In the world of business there are followers and leaders. Aetna Building Maintenance in Columbus, Ohio, certainly falls into the latter group.

On a dewy September morning at headquarters, President Paul Greenland comes bursting through a door to greet his visitor. It’s barely half-past seven but the early morning meeting hasn’t perturbed the business owner.

“I come in early all the time,” he assures his guest. “I like to get a head start.”

This sort of ambition must run in the family genes. As the third-generation owner of the building service company, Greenland strives to stay ahead of the curve, both as a leader and as a business — though he’s not the first Greenland at the helm to take the company to new heights.

While the country was climbing out of the Great Depression in 1936, Greenland’s grandfather, David, was just getting his business off the ground. An immigrant from Poland, the elder Greenland canvassed the streets of greater Cincinnati washing windows for local businesses. He named his humble enterprise Aetna, possibly after the character in Greek mythology, but more likely, as Greenland suggests, to stay ahead of the competition in the Yellow Pages.

It worked. By the time the 1960s rolled around, Greenland’s father, Julian “Jay,” was able to build on numerous existing customer relationships to expand into concrete coating for their industrial clients, and eventually into the commercial cleaning market— well before many could put a finger on the industry. When the Building Service Contractors Association International formed in 1965, the senior Greenland was chosen to lead the trade association a few years later.

Today, Aetna is a multi-million dollar company with nearly 1,600 employees, and a wide range of janitorial, facilities management and industrial support services from West Virginia to Indiana to Kentucky.

With a strong commitment to excellence, to his employees and to the future of the building service industry, Greenland is next to serve as BSCAI president — the first father-son team to do so — when he begins his term in 2015. His mission? To change the way the world views facility maintenance.

“We need to focus on diversification and partnerships,” he says. “We’re not nameless, faceless gnomes cleaning offices. Now, customers are seeing us as an asset.”

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From Washing Floors To Aetna Company President