One of the few good things about a recession, for business owners, is the additional available workforce that is unemployed or seeking part-time supplemental income. The labor pool building service contractors deal with can vary greatly depending on the geographic region they are based in as well as how healthy the general economy and market sectors are, the population makeup, minimum wage laws and union presence.

A recent Contracting Profits labor survey indicates that the vast majority of BSCs, 88 percent, prefer to promote managers from within. However, with the increased number of educated people out of work and looking for jobs, theoretically, BSCs have a golden opportunity to hire some skilled and talented new managers.

But many BSCs are hesitant to hire managers from outside the industry right now, citing the perception of janitorial work and the pay gap between industries as a deterrent to longevity.

“We’re finding better people out there, but they’re not long-term. They come to you because they were laid off from their previous job, and they’re taking a pay cut, so you’re getting qualified personnel but they’re not a long-term fix,” says Rafael Perez, senior vice president at Mexfil Hotel and Building Services Inc. in Houston.

Mexfil has gone through four outside-hire managers in six months, Perez says. Even though they are the type of employee BSCs dream of as far as work ethic and performance, as soon as those workers get a better opportunity, they take it.

“They’re just looking for something to pay some bills and stay working with you for a while,” he says. “But when somebody pays them $10,000 or $12,000 more, bye-bye.”

In other positions, such as sales, applications and resumes from college graduates are pouring in, but applicants lack experience. And for a lot of BSCs, experience in the industry matters more than education because they don’t want to pour training time and money down the drain if employees aren’t committed to staying with a company.

“I don’t think we’d even really consider you with no experience,” says Brian Schindler, vice president of HOTT Associates in Cleveland. “I’d say probably the only way you’re going to get in here if you’re from outside the industry is if you know someone who is, who can kind of vouch that you’re an excellent worker, good character.”

However, many BSCs are simply not hiring. The recession has employees hanging onto their jobs, so attrition is lower than usual, and with most BSCs experiencing revenue cuts, very few are adding jobs.

That hasn’t stopped unsolicited applicants from submitting resumes, Schindler says. He agrees that there are a lot of qualified managerial prospects out there.

“Between factories that have downsized, or people maybe from different lines of work that wouldn’t have considered working for us five years ago, there are quite a few candidates out there,” he says.

But whether they’re worth the investment of hiring, is up for debate.


Hawaii Requires Green Cleaning In Schools

After being vetoed by Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, the state House of Representatives and the Senate overrode the governor’s veto and enacted The Hawaii Green Cleaning for Schools law (House Bill 1538).

The bill is effective immediately and requires all public schools to purchase and use Green Seal approved cleaning products when feasible. Products covered in the bill include restroom cleaners, carpet cleaners, general-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, hand cleaners and hand soaps and paper towels used for cleaning. The bill does not cover floor chemicals, laundry cleaners, toilet and facial tissue products and towels for hand drying.



Mergers & Acquisitions

St. Louis-based Emerson has acquired ProTeam, Boise, Idaho. ProTeam will become part of the globally operating Emerson Professional Tools platform.

Professional Systems LLC, Macon, Ga., has acquired Executive Regional Management Inc., Robbins, N.C.



Letter to the Editor

I wanted to take the opportunity to clarify a few points from the article titled “Chemical Packets Control More Than Just Portion” from the August issue of Contracting Profits.

The article states, “While the per-piece pricing is low, pre-measured packets or cartridges are more expensive ounce for ounce that traditional bulk chemicals.” It’s true that packets may be more expensive ounce-for-ounce than bulk chemicals, but most of the ounces of traditional bulk chemicals are water. Therefore, the cost of a packet, once it is dissolved in water, will be less than bulk.

If the comparison is being made with concentrated chemicals used in dilution control systems, the statement is correct. But, as the article identifies later on, this cost difference is more than offset by the cost control that packets allow management, who can provide just enough chemicals for an application, avoiding misuse and overuse. In addition, packets do not suffer from dilution control system problems such as water hardness or water pressure, which can affect the actual dilution by as much as 50 percent.

As for the statement that portion control packets typically don’t suit large accounts; we have experienced otherwise. Major big box retailers have found the packet approach can save them millions of dollars. This is because a retailer or BSC with hundreds of similar locations can work with their chemical manufacturer to customize kits specifically for their cleaning requirements. The low weight of concentrated packets allows these kits to be shipped directly to stores, avoiding distribution channels and overstocking issues. And the simplicity of training and usage ultimately lowers their overall costs.

Finally, the article states that janitor’s closets with moisture problems could cause packets to dissolve. Moisture should not cause the packet to dissolve, as the film used in most packets requires one to two minutes of complete immersion in water to dissolve. In those rare cases where a packet may soften or leak unexpectedly, cascading chemical will not affect packets lower in the container, as they already hold the same chemical.

Frank Wiley, vice president of marketing
Pak-It LLC, Philadelphia