Direct Clean CEO Reflects On Career
- Cleaning Reimagined During COVID-19 Pandemic
Contributed by Patrick Comaskey via BSCAI.
Direct Clean CEO Patrick Comaskey came to America in the mid-1980s in pursuit of the American dream. From pushing a cleaning cart around Manhattan to running a successful cleaning services operation spanning myriad markets and locations, Patrick embodies the unwavering spirit and passion of building service contractors. His story serves as an inspiration to other BSCs who are just getting their start in the industry, and even to those who are considered industry veterans. It reminds us that there are endless opportunities if you dare to pursue them.
Below is a firsthand account of Patrick's story.
My story wouldn't be original in the sense that I came to America as an immigrant in 1985. I was working odd jobs and was living in lower Manhattan, about 150 yards from the World Trade Center. I started cleaning meat plants in Brooklyn, and then I would come back to my neighborhood in the evening and would clean common areas of residential buildings once or twice a week.
Once I built up enough volume of work and staff, I gave up my day job and started cleaning full time. At that time, I was an undocumented immigrant, but I won my green card in a lottery in 1987 and established my company legally.
In those first years, I was rolling a shopping cart with a mop and bucket around the streets of Manhattan and cleaning buildings. I was working seven days a week, but that wasn't uncommon. I came from a farming community in Ireland that embodied the sense of working hard and seeing the reward. When I came to America, I wanted to live out the true American dream. I would see guys going to work on Wall Street in their suits, and I would be watching with my mop and bucket. It's incredible to reflect on that time of my life.
My hard work paid off. Business soon picked up and expanded to all across New York City. Today, we operate in three states.
A Leader In The Industry
I've always been in niche markets. Because I was in New York, there were so many different markets to choose from. I started out cleaning common areas, offices and lower floors of residential buildings. After that, I got involved in the arts and the film industry, and worked for the arts and film museums. I then started cleaning a lot of corporate offices, but traditionally, I was not running an office cleaning company.
I loved to take on more challenging facilities. The more challenging it was, the more interesting it was for me. For example, I cleaned Louis Vuitton's corporate space in New York, Marc Jacobs's office, and other big designers. I had a large variety of clients, but now, corporate, arts, museums and education spaces are our main market verticals.
Getting to where we are took a lot of hard work. In the beginning, we were in survival mode — working hard and trying to put the pieces together. We were tapping into new markets as we expanded into new neighborhoods.
Then I joined Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) in 1991. I went to my first seminar in Washington, D.C., and I just kept going to BSCAI conferences ever since, with a goal to continue learning about the industry. I always had the dream of building a great company.
In addition, I joined the World Federation of Building Service Contractors (WFBSC) and have been involved with the organization throughout my career. I would fly to the WFBSC congresses, which were held every two years in different parts of the world, and meet other BSCs from different countries.
Those events proved to be such unique experiences for me because they allowed me to see the industry from a global perspective. I could see firsthand that people in other countries had the same industry problems we were having in New York, and that gave me an amazing vision for where my company could go. I also met a lot of people that have unique companies around the world, which were incredibly valuable. I will always be grateful for those experiences with WFBSC.
Cleaning Reimagined During COVID-19 Pandemic