By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Two questions leaped to our mind when we saw the billboard for Amdecon along Interstate 35 near Oak Cliff, featuring a chalk outline of a dead body and offering cleanup for the aftereffects of homicides, suicides and decomposing corpses. First, has Dallas' long reign at the top of the nation's crime rate created a local growth industry? Second, was the billboard's site strategically chosen? You know, advertise where your customers are.
The answers are no and no, says Michael Tillman, founder of the 6-year-old Dallas-based company. "A lot of people call this crime-scene cleanup," Tillman says, "but the truth of the matter is we are really not tied to the crime rate."
Amdecon, formerly Biohazard Solutions, simply fills a niche in America's ever-growing service economy, Tillman explains. In a city where folks can hire personal shoppers or pay someone to clean the dog poop out of their yard, Amdecon offers another specialized--if grim--service. "It's not because our society is getting so bad," Tillman says. "It's because it's getting so big." In a metro area this large, there are plenty of cases "where Uncle Bob lives alone and has a heart attack and isn't found for a couple of weeks," along with the usual industrial accidents and suicides.
"Fortunately, now the family...doesn't have the added burden of scraping the son's brains off the ceiling," Tillman says.
Cleaning those messes takes more than a bucket of soapy water. (Amdecon boasts that it uses only EPA-certified sanitizers and disposes of medical waste properly, although no regulation in Texas requires it to do so.) The company offers elaborate, five-day hands-on training courses for those who want to get in the cleanup biz and is offering franchise opportunities. That's right: For $25,000, you could open an Amdecon franchise in your own city. The company's first is coming soon to Houston.
Not all of Amdecon's work is postmortem. They also clean up sites contaminated by methamphetamine labs. In Texas, a landlord can simply rent out a property that once contained a meth lab without doing any specialized cleanup. Speed residue tends to build up on the walls of meth labs--a particular hazard for families with toddlers, Tillman says.
So, if you've recently gotten a great deal on an apartment in a bad neighborhood and you notice little Timmy has started to crawl really, really fast, you might wanna give Amdecon a call.