the whole house can

become wet. In one particular case, the house remained wet for over a

month. The client’s insurance company even considered demolition, but

decided that rehabilitation was possible. IRS had to gut the whole

inside of the house to its framing, discarding everything inside in

the process.

If homes or businesses develop mold, they require immediate attention.

Planning is essential. This is something Peter has been "preaching for

20 years." He has noticed that businesses often don’t have an

immediate reference or list of references for help if problems occur.

"They need to know who they’re going to call beforehand, what their

rates are, what their staff capabilities are, equipment capabilities,

etc."

Raised in Westchester County, New York, Peter attended Purchase

College, earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies before

completing his master’s degree in environmental and occupational

health at New York Medical College. He has an extensive background in

environmental services, starting with employment for the New York City

Department of Environmental Protection in 1987. He is a certified

industrial hygienist who has been testing and consulting for the past

15 years as a safety specialist.

Peter has been with IRS for five years and has worked with water

related cleanups, fire and smoke damage, environmental issues in

schools, residential and commercial facilities, as well as work tank

explosions.

According to Peter, many people do not plan for water damage despite

the fact that it has the potential to be as devastating as fire.

Businesses are commonly unaware of the potential biological

contamination that can result from water.

In order for mold to grow, it needs water and a food source –

typically dry wall or carpeting. The water source can be the result of

a flood, a pipe leak, or even fire damage – if the fire was followed

by exposure to moisture. Some materials are simply averse to drying,

and if wetness remains for three to five days, it is more than likely

that a mold problem will occur.

Sometimes there is no major identifiable event, no flood, leak, or

water to put out a fire. Mold can develop from excessive humidity. It

can also grow if steam, perhaps from a hot water pipe, comes into

contact with walls and carpeting. According to Peter, "anyone who has

a water problem has a mold problem also." When even an inch or two of

water comes in contact with wallboard the damage may appear minimal,

but, with the lower parts of wall saturated, mold can quickly run up

the inside of the wall.

Mold ruins buildings and is increasingly linked to health problems. In

Peter’s experience, there appear to be many people with sensitivity to

at least one of the over 1,000 species of mold. Certain molds can

trigger symptoms of a cold or flu, sinus congestion, and sometimes

headaches. Molds have also been blamed for exacerbating breathing

problems in both humans and animals. In 2002 celebrity Ed McMahon

alleged as part of a lawsuit against his insurance company that toxic

mold was responsible for the demise of the family dog, Muffin.

Be aware of signs that mold is growing. The long term effects of mold

exposure are still unknown, but there are many documented cases of

severe respiratory difficulties in people living in a home, or working

in an office, where there is mold. Besides the obvious discovery of

water damage, there are other factors that might lead a business or

resident to suspect they have a mold infestation. Sudden and increased

employee illnesses is one reason to investigate. Odors emitting from

strange locations, and any evidence of water leakage or high humidity

can also indicate a potential mold problem.

Test for mold. If a business suspects that it has a mold problem, it

needs to test, and there are companies that specialize in sniffing out

the stuff. The test is as simple as using a collection device such as

a Spore Trap, which identifies specific spores in the air. The trap is

basically a plastic cylinder, and inside the cylinder is a glass slide

with an adhesive. The specialist runs air through the device, and then

proceeds to take a direct reading of the slide with a microscope.

The same test is used both inside the building and in the immediate

vicinity outside. Results are then compared. If there is a high mold

count inside a building as compared to outside, then there is likely a

rapidly growing mold source.

If a business or resident suspects a potential for moisture problems a

wall resealing may be necessary. For more serious problems, it may be

necessary to install a drainage system.

Get dry as soon as possible. Drying out the building to prevent

further mold growth is the vital first step. As long as materials are

wet, the fungus will continue to spread. After a business or resident

comes to terms with the fact that there is a mold infestation, what

typically follows is a standard plan for cleanup.

If there is an accident or natural catastrophe like Hurricane Katrina,

there is often nothing anyone can do as far as prevention. But

catastrophe or not, says Peter, it is still "all a matter of

controlling the water, and drying it as soon as possible. Water is the

main factor for mold growth. There are always mold spores flying in

the air settling on surfaces. They just need water."

Achieve "hospital" clean. The proper cleanup method is as follows:

contain the area with a plastic barrier, install air filtration

devices to clean the air, remove intact moldy materials that are in

sheet rock or carpeting, securely bag up those materials, and vacuum

the entire area with the Herculean HETA Vacuum, which will remove all

the dust and possible mold remnants. Then wipe down everything with a

sanitizing detergent. Peter stresses that "it’s so important how you

clean." The cleanup crew is literally striving for a "hospital clean."

If they leave any mold residue, the potential for re-growth can be

high

When clients ask Peter to identify the specific type of mold he is

cleaning, he responds by saying that it does not really matter, and

that visible mold should all be treated the same way. As an

experienced professional, he is reticent of jumping on the

sensationalist "toxic black mold" bandwagon. For home and business

structures, he says, "any mold is bad mold."

– Daniel Askin


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