Abatement, Remediation, Client Education
Quality Environmental, Inc. thrives on long-term relationships
Quality Environmental, Inc. is a full-service environmental remediation and demolition services provider based in Santa Fe Springs, California. The company provides asbestos and lead abatement, demolition, mold remediation, fire and water damage restoration, and other environmental remediation services.
“I wanted to own a company and fulfill the American Dream,” says Gustavo “Gus” Escutia, President and Founder of Quality Environmental. He created the firm in 2005. Today, the company serves general contractors, government agencies, health care facilities, property management companies and facility managers in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California.
As industry regulations have become stricter, the company ensures that clients follow proper protocols for the health and safety of the community. “We educate our clients on ever-changing regulations,” Gus says. “We help ensure they stay in compliance in the field and provide proper documentation. We offer guidance on the right approach—for emergencies and non-emergency projects. We’re a company that always follows the rules. We protect the public, our team and the environment while removing hazardous materials safely.”
American Success Story
Gus’ family immigrated to California from Mexico when he was a boy and encountered many hardships in their quest for a better life. Gustavo Sr., Gus’ father, notified a teacher at San Bernardino High School that the family was relocating for better job prospects. It meant that Gus’ brother would have to leave the school. The teacher called a friend who owned a local asbestos demolition company; he hired Gustavo Sr., and Gus’ brother was able to remain in school.
Gus went to work with his dad as an asbestos, lead and mold abatement technician. He worked his way up over the next 15 years to supervisor and later operations manager, mastering his trade. He enjoyed the industry but was troubled by the disconnect he often observed between company goals and worker safety. And then, Gus received a terrible diagnosis; he had lead poisoning, from exposure to lead dust on job sites. The ramifications for his health and that of his children shook him to the core. He promised himself that one day he would own a company that took care of its employees.
“I wanted to build a quality company where people could be safe, accomplish their goals and dream with us,” Gus says.
Today, the company has more than 150 employees. Vice President Lizbeth A. Delval, Gus’ sister, is the backbone of the Administration department. Senior Estimator Peter Delval has worked with Gus for the past 20 years and trains all new estimators at the company. Peter is Liz’s husband and Gus’ brother-in-law. Quality Control Manager Roberto Godoy (known as “Godoy”) has worked with Gus for over 28 years. He oversees all projects in the field. “He has wisdom and experience from his years of working in the field and as a supervisor,” says Gus. Under Godoy’s leadership, field supervisors ensure the company delivers outstanding service and safety.
Health Care and Infection Containment
The team has deep experience in infection control and containment inside and outside of hospitals and other health care facilities. “This is a precise, super clean level of containment to separate and isolate construction and renovation sites from active health care activities,” Gus says. It requires specific skills and great sensitivity to work successfully and safely in that environment and properly protect medical staff and patients.
Communication is an important factor in managing infection control and containment, from the signage posted in private and public areas, to educating hospital facilities managers about what Gus’ team is doing and why they are doing it. It typically requires explaining the demolition process and asbestos and mold abatement procedures.
When the pandemic began, there was a general lack of knowledge in the industry of how to properly sanitize workplaces when COVID-19 cases were detected. “We decided to help our clients by offering complimentary disinfection of their offices—and in some cases their homes—to help them confront a difficult situation,” Gus says. “ ‘You are not alone, we are in this together,’ I told them.”
Water and Other Emergencies
Many of the company’s projects take place under emergency circumstances. Part of the business culture is to say “yes” to emergency calls, 24/7.
“The older the building, the better chance of water and plumbing issues,“ says Gus. Water line breaks and overflowing toilets require a fast response, no matter the time they occur. “Within two hours, even when it is 2 a.m., our crew is at the emergency job site with proper equipment and enough personnel to address the problem,” he adds.
A water leak can cause a cascade of damage as it travels between floors. Water running through asbestos material contaminates ductwork, drywall, ceilings and flooring. “When we get this type of call, we first isolate the area to prevent asbestos or hazardous material exposure to the maintenance staff and the public,” Gus says. The company works in tandem with third-party consultants who test for asbestos, lead and mold, and then adjusts the work area as needed based on test results to comply with local, state and federal regulations.
“If an affected wall, ceiling, floor or construction materials contain asbestos, for example, South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) and Cal/OSHA must be notified,” Gus says.
Abatement, Education and Planning
Quality Environmental educates its clients on the importance of knowing the regulations. “We understand the importance of their projects. We love educating and guiding them on cost-effective solutions,” Gus says. For example, he ensures every client knows that a pre-demolition survey report for asbestos-containing materials (ACM), completed by an environmental consultant, is required before work starts on any building structure renovation or removal, period. “It’s the law,” he says.
One of the company’s largest clients is a general contractor. Quality Environmental removes materials and guts entire buildings for the company. Before renovation or demolition work begins, Quality Environmental guides the client through regulatory compliance requirements for the project.
For normal demolition projects, workers isolate the area for dust control. If a potential hazard is discovered, like asbestos, lead paint or mold, the company works with the client to promptly follow the proper process of notifying local, state and federal regulatory agencies.
Not following these regulations can result in catastrophic exposure of employees and the public to hazardous materials—and lawsuits. “Starting a demo without a survey report from a certified third-party environmental consultant triggers a chain of events,” says Gus. “The project is shut down so samples can be collected and tested.” He recalls a building demolition project that began without a survey and was shut down, half-demolished, for three years. “That $500,000 project became a $1 million project due to delays, fines and required cleanup prior to restarting.”
The need for abatement is typically unknown until the survey is done. There’s often no time allocated in the project plan for a survey, much less for abatement of any asbestos material detected.
Clients face a big challenge when abatement isn’t scheduled in a construction plan or included in the budget. In those cases, Quality Environmental works with clients to determine the best approach and to minimize the impact of abatement work on project timelines. “Clients give us their problems and we give them solutions,” Gus says.
Safety and Relationships Rule
The company’s foundation is respect and treating employees with dignity. “Workers are in the middle of the remediation and abatement process. We know how to accomplish these projects while taking care of the people doing the work by prioritizing their safety and equipment needs,” Gus says. “I’ve been in their work boots.”
The company ensures workers, supervisors and leaders have proper personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as training on hygiene and cleaning procedures for abatement and demolition projects.
Well-treated employees make happy high-performing technicians. Clients frequently remark on the company’s clean, uniformed teams using the latest, best-quality equipment. “We like the challenge of difficult projects, figuring out how to resolve tight schedules and meet special conditions,” Gus says. “Once clients experience the quality of our services, they discover our business culture. That’s when we build a partnership of win-win and long-term relationships. We walk in our clients’ shoes.
“We develop a partnership with employees, too; we nurture relationships with them that reflect our company values: loyalty, integrity, respect and dignity,” he adds. “Our field people come to work with us—and stay—because we treat them with respect. At the end of the workday, we send them home safe to their families.”
In the field or the warehouse, Gus greets and fist-bumps team members. “I tell new employees, ‘Welcome to the company. I’m looking forward to seeing you here for many years to come.’ We let them know that we will always give them 100%, unconditionally, and we expect them to give 100% as well, to our clients and the company.” Quality Environmental empowers its people through training, appreciation events, team-building trips, incentives and recognition for work well done.
“This business is my passion. I love what I do,” says Gus. “I wake up every day and know we’re going to help and educate a client. I see our workers in the field, doing their best. I know that we help society by creating good jobs and creating a different kind of company. Those are my big drivers.”