By Matt Ellis
In 1966, Star Trek and Batman were new shows on the TV dial; Ronald Reagan entered his first political race; the Black Panthers organized; and a postage stamp cost five cents. That same year, 25-year-old Al Diamond and his partner bought a 1964 Pontiac and filled it with cleaning supplies. He had no idea his small cleaning endeavor would survive — and thrive. Today, Premier Maintenance, an AffinEco company, is well established as a highly-reputable green cleaning provider in New York, New Jersey and New England.
“I was schooled as an engineer and worked for General Electric assigned to the Atlas rocket,” Diamond remembered. “But, I wanted to be my own boss and wanted a business that didn’t need a lot of capital to get started.”
What he did need was a commitment to hard work and a desire to be the best. In those early years, Premier Maintenance (PMI) secured a number of local customers and gave them the best service imaginable.
“We cleaned bakeries during the night and office buildings during the day. In those first half-dozen years, we did not lose a job. We were thorough in what we did and, in every employee, we instilled pride in what they were doing and respect for the customer they worked for,” said Diamond.
“The employees we’ve had here have been great,” said Dave Truedson, Director of Operations for the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium, a Premier customer since 1996. “Premier has our best interests at heart. They take a caring interest in what we are trying to do here,” which is more than just keeping the 140-thousand square foot facility clean and safe.”
Recently, the Maritime Aquarium was named the number one aquarium in New England and one of the top 25 aquariums in the US by Trip Advisor. Truedson says Premier’s expertise in green cleaning is an important reason the aquarium relies on them to keep the space looking great and to protect the health of the fish and animals that live there. Like the aquarium, Premier was an early adopter of green cleaning protocols.
Diamond and his son Michael, who has run the company since 1997 — and since merged it with his partner Paul Senecal in United Services of America and Melillo Maintenance to form AffinEco — credit their employees for the success of the business, which today employs close to 2,000 people.
“It’s all due to the quality of the people we have working for us,” Al Diamond said. “Our success is a tribute to the wonderful employees that have always worked hard and done the best they could.”
The cleaning business has changed a great deal over the last half century. For one, fewer companies handle cleaning and maintenance internally; the jobs are outsourced to service providers like AffinEco. As Al Diamond sees it, the window washing companies blazed the trail for building service providers. They would go from building to building cleaning windows and then branched out into cleaning and waxing floors. In fact, Michael Diamond has enjoyed a long partnership with Paul Nixon in Premier Services, which provides high-rise window washing and other specialty services. Eventually, such companies bundled all cleaning services under one umbrella.
According to the National Federation of Independent Business, commercial and residential cleaning is expected to generate $937 billion in receipts in 2016. As the industry has grown, companies have added even more services, like carpet cleaning, security, and construction buildouts and cleanup. According to Michael Diamond, offering these additional services helps companies achieve higher profits at a time when margins have shrunk.
“Today’s customers are focused on lowering costs while still receiving great service, so that creates a challenge for companies like ours,” Michael Diamond said. “The reason we are successful and able to keep our customers satisfied is because we work hard to earn their trust every day. Integrity and credibility are core values, and that’s why we can grow with our customers.”
(image courtesy of dreamsintime.com)