Since it first started in Chicago in 1929, ServiceMaster has built a reputation for providing incredible cleaning and reconstruction services to a wide range of customers.
Entrepreneurs from around the world have joined the ServiceMaster family, and today it operates in more than 3,000 cities across the globe. ServiceMaster made its way to Canada in 1950, and in 1992 three entrepreneurs brought the program to Calgary with franchises for ServiceMaster Clean Commercial Services, ServiceMaster Restore and ServiceMaster Clean Janitorial Management Services.
“I saw an ad for ServiceMaster in a magazine that said I needed less than $10,000 to start, so I phoned the number,” says Rob Ordman, president of ServiceMaster Restore Calgary. “A guy came out and did his dog-and-pony show and I was like, I’m in! I’m a restoration guy now.”
Chris Feist also answered an ad for an account manager’s job and within 18 months the owner decided to leave the area and handed the keys to the ServiceMaster Clean Commercial Services franchise to him. The third, Malcolm Sykes, took advantage of ServiceMaster’s Partner in Progress program that provided capital to buy the franchise, and within four years he was able to buy out his partner in the Janitorial Management Services franchise and run the business on his own.
Since then the ownership group has carved out a place in Calgary’s cleaning services and restoration industries, building the businesses from scratch to become leaders in their fields. They shared a small office and set out to grow their businesses from one-person operations to thriving companies that manage a growing team of professionals. Today, ServiceMaster Clean Commercial group runs around 20 trucks nightly with up to 35 people serving clients; ServiceMaster Restore employs around 70 full-time staff along with a robust subtrade base of more than 100 tradespeople; and ServiceMaster Clean Janitorial has a combination of 400 full- and part-time staff across the province.
The ServiceMaster brand was built on professional, well-trained staff providing exceptional service, and this ownership group delivers. Their aim is to have the best employees in the business that become specialists in their fields preforming everything from washing windows to deep cleaning to a quick response to build back after a disaster. Clients renew contracts with the teams because of the professionalism and skill of staff, and staff stick around because of the positive, collaborative culture of the companies. That’s why, 30 years in, ServiceMaster continues to be a client’s first choice vendor, and the ownership team is grateful for the hardworking staff that made that happen.
“We didn’t do it on our own. We’re standing on the shoulders of some really good people,” says Chris Feist, president of ServiceMaster Clean Commercial Services.
It is a people-centric business model, and the teams focus on nurturing the relationships both with their staff and with clients in order to succeed. While they operate independently of each other in the same realm, the franchises regularly refer clients looking for services better provided by one of the other divisions.
Malcolm Sykes and partner Kevin Smylie, who rejoined the ServiceMaster team in 2018 to be part of the Alberta expansion, provide clients in Calgary and Edmonton with day-to-day janitorial duties including specialty floor work and post construction and window cleaning with ServiceMaster Janitorial Management Services. They serve multiple verticals including health care, property management, distribution fulfilment centres, manufacturing and retail. After the arrival of COVID-19, the team responded to a heightened need for healthy, safe workplaces by offering advanced sanitizing services, detailed cleaning of high-touch areas and electrostatic disinfection, allowing their clients business continuity during the pandemic. The employees take pride in doing a thorough job so clients can better do theirs.
“What we’re doing is setting the stage so that tomorrow can happen for our clients,” says Malcolm Sykes, president of ServiceMaster of Calgary Janitorial Management Services.
For clients needing more specialized cleaning services, ServiceMaster Clean Commercial Services offers a variety of heavy duty cleaning options for Calgary businesses that range from carpet and upholstery care to sanitizing surfaces to maintaining cleanrooms for IT. These well-trained staff are bonded and insured, and clients can be confident that only qualified, certified personnel are in their offices tackling these specialized tasks.
The Commercial Services group has become a trusted partner for clients and manufacturers, offering support that goes beyond cleaning. Recently, the team helped the management of a new high-rise downtown prepare the heavy-duty cleaning systems and specifications for the property manager and tenants. They are also often called upon for cleaning-related warranty work by carpet and furniture manufacturers.
Rob Ordman and his partner, Mike Brant, head up ServiceMaster Restore which is dispatched after a disaster or emergency, whether that be a flood, fire, trauma, severe storm or mould and asbestos remediation. The 24/7 team provides prompt restoration and reconstruction services for residential, commercial and industrial clients both close to home and across the country. Around 75 per cent of ServiceMaster Restore’s business lies in heavy construction and reconstruction of disaster sites. They mobilized hundreds of people to dry out the Stampede ground buildings after the 2013 flood, responded after the Fort McMurray wildfires, and are currently in PEI to help rebuild after the hurricane. These experts use the latest technology like drones to help visualize and calculate damage as well as advanced drying technology that can prevent the need to tear down walls after a flood.
ServiceMaster has local ownership with a global perspective, and that along with its forward thinking and innovative culture helps them not only provide better service to clients but also better products. It aims to Go Green by using certified citrus-based solvents as well as developing principles and products that leave a minimal environmental impact, don’t contain perfumes and VOCs, and are effective at getting the job done.
“The majority of our products have been researched, tested and formulated by home office so we know what’s in the bottle,” says Feist. “To have that level of control over your process is important.”
Over the past 30 years, ServiceMaster has become an institution in the community, earning its reputation for quality service and innovation in the field. From vacuuming the floor to sanitizing an office with scientifically proven products to restoring spaces after a disaster, ServiceMaster introduces Calgary clients to a higher standard of service.