- BSCAI President Reflects on Career in Cleaning
How Bee-Clean Acquired Heritage Building Maintenance
It was in late 2016 that Compass decided to sell part of its business. Philippe was a key figure moving over in this transaction. While the previous seven years had been a great chapter, Philippe believed in trusting his gut, even if it meant taking big chances.
Sensing greater opportunities elsewhere, Philippe had a vision, reaching out to a select list of BSCs. In what would be a mutually beneficial decision, Philippe accepted a position at Bee-Clean Building Maintenance in August 2018. Trusting his broad range of experience, the company gave Philippe a new role as Canadian senior vice president, customer experience.
For Philippe, the decision was especially meaningful as Bee-Clean itself is a family-owned organization. The same grassroots mentality that drove him to succeed in so many different roles and overcome challenging and real-life situations early in his career prepared him for this dream role.
“It is quite incredible, as I competed against Bee-Clean in my years prior. It was amazing that this company grew organically over 50 years to be the largest family-owned commercial cleaning company in Canada — 15,000 employees is a remarkable feat,” reflects Philippe. “You can only do that if you recognize that people are your greatest strength.”
One of the primary goals Philippe is tasked with at Bee-Clean is to scout and secure expansion opportunities in the U.S. Having the experience of working for different companies, it is essential that he identify prospects that prioritize service quality and employee development. After a multi-year process of researching and interviewing different BSCs to learn about company culture, management style and markets of service, Philippe helped to spearhead the acquisition of Heritage Building Maintenance, based in Des Moines, Iowa.
“So many factors play into the decision to acquire a company, including the management team, size, revenue concentration, types of sectors they service, and retention history,” says Philippe. “Having previous experience working in the U.S. with Hurley from 2006-2010 also provided some key knowledge of the market.”
The due diligence in selecting the right BSC to acquire paid off. Since the purchase became official in September 2022, Heritage has expanded into neighboring regions, including Waterloo and Cedar Rapids.
Key to this success has been the ability to provide innovative cleaning solutions that cater to specific clients, such as microbial protection services for healthcare facilities. Other sectors of success include aviation and commercial real estate.
“We secured the airport in Des Moines just recently, which is a big win for us. We service many airports in Canada, so again, we are leveraging experiences north and south of the border to help grow the business and land some interesting opportunities,” notes Philippe. “We're also very strong in the healthcare sector. We specialize in medical-grade cleaning. It is very technical work, and we take pride in our ability to deliver it.”
Plenty lies ahead for the ongoing integration process of Heritage and Bee-Clean. For Philippe, it comes down to finding the right fits for additional expansion and doing so in a collaborative way.
“Imposing our processes, for us, should be really limited to health and safety and supporting talent identification and growth opportunities,” says Philippe. “We are not ever going to come in and say, ‘you have to change the logo or the way you do things.’ That is not the way we operate as an organization or a culture. At the end of the day, our goal is to optimize customer outcomes, safety and make it easy to collaborate and do business with us.”
Philippe developed an appreciation for the importance of networking and learning new perspectives at a young age, when he would routinely join his family in travels across Europe. Over the years, Philippe’s father, Daniel, established valuable friendships with BSC representatives in countries including Holland, France, and England through his involvement with the World Federation of Building Service Contractors (WFBSC). Daniel served as president of WFBSC from 2002-2004 and during that time, Philippe was able to partake in many WFBSC events.
“I was able to spend time with members and work in and learn their business, and they were sending people to Canada to learn about our market as well,” Philippe recalls. “It was an incredible experience to have that background, and I learned over time how much of an asset it would become.”
Philippe credits J. Michael Horgan from Hurley for encouraging him to get involved with the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI), and to start attending events when he joined Hurley Corporation in 2005. He would eventually find his footing in the association and serve as BSCAI director from 2007-2010. However, his travel commitments after joining Compass required him to step away from the association for some years.
His return to the association coincided with the beginning of his Bee-Clean tenure. Philippe jumped into volunteer roles and committees and was asked to rejoin the BSCAI Board of Directors in 2020. In 2024, he begins his position as BSCAI president — the third Canadian to hold the distinction.
“The ability to establish lifelong connections and learn pressing industry trends is invaluable. I am thankful for the support of our members. I encourage any contractor to join BSCAI, to take advantage of the many resources available to executives, and to get to know your industry peers,” stresses Philippe.
Looking ahead to his presidency, Philippe is excited to continue to build on the impressive legacy of BSCAI conferences, virtual programming, certifications, and other avenues of growth for members. BSCAI is the only association focused exclusively on the contract cleaning and facility maintenance industry.
“The opportunity to lead an organization that is helping members educate their teams, learn how to grow, improve service delivery, and showcase the value that contractors deliver is a privilege,” he says.
Philippe’s unique ties to WFBSC also open the door to expanded collaboration between the organizations.
Whether it is managing a strategic initiative, an acquisition for Bee-Clean, or spearheading an initiative for BSCAI, Philippe will always take a calculated approach. It is a skill set he has honed over the course of a rewarding journey that has included securing, integrating, and operating several complex businesses within challenging environments. Regardless of circumstance, he has made a promise to himself to never forget his roots: humble beginnings of sweeping floors of department stores while becoming an industry leader.
“I'm blessed to have the support of my wife, Beatrice, and our children, Thayla and Tristan, and to be a part of a family that has been in this business for decades,” says Philippe. “One of the values I always emphasize in my leadership style is to never compromise your integrity or your name, no matter what.”
James DeGraff, senior associate editor, has spent four years creating and overseeing content for Contracting Profits, Facility Cleaning Decisions, and Sanitary Maintenance magazines, as well as CleanLink.com.
BSCAI President Reflects on Career in Cleaning