This is the first part of a five-part article from Contracting Profits' BSCAI 50th Anniversary Section.

Contract cleaning can be traced back to the late 1800s, but it really came of age during the 1960s. Thanks to a boom in construction, especially in high-rise buildings, the need for building service contractors grew rapidly. New firms continually entered the market. Unfortunately, there was no way to learn best practices; BSCs had to settle for learning how to run their businesses through trial and error.

But by the mid 1960s, that would change. Twenty-five building service contracting firms met in Washington, D.C., to explore the potential of a strong, unified association. They unanimously voted an “enthusiastic and vigorous” yes to the creation of the National Association of Building Service Contractors, or NABSC.

NABSC established its headquarters in the nation’s capital and held its Chartering Congress and trade show there in the spring of 1965, making the association official. More than 60 charter members came to the Marriott Twin Bridges Hotel for four days of education, networking and exhibits.
Later that same year, the association offered another education event, starting its annual tradition of executive conferences for “owners and top managements of member firms,” which still continues today.

To join this new organization, BSCs needed to be in business for at least two years and be personally invited by a member. Yet, despite the strict guidelines, within a year, membership grew to 200 contractors, including international firms from Japan and Australia.

Leading the association was an elected board of directors, made up of 20 executives. James Purcell of Space Cleaners was elected president and the following year was re-elected as the association’s only two-term president. Association members felt that because of the outstanding work of the present officers during its formative year, all board members were the best choices to guide “the destiny” of the NABSC and they were re-elected as well.

NABSC was truly destined for greatness. Interest in the association continued to increase. Its “First Birthday Congress” in 1966 attracted more than 400 contractors. Growth would continue, not only for the rest of the decade, but into the next century, as well.

next page of this article:
1970s: Cleaning Contractors Create World Congress