Matt Vonachen Finds A Home At Family’s Contract Cleaning Firm
More than two decades in the cleaning industry taught Matt Vonachen what it takes to lead a family-owned business, even if he never expected that business to be in building service contracting Photo by Details Nashville

Matt Vonachen always imagined he’d one day lead a family-owned business, as he does today. But the president and CEO of Vonachen Services, Inc. (VSI), Peoria, Illinois, just never expected it to be a contract cleaning business.

Originally Vonachen was a product of the jan/san distribution industry. He grew up working in the warehouse and making deliveries for Vonachen Industrial Supplies, the distribution company founded by his grandfather Bob in 1938 and later operated by Vonachen’s father, Jay, and Jay’s brother, Rudy.

A few years after Vonachen graduated from college in 1986, a plan began to formulate. He would return to Peoria and begin working his way up the company ladder with an eye on one day running the show.

“I think my father was honest, and when he was doing his succession planning and asked me to come back in ’93, that was his intention that I would take the [distribution] business over,” says Vonachen. “But circumstances changed.”

Over the years, Vonachen has become skilled at altering course — making the best of such changes in circumstances. Ultimately, that winding road has led him to VSI, the building service contracting business that, like its owner, has adapted and changed with the times.

For one thing, VSI was founded under the name Professional Maintenance. For another, it’s now part of the Vonachen Group, a holding company founded by Vonachen in 2016.

Finally, the company — as well as its CEO — has become a major player in the contract cleaning industry, recognized at the national level. Vonachen recently completed two three-year terms serving on the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) board of directors.

“Matt always had a way about him that made you feel like he was sincerely glad to see you and that he truly cared about you and what you had to say. With that said, he’s a determined leader of people. … He’s determined to be the best at what he does,” says Pat Gibbons, a close family friend and former owner of Diversified Services for Industry (DSI), based in Streator, Illinois, which was acquired by VSI in 2008.

Along the way, Vonachen has transformed Vonachen Group into a Midwest heavyweight through both organic growth and key acquisitions of other cleaning companies.

That makes it a far cry from the small cleaning business in central Illinois that was created primarily to prop up its bigger, older sibling, Vonachen Industrial Supplies.

next page of this article:
An Early Career In Jan/san Distribution