When Gerry and Margaret Rogers started My Cleaning Service from the basement of their Baltimore, they probably had no idea that it would one day become one of the largest women-owned businesses in Baltimore with more than 300 employees.
Now, five decades later, their granddaughter, Kathleen Bands, has taken up the mantle as owner and CEO, and works to continue her grandparents’ legacy.
“I was really close to my grandfather and his influence really rubbed off on me,” Bands says. While studying business in college, she began to apply her newfound knowledge to the company and began taking on more responsibility.
In 2018, she took over as CEO, and on MCS’s 50th anniversary she officially became sole owner, making the company 100 percent woman owned.
Why is this a major accomplishment? Consider that MCS participates in the Building Service Contractors Association International where only 1 in 10 of business owners is a woman.
But Bands says, “I think there’s definitely an advantage to being a woman-owned company. We focus a lot on communication, multitasking, and organization. My team here is all those things, and I think that helps us to generate this culture of excitement, energy, and vibrancy.”
Bands admits she is “captivated by the janitorial industry,” because it does something for the greater good of the community. That includes stopping the spread of disease and germs, “and basically protecting society as a whole.”
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Rising to the Challenge
With the outbreak of COVID-19, companies like MCS could not be in higher demand. Bands immediately jumped into action and used this spring’s shut-down time to invest in new technology and train her crews in how to handle the situation when things reopened. MCS also has all of their cleaners earn the BSCAI’s COVID-19 Safety and Disinfection Certificate.
“Cleaning is very choreographed,” Bands explains. “There are specific ways and scientific reasons for how and why we do things, and that absolutely applies to how you disinfect to counteract COVID.”
In order to better handle the COVID-19 outbreak, MCS completely pivoted their model. Projects normally spread out over a year were able to be worked on while buildings were vacant, and post-construction cleaning crews who used company vans to drive to different sites were easily transformed into mobile disinfectant crews.
“Businesses we had never worked with before started calling us,” says Bands. “When businesses had a positive case and people began to panic, we were able to get out to them pretty quickly.”
They also began investing in new equipment such as electrostatic machines, which spray whatever you put into it, such as disinfectant, into the air, and charge the molecules so that they stick a bit stronger than normal to whatever surface they land on.
Though electrostatic machines weren’t needed before the pandemic, they’re especially beneficial now for positive cases because the fine mist they release allows the molecules to separate so that droplets can get into every nook and cranny in a space.
“You have to clear the space for a few hours so that people don’t breathe it in and the molecules can settle, but it’s better than just wiping the space down because this way you know that every single area has been disinfected,” Bands explains.
Planning for Reopening
MCS is also working intensely with their clients to create reopening plans and positive response plans tailored to their needs. The company has introduced a site sanitizer, an additional person that comes in to disinfect high touch surfaces throughout the day so that germs aren’t transferring as people interact with the space.
“The plans all depend on people’s comfort level,” says Bands. “Some clients want the space fully disinfected every month, others just want to have a plan in place in case someone tests positive.”
Now, if an employee does test positive, clients can easily contact MCS to come in and clean, and within 24-hours businesses can get back up and running. This not only helps the operation to continue flowing, but also helps clients keep their employees comfortable and safe.
Bands recommends that businesses follow these four steps if an employee tests positive for COVID-19:
1) Immediately evacuate everyone from affected space and provide notice to building management.
2) Call a reputable janitorial disinfection company and schedule disinfection within 24 hours.
Ask for disinfection methods and confirm that cleaning/disinfection products are EPA approved. Ask for SDS Safety Data Sheet.
3) Shut off HAVC during disinfection process.
4) Do not enter the space within two hours of treatment.
When choosing a janitorial company, Bands strongly encourages people to do their research. “Lots of people are jumping on the market share and there’s a serious concern that they don’t have the experience and knowledge that a professional cleaning service should have.”
Along with that, it’s prudent to have a plan in place ahead of time so that people aren’t panicking if something happens.
With cleaning currently at the forefront of people’s minds, Bands remarked that she hopes the disinfectant measures put in place will continue even after the pandemic, especially when it comes to public transportation.
“Even when the vaccine is available, who’s to say that another disease won’t come around? Why would we go back to the way things were when we’ve put so much effort into setting up these new measures?” Bands asks.