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Serving South Bend, IN and Surrounding Areas.

Author: Michael Scott

Certified Renovator Training

First Response takes great pride in the training and national certifications of their employees.  The world of restoration is constantly changing and evolving and if you get in the mindset of “this is how we have always done it,” you are going to be left behind or frankly do an injustice to your clients.  It is important to stay on top of industry changes and help ensure our employees are prepared and equipped for any situation they might encounter while on the job.

First Response would like to congratulate six of our employees for becoming Certified Renovators by Greentree Environmental Systems Inc.  This was a full hand-on training to help them assess the ever important and dangerous lead issue they might encounter.  We are seeing more and more older home with issues that have lead present and felt it was important to increase our awareness and safety precautions for these situations.  Great job TEAM!

If you ever encounter a disaster, there is no company better prepared to assist you than First Response!

First Response Healthcare Training

Congratulations are in store for our eight employees who successfully completed their Construction Infection Control Training Institute (CITCI) course to become a Certified Healthcare Technician!  We work with a number of different healthcare providers in the area and want to make sure our technicians are prepared for any and every situation they may encounter.  WAY TO GO TEAM!!

Meet Jake Lyon, Water Restoration Technician at First Response

Jake has been with First Response for a little over a year after moving to the Michiana area from Fort Wayne.  Jake works in our Emergency Services department and primarily works with our water mitigation and mold remediation team.  This gives him the opportunity to learn a number of different skills and he enjoys the ability to do different work each day.

In his free time Jake loves the outdoors and exploring new parks.  He has a rather unique bucket list item as one day he hopes to be able to ride an emu.  Best of luck accomplishing that task Jake!

Meet Reid Barnbrook, Water Restoration Technician at First Response!

If you have ever encountered a water loss, odds are you have had the pleasure of meeting Reid.  Reid works in our Water Department and primarily assists with any of our emergency services.  Reid is someone who is willing to go the extra mile to help our clients and is a great calming influence in what can usually be a stressful situation.  Part of this calming nature is relevant when Reid wishes he had the ability to teleport so he could arrive to an emergency faster. 

In his time away from work, Reid enjoys working with film, video and photography.  He has worked with a number of large TV stations such as ShowTime and A&E to help film and produce “A Season With Notre Dame Football” and “Married at First Sight.”

Meet Manny Gonzalez, Carpenter at First Response!

Manny Gonzalez has one of the more outgoing personalities you will ever meet.  He genuinely enjoys meeting new people and learning their story.  Manny takes great pride in being able to help people and that is why doing restoration work is the perfect fit.  Whether he is going to your home at 2am to secure your property after a disaster, or working more “normal hours” with the reconstruction, Manny always does it with a smile knowing he is helping those in their time of need.

Outside of work you might see him eating at The Nugget in Niles before walking down the street to catch the latest movie.  One day Manny would like to travel overseas for Missionary Work.  If you see Manny out in the field, be sure to say “Hello.”

Meet Carla Wiegand, Administrative Assistant at First Response

Carla joined the First Response Team in 2017 as an Administrative Assistant in the Accounting Department.  Some of Carla’s responsibilities include answering and directing incoming calls and being available to help the various departments with any administrative duties or needs that may arise. 

She and her husband live in North Liberty.  They have three children and their first grandbaby on the way.  In her free time, Carla enjoys pottery, arts, crafts, cooking/baking and is very active in her church.

Meet Perry Workman, Water Restoration Technician

Perry works within our Emergency Services division. If you have water damage or are in need of mold remediation, you are in good hands when Perry arrives. Perry has years of experience and is able to rely on his nationally certified training and problem solving to help remedy any situation.

In his free time, Perry enjoys playing guitar and going fishing.  He recently purchased a new home as well which he will enjoy working on.

Meet Gary Sherwood, Carpenter at First Response

Gary is a lead carpenter at First Response. Gary does a fantastic job of leading crews on the jobsite and making sure work stays on track and gets done right. Gary has a vast amount of experience and expertise he is able to rely upon to help combat any situation.

In his free time, Gary enjoys spending time in the outdoors. He enjoys fishing and traveling as he once day hopes to visit all 50 US states. If he could have one super power, he would love the ability to fly. This would reduce the amount of traffic and also offer some beautiful views.

Pink Heals Tour Touches First Response Family

What a great cause and visit by the Pink Heals Tour! Tank you for all you do and for visiting Jackie, the wife of one of
our employees. Jackie is currently battling breast cancer and she is always in our thoughts and prayers! Stay Strong!

Pink Helas Tour puts volunteerism and labor of love to work for the people in the community. According to their mission the money raised by your community efforts, be it individuals, public servants, or local businesses, should stay local – in your community, county or state. Pink Heals is health care support at a grass roots level and visionary leaders across the country are implementing Pink Heals at a rapid pace.

Pink Heals is a program that partners with Public Safety, local businesses and families to bring a community together. It is a program that provides home visits to show individuals that they are loved, cherished and important to others. Pink Heals brings back the human element by celebrating people, not causes.

For more information on Pink Heals Tour visit: www.pinkfiretrucks.org

Meet Susanna Maines, Contents Restoration Technician

Susanna is one of First Response’s finest contents restoration technicians.  She is great working with our customers in helping them know and trust that they are in good hands.  It’s a difficult task to give someone full control of your belongings after a disaster, Susanna helps make that process easier and takes great pride in knowing that she is making a positive impact during a stressful time in someone’s life.  Susanna also helps our water department by being on call and assisting when large losses occur.

In her free time Susanna loves to spend time outdoors.  She is extremely active and would love to one day be able to compete in the Boston Marathon!

Meet Dave Williams, Carpenter at First Response

Dave Williams is a jack of all trades. Whether it is fixing broken machines or swapping out new parts, Dave Williams can do it all. Dave started at First Response out in the field as a Carpenter and has now taken over the role of working at Corporate doing just about anything that needs to get done. If you ever need help with anything, Dave is your guy! His outgoing and friendly personality can light up a room and his efficiency and demeanor always reaffirm he is the right guy for the job.

In his free time, Dave enjoys spending time outside. He is able to relax best when he is out gardening or painting and loved attending his grandchildren’s ballgames. If Dave had one superpower he would wish to bring peace on Earth. If you ever have the privilege to meet Dave, you will understand his passion right away.

Meet Bill Rosencrantz, Carpenter at First Response

Bill, better known at “Bomber Bill” at the South Bend Motor Speedway, is a jack of all trades.  Bill has worked at First Response for years doing a variety of different types of work. Whether it is getting a board-up call at 2am or working outside building an additional living space, Bill can do it all!  People like Bill are what make First Response such a great place to work.  People are genuinely interested in each other and that carries over to caring for our customers.  Bill and everyone else at First Response are proud to be helping our community.

In his free time, Bill loves to race at the South Bend Motor Speedway.  You can find him under the title, “Bomber Bill,” and he really enjoys the atmosphere and food offered at the Speedway.  Bill’s love of racing also applies to the horse track as Bill would love to one day attend the Kentucky Derby.

Meet Heather Hattery, Contents Restoration Technician at First Response

If you have experienced a fire or damage to your contents in your home or business, odds say Heather has played a large role in ensuring your belongings get restored properly.  Heather works in our contents department in all phases meaning she will help pack-out your home, clean your contents as well as help return them when the construction is complete.  Heather has been known to treat every item like it is her own and has received high praise from many of our customers

When Heather is not working with our contents department you can most likely find her spending time with family and friends outside.  Heather enjoys going to her kids sporting events and floating on the river.   Heather would love to travel the states with her husband in an RV and visit the Bahamas.

Meet Tony Davis, Water Department Field Tech Supervisor

If you have experienced a flood or broken pipe in your home, odds are you have had the opportunity to meet Tony Davis. Tony is the Field Tech Supervisor for our Water Department and he is involved in nearly every aspect of the job from start to finish. Whether it is working directly with the customer, figuring out the quantity and placement of drying equipment, filling
out paperwork or performing water mitigation, Tony has mastered it all.

Tony has successfully completed the Water Damage Restoration, Applied Microbial Remediation and Applied Structural Drying courses by the IICRC.

Tony has a full house at home as he and his wife were blessed with triplet daughters. Tony hopes to one day take his family to Walt Disney World and his favorite place to eat in Michiana is his kitchen table!

Meet Matthew Borton, Carpenter at First Response

Matt Borton is one of First Response’s most experienced carpenters as there is not many things he cannot do. Whether it is tarping a roof immediately after a fire, demolishing a room or making the finishing touches on a large project, Matt can do it all! When we encounter a tricky situation, Matt is able to use his experience and problem solving skills to help alleviate the situation and allow the project to continue without delay.

In his time away from work, Matt really enjoys making his own wine. This allows him to experiment with different flavors and share his concoctions with others. If you see Matt on a job site feel free to say hello and ask him what wine he is currently working on!

Meet Kimberly Hensley, Claims Administrator at First Response

Kimberly Hensley
Claims Administrator

Kimberly started with First Response in 2015. As Claim Administrator, she provides administrative support to the Estimating Team insuring they are scheduled to meet customers and adjusters to review losses. Kimberly has 12 years of experience managing home improvement projects and working with various tradesmen. She is also always looking to expand our current vendor list.

Meet Michael Scott, Account Executive at First Response

Yes, I watch ‘The Office” and I think the show is hilarious. I used to never watch it but I got enough laughs whenever I introduced myself that I had to see what it was all about. There are much worse character names out there!

Michael joined the First Response team full-time in 2016 as an Account Executive specializing in sales and marketing. Michael manages all social media and website development projects and initiatives. Michael had worked with First Response throughout summers in high school and college before permanently relocating to Louisville, Kentucky where he was an assistant basketball coach for six years. Michael helped lead Bellarmine University to their 2011 National Championship as well as Final Four appearances in 2012 and 2015. In his free time Mike enjoys watching and attending sporting events and attending Broadway shows. Michael is married with young twin boys.

Meet Kari Tuttle, Controller at First Response

Kari Tuttle

Kari started with The Sergio Corporation in 1996 as a Staff Accountant. She became the Controller in 1999 and is currently in charge of Accounting and Human Resources for the Sergio family of businesses including First Response, Michiana Properties, and Polar Clean. Kari takes pride in helping the owners run the day to day operations of First Response as well as her variety of corporate duties and responsibilities. Kari is a graduate of Butler University with a BS in Business Management with Honors in Accounting (Go Dawgs!) and has been a Certified Public Accountant since 2002. Kari is a member of the Indiana CPA Society as well as active in her church and disability advocacy groups. Kari and her husband enjoy country life with their school-age son and have two grown children and three grandgirls.

Meet Bret Young, Structural Superintendent at First Response

Bret A. Young
Structural Superintendent

Bret started his career with First Response in 2005 as a Superintendent for the Structure Department. Bret oversees the reconstruction of current jobs and organization of structural employees. Bret’s duties include everyday operations of repairs, keeping customers informed of the status and moving the employees in the right direction at job sites. Bret has over 26 years of experience in building construction.

Meet Amy Rhodes, Contents Manager at First Response

Amy Rhodes
Contents Manager

Amy has been with First Response since 2012 and oversees staff and billing of all contents processed from a loss. She builds the Contents Book and works with the software used to photograph, and detail all contents from a loss. Amy has one son and is very active with local animal rescue organizations in St Joseph county.

Meet Cheri Eberhart, Account Executive at First Response

Cheri has been with First Response since 2015 working as a Sales Executive in Business Development. Cheri makes sales calls focusing on new business and establishing relationships with clients both Commercial and Residential. Her experience of outside sales has been 20+ years of selling Transportation Freight Forwarding Services in Cincinnati. She is a graduate from Brandywine High School and attended Indiana University South Bend and National University in California working towards a Business Management Degree. Interests are physical fitness and eating healthy along with a special interest in her pet rottweiler and black lab.

Meet Luisa Guevara, Accountant at First Response

Luisa Guevara
Payroll Accountant

Luisa joined First Response in 2017 bringing over 16 years of accounting experience. Most recently Luisa was the payroll/HR administrator for a company of over 1,000 employees. She is responsible for processing weekly payroll. Luisa is the youngest of 10 and has eight sisters and one brother. She is married with two children and four grandchildren. Away from work Luisa enjoys traveling, crafting, baking and spending time with her siblings and family. Life is too short, you have to make the best of it!

Meet Brad Harding, Contents Superintendent at First Response

Brad Harding

Contents Superintendent

Brad started at First Response in 2002. He is the Superintendent for the Contents Department and oversees a staff of 7. He is responsible for the packing out, cleaning, storage and pack in of all contents deemed salvageable at a loss. All contents are stored at the contents facility until the repairs have been completed. Brad and his wife have 2 children and are very active in their church community.

Meet Jim Overhulser, Estimator at First Response

Jim Overhulser started his career at First Response in 2009 leading the Environmental Department as a Superintendent and in 2013 he became an Estimator. Besides holding a B.S. from Bethel College, he has received specialized training related to structural drying, remediation of fungal (mold) growth and microbial contamination: AMRT (Applied Microbial Remediation Technician); WRT (Water Damage Restoration Technician); and ASD (Applied Structural Drying). Jim came to our company with over three decades of construction and management experience. He has served hundreds of homeowners and property managers in caring for their properties over many years and in diverse circumstances.

Jim serves our clients through managing our well-trained staff to rapidly dry various types of floods, to remediate microbial/fungal contamination, and in beginning the restoration process after disaster strikes. Jim is a key player in leading our response teams into commercial, institutional and residential disasters: Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs, Notre Dame, local hospitals, schools and homes to name a few. Jim is involved with the community of Bristol Indiana as a volunteer Fire Chaplain. He and his wife of over 45 years have served in short-term missions and have two children with four grandchildren.

Meet Chris Macknick, Estimator at First Response

Christopher Macknick joined the First Response team in 1998 as a lead carpenter and in 2010 became an Estimator, reviewing the losses and working closely with adjusters to have a complete scope for repair. With over 20 years experience in construction and restoration, Chris has developed a keen eye for detail. He has received specialized training and certification related to structural drying, remediation of fungal (mold) growth and microbial contamination: AMRT (Applied Microbial Remediation Technician); WRT (Water Damage Restoration Technician); and ASD (Applied Structural Drying) and continues training with the industry software used to create scopes for repair on homes and businesses damaged. Chris has lived in South Bend for over 30 years. He has one son, two dogs, and two fish. He also enjoys cooking, mushroom hunting and devoting much of his time as a local Boy Scouts of America Den Leader.

Meet Tony Sergio, Owner and Founder of First Response

Tony Sergio is the founder of the first series of Sergio family businesses that now comprise The Sergio Corporation. He coordinates the large loss and catastrophe disaster restoration division of the corporation. He has been a driving force in the rapid growth of First Response through 30+ years. Tony’s extensive background in reconstruction, structural drying and disaster response make him an asset on any job site. Tony has overseen expert luxury residential restoration projects and his vast commercial experience extends from flood restoration services in Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Cedar Rapids in the Heartland to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast states. He is an active member of Disaster Kleenup International, and many other professional industry specific associations. Tony is a life long resident of Michiana area and is active in his church as the past Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Tony has also served on multiple short term mission trips with his family. Tony and his wife have five children.

Meet Jenni Bryan, Emergency Services Team Coordinator at First Response

Meet Jenni Bryan, Emergency Services Team Coordinator at First Response

Jenni started with First Response in 2014 and is responsible for coordinating the Emergency Service, Structural Drying, & Environmental Departments. She also assists in coordinating the Biohazard Remediation Department. Jenni has over 8 years’ experience in the restoration industry. Jenni processes incoming calls for any type of emergency services that are needed, keeping customers and insurance companies informed on the status of the project, billing, and collections. She has received specialized training and certification related to structural drying; WRT (Water Damage Restoration Technician); FSRT (Fire & Smoke Restoration Technician); Odor Control and continues training with the industry software used to create scopes for mitigation & emergency services on homes and businesses damages with a keen eye for detail. Jenni enjoys her job, but in her leisure time she loves to spend quality time with her two children going bowling, skating, walks, bike-riding, hanging out at the beach or just watching a movie.

Meet Tara Taylor, Accounts Payable at First Response

Meet Tara Taylor who has worked with accounts payable in the accounting office at First Response since 2013.

Tara has many years of office experience in Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Human Resources, Payroll, Customer Service and Office Management. Tara is an Edwardsburg, Michigan native who still resides there today. Away from work, Tara enjoys spending time with family and friends and loves attending her son’ soccer games.

Tara gets great satisfaction knowing that she is able to help others in their time of need. She also enjoys being surrounded by great people with the same intentions.

Why are you not a BOMA Member?

What is BOMA?

BOMA is the Building Owners and Management Association and our local chapter is BOMA Michiana.  BOMA hosts a monthly meeting at different sites throughout the county offering a variety of services and experiences.  In the past BOMA has enabled its members to take exclusive tours of new building sites and offered educational programs to further business development and promote networking throughout the community.   BOMA is the strategic partner to property professionals throughout their career and provides advocacy, influence, knowledge and resources to ensure business and personal success.

Why would I want to join BOMA?

1. To build professional relationships in the Real Estate industry and network with vendors in the Michiana area.

2. To work in a peer group environment that allows for cross collaboration when issues arise.

3. To take advantage of the opportunity to learn and share the best practices in your industry.

4. To take advantage of the opportunity to see the latest innovations in new construction being utilized in St Jospeh County.

5. To take advantage of the educational opportunities within the industry.

How do I join?

For more information on membership, please email Rachel Smith at Rachel.m.smith@lmco.com or Elliot Lusk at elusk@holidayproperties.com

Meet Denise Long, Structural Team Coordinator at First Response

Denise started at First Response in 1999.  She is one of two Team Coordinator’s for the Operations Department. Throughout her time at First Response, Denise has held a number of different positions and has seen the company grow and expand.

Team Coordinators are the office support for the superintendents and field staff.  Denise works closely with our customers to help ensure their satisfaction and consistently exceed their expectations.

Denise and her husband have four children.  In her leisure time she enjoys boating, reading and spending quality time with her family.

Meet Cindy Merton, Business Development Administrator at First Response

Cindy joined First Response in 2007 as a Project Administrator in the Structure Department. She moved to the Business Development Department in 2010. She primarily works with Insurance Agents and manages the training programs that First Response sponsors for Insurance Agents and Fire Department Staff. Cindy is an Air Force Veteran and also worked as a Fundraiser for various non-profits for over 15 years. She has three children and ten grandchildren that keep her young.

First Response Lunch and Learn

30 Minutes Toward More Successful Negotiations

First Response is hosting a lunch and learn on February 23rd from 11:30-12:30pm.  A free deli lunch is provided.

Geraldine Parhm, Certified IAIP Instructor will be our presenter.

Everyone has experienced the necessity to negotiate. Whether it be with your employer, salesperson, customer service, spouse, an employee – the list is endless.

RSVP to Cindym@FirstResponseDRS.com or call 574-288-0500. Seating is limited.

Congratulations Chris Macknick on Becoming A HAAG Certified Roof Inspector

First Response estimator Chris Macknick recently completed his HAAG training and is now a HAAG Certified Roof Inspector.

Chris is highly proficient with all major types of residential (steep-slope) roofs. He knows how hail and wind interact with roofing, inspection safety techniques, roof area calculations, and applicable codes. He has a comprehensive understanding of manufacture, installation, weathering, hail damage, wind damage, maintenance, mechanical damage, and repair costs for each major roofing type — composition, wood shingle/shake, concrete and clay tile, asbestos, fiber cement, and various synthetic, slate, and metal roofing types.

To view Chris’s Certification please visit the following: http://haagcertifiedinspector.com/find-an-inspector/12699/

Meet Jessica Pantoja, Structural Team Coordinator at First Response

Meet Jessica Pantoja who has been with First Response since 2014. Jessica is a South Bend native that loves her Pinterest Boards and apparently is not worried about survival on a desert island.

Jessica is a strong leader who inspires confidence and trust in others by motivating the project staff to perform at high levels to consistently meet customer expectations. In her free time she enjoys spending time outside and working on various art projects.

Learn and Lunch Sponsored by 1-800-BoardUp

Do not miss this great opportunity to hear Indiana Fire Marshal Jim Greeson and Goshen Fire Cheif Dan Sink. Buffet lunch will be served at 11:30am followed by the presentation from noon-1:30pm.

Event will take place in the First Response Training Center located at 1919 S. Michigan St. South Bend, IN 46613.

Please email Tony Pigors with any questions at in1800boardup@gmail.com 

Meet Al Scott, President of First Response

He holds the distinguished title of Certified Restorer which is an elite group of professionals that have receive advanced training covering all aspects of the restoration industry. There are less than 300 individuals with this distinction. Al and his wife have four children and two grandchildren.

Al enjoys the unique food choices offered at Temper Grille and has a golf game that most would not brag about!