Rust Belt cleanup gives inside view of Buffalo's revival - The Buffalo News

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Rust Belt cleanup gives inside view of Buffalo's revival

Anthony Demiglio knows the ins and outs of the region's major construction projects like few other people. After all, he makes sure they're cleaned up first.

Demiglio is founder and president of AMD Environmental Consultants, a local firm that investigates, directs and monitors environmental cleanup and contamination projects in Western New York. The seven-year-old company does not do the actual cleanup work for its clients, but advises them on handling asbestos, lead, mold and related hazards.

A Niagara County native, Demiglio originally wanted to be an art teacher or chef, and even went to culinary school. But instead he found himself working as a laborer in construction and cleanup work. At the suggestion of a friend, he took a class to further his skills, passed a certification test and got a job as an environmental technician, taking air samples and recording results. Over time, he gained more experience, began teaching classes, and eventually went off on his own.

Today, his company works on a wide range of projects, from helping deal with water damage at the Buffalo Bisons' Coca-Cola Field to designing a work plan for the abatement contractor for One Seneca Tower. It is currently overseeing the cleanup at the former AM&A's Department Store on Main Street.

Q: How did your company got started?

A: I didn't really have intentions of getting as big as I am. I started the company with me and another guy, actually just me to begin with. I would pick up small consulting jobs from here to Albany, honestly. In fact, I did some work in New Jersey when I first went out on my own. And then one thing led to another. I just got a lot of referrals. I started doing work for larger developers, and getting recommended, by word-of-mouth, and now I've got 18 people over the course of seven years.

Q: What projects have you been involved with?

A: We've done work for the Water Authority, the City of Buffalo. We've done work at the stadium. I've done a lot of work for the Larkin Group.

At the stadium, we did some work for some water loss, some situations they had when some pipes burst. We figured out how to help them dry it.

At the Larkin Building – really, we've done a ton of stuff with the Larkin Building. We've done a ton of asbestos surveys, monitoring, consulting, water loss, design monitoring, for a bunch of stuff on Seneca and Swan.

Q: Is it mostly asbestos and abatement, or is it the mold and water damage?

A: We're an older city. You know, it's Rust Belt. There's asbestos, and lead and all types of stuff all over the place. There's no shortage. Any time anybody wants to renovate or go in to try and clean something up, they're going to find something, so they're going to have to hire a third party. Especially when it comes to asbestos, as the law says, to go in and make sure it's identified and treated appropriately and that it's in compliance with what the law says.

Q: What's the most difficult or most unusual job you've been involved with?

A: All of these projects, given where these materials were used and where we find them, and how they play into renovation, they all present really unique challenges. They're all pretty interesting. They're all diverse and different. There's always a challenge on every single job. There are some that are more challenging than others, because of the amount of land or asbestos, or because of what the plan is for the building or where it sits.

But I can't speak to any one that was a real pain in the butt.

Q: Is it satisfying to be involved in all of this?

A: It gives me a real sense of pride in the community, being able to work in a lot of local, not just historical monuments, but buildings of note. Some of the older banks, some of the older apartment buildings, a lot of the older factories. Historically speaking, it's really cool to see a lot of these buildings get reused and it's really interesting to be able to be involved in the next phase of the buildings' life.

It's been a real blessing to have as much work as we've had and to see the city kind of develop in the way that it has, which has been significant over the past six to seven years.

Q: What do you think of what's been happening in Buffalo?

A: I am busier than I've ever been, unquestionably. We've seen a significant increase in business every year for the past seven years. And it's awesome.

Whereas before, there was a certain group of developers that did everything in the city, now you don’t know who you're going to get calls from. I'm doing work for people from Indiana, from China, from England, and they're all doing work here. Some of them like it so much they're starting to buy property here to live. That's really cool.

Q: What's next on the horizon?

A: I sure hope it keeps up. I think as long as people start to move back to the city, and you start seeing outside sources recognizing the City of Buffalo for what it is and the value that it is, I don't see why it shouldn't.

If you had asked me seven years ago if I thought we'd be sitting here today talking about all the jobs that we've done, not just with my company but some of my peers and other companies in development, I'd have laughed, to be honest. So who knows what's going to happen?

The fact that we have so many of those people, that reinforces the idea that it's not just going to dry up in a couple of years. All of those people from other cities and other countries can't be wrong.

Q: I imagine there's plenty of work for you?

A: There's plenty of work. You can't go pop a nail without disturbing asbestos or scrape a piece of paint without having lead in it.

So yeah, there's lots of work.

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