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Couple becomes own bosses with crime scene cleanup service

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By Chris Cox
ccox@scbiznews.com

Holly DuBois can’t help but get goose bumps as she recalls the hand-written thank you letters she has received over the past year.

“It sounds corny, but I always wanted to help people,” she said. “I always wanted to make an impact. Neither (me or my husband) were able to do that before in the jobs we worked.”

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Diligent Decon draws about 90% of its business from trauma and crime scene cleanup. The rest comes from hoarding property remediation. (Photo/Chris Cox)
The two knew they wanted to make a difference, all while finding an industry that still called for a high demand. What that ultimately led them to was a company in Diligent Decon, which provides discreet crime and trauma scene cleanup for both residential and commercial properties.

Sure, it may seem out of left field. But the state’s crime and suicide rates suggested a critical need for the couple’s product.

The S.C. Victim’s Assistance Network named South Carolina the fifth-most dangerous place to live in the United States, while WalletHub gave it the dubious top honor for 2015. And the state’s suicide rate – higher than the national average, according to the Center for Disease Control – only added to demand.

“I wanted to make a difference,” DuBois said. “But I also saw that the need is clearly there.”

Holly had spent the previous 10 years working out west for a commercial contractor, her husband Michael a retail man. But the two always wanted to be their own bosses, and finally did something about it when they made the move down South.

“We both have always wanted to start our own business,” she said. “We had good jobs making good money. We didn’t want to take the risk to start our own. But we got here and we’re like, ‘Well, this is a fantastic opportunity to start our own.’”

Professionally trained by Texas-based Amdecon, the pair began their business at the beginning of 2014 and has seen it grow ever since. The two handle cleanups across all 46 counties, having built strong relationships with the local coroners who in turn recommend them to families in need.

“I’ve driven almost 10,000 miles since the end of March meeting people, putting my face in front of people, doing it the old-school way,” she said, trying to manage her excitement. “Handwriting notes to people. Trying to be more personable, trying to have a personal touch on things.”

For families without homeowners insurance, the company will often receive payments from the state Victim’s Assistance Network in order to handle a cleanup. But the DuBois’s still gives back, donating a portion of its revenue – in addition to services, time and materials – to SC VAN, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Victim Advocate Association and the South Carolina Office of Victim Assistance.

The company, which is on call 24 hours a day 365 days a year, draws about 90% of its business from trauma and crime scene cleanup. The majority of those calls are suicide cases, DuBois said. The remaining 10% comes from hoarding property remediation.

Diligent Decon is quiet about its business. It pulls up in an unmarked van, gets out in professional polo shirts and avoids putting on hazmat suits until entering a home. Maintaining privacy, as well as fair costs and timely cleanups, is among its chief priorities.

“Our three biggest things are integrity, professionalism and diligence,” she said.

The company hopes to grow over the next several years and is looking into one day adding more full-time employees besides just the couple. Firefighters and EMT personnel have also expressed interest in adding extra hours through part-time work.

Hiring emergency responders will help the company maintain its primary goal, DuBois said. That’s a professional approach to an often difficult situation in order to assist a family in need.

“It’s odd,” DuBois said. “It’s just adrenaline, it’s excitement, it’s energy. Knowing that you’re really helping a family.”

Reach Chris Cox at 803-726-7545 or on Twitter @chrisbcox.

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