Pro-Team Garners Honors
This year certainly has been off to an auspicious start for Pro-Team Inc., a manufacturer of backpack vacuums based in Garden City, Idaho.

First, president Larry Shideler has been named the “2001 Idaho Small Business Person of the Year” by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Shideler accepts his award modestly. “The award is a reflection of the hard work everyone has put in at Pro-Team. The award is a great honor, but it takes a ‘we’ — it takes everybody,” he says in a press release.

However, Thomas Bergdoll Jr. of the SBA’s Boise office says Shideler more than deserves his award; the former building service contractor’s innovations turned over-the-shoulder vacuums from cumbersome burdens into ergonomic backpacks.

If that honor wasn’t enough, the company has been named one of Industry Week’s Top 25 Growing Companies.

The 55-employee company has experienced a 90 percent growth in revenue, and a 173 percent increase in profits in the last three years.

The 25 companies Industry Week selected come from a variety of manufacturing industries, including Mexican food, doors and windows and electronic cabling systems.

Justice for Janitors Gears Up for Another Year
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has launched its Justice for Janitors 2001 campaign by focusing on the East Coast.

Union and non-union janitors already have picketed in Baltimore, New Jersey and in suburban Philadelphia. Recently, cleaners at Hartz Mountain Industries, a New Jersey real-estate firm, broke a bird-shaped piñata (representing Hartz’s pet-food past) to reveal only a tiny paycheck.

The SEIU hopes to eventually unionize 20,000 janitors in those areas. All of this action will come to a peak June 15, on Justice for Janitors Day. On that day, the SEIU plans to expose the “Top Trash” — property firms and cleaning contractors the union deems unfair, greedy or exploitative of workers — in many cities.

Report: MSDs Decline
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently published a report that shows a decline in the number of work-related injuries caused by musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) resulting in lost workdays.

Employers reported 582,300 cases of MSDs that resulted in employees missing work in 1999. That number was down from 592,500 in 1998 and significantly lower than the 784,100 reported in 1992.

Those working in the janitorial and cleaning field reported 14,100 or nearly 2.5 percent of the total cases claimed in 1999. Previous years’ data by industry was not available.

Can You Top This?
Most industries have war stories, but it seems that the cleaning industry really has more than its share of incredible situations. This new column, which will be featured most months in CP, will be about the funniest, strangest or weirdest things in the business. For our first story, see if you can top this!

The Fast Thinker
Claude Landers, an industry icon in Dallas, had a large client with several satellite offices that were in the vicinity of the corporate campus. One morning, Claude was inspecting buildings and went into one of the satellite offices, or so he thought.

“May I help you?” the receptionist asked.

“I’m with the janitorial service and need to look around the building,” Claude replied.

He proceeded to tour the building and became upset because it was in poor shape. He began to realize none of the people looked familiar.

When he was almost through with his inspection tour, a man with a very confused look on his face approached Claude and asked, “Is there something I can help you with?”

Again Claude replied, “No, I’m with the janitorial service and I’m just looking around. Frankly, your building is in bad shape, and we’ll get on top of it immediately.”

“I don’t know who you’re with, but you’re not with our janitorial company,” said the man.

After realizing his mistake, and without missing a beat, Claude replied, “Would you like me to give you a bid?”

Dannette Young is an industry veteran and executive vice president of American Housekeeping, Inc. in Dallas, Texas. Send your stories to her or give her a call at 214-741-3714, ext.20.

Mergers & Other Moves

  • Does the cleaning industry have a sympathetic voice in Washington? Claire Buchan, former vice president of communications for ServiceMaster, Downers Grove, Ill., is now a spokesperson for the Bush Administration. Prior to her tenure at ServiceMaster, Buchan worked for the U.S. Treasury department.

  • Johnson Wax Professional, Sturtevant, Wis., and Tennant Co., Minneapolis, have formed a joint venture company, NextGen Floor Care Solutions™. The joint venture is planning to introduce a new floor-cleaning system. NextGen will operate as a separate entity from the parent companies, with a separate sales force and distribution channels.

  • SCA, a Stockholm, Sweden-based paper company, has expanded its U.S. operations through the acquisition of Georgia-Pacific's away-from-home tissue operations, Georgia-Pacific Tissue, LLC. The acquired business will operate as SCA Tissue North America LLC, a unit of SCA North America. Also, SCA has acquired Tuscarora Inc., a New Brighton, Pa.-based producer and marketer of protective packaging.

  • Tornado Industries, Chicago, and its European partner Karcher GbmH have expanded into the Canadian market. The complete Tornado, Karcher and Tornado/Karcher lines already are available in the United States.

  • Athea Laboratories Inc., Milwaukee, has acquired Matarah Industries Inc., also of Milwaukee. Matarah produces premoistened towels, while Athea manufactures specialty chemicals and nonwoven products.

  • The Kimberly-Clark Corp.’s Away-From-Home Sector has been renamed Kimberly-Clark Professional.

  • Pitt Plastics, Pittsburgh, Kan., has agreed to acquire Capital Poly Bag, Columbus, Ohio.

  • Piedmont National Corp., Atlanta, has joined Network Services Co., Mount Prospect, Ill.

  • Service Management Group/SMG Services, a BSC in Bridgeport, Conn., has promoted Victor Carrasquillo and Frank Perez to Vice Presidents of Operations.

  • The Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration (ASCR) has elected Cliff Zlotnik president. Zlotnick, CR, CMH, WLS, is of Unsmoke/Microban Systems, Braddock, Pa.

Show Emboldens Janitors
Teachers sometimes praise the David E. Kelley television show, “Boston Public,” for its depiction of educators as dedicated, overworked professionals (and some decry its over-the-top, soap-opera plots), but the April 24 episode put the spotlight on janitors.

History teacher Marla Hendricks (played by Loretta Devine), so disappointed with her students’ dismal performance on a test, comments that with those scores, they all should drop out and, without an education, will end up janitors. She then takes the students outside to pick up trash on the school grounds as a “lesson.”

The next day, one of the parents visits Marla, upset by the remarks she made about janitors. He is a janitor, and is making a respectable living. He not only graduated high school, but attended a few college classes. Marla then is angry with herself and offers her resignation. (The character had not returned to her job as of press time.)

The show airs 8 p.m. Mondays on the Fox network.