The Cleanaway Story
Craig Johnson’s career working in management for a national corporate cleaning company became untenable in September 1981. After considering his options he & wife Linda decided that they would start their own cleaning business. Plans were put in place for an early start the following day.
It was a humble beginning. Without business cards Linda used cardboard from shoe boxes to write Craig’s name, the new company name (Cleanaway Services) and their phone number. That was a Sunday. On Monday morning Linda went to her job as an Accounting Assistant while Craig packed up a plastic bucket, old towels, a domestic broom, a window squeegee, and some sunlight soap.
He targeted his nearest shopping centre which was Panmure and started at the far end of the township. ‘Borrowing’ warm water from shop owners he knew and commenced cleaning each of the shop front windows — he knew that most shops and retail outlets had their front glass cleaned once a week.
Although reaction from the shop keepers was ‘varied’, some enquired about ongoing service. The proposition would be $2 for the entire shop front windows and he would be there every Monday morning. With that Craig handed them one of his home-made business cards.
On that first Monday he contracted six shops who agreed to the $2 and a once weekly service. Cleanaway had commenced business with the modest, but significant, turnover of $12 per week! And if you can get six contracts, you can get six more!
The first six shops grew to around twenty and eventually these customers asked Craig to provide various other services. One offered him the job of painting the exterior of their two storied building. This was no mean feat with Craig hanging off a ladder suspended from the roof, for access to the upper level. The building owner (of the local hardware business!) didn’t have a decent extending ladder to use so an old wooden one was modified.
It took nearly 6 month’s for Cleanaway to contract a large corporate client, UEB Industries; starting with a few smaller ‘test’ jobs but growing into a significant contract for the Head Office building of UEB in Anzac Ave in the CBD. Linda resigned her accounting position to assist with the nightly demands associated with cleaning a site of this size.Equipment was purchased to meet the demands. They could not afford to employ staff until all the equipment had been paid for.
There were many long nights and days ahead and today Craig admits to using the odd ‘No Doze’ tablet. A carpet cleaning machine was purchased and after a full nights work Craig would often be booked out for a day’s carpet cleaning. Weekends were spent polishing the UEB site. Every desk got polished over the weekend and every nook and cranny attended to. It was a huge job each weekend. Eventually their family stepped in — if they were going to get to spend any time with Craig and Linda they needed to go and work with them!
Read more about the Cleanaway story............