By Matt Ellis
Shortly after starting United Services of America — and 10 years before merging with Michael Diamond and Premier Maintenance — Paul Senecal secured contracts to clean several schools in New York City. Now, almost two decades later, the United Services division of AffinEco has earned a reputation for excellence servicing school buildings in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.
“We’ve gotten better at school cleaning as there have been more opportunities,” said Senecal. “There is tremendous financial pressure on school districts, and our services help them reduce costs while increasing the quality of the work and the cleanliness of the schools.”
This fall, AffinEco started cleaning 12 school buildings in Weston and Stamford, Connecticut. According to Branch Manager and Associate Vice President Carlos Nique, Stamford’s school department contacted AffinEco. “They were having issues with budgeting and they talked to Paul [Senecal], and he suggested some ideas. They liked the ideas, and we started a week later,” Nique said.
Over the years, AffinEco has designed its own proprietary model to accommodate the needs of school buildings – at the elementary, high school, and college level – and deploy its resources in the most efficient way possible. According to Nique, AffinEco has a specific method for dividing work among the crew servicing a school, which is different from the way they divide the workload in an office building. “You have to do it this way. At schools, you have to clean everything because everything gets messed up every day. There are more details, so we need more [concentrated] labor,” he said.
Many schools require union labor, but even in those that don’t, Senecal said, AffinEco does not settle for minimum wage personnel to service the buildings.
“In most cases, we are way above the minimum wage. We get the best results from quality people who are compensated fairly. That caliber of employee has more loyalty to the job,” Senecal said. He added that, because children are in the schools while AffinEco employees are there, those workers must be fingerprinted by the local police and are subject to a background check.
“You really have to think about the children when you’re doing your job,” Senecal said. “We have to be sure we select people with the right personality for the job; it’s not for everybody. Their behavior has to be two notches above where they would be in a corporate environment.”
Currently, AffinEco has contracts with public school districts, private schools, and universities in three states, totaling about three dozen buildings. As a green cleaning company, AffinEco utilizes safe chemicals and processes, which work well and help protect the health of students and staff. Nique explained that school districts often mention the green cleaning aspect as a reason they chose to contract with AffinEco for their building services. Utilizing sustainable products in the cleaning process has been proven to reduce student absenteeism, because the toxins in conventional chemicals can deplete human immune systems.
“We like school work. We think it’s good work for us and we do a lot to help communities. The hardest part is also the best part: you’re working around kids. It’s different than working in an office building, because they watch everything you do,” Senecal said.
Image courtesy of CMM