This is part three of a three-part profile of Jason Lee, owner of Lee Building Maintenance.

With Lee Building Maintenance, Lee now has a second chance at running his own contract cleaning business. And Lee is big on second chances.

Occasionally, Lee Building Maintenance will bring someone in for an interview to fill an open position and the candidate doesn’t outwardly present well. Maybe the candidate’s clothes or demeanor aren’t professional.

“Jason takes those as teachable moments,” says April.

Lee will tell the candidate, no matter the job, he should dress as if he’s interviewing for a position at a Fortune 500 company — after all, that’s the vision Lee has for his company. Lee will explain that even though the candidate is interviewing for a job as a janitor, he’ll still represent the company. Lee will then tell the candidate to go home and they’ll try the interview again later.

Lee’s faith in people is unwavering, which may be why he goes out of his way to help them. One time Lee found out from an employee that a family of complete strangers moved to Frederick in the winter with no place to stay, so Lee put them up in a motel for a month.

I’m told plenty more stories like this one during my trip to Frederick. For example, Karen Edelen, Lee Building Maintenance’s director of operations has worked with Lee for almost nine years. When Lee formed his own company, Edelen accepted Lee’s offer to come work for Lee Building Maintenance. He knew how loyal of an employee Edelen was, but he may not have known that loyalty was born from Lee’s interest in advancing her career.

“Jason’s pushed me to where I am today,” she says. “I used to be very quiet.”

Lee, recognizing this, would nudge Edelen out of her comfort zone, asking her to run meetings with clients and give presentations. At first, it created a lot of sleepless nights for Edelen, but over time she became more comfortable and confident working with customers.

If Lee’s benevolence has contributed to his sterling reputation as an employer and businessman in Frederick, then it was by complete accident.

“I think if you put forth your best intentions and you look at how you can help build people up, blessings will come in different ways,” he says.

One of those blessings is that people love to work for or with him, says Edelen. The community of Frederick loves “Jason the Janitor.” But Lee is also thinking bigger than just Frederick. Lee Building Maintenance isn’t even a year old, and Lee and April are already looking to the future.

If that business plan seems hurried, know that it’s not. Every employee of Lee Building Maintenance said the words “policies and procedures” to me at least once.

“In part, our continued growth as a company depends on the strength of our policies and procedures,” says April.

In fact, she says this is her primary focus right now.

“If you don’t train people, there is no way for them to understand what is expected of them,” says April.

The importance placed on policies and procedures has manifest itself in a number of ways so far, from snazzy new uniforms as part of a stringent new dress code, to the company working to earn its Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) Certification from ISSA. The company has also instituted new titles for its cleaning staff members, calling them “solutions technicians.” Lee and April hope this change empowers their employees to use their critical thinking skills to determine solutions to customers’ needs. In an innovative move for a young company, Lee Building Maintenance has even hired a part-time interpreter named Melissa Lara. Lara translates every document, every training seminar, every company meeting into Spanish for the company’s quickly growing Hispanic employee base.

Lee hopes laying this administrative groundwork will allow the company to overcome the biggest challenge he sees on the horizon: making sure Lee Building Maintenance is able to expand by bringing in new customers — customers with whom Lee hasn’t already built a strong relationship.

“That’s why we are so focused on the training and implementation of our policies and procedures,” says Lee. “It’s a big jump to get to this next level, and we must be a well-oiled machine in order to get there.”

Still, most building service contractors will tell you, small business is all about relationship building. So, even if it’s not the main attraction, Lee’s demeanor — his infectious enthusiasm and sincerity — will always matter.

“No matter how large we grow, I believe that training our managers and staff to provide customers with a personal touch can only aid in our success,” says April. “I’m a firm believer that when any size company forgets this nuance, it could stunt growth.”

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From Small Cleaning Business Owner To Entrepreneur