A Family-Owned, Small Business Q&A

by | Nov 9, 2023 | Cleaning, Commercial, Family- Owned, Janitorial, Residential, Small Business

The following are a series of questions asked of Frank De Rosa about his family-owned, small business.

What are the origins of your business and how did it all start?

I have always wanted to be in business for myself. I was tired of working for other people giving ideas on how to increase sales and to no avail.

So, I suggested to my brother Joe let’s start a business. By chance I read an article that was titled ” There is gold in dirt “. So, we found a cleaning franchise called Sanitaire Building Service. We needed $5000 to buy into the franchise. By luck we found a banker who knew me and was willing to loan us $3000. The balance came from my father-in-law and the fellow who sold us the franchise.

What inspired you or your family to start this particular business?

My inspiration was my motivation to make money and put my own ideas to work.

How has the business evolved since its inception, and what were some of the significant milestones along the way?

Over the years I bought my brother out and went on my own working day and night going to college in between and playing music which I was noted for in the Rochester, N.Y. area to provide an income for my family as any money we made went back into the business while it was in its infancy.

What are some unique aspects of running a family-owned business, and how does this influence your company’s culture and values?

One of the unique factors of running a family business is quelling the personalities. I was always aggressive and some time that didn’t rub well with others. Until this day and now 60 years later my sons and I still have differences of opinion, which is good. Makes me know they are independently thinking.

What are the advantages and challenges of being a family-owned business in your industry?

There are many advantages to a family-owned business. The biggest is working together as a family, The challenge is knowing how to work together and maintain and harmonious relationships.

How does the family dynamic impact decision-making processes within the business?

The family dynamic that makes the process flow is understanding what each of us can do and how to achieve a bigger goal.

What inspired you to start in or enter the janitorial supply business, and what sets your company apart from others in the industry?

The inspiration that had the biggest impact on me was to prove I could do something and make it a success. My dad who came from Italy and fought in WW1 had no education was a janitor so that also entered my mind as I saw how he worked two jobs to make ends meet.

Could you describe the range of products your company offers and any specialized areas you focus on?

My janitor service company was asked by many customers can you get me this product or that product. Now as a full fledge Janitor supply business we have a wide range of products and the industry is constantly changing . During the pandemic we were extremely busy and designated as an essential company due to the nature of our business. Our product line can go from a toilet bowl brush to a cleaning machine worth thousands of dollars. We are getting into robotics.

How do you ensure the quality and reliability of the janitorial supplies you provide, and what criteria do you use when selecting your product range?

The quality of our products is based on our searching constantly for better solutions for our customers’ needs. This takes a lot of reading and information from different vendors. We also have an emergency response service which is a 24 hours service 7 days a week in the event of the digestion of a particular product. The institution or hospital treating the person can make a phone call and will be told what the product contains and what the remedies for it are.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in the janitorial supply industry, and how do you overcome them?

The biggest challenges are people who don’t know what they are buying. Education is the key to a good distributor. Another challenge is on line buying. People buy it because the price looks good. What happens to service after the sale, especially with chemicals , and machines.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in the janitorial supply market, and how do you incorporate them into your product offerings?

As mentions earlier to stay updated by reading and calling our manufacturers. Testing products to make sure they do the job they were designed to do and do it effectively and efficiently with the least amount of time and effort. We look for products that are labor saving and quality is consistent.

Can you share some examples of how you have helped clients find specific janitorial solutions or customized products to meet their unique needs?

We constantly work with customers and potential customers to make sure that the product they are looking for and the intended use is what they really need. This is particularly true when it comes to machines which  cost thousands of dollars . Also, certain chemicals.

What measures do you take to ensure the timely and efficient delivery of supplies, especially for clients with specific time constraints?

We deliver all orders within 48 hours, the exception being when a customer is out of product because the staff failed to note the amount of inventory on hand, and did not have enough supply on-hand until their normal delivery will arrive. In today’s market, with the supply chain being what it is, we try to order more often. We have minimum inventory levels that tell us it’s time to order.

How do you establish and maintain strong relationships with your clients and suppliers, and what strategies do you employ to ensure customer satisfaction and retention?

We are constantly updating our customer on new products , procedures and efficient services available. We also do in-house training.

How do you manage inventory and ensure the availability of essential janitorial supplies, especially during times of high demand or scarcity?

Inventory management is almost a full-time job. Our computer tells us when it’s time to reorder and we also check with our manufacturers to how the products we purchase from them have just in time delivery schedules.

What are your future plans for the growth and development of your janitorial supply business, and how do you envision adapting to the changing demands of the market?

Future growth will depend on what the market will bear, making sure our receivables are as close to the current as possible and always looking for more personnel to help us grow. We always look for partners we can work best with and help us grow. Relationships are vitality important in any business.