Aftermath California: Biohazard Cleanup on the West Coast

The state of California is the third largest state in the US. The Aftermath California office understands this better than most – the work they do every day can take them on the road from the warehouse in Rancho Cordova, all the way to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Oregon, Utah and other places beyond.

Contrary to common belief, much of Northern California is rural – outside of the Bay Area, there are countless farms, vineyards, and tiny towns. Technicians typically travel several hours to get to a client. To Supervisor Gary Clark, the distance aspect requires adaption. “It’s not like you can just wake up and get out the door and be at a job. We spend a good deal of time on the road,” he says. Gary is half of the supervisor team that heads up the Aftermath California office. (You can read our previous interview with the other NorCal Supervisor, Brett Matthews, in this blog post from last week).

Before joining the Aftermath team, Gary worked as a security guard and served over 8 years in the US Navy, where he worked as both an aviation mechanic and with the military PD. Because of his service, Gary has lived on both coasts as well as overseas. After a stint in California, he decided to stay rather than return to his native New York.

Gary began his career with Aftermath almost 2 years ago. Originally hired as a Backup Supervisor, he transitioned to Supervisor nearly a year ago. “I found the job on Indeed,” he reports. “Crime scenes are something I have always been interested in, and the fact that I get to help families in the process is important to me.” Gary also has an associates in Criminal Justice, which he believes led him to working in crime scene cleanup.

Gary says the biggest difference between his previous employment and his career with Aftermath has been learning to balance family, including his wife and two children, with the demands of the job. Fortunately, his wife is very understanding of the long hours and often-odd schedule.

Gary’s current team includes two employees, Mike Prestwhich, his Backup Supervisor, and technician Patrick Whichard. He and the other NorCal supervisor, Brett, often change out team members so that everyone is able to work with each other. “It also ensures that everyone gets hours and no one gets too exhausted.” All the new hires mean that Gary has had his share of learning what makes a good technician. “Overall, I emphasize a willingness to work, and really wanting the job, plus an overall understanding of what we’re doing and why it’s important. We’re in the business of helping families. I need someone who is motivated.”

Being from the Upstate New York, the rural West Coast atmosphere also took some getting used to for Clark. “Out here we have to talk to people differently,” Gary says. “When I was working with the regional supervisor during training, we were summoned to a house. It was rather rural. After a short conversation…long story short, he ran us out of the house with a shotgun. And I still stuck with the job after that. But I learned then and there that you’ve got to talk to people differently than you do out east.”