Serving Customers and Community
Go Green Contracting, Inc. aims to strengthen Detroit while providing top-notch environmental remediation
As a lifelong resident of Detroit, Leon Petty has seen his hometown struggle in recent years as the Motor City attempts to remake itself in a changing economy. And as the owner and President of an environmental remediation company, Go Green Contracting, Inc., he knows firsthand the challenges faced by some of Detroit’s longtime residents who have a hard time getting ahead in the absence of economic opportunities.
As a businessman, Petty has pursued two goals simultaneously: to operate a successful environmental remediation business, and to provide job prospects to Detroit residents who might otherwise have few chances to achieve economic stability.
Taking Time to Educate
Based in Detroit, Go Green operates throughout all of Michigan and is beginning to branch out beyond the state. Serving both the commercial and residential markets, the company provides asbestos and lead removal, mold remediation, demolition and due diligence services. In the event of a fire, flood or other emergency, Go Green also is available to respond immediately to complete thermal investigations, water extraction, debris removal and restoration of property damaged by fire, smoke or water.
Having worked in the remediation industry since 1991, Petty formed Go Green in 2011. At the time, the company was comprised of four people; today, it has between 60 and 80 full-time team members, depending on the season.
“We strive to be the best,” Petty says. At Go Green, customer service is a major focus, and one that helps to set the company apart from its competitors. “We try to educate our clients,” he continues, especially because many are concerned about having to have remediation work, such as asbestos removal, done on their properties. “Clients often are frightened upon hearing the news of what they need. They want to know if their kids are going to be safe.”
Go Green team members take the time to ensure that customers understand exactly what is to be done on a remediation project and why those actions are required. This knowledge helps customers feel more comfortable about the work that must be performed, he notes. “Most companies don’t do that,” he says.
A Reputation for Excellence
In the environmental remediation industry, companies rely heavily on recommendations from other contractors. As a result, a company’s reputation carries a lot of weight. Because of its proven track record, Go Green routinely is recommended by others in the industry.
Having worked with Petty for approximately seven years, Jerry Fedirko does not hesitate to call on Go Green when he needs someone to conduct asbestos removal. Fedirko is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Point Environmental Services, Inc., of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, a local provider of environmental remediation services. “I work with a lot of heating contractors,” Fedirko says. When a heating contractor determines that a project it is working on requires asbestos abatement, Fedirko will bring in Go Green, secure in the knowledge that the work will be conducted quickly and professionally. “Go Green can handle any situation that comes up,” he says. “I just call Leon and I know that everything will be done right.”
Scott Krall, the President of Blue Star Inc., a demolition company based in Warren, Michigan, also is quick to recommend Go Green. “When I’m working with customers who have a building to be demolished that has asbestos in it, I tell them to call Leon,” Krall says.
“I wanted to provide an opportunity [to others] and use this talent that too often people just throw away.”
Leon Petty, Owner and President, Go Green Contracting, Inc.
In his personal and professional life, Petty has had to learn how to overcome obstacles. As a young man, Petty, like many others he knew, felt that he had limited options in life. With few clear prospects for advancement, he turned to selling drugs. “I was a product of my environment,” he says. But when a friend of his became certified to conduct environmental remediation, Petty realized that he had an opportunity to change his ways and embark on a much more promising and rewarding career.
Later, as a business owner, Petty encountered new obstacles, including the challenge of having to form and grow his business without the benefit of bank loans. “I had to figure out a way to deal with road blocks,” he says. As a result, he devised creative approaches that relied on building relationships with other companies. For example, Petty would give discounts to businesses if they would pay upon a job’s completion, rather than waiting the customary 60 to 90 days. In this way, Petty was able to ensure that he could pay his staff in a timely fashion while accruing additional capital to expand his business.
Challenges may be inevitable, but entrepreneurs cannot give up in the face of such obstacles, Petty says. “Roadblocks are made to reroute the route,” he says. “They’re not made to stop you.”
A Company with a Purpose
From his own experience, Petty understands the importance of offering opportunities to those facing limited options in life. To this end, Go Green works with the Detroit-based nonprofit organization, The Green Door Initiative, which provides community services, including a workforce development program designed to train participants to enter the environmental remediation industry. The program enables low-income Detroit residents to obtain training and certification that they otherwise could not afford. Numerous participants who have completed the program have gone on to work for Go Green, Petty says.
When he started Go Green, Petty wanted to form a “company with a purpose,” he says, one that would “showcase Detroit in a new light.” Working with the city’s historically underserved population in this capacity offers a way for Petty and his company to make a concrete difference in others’ lives. “I wanted to provide an opportunity [to others] and use this talent that too often people just throw away,” Petty says. “If we don’t help, who’s going to help?”
In some cases, Petty has assisted formerly incarcerated individuals who faced extremely limited employment options upon their release from prison. “Some of these guys were told they couldn’t work at McDonald’s,” he says. With the proper encouragement and training, many such individuals have gone on to work for Go Green, in some cases becoming supervisors or even leaving to start their own companies. “Everybody should have a second chance,” Petty says.
Ultimately, Petty views such efforts as one way to help Detroit undertake the arduous task of refashioning its economy. “Go Green has established a footprint in the community,” he says. By working with individuals and organizations dedicated to promoting cooperation and mutual assistance, Petty hopes to see greater success and prosperity for all of Detroit’s residents, especially those who have been left behind by the economic dislocation of the past few decades. “If we can pull together,” Petty says, “we can do anything.”