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Great companies are driven by any number of attributes, often instilled by leadership and trickling down to employees at every level. At Bolana Enterprises, Beltsville, Maryland, it's hard to argue that the whole ship isn't powered in large part by passion — a deep, genuine drive to build a company full of great people, provide great service, and make a great impact on the community. Meanwhile, sincerity is an oft-used buzzword, frequently tossed around by motivational speakers alongside terms like "honesty" and "integrity" as advice for budding entrepreneurs just looking to get their foot in the door. But these aren't just buzzwords at Bolana — they're foundations, and they mean something real.  

The simple concepts that the company is built on offer a helpful roadmap for navigating the business landscape in 2022 — a world wracked with distrust sowed by a pandemic, where worker/employee relationships are fraught, and creating a workplace that employees want to be a part of is invaluable. 

Bolana, helmed by husband-and-wife team Valarie and LeRoy Dock, has been around in some form or another since 2004. Prior to that, Valarie worked in government, a rewarding career, but one that left her wondering just where the journey might take her. She's a native of the D.C. area, which is near and dear to her — as is apparent by the investment and care Bolana takes to cement their place and reputation in the community.  

Forging a Path 

After she left her government job, Valarie worked for a minority woman-owned janitorial services company for 11 years. This experience, not only gave her a hands-on education of the ins-and-outs of janitorial services, but it also helped lay the foundation for a leap into business ownership.  

"I really didn't think I'd be an entrepreneur," she remarks. "But once I started, I really liked it...I like working with our clients, and I love working with our employees." 

It was at LeRoy's urging that she took the plunge, and from the start, Bolana has been a family affair. The very name of the company is a tribute to the familial bonds that held it together from the earliest days: it's a combination of her mother's last name (Bolden), and her mother-in-law's first name (Leana).  

LeRoy is certainly no stranger to the building service contractor world. He worked for Gali Service Industries for more than 17 years; served on the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) Board of Directors and various sub-committees; and even received one of BSCAI’s most prestigious awards, the "Walter L. Cook Award" for distinguished service. LeRoy was uniquely situated to help guide Valarie on her new journey, and eventually he'd come to join the company himself, taking particular pride in the various philanthropic pursuits and community involvement that the company values.  

The growth of Bolana has been sure and steady — an excellent example of working within your means, taking smart and considered steps towards growth, and continuing to hone and build on the established company values. When Bolana gets involved with the community, it's because they've always been. When they talk about cleaning in an environmentally friendly way, it's because they have since the start. Bolana has made it a priority to value their employees since day one, and they do it in even grander fashion now.  

"One of the biggest challenges was that, in the beginning, I was working and running the company — and it was really difficult to do both, because you end up working really late," Valarie recalls.  

Bringing in a smart, capable team that grew to handle more responsibility, taking extra care to train employees down to the details, and approaching customer service with an always-positive attitude gradually meant that she could step back into her managerial role and focus on growing the company culture that she valued.  

Even a cursory glance at the Bolana company newsletters offers a striking glimpse at the family atmosphere of the workplace. Not just a repository for company news, these newsletters often read like family holiday cards, full of recognition for special achievements, scholarships awarded, employee get-togethers and more.  

A trip through one recent newsletter, for instance, showcases: six Bolana Team Member Dependent Scholarship winners with special recognition for academic achievement; a quick profile of a University of Maryland football player that interns with the company and calls LeRoy his mentor; a recap of company participation in a community march for voting rights; news on a bowling outing for local homeless youth; a call-to-awareness about the importance of donating blood; various safety and education awards, and more.  

It's a list of phenomenal accomplishments for the company that started by mentoring a pair of students at a local elementary school years ago.  

"If we can help someone along the way," goes the Bolana motto, "then our living is not in vain." 

The Dock’s don't just work to help people — they practice compassion in their cleaning practices, too. Demonstrating that the company cares about the community is applicable in the field. The Bolana approach is science-based, with Green Seal GS-42 Certification. 

"We clean to protect health and the environment, and are committed to making a conscious effort to lessen our impact on our environment," serves as a succinct mission statement.  

Valarie's steadfast leadership has earned a deserved share of praise and recognition. According to the Women Presidents Organization (WPO), Valarie is not only a "Women 2 Watch", but Bolana is one of the 2021 Fastest Growing Companies — an impressive feat 16 years after its inception. The praise shows that industry leaders believe Bolana is poised for even greater success in the years to come.  

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