There are certain services in South Florida that are always going to do well, and water mitigation and mold remediation are chief among them. That’s why Miami-based Maxine Gomez founded Dry Tech 24/7 in 2015. It took a friend of hers to help her see the possibilities: “A friend of mine had moved here from Michigan and he was trying to navigate the culture in South Florida,” Gomez recalls. “He said, ‘Max, I don’t know what to do—I don’t know how to get these contractors to show up. You’re good at building a business. Can you just build me a restoration company that I can refer business to?’”
Build me a business. Just like that. Gomez’s friend knew that she could launch and operate a company (she had founded Swipes Lovin Wipes after studying neuroscience at New College of Florida). When she hesitated, Gomez’s friend told her it was not that difficult: You show up, on time. If it’s wet, you dry it; if it’s moldy, you tear it out.
“I said, ‘I can do that.’ He wasn’t wrong. It wasn’t rocket science—it was learning a trade, doing it right, billing a fair price, and showing up, like anything. Ninety percent of it is showing up.” Gomez has become such an authority in the field that she teaches mold remediation and acts as an expert witness to settle legal claims. She spoke with SFBW about why her business, which also includes sanitization and HVAC repairs, is so essential to South Florida homeownership.
When COVID-19 took hold, people were spending more time at home, wanting to make their environments more comfortable, taking on projects they may have delayed. How did this new world impact your Dry Tech 24/7? Did business improve?
Yes and no. During the height of COVID, people were shut down and didn’t want anyone in their homes. People were looking at mold and restoration jobs, but none of that happened. So, during COVID, we switched our services. We’d always offered disinfecting as a service, but it was an add-on, not the focus. Then during COVID, we were only disinfecting. That kept our lights on.
What differentiated your company during this period?
What made us different, and what made us compliant, was that my entire team, including myself, had the right training and credentials, according to the CDC. So, while other companies were buying mosquito-repellent spray pumps at Home Depot and putting hydrogen peroxide in them and calling themselves a disinfecting company, my people were OSHA-certified for HAZWOPER (Hazard Waste Operations and Emergency Response), biocide-applicator certified, Global Biorisk Advisory Council-certified—they knew what they were doing. That’s the biggest difference. So, when assisted-living facilities, for example, were being sprayed by some fly-by-night company, their building code officers said no, that they had to hire a company with our credentials, and we were able to help a lot of people because of that.
Many homeowners may want to avoid using certified professionals as a way to cut costs—this happens all the time in South Florida.
That’s the name of the game—you get what you pay for. And unfortunately, for some companies who went that route to save money, they were not able to reopen, because the building code didn’t clear them, and then they had to hire us or a different credentialed company to redo it. What you think you’re saving, you end up paying for in the long-haul.
If someone wanted your company to do something less complex, for example, test for mold, do you offer that type of service?
That’s my main bread-and-butter, yes. We do things a little differently. We provide a holistic approach. If you tell me that there’s a leak, I’m not going to just address a leak. We’re going to look at your entire property and see where there may be opportunities to improve and find the actual source, not just put a Band-Aid on it. We do a walk-through, we do a visual inspection, we use forward-looking infrared imaging, and we use humidity and moisture readings to determine the full environment.
Can you describe a recent interesting or complex case and what you did for the homeowner?
That’s almost every day. I can tell you one yesterday. This is interesting because it’s a homeowner, but the property is rented, so we’re dealing with a tenant. The tenant has done her best to maintain the property, but she’d had several problems that were beyond her ability. There were several roof leaks, there was condensation in the air ducts, and there was a kitchen leak, so the floor was buckled, the roof has entry points, and their HVAC system was not working properly. When they called me, they just thought they needed drywall patches to address water stains. Going in there to do a full inspection, we were able to determine several points, and were able to help them out.
How many people work with you and for you?
So, you use subcontractors.
Yes, but only ones who are qualified and trained by me. If you look on my website, you’ll see I have the SWAN network—Sleep Well at Night. That means the people who I work with do a reputable job. I can sleep well at night knowing that my client is in good hands. There are only a handful that I work with.
Where did you get your entrepreneurial drive?
Everywhere I am and everything I do, I always want to nurture it. When you’re in something, how do you improve it? When you can’t fight that impulse to improve, you implement it.