Steve Hudson, President of Hudson Restoration, has worked in the construction and insurance industry for almost 30 years. He began his career in 1983 working as an architectural technologist for a heritage architect in London, Ont. By 1987, he had his own successful architectural design practice completing large residential and commercial projects. The recession of the early 1990s forced him and many other construction related businesses to look for alternative revenue streams. In 1993 he took a job as a construction estimator with a local insurance restoration contractor and the rest as they say is history.
In 1999, Hudson was approached by a major insurance company to act as its property loss appraiser in Ontario given his knowledge of building science. They saw a need for company representation on large commercial property loss. Hudson remained with the insurance company appraising and adjusting large commercial and residential property losses until 2007. Hudson then opened his own independent appraisal company, Hudson Appraisal & Consulting Services Ltd., working with many other major insurers.
During this period Hudson also worked alongside many insurance contractors and saw a larger need and opportunity in creating a restoration company with a unique focus, providing an efficient streamlined process of communication and production for restoration that can survive an audit long after the repairs are completed. This approach along with his experience and heritage restoration background provided a solid foundation for such a venture. Hudson began the process of building a team of professionals suited for the industry and his philosophy of communication and reporting.
“I started Hudson Appraisal and Consulting in 2007. Shortly thereafter I decided I would put together a unique team to create a restoration company with a different focus. I saw enormous potential for this given the shortcomings I was encountering with many insurance contractors. There seemed to be little accountability or concern for focused communication and efficiency. So in 2010, I incorporated Hudson Restoration. I commenced operations in March 2011,” says Hudson, reflecting on coming together with two other partners, Tony Strkalj and Jamie Young. Each of them had unique talents and experience with large property loss providing repair/restoration services to private and public institutions, insurance companies, and property management firms.
Based in Burlington, Ont., the company serves the insurance industry, property management and the private sector offering emergency and environmental services for property loss. They have already earned a reputation in the industry for fairness, integrity and attention to detail. The company has expanded to include offices in Toronto, Brampton and Markham, Ont.
Hudson Restoration is well equipped to deal with any type of property loss, including water, fire/smoke, and wind damage. The company also specializes in environmental and biohazard remediation including mould and asbestos abatement.
Down to Business
According to Hudson, property damage claims follow two distinct stages: the emergency stage and the restoration stage. Hudson provides 24/7, 365 days a year emergency response. While fire loss emergencies often do not require immediate response (the fire departments often hold control of the location for several days in order to investigate the fire), flood and water damage require Hudson Restoration to act quickly in order to extract the water to prevent secondary damage. Once the emergency work phase is completed and environmental conditions are controlled, the company moves into the restoration phase.
This phase often includes competitive quotes from two or more contractors. “Our goal is to move quickly to ensure minimal interruption in the lives of homeowners and business owners. This means rapid emergency response but also a fast turnaround for the restoration estimate. I’ve seen where the process gets boged down during my period as an adjuster/appraiser. Being proactive rather than reactive is key,” says Hudson.
Hudson Restoration has the capacity to address even the most severe, large-scale damage, and can deploy 300 people on the site within two hours. “We only have 12 full-time employees at this time, but we can put together a team of 300 people on site very quickly with our local strategic partners,” says Hudson, who also recently became a member of Canadian Disaster Restoration Group (CDRG), a cross country team of unified restorers dedicated to superior customer service.
“With fire loss, we have to secure the building to make sure there is structural support and secure traffic paths for other professionals who are coming in to assess the damage. We also provide environmental services in situations involving mould or asbestos. In these situations we have to follow the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which is pretty strict; and with mould remediation we have to follow the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) guidelines.” All of Hudson staff are IICRC certified in mould remediation and asbestos abatement. “We have to be certified because of the liability of exposure to these substances, especially with containment (sealing off HVAC systems, erecting temporary walls, etc.) in public buildings. This liability is very high and only a few companies offer insurance for this type of work,” says Hudson.
So while the business seems straight forward, the company balances on a tricky edge between insurance policy and government regulation, with both often being very extensive to follow.
According to Hudson, fairness and integrity in appraising as well as quality of execution represent the true currency in the appraisal and restoration industry. Whether it’s appraisal, remediation or restoration, Hudson has been providing the best service in the industry. The company continues to grow its market share in the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario.
The Space to Grow
While restoration seems a unique business with little space to grow, it is not so, as Hudson has a few ideas right up his sleeve. “An interesting thing that we have been doing for about two years now, and which is very different from our competition is that we specialize in heritage restoration. This is a source of pride, because we work with very experienced and knowledgeable heritage professionals and sub-trades, including architects. I myself am always taking courses on heritage restoration, as there is more to it than meets the eye,” says Hudson.
To become a successful restorer of historic sites, the team has to know about building aspects of different time periods, learning about issues such as the period masonry in order to create and use the same materials in restoration. “If the restoration is not done properly, the building may be facing issues such as mould on the interior later on; or if we trap the moisture inside the brick, this moisture may freeze, and virtually destroy the brick. Heritage restoration is a very specialized field because we have to know exactly how things were built back in the day and how it differed from today,” says Hudson.
The company recently restored the facade of 298 Queen Street West in Toronto, and just finished a large project (fire loss) at 280 Queen Street West. Both were heritage designated buildings. The three storey, 280 Queen Street West building suffered a devastating fire in 2011, and Hudson Restoration worked with Heritage Preservation Services office at Toronto City Hall to reconstruct and preserve its historical significance. “They are very strict in what materials we can use in regards to exterior finishes such as windows, masonry, paint colours, shingles, and so on. We are very familiar with the City’s requirements as well as the administration that goes along with this type of work. It is all very specific but also very interesting, and we learn a lot about the different ways things were built in the past compared to present. It’s challenging and interesting work,” says Hudson.
What sets this company apart from its competition is not only its focus on communication and heritage restoration but also its use of new green technologies for cleaning and odour control. Hudson Restoration serves as an exclusive service provider for BIOSWEEP — an industry first for surface and air decontamination. The technology was developed by NASA to sterilize the space shuttle returning from space. The technology effectively destroys viruses and bacteria, and since the closing of the shuttle program the technology is fast emerging as an effective odour control system technology in the U.S. and Canada.
“We have had excellent results with BIOSWEEP in treating all kinds of odours. Property managers are jumping all over this as a permanent solution for persistent problems such as tobacco or residual smoke odours, pet odours, cooking odours, musty odours and soot. The treatment occurs on a molecular level so it’s a permanent solution, not a masking agent, and it’s fast and safe.”
To provide information about its services, Hudson restoration recently revamped its website, packing it full of valuable information about its whole smorgasbord of services. Hudson invites the public to review this information because, as the company’s homepage reads, “We are here to help you!”.