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Cleaning and restoration co. doing well despite economy

April 7, 2009
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WHEELING, W. Va. -- (State Journal) -- Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration started in East Wheeling in 1977 and has grown far stronger since then under the leadership of Bob Contraguerro.

When you see a lot of red in Wheeling, you're either at a fire, or at Panhandle Cleaning and Restoration.

They have 50 vehicles now, all because Central Grad Bob Contraguerro bought a red pickup for the business years ago and stuck with it.

Contraguerro said even in high school, he wanted to do this.

"Oh yeah, I enjoyed it. Never bothered me to clean up from any disaster. I could clean up any school or gym, never bothered me," Contraguerro, Sr. said.

To go with his red vehicles, he's about ready to finish a brand new red plant.

He could have easily left Wheeling but said he wanted to stay.

The new plant has big wood crates inside to hold items from homes and business that have been damaged by fire, water, mold and sewage.

There is also an ozone drying room to get the smoke smell out, which they said is easy compared to cleaning items.

This is a good business now, not because there are more mishaps, but because so much that was thrown out in the old days can be restored.

"Nowadays with the technology we have, we can take everything out of a house. If it's not burned or singed, if it's just smoke, we can clean 90% of that. So you have a cost factor, people want their stuff back, fast turnaround, and it's green because we're not putting 90 percent in a landfill," said Bob Contraguerro, Jr.

This new plant will service all of West Virginia.

They've traveled to jobs in Pittsburgh, Columbus and Cleveland.

Ninety-five percent of what they do is paid for by someone's insurance.

Part of their success is their reputation for a fast response by the employees.

"They really get energized like a football team. The adrenaline starts to flow. They like to help people. They get paid of course, but it's also about helping people. That's why we've been successful in growing the company," said Bob Contraguerro, Sr.

The Contraguerros have 90 people that work for them now on their three-acre site in South Wheeling that takes up almost an entire city block.

The new plant should be finished in June.

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