Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Local entrepreneur strikes a clean blow at COVID-19
After the coronavirus tragically struck the family of Joe Barnes, the local entrepreneur wasted little time striking back.
"My aunt Louise was one of the victims down at Grace Living Center down in Norman. She passed away April 10," the owner of Great Earth Spill Containment Services and The Stripe Guys said. "First we had doubts whether this virus was really out there, then it took my aunt."
Two weeks ago, Barnes launched a new business called Safe Spray Services, offering CDC-approved fog, deep-cleaning and a "nuclear option" for restaurants and bars readying to reopen.
"We've done about six so far," Barnes said. "Right now, we're fielding a lot of questions and inquiries. We're trying to educate customers and ourselves, but it's really cool to do something to join the fight against this virus."
Barnes, 50, became an entrepreneur 16 years ago when he left Hagar Restaurant Service to start a business installing environmentally safe rooftop spill containment and grease trap systems at restaurants.
It was while installing a system in Owasso, Barnes stumbled upon a second business.
“We were at this brand-new restaurant and I couldn't believe the parking stripes were already faded," Barnes said. "We were waiting around for the owner to arrive, and I was telling my buddy about how in high school we’d go get a can of yellow paint and a roller, go to the local Sinclair and say ‘Hey can I paint your parking lot’ and we’d have weekend money.”
The restaurant owner arrived in the middle of the story and hired them to stay in Owasso do to the job.
"It took two days to hand-roll his parking lot, but he liked it and said, 'now go do my other restaurant.'"The Stripe Guys was born and today it boasts a 30-foot enclosed trailer, four striping machines, and a Sealcoat machine for full parking lot laying and maintenance.
Losing his aunt convinced him the pandemic was real, but his connection to the hospitality industry led him to invest in equipment and chemical solutions to start the third business.
“It took me about two weeks to figure out if I could even afford to do it," Barnes said. "But how could I afford not to? I needed to have something for my employees, I needed something to keep my lights on, and it just seemed like a fit.”Safe Spray treated both of chef Bruce Rinehart's Rococo locations and The Manhattan before those restaurants opened Monday.
Rinehart said he's very happy with the work, "Joe's a good man."
Barnes and his associates arrive in full-body personal protective equipment, including white coveralls and headgear. They begin treatment with a disinfectant fog Barnes calls a "super-Lysol" through the kitchen, behind the bar, over hard surfaces, under counters and across every inch of floor.
"We don't spray it on dishes, or utensils," Barnes said. "And we tarp over any bottles behind a bar or in the kitchen."
About a half hour after the fogging, Barnes and staff do wipe-down service with wet disinfectant rags.
“CDC guidelines actually recommend both services," Barnes said. "We go over hard surfaces, tabletops, countertops, cooler fronts and handles, and we do the bar taps."
A nuclear option is available through a working agreement Barnes made with Eco Health UV Solutions.
Gregg Watt works for Eco Health, which has been around since 2009. Ultraviolet light has long been used as a disinfectant in wastewater treatment and hospital rooms. UV light works as a disinfectant because it can stop cells from reproducing. Watt said 20,000 lumens of UVC is recommended to kill the coronavirus.
"Usually, we service hospital and surgery centers," Watt said. "It's almost like giving it a small, controlled nuclear blast."
Watt said when he is called in, live plants must be removed.
“It’ll give them a pretty massive sunburn; they don’t like it very much.” he said. "Pretty much everything else is safe except maybe undeveloped film."
Places Safe Spray treats are marked with a sticker out front for consumer confidence. Barnes believes the public will dictate how long Spray Safe operates.
"Like any business, we'll have to see what the market is, but I have a feeling people are going to be a lot more aware about cleanliness and sanitation even after we get a vaccine."
For more information
Safe Spray Services, 888-984-5366, 405-974-8118, safespraycertified.com
Eco Health UV Solutions, EcoHealthuvSolutions.com