When Diego and Rosa Soto moved from Chile to Toronto in 1976, they were determined to make a great life for themselves in Canada. They found work at a bottle manufacturer in Toronto and transferred to Calgary in 1982 but when the recession swept through Calgary, Diego found himself unemployed.
He found work with the City of Calgary parks department, but a chance encounter introduced him to his life’s work. A Chilean friend asked Diego to translate for him at a job interview and when he heard that the employer needed two people to clean on the weekends at Hillhurst Sunnyside community centre, Diego agreed to fill the other position.
Diego set up his own business, becoming the cleaning contractor for the property. Once his seasonal parks job ended, he began to grow the janitorial services company and started another selling cleaning supplies and equipment, which he sold nearly 30 years later. He incorporated Amclean Industrial Cleaning Supplies Ltd. in 1983 and Delta Janitorial Ltd. in 1984, and later changed the name to Delta Facilities Maintenance Inc. which is known today as DFM.
“In October 1982 I got that first contract and then I got another and another,” says Diego Soto, founder, president and CEO of DFM. “The biggest client we had in janitorial was Home Depot, and for 12 years we did cleaning and maintenance for 65 stores across Western Canada.”
The company continued to grow, and Diego earned a reputation for quality work and reliability. Clients knew that the Sotos, including their sons Pablo and Larry, would always show up and get the job done right.
“We give peace of mind to the customer, that we will respond, day or night. As a family, we always try to give the best to customers,” says Rosa.
Their reputation for hard work and quality prompted a friend, who was a WestJet mechanic, to suggest that Diego approach WestJet Airlines to provide grooming services for their aircraft. Diego followed up and it took about a year of discussions before he was given the chance to prove himself in 2005 when DFM started cleaning planes.
“It’s a niche market. It’s called Aircraft Appearance; we not only clean the aircraft but we dress the planes to go back out,” he says. This covers everything from sanitizing surfaces to placing fresh pillows and blankets on seats for the next passengers.
DFM trains the teams to do thorough yet efficient cabin cleaning and dressing and continues to improve and learn new techniques, whether that involves streamlining workflow or adapting to new challenges like COVID with sanitization and fogging with a highly effective disinfectant. DFM believes in its nearly 600 employees across the country, many of whom are first-generation immigrants like Diego and Rosa, and they want to help them find their way in the country they now call home.
“In most big companies, people are just numbers. I preach that no matter what position we are, we’re all working together on the same team,” says Diego. “Without the front line, the people doing the work, we’re nobody.”
The performance of that front line over the years has led to the company’s rapid expansion to airports from Vancouver to Montreal. DFM has the cleaning process down to a science in order to meet their goals and get their clients back in the air. As every minute counts, the staff provides quick but exceptional service that allows teams to clean a smaller plane in seven minutes and the colossal WestJet Dreamliner in 35 minutes.
“Airlines get charged by the minute to park there – that’s why the word ‘delay’ is a four-letter word in this business. No one wants to be the reason for being late,” says Larry Soto, owner/operator of DFM.
DFM delivers on time every time, and it has become the go-to company for grooming and commercial janitorial. Today, the company works directly for clients as well as with five of Canada’s biggest ground handlers who are responsible for putting quality airport subcontractors to work. The teams groom approximate 300 planes a day and the business has bases in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and the headquarters in Calgary to facilitate that work.
The Sotos continue to build their business as opportunities arise; they recently bought buses in Montreal to start ferrying the flight crew between their hotel and the airport and also began delivering late-arrival luggage to travellers. While on the lookout for new business branches, DFM focuses on growing the core of the business by attracting new clients and then putting the staff and licenses in place to allow them to exceed expectations on the job.
“We’ve expanded a lot in the last few years, and now we need to refit our infrastructure so we’re solid,” says Pablo Soto, owner/operator of DFM. “DFM has become the standard for grooming.”
After 40 years in business, DFM has set the standard high across the country, and the Sotos and their team look forward to raising that standard even higher in the years to come.
110, 7940 – 21 Street NE
Calgary, AlbertaT2E 8H2
Tol Free. 1 (888) 313-5566 | Office. (403) 313-5566