Teaching Janitors How To Clean Is A Focal Point
The SouthEast LINK Experience Center replicates various cleaning environments, including restrooms

In many ways, SouthEast LINK’s offices and warehouse look like those of many other distributors, located in an easily overlooked side street in a typical industrial park. From the outside, the facility’s only notable feature is the barbed wire atop the tall chain-link fence surrounding the property, courtesy of the building’s previous tenant, a company that recorded some of its customers’ personal information and, thus, needed some level of external security.

Inside is where things get more interesting. There’s a showroom for retail sales and demonstrations. There’s a warehouse that’s much smaller than one might expect from a company this size. (SouthEast LINK is a member of the buying group Pro-Link, which happens to run a regional distribution center less than a minute down the road, affording SouthEast LINK the ability to conserve its warehouse space.) And part of that warehouse space is devoted to rows of cleaning machinery in various states of repair, since SouthEast LINK offers a full-service center for equipment warranties, repairs, preventative maintenance and trade-ins. The distributor will even seek out used equipment — on Craigslist, at school auctions and from a group of independent sellers — refurbish it and resell it.

But the most eye-catching corner of the facility houses what Grego and her team call the Experience Center. The SouthEast LINK staff light up when the topic arises.

“This room is what impressed me,” says Mark Searcy, SouthEast LINK’s new sales manager who recently started with the company following an 18-year stint with the building service contractor franchise Coverall where he focused on education and training.

The Experience Center features half a dozen different stations created to replicate various cleaning environments — restroom, classroom, gymnasium, office, cafeteria and long-term care facility. The stations are actually set up with toilets, sinks, desks, tables, hardwood floors, tile floors, patient beds, filing cabinets and more.

“We’ve learned that you can teach a class and lecture, but if you actually have somebody experience it, they’re going to retain more of the knowledge by actually doing it instead of listening to somebody just spew information out,” says Jack Adelman, vice president of education and training, as well as part owner of the company.

However, classes are still a vital part of learning, and SouthEast LINK holds more than 100 sessions a year as part of the company’s Cleaner University, or Cleaner U program, which Adelman says has become synonymous with SouthEast LINK.

“We’re known as the educating distributor here in town,” he says.

Adelman has become the unofficial “headmaster” of Cleaner U, and his team of trainers offer everything from seminars to product demonstrations to hands-on workshops — in the Experience Center or at the customer’s location — as well as Certified Industry Training Standard (CITS) training, CITS Master’s Certification and Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) Expert and CIMS-Green Building training.

Since taking the helm at SouthEast LINK, Grego has helped create even more service offerings. The company has started offering workloading solutions for customers, and SouthEast LINK’s already well-established reputation for green cleaning and sustainability has only been enhanced by Grego’s push into engineered water products.

But in many ways, SouthEast LINK’s focus on service, sustainability and training has been there from the start.

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