Many people pass through the Auburn Hills, MI area when heading to or from Detroit. Surrounded by commercial establishments and situated in a strip mall not far from the highway, the Aftermath Michigan crew handles jobs throughout the region. Most of their work comes from the lower peninsula and central part of the state, as well as parts of Northern Indiana and Ohio.
From Death Care to Cleanup
Before joining the Aftermath family, Michigan Supervisor John DeVries worked as a business manager for several large retailers, but it was his experience in the funeral home business that would lead him to join a crime scene cleanup company. “It’s very quiet in a funeral home,” John remarks. “I handled mostly pre-arrangements and at-need situations around Flushing, MI. I worked in the death care industry for almost three years, and spent years in customer service before that, so having empathy for a grieving family came naturally to me. But I wanted to do something more than just paperwork. I always connect with the work I do, and I treat each job like a career.”
John helped start the Michigan branch of Aftermath over two years ago, beginning as a Supervisor, a position he still enjoys to this day. The Army veteran was also a paratrooper and served in the Middle East during Desert Storm.
What It Takes
According to John, the toughest part about working in trauma cleanup isn’t the job itself. It’s adapting to the lifestyle of 24/7/365 demands – as a person with a family, John says it’s still difficult. “You get used to it, but there is still a part of you that doesn’t want to get out of bed when that 2 A.M. call comes in, or when you have to leave a family gathering because another family just suffered a terrible loss. It’s hard to do, but necessary. My kids are older and my wife is a teacher. She understands. But it’s a challenge nevertheless.”
When it comes to hiring technicians, John describes a good employee as someone with integrity and character. “I also look for someone who is intelligent, who can understand and ask good questions, who is loyal to the work and has a desire to do the job right. It’s not what we do, it’s how we do it. Anyone can pick up a towel and clean, but fewer people are qualified to be an Aftermath technician.”
Currently, the Aftermath Michigan team consists of DeVries, plus three crew members: Bruce Belton, who has been on board since the office opened and who acts as the team’s lead technician. Wayne State forensic student, Melissa Bianchi, and the newest team member, assistant supervisor Cody Scaramuzzino, round out the crew.
As for the types of jobs these technicians see in Michigan, the majority of the cleanups, perhaps 70-75%, are cases where an individual has committed suicide, whereas another estimated 20% involve unattended death. Each region or city may see different types of cases based on the economy and the age demographics of the area, plus a number of other factors.
In the course of his work with Aftermath, DeVries reports that he’s been in many unique situations. “I tell my crew that every job is an adventure; when a call comes in, we don’t have any clue what we may be facing, nor do we have the ability to change the job at hand. We eat at strange restaurants, stay in different places along the road. We’ve worked in drug house cellars and in a cabin on a cliff. There’s no telling what the day will bring, but that’s part of the job, too.”
Michigan and Nationwide
Aftermath Services is a nationwide company, with over 30 offices covering many major metropolitan areas. Michigan is just one of the states where we provide rapid response service, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need assistance, or are looking for more information on biohazard cleanup or trauma cleaning services, please call us at 877-872-4339 or check out our website.