WARREN - Getting a contract to clean up and repair a home or business destroyed in a disaster requires not only good workmanship but also a soft touch.
Paul Clouser knows that all too well. After all, his company, National Fire and Water Repair, has been doing it for a century.
"When you do a new build or a remodel, there's a mental preparation," Clouser said Thursday afternoon as he stood inside his office on Courthouse Square in downtown Warren. That preparation doesn't exist when a company is called in after an unexpected disaster.
Warren businessman Paul Clouser, left, receives a proclamation Thursday from Warren Mayor Doug Franklin recognizing a century of doing business.
"It's definitely a different way of doing business after a fire," he said.
Clouser and his wife, Holly, on Thursday hosted an open house to mark the business' 100-year milestone. More than More than 50 friends, customers and business associates turned out to help celebrate the event, including Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, who stopped to present the Clousers with a city proclamation in recognition.
The business, which restores homes and businesses damaged by disasters like fire and smoke, water or storms, was first opened a hundred years ago by Ben Rudick and his son, Milt. Clouser came to work in 1990 for Rudick's grandson, Jerry.
Today, Clouser said he employs about 37 local workers that provide services from cleanup to painting, renovation and construction covering a 12-county area - six in Ohio and six in neighboring Pennsylvania.
But even as his business grows, he said it faces more and more competition. That's what makes good workmanship and community involvement even more critical.
Clouser, a Warren native, has worked in construction all his life, attended Youngstown State University and now lives in the apartment he and his wife renovated upstairs above the West Market Street business.
"We are very active in the community, very dedicated to the area," Clouser said. "With a lot of these companies, so many now are buying these franchises, and it sends the proceeds out of the area. We keep all the proceeds local."