Photos Andy Calvert
An invisible enemy
History is marked by events that changed our lives forever. Wars, assassinations, elections, tragedies of all sorts, and most recently, a global pandemic. With nearly 7 million deaths so far and well over a million of those here in the USA, the world we live in today is marred by the effects of the COVID-19 virus. The dominoes continue to fall in the aftermath, but the virus is here to stay, and the workplace may be the place we feel it most.
Employers need their staff to be healthy and employees want to feel safe in their work environment. As our country picks up the pieces and strives to move forward, it is imperative that we learn from and honor all those lives that were lost by protecting ourselves from an invisible enemy…germs.
The pandemic is a divisive topic, as most things are these days. Still, the bottom line is germs, bacteria, and viruses that transmit infectious diseases such as common colds, Influenza, COVID-19, and so many more aren’t going anywhere, and protecting ourselves from them is paramount.
A call from Wuhan
When the first whispers of the coronavirus possibly making its way across the globe started, Major Bob Sapp was serving as the Jail Administrator for the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office. In December 2019, he received a phone call he would never forget.
“An old friend of mine, who was working in Wuhan, China called to inform me of suspicious activity by government operatives there,” recalls Sapp. “I remember thinking why do I need to know about this, but as he continued to speak, I could hear the fear in his voice as he talked about pets and animals being euthanized and restricted movements being enforced in certain neighborhoods. He surmised it might be some type of disease spreading quickly and said he was trying desperately to find transport out of the country. He advised that whatever this illness was we should ‘stock up on PPE, masks, chemicals, and disinfection materials immediately,’ in case it makes its way to America.”
While it was hard to digest what he just heard, Sapp didn’t waste any time acting.
“I immediately went to Sheriff Tim Burkhalter and Chief Tommy McGuire and they agreed we should be proactive,” said Sapp. They knew my source was reliable and we decided to heed his advice.”
The Sheriff remembers this call to action.
“Bob’s job as Jail Administrator was to manage our staff and make sure the inmates are kept safe, fed, and medically treated,” says former Floyd County Sheriff, Tim Burkhalter. “Major Sapp assigned one of his command staff, Lt. Debra McCain, as the Infectious Disease Control Program Coordinator, and together they developed an exceptionally thorough and aggressive prevention and protection plan that exceeded any other that I have seen.” That plan was shared with other facilities in Georgia and beyond.
The results of those early actions undoubtedly saved lives. As the pandemic swept through America, inmate deaths rose nearly 50 percent in prisons and similar numbers in jail deaths were also being reported, with many officer casualties reported as well. Unfortunately, supply shortages made it difficult for facilities to restock and chemical disinfecting services became too pricey to be sustained as the pandemic stretched on.
Vital Oxide was the initial primary chemical the team used to treat approximately 300,000 square feet three times weekly, (about the area of five football fields every time) at the jail, so each application was a massive undertaking. The comprehensive COVID protocols along with those treatments kept cases at a minimum for a few months, but eventually, the virus gained a foothold in the jail and cases jumped dramatically.
“Just as our darkest hour was looming, our exhaustive infectious disease control research and phone calls to epidemiologists and other subject matter experts paid off. We discovered a unique kind of chemistry and deployed deputies out of state to pick up an emergency batch we had made for us. It was an absolute game changer.”
“This chemical worked differently than most disinfectants. Instead of poisoning the bacteria and viruses, it formed a molecular bond with the surface once applied, utilizing thousands of microscopic spikes imperceptible to the naked eye or human touch. Those spikes mechanically pierce the pathogen’s cell wall and then electrocute it, leaving it disrupted and unable to replicate,” says Sapp. The other big advantage besides being extremely affordable, was the fact it reduced the previous required application frequency cycle of three to four times a week… to just once a month.
“This helped us quickly slow the spread of infectious disease at the jail. Cases started dropping and ultimately, we made it through the pandemic with no facility-related inmate deaths or officer deaths. Unfortunately, that was not the case at many other facilities like ours,” says Sapp.
PermaSafe and a calling to protect
With more than 30 years of experience in working with federal, state, and local agencies in both the private and public sectors including his time spent as an FBI-trained SWAT hostage negotiator, Sapp’s career in law enforcement reads like a Rhodes Scholar resume. Analytical thinking and problem-solving are strengths he had long before the pandemic, but seeing the results of their proactive approach and more so the amazing results from the products used called Sapp to a new line of work.
“So many lives were lost, including a few very close friends of mine,” Sapp recalls. “Upon retiring from the sheriff’s office, I decided there was no better purpose for my life than to continue protecting people and places with the extensive knowledge I learned while in the trenches.”
And so Envirotec Pro was born. Sapp wanted to help businesses stay open and people stay safe against an invisible enemy. Since we cannot easily see the microorganisms that threaten to spread germs and make people sick, they naturally go unnoticed.
“The problem with trying to fight infectious disease, or germs if you will, is they can’t be seen by the naked eye,” says Sapp. If you could look around your home or office and actually see the nasty little beasts that make us sick and could even prove to be deadly, you might just run for the hills. If people see spiders or snakes in their workspace or homes, they are going to do something about it. The truth is what we are eliminating can be as dangerous as spiders or snakes, but because people can’t see what lurks on their countertops, door handles, electronics, desktop spaces, or furniture, they may not think or do anything about it,” he continues.
That’s where Envirotec comes in, providing the know-how, specialized equipment, and lab-tested – field-proven chemical formulas that sanitize and disinfect so much more effectively than the over-the-counter products we grew up with and normally try to use.
“Our sole mission is to create healthier environments by providing affordable and comprehensive germ-fighting solutions for our commercial and residential customers,” says Sapp. “When it comes to protecting the lives and livelihoods of our valued customers, we choose PermaSafe Clean and PermaSafe Shield antimicrobial products.
“We are proud to only use PermaSafe products in our process,” says Sapp. “Being EPA and FDA-approved, these products allow us to provide a solution for every surface and space because they are extremely safe for people and pets, where most other sanitizers and disinfectants are toxic.”
Most importantly, PermaSafe keeps killing microorganisms, for weeks, even months in some cases after they dry, with only a single application. “We use PermaSafe antimicrobial formulas exclusively because they are without question the ideal selection for lasting protection,” Sapp says.
Envirotec’s commercial clients consist of both small and large businesses, most with lots of foot traffic. The workplace is forever changed by the pandemic, which is stressful for employers and employees alike. Sapp’s phone started ringing off the hook as companies that fit this description were concerned because many of their staff were falling ill and missing time at work, affecting their ability to remain operational and minimize downtime. Just as important, they wanted to provide safer environments for their customers as well.
Envirotec’s goal is to not only mitigate those issues, but eliminate them. They do that by creating a customized plan for each of their clients. Sapp’s former police training in critical infrastructure protection (CIP) skills are handy during this process, as he and his team evaluate each space so they can create an affordable treatment plan that will be effective.
“We have helped folks all over and no two jobs are the same,” says Sapp. “It is imperative that we analyze a space and the patterns of those who inhabit it to be successful, and we provide the assessment service for free in most cases. We do that by taking readings with our ATP Meter, so we know where germs are thriving and can eliminate them and the microscopic food they feed upon. Once we map that out, we let our amazing chemicals do the work. When we are finished you could literally lick the areas treated and not only, not get sick, but those chemicals will continue to eliminate the invisible enemy.”
With almost four years of experience in his new business, the proof is in the pudding, and Envirotec’s clientele backs up Sapp’s promises being delivered time and time again.
“We have been using Envirotec since early 2020,” says Rome UPS Store Manager, Misty Puckett. “We serve up to 500 individuals and small businesses daily, seven days a week. We especially love the fact that Bob can measure surface contamination on hard and soft surfaces on-site, via ATP Analysis. That allows us to know our store is safer as well as monitor how well our janitorial services are doing.”
Family Savings Credit Union has multiple branch locations in Alabama and Georgia that Envirotec services and thanks to their efforts and Envirotec’s treatments, COVID-19 among their employees is no longer an issue.
“I am proud to say that once we implemented the treatment plan Bob suggested at all of our facilities, the COVID-19 case count was almost completely diminished and remains so at this time,” says President/CEO Danny Varnon. “Bob’s efforts help honor our commitment to protect the health and wellness of our 300 employees and 75,000 members. Their safety always matters and is important to us.”
Had he wanted to, Bob Sapp could have ridden off into the sunset and enjoyed his retirement, but comments like those made by his clients only reinforce his resolve that he made the right decision to go into business for himself.
“This has never been about anything but helping people,” says Sapp. “My goal is and always has been to provide cost-effective protection from harmful germs, bacteria, and viruses and it brings me a lot of joy to know we can not only do that but help businesses thrive in the process by having a healthy workforce, and keeping residential customers safer in their homes.”
Sapp says “No one has to feel helpless when it comes to harmful microorganisms anymore. As a former Jail Administrator of several large confinement facilities, my team and I have battled all types of infectious diseases, including Tuberculosis, MRSA, Influenza, Hepatitis, Coronavirus and more. But today the products and antimicrobial technology exist to win these battles, and that’s what we do … every day.”
“People running businesses, organizations, and families these days are busy. Often so much so that they simply don’t have the time to think about microbial management, or the harm that can come from ignoring it. That’s where we can help!”