Janitor cleans office with backpack vacuum

Kleenco, based in Honolulu, has been providing contract cleaning services to Hawaii for almost 50 years. The staff of 300 cleans more than 200 facilities, including many small satellite locations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hawaii has the lowest unemployment rate in the United States. For Kleenco President and CEO, Scott Paul, this creates a struggle to attract and maintain a quality workforce.

“My biggest challenge in managing and growing this business is, and always will be, labor,” says Paul. “Labor is the single largest cost for our business. We’re always looking for technology that will reduce labor. To the extent that we can do the same amount of work with fewer people or in fewer hours, that makes it easier for us to grow.”

After seeing a demonstration of the GoFree Flex Pro cordless backpack vacuum from ProTeam, St. Louis, Paul noted its ability to clean about five times faster than an upright vacuum and 30 percent faster than a standard backpack vacuum. 

Within a couple months of learning about the cordless backpack vacuum, one of Kleenco’s large accounts requested increased vacuuming frequency in an open-layout corporate office. Due to the difficulty in adding new staff, Paul needed a way to meet his customer’s needs while minimizing labor and cost increases.

“We bought a 30-inch wide-area vacuum for the hallways, and we bought two battery backpack vacuums with extra batteries for vacuuming around desks and cubicles,” says Paul. “Overall, we have reduced the amount of time it takes to vacuum this customer’s office by approximately 35 percent.” 

Prior to buying the cordless backpack vacuum, Paul needed to know how long it would take to recoup his investment. He calculated that increased productivity would allow him to cut back on about $1,000 of labor per month. At that rate of savings, Paul expected to break even after approximately three months of using the GoFree Flex Pro.

“With the cordless backpack vacuum, we were able to satisfy the customer’s needs,” says Paul. “We made it work within their budget and within our labor constraints. It’s the same quality of service, but we are covering more area in less time.”

Kleenco had already been using ProTeam vacuums for many years before Paul bought the company in 2012. The staff uses a few dozen standard backpack vacuums and some uprights. Over time, Paul has noticed some of the common drawbacks of corded vacuums.

“The cord is the most frequent point of failure on corded vacuums. It presents a danger to both our employees and our customers’ properties,” says Paul. “Typically when vacuums are out of commission, it has to do with the cord.”

Without the cord, there is less risk of trips and falls and electric shock. The cord doesn’t rub against furniture or mark the walls. According to Paul, removing the cord removes a lot of potential for injury and property damage.