Contributed by Patrick Comaskey via BSCAI.

Back at our home base in downtown New York City, it was a very challenging environment. Typically, New York City is a difficult market to navigate. I wanted to avoid Class A buildings and skyscrapers, and preferred specialized markets instead. We are more focused on a different type of vertical, like a single-tenant owned building, museums or education buildings. We don't typically go after a corporate office, per se.

The business evolved in that sense. We were pretty strong in our New York markets for a long time, but I knew we had to expand outside of the city into new markets, and that's how we kept evolving. As we progressed, I would add managers and new cleaning systems. We went through a lot of rebranding moments in the company over the years, which are highly important because I think people in our industry don't understand the significance of great branding. It all comes down to branding and passion for your mission, and then putting together a great team of people that can expand and grow the company.

Direct Clean And The Fight Against COVID-19

Practicing what we preach, we were in a good position when COVID-19 happened. We had already implemented electrostatic sprayers into our system before the pandemic. We were using them for a variety of our clients — especially in education — to disinfect the buildings for flu and other viruses.

Although we were a bit ahead of the curve, we're still learning, just like everybody else.

That said, I think COVID-19 has been one of the most pivotal times in terms of giving our industry the attention it deserves and creating awareness of just how crucial a role cleaning plays in health and safety. Through BSCAI and other associations, certifications will become widespread, which will improve our industry. I believe buildings of the future will be a combination of living and office spaces, and will demand more in-depth cleaning. That's what's going to be great about our industry moving forward.

Perseverance And Passion Drive Success

I'm excited about the future possibilities for my company, just like I was when I first started out. My uncle had a cleaning company in Toronto, Canada, so I knew the industry existed, but I was an immigrant and I had no money. I came here in my uncle's suit with $200 in my pocket.

At that time, you come to a big city like New York, you see all these buildings and you're saying to yourself that there must be an opportunity to clean these venues. There's as much opportunity here today as there was back in those days, but it takes hard work and overcoming hurdles.

For example, in 1988, the year I incorporated, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. I was 23 years old with a fledgling company and I was lucky enough to be referred to Sloan Kettering in New York. For years, my disease kept recurring until, in 1993, I underwent a double autologous bone marrow transplant. It was experimental at the time and only had a 30 percent survival rate, but it was a success. After subsequent rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and years of challenging health issues, I needed a double heart bypass — radiation had damaged my veins. Then, in 2008, I was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Since 2010 I have been cancer-free and healthy — the will to live and strive are innate. I share these challenges here because they build character and teach you the value of discovering what's truly important in your life. Physical and mental health are paramount to running a successful company.

My vision moving forward is to continue growing our brand and become a leader in our industry. Visionary leadership is something I aspire toward. Our goal, of course, is to keep expanding into multiple states; wherever that takes us, we're happy to go with it.

I've evolved from pushing a cart around lower Manhattan, going from building to building, to where we are today. It's been a big learning curve and also a wonderfully rewarding journey. I can't think of a better way to spend my career than in this industry.

To be successful in life, you have to be passionate about what you do and just absolutely love it. Building my company culture and cleaning buildings for people is such a great way to live my life. I'm very proud of the industry and my BSCAI community, which has been incredibly important in my development. This company has made me who I am today and I can't wait to see what the future has in store.

CEO Patrick Comaskey founded Direct Clean in 1988 and built a leading brand in the North Eastern Corridor market from the ground up. Patrick has been an active member of BSCAI since 1991. If you'd like to contact Patrick, please send him an email at

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Direct Clean CEO Reflects On Career