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2020 was a pivotal year, especially for the cleaning industry. The COVID-19 pandemic changed how commercial cleaning was perceived and shined a spotlight on the importance of cleaning and disinfection. Commercial cleaners were among the essential workers who gained new recognition as everyday heroes. 

Todd Hopkins, founder and CEO of Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services, served as president for the past year of the Building Services Contractors Association International (BSCAI), the leading trade association for the building services industry, which encompasses cleaning, facility maintenance, security, landscaping and more.

As he wrapped up his year as president of BSCAI, Hopkins reflected on how the pandemic affected his company, BSCAI and the cleaning industry and how he expects those experiences will change the industry going forward. 

Question: It’s safe to say that 2020 was not what anyone expected it to be, and that’s especially true for the commercial cleaning industry. How did the sudden and intense scrutiny of workplace cleanliness affect Office Pride and the industry? 

Hopkins: The focus on workplace cleanliness has really increased people’s appreciation of commercial cleaning. I am especially proud of Office Pride franchisees and how they have worked with their customers to give employees the confidence to return to work. We have seen greater communication and better morale than ever. In some ways, having a common enemy in this virus has brought contractors and customers closer together. Everybody was trying to understand the virus and work together to combat it.

A lot of good has come out of this tragic situation. As a business, you learn who your natural leaders are. And I think society as a whole has taken a step back and considered, “Who are the truly essential people around us?”

In years past, people have hired cleaning companies and wanted them to stay behind the scenes. Now they want janitors and cleaners to be seen so that people know their offices are being cleaned and disinfected. It shows companies care about their employees and customers.

Q: How did COVID-19 affect BSCAI? 

Hopkins: Shortly after I was elected president of BSCAI, COVID-19 hit. COVID forced us to increase communication and education to our contractors. We knew we could provide a lot of value to our members by becoming a hub of information and helping them sort through the information coming from the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and the [Environmental Protection Agency].

Our membership grew even as all of our events went virtual. We hosted 20 town halls in 2020, and our members said they felt like we offered more value and offerings than ever before. We created an environment where contractors could share ideas and best practices and work together to solve this problem.

Our industry has stepped up to provide a valuable service to customers and to do our part in keeping the economy going and allowing people to work.

Q: You led the effort to create a COVID-19 disinfection and safety course at Office Pride and at BSCAI. Are you pleased with the results?

Hopkins: Yes, I challenged BSCAI to put together training for our members, and a group of volunteers worked tirelessly to create a course in record time. We made the course available at a fraction of the normal cost so members could use it to train their people. Since it rolled out in September, we have seen more than 15,000 frontline employees complete the course every  month. It has been a huge success, thanks to the collaborative efforts of industry experts.

Q: What do you think was your biggest accomplishment as BSCAI president? 

Hopkins: Facilitating a culture of communication, calmness and confidence in the middle of a crisis, and allowing communication, calmness and confidence to overcome panic. I was really happy to see members rise to the occasion, share best practices and contribute to the solution.

We were made for times such as this, so a big accomplishment was just fostering the right mindset as we navigate it.

Q: What do you expect 2021 to hold for the commercial cleaning industry?

Hopkins: I believe our industry will experience a lot of growth in 2021, as businesses value cleaning more than ever. In 2021, I am hopeful that we will see most buildings open again, and therefore, in need of cleaning services. I don’t think that we will ever see cleaning return to being an invisible, behind-the-scenes activity. People understand the importance of cleaning and want it to be a visible part of the workplace.

We are part of the solution, and the world needs us.