Today, Major Commercial Cleaning employs about 90 workers. The company offers a living wage and health care benefits to those working full-time. 

The company also has a cash incentive program; for every shift an employee is on time a credit is applied to an “Easy Money” account. At the end of the year, employees have the option of “cashing out.” Some employees use the money to pay off bills, while others use the funds to go on vacation. 

“Building people and building opportunity for people is really the part I enjoy the most,” Stewart says. “I really get a lot of joy out of having an impact on the homes and families.”

Throughout the day, Stewart greets his employees with a wide smile, a fist bump or a firm handshake. It’s clear that the employees are treated with respect, and they all seem to have a sense of pride in what they do. 

The company places strong emphasis on providing “good jobs to good people,” Stewart says.

His previous struggles provide a constant reminder for the business owner who is clearly grateful for his success. 

His colleagues say he is determined to pay it forward. 

“Robert’s a big believer in second chances,” says Julie Warren, vice president of business affairs. 

As a result, the company has hired workers with less than stellar backgrounds, rehired employees who had left the company and have given breaks to those who needed them the most. 

That was the case for Donna, a cleaning supervisor who tidies up the Ryman. When Donna applied for her job, she didn’t have a car, an issue that is typically a non-starter in the cleaning industry.

“She said, ‘If you give me this job I will find a way to get there,” says Stewart. “We really liked the way Donna worked. And she would always get here, right at 4:30.” 

For Nathaniel Peete, Stewart offered a path to success. After struggling to find a career he could be passionate about, he attended a Building Service Contractors Association International event and found the niche he had been searching for. 

He contacted “every BSC in Nashville” searching for a mentor who could steer him in the trade. No one returned his calls — except Stewart. 

Stewart considers Peete his “right-hand man.” After their first meeting, he was hired as an executive assistant and shepherded the process that helped Major secure an ISSA CIMS-GB certification.