Touring Impact Cleaning Services’ newly renovated and expanded head office in the west end of Toronto, it’s hard not to be impressed with the 62-year-old cleaning company. Besides it being pristine, the 6,500-square-foot space features a modern eat-in kitchen fully stocked with tasty and healthy office snacks to keep staff energy levels high, on-site laundry facilities and a vibrant blue accent wall that mirrors the colourful personalities of two of the company’s youngest employees. Above all else, the passion and enthusiasm of the Boutsalis brothers — George, 26, and Yiannis, 24 — for the family business left a lasting impact.
The two began working for the janitorial and facility services contractor as day porters during their sophomore year in high school. They quickly rose through the ranks and moved into progressive management roles much like their father Chris did when he joined Impact Cleaning almost 40 years ago. Chris is now president of the well-established cleaning business, which has roots dating back to the 1950s.
The Big Picture
The story of Impact Cleaning begins in 1954, when a young man by the name of Ronald Young started cleaning storefront windows in Toronto for the cut-rate price of 75 cents. By 1960, Young had expanded the business into all facets of contract cleaning and officially adopted the name, Impact Cleaning Services. From there, the company grew to become a dominant force in the local cleaning market, providing professional, quality services for an exceptional value.
Chris was first introduced to Impact Cleaning in 1978, when the company he was working for at the time, Aggressive Building Maintenance, merged with the then 24-year-old cleaning business. His entry into the world of contract cleaning, however, occurred years earlier. In the mid ‘70s, while waiting tables at a Toronto restaurant, Chris seized an opportunity to earn some extra cash by offering cleaning services to the small office space next door.
“The first time I cleaned the building it took me 12 hours,” reminisces Chris about the 10,000-square-foot space. “By the end of the first week, I was able to clean it in just five hours overnight.”
Soon after, the young entrepreneur secured four more cleaning contracts. But instead of building up his own operation, Chris joined Aggressive Building Maintenance — a move he is lauded for to this day.
“If he hadn’t pursued this opportunity, his life course might have been very different,” says Chris’s eldest son, George, who is now Impact Cleaning’s director of business relations. “The right opportunity presented itself and Chris had the foresight at 23 years old to take it.”
Chris’s ability to see the big picture and put aside short-term gains in favour of long-term goals has served him and the company well. As a salesman and then vice-president of sales and marketing, Chris helped increase Impact Cleaning’s financial and geographic growth year-over year, steering it to a profitable future. In his role as vice-president of operations, Chris propelled the company to branch out and offer specialized services, including emergency restoration and total carpet care, which his brother John (a 30-year company veteran) oversees. By the time Chris became president in 1998, he had already begun to lay the foundation for Impact Cleaning to become what it is today — a ‘green’ one-stop full-service cleaning company. Once he bought out the business’ remaining partners in 2003 to become the sole owner, he was finally able to turn his astute vision into a reality. Today, the company services 22 million square feet across Ontario daily. While Impact Cleaning’s primary source of business comes from the office sector, its client list spans multiple industries, including multi-residential, education, health care, retail, hospitality, industrial and government properties.
Leading by Example
Although Impact Cleaning has evolved since Chris took over the reins, with estimates that it has tripled in scope and size, the company has remained staunchly committed to providing exceptional service and value to customers. This is largely behind its pursuit of the CIMS (Cleaning Industry Management Standard) designation over the past five years.
“We have never strayed from our dedication to doing things the right way,” says George.
Administered by the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA), CIMS applies to an organization’s management practices, internal operations and delivery of service to customers. Conformance demonstrates a company is structured to provide consistent, high-level janitorial and maintenance services. To obtain the designation, a contractor must undergo a comprehensive assessment conducted by an accredited third party testing agent.
In 2011, Impact Cleaning achieved CIMS certification for its City of Toronto properties, as mandated by the municipal government in its request for proposals. Two years later, when the City buildings were subject to reassessment to keep the designation in good standing, Impact Cleaning’s entire building portfolio was audited at the company’s request. To its delight, all 165 properties were certified with honours.
“This was a huge accomplishment,” says George about obtaining the North American benchmark accreditation for cleaning companies. “Impact Cleaning was one of the earliest proponents of CIMS, and one of the first to introduce it to the commercial building sector.”
Impact Cleaning has also achieved CIMS-GB company-wide, again with honours. The ‘green building’ component of the standard establishes a contractor is capable of providing an environmentally preferable cleaning service and assisting clients in earning LEED EB:O&M (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance) points.
As part of its green cleaning program — aptly titled Team Green, as a collective effort is required to reduce environmental impacts at the company’s work sites as well as its corporate head office — Impact Cleaning only uses cleaning materials and products that are recyclable and eco-friendly, such as biodegradable garbage bags and containers, and cleaning solutions that carry the Green Seal or EcoLogo (also known as Environmental Choice) label. The company also consistently upgrades equipment to meet and exceed green standards.
“We realize the impact of a greener and cleaner tomorrow so we aim to reduce waste and divert pollution wherever and whenever we can,” says George.
With the goal of one day becoming carbon neutral, the forward-thinking company has rolled out a number of initiatives that illustrate it doesn’t just ‘talk the talk.’ Impact Cleaning now maintains an on-premises laundry facility, which allows for more control over the laundering process and, resultantly, a reduction in the amount of water and cleaning agents used; is in the process of replacing the vehicles in its fleet with hybrids; appoints supervisors that live close to the buildings it serves to conduct cleaning inspections in order to curtail harmful carbon emissions; and recycles unused uniforms to reduce waste going to landfills.
“When we give our cleaners new uniforms, we take back the old ones and have them turned into scraps, which are used as cleaning materials at industrial sites and during exterior grounds maintenance,” explains project manager Yiannis.
Technology in Touch
Staying ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing industry has been essential to Impact Cleaning’s success. The company has been at the forefront of the green cleaning movement, is currently on the leading edge of the sustainable cleaning movement (or what it calls, “cleaning forward”) and is a tech trailblazer.
“We’re always working to implement new technology and innovative software to deliver cost-effective and high-quality services,” says Yiannis.
Six years ago, Impact Cleaning implemented barcode scanners at its shopping centres to monitor labour efficiencies. In 2014, the company introduced biometric time clocks and fingerprint readers at 20 per cent of its sites to manage its workforce and reduce payroll expenses, and has since rolled the technology out to half of its building portfolio. These systems automatically collect and track employee time and attendance, virtually eliminating the risk of human-generated payroll errors and the practice of “buddy punching” (when a worker clocks in and out for another), resulting in money loss. Recently, it switched from using CleanTelligent to Accelerator CC. The cloud-based commercial cleaning mobile software helps users profitably manage contracts, bids, operations, sales and staff, while providing advanced on-site inspection and quality assurance to their customers. As a SaaS (software as a service) platform, it delivers an advanced level of automation, remote or field connectivity and built-in practices that specifically target the needs of commercial cleaning organizations and their customers.
“We made the transition to Accelerator six months ago because it has a lot more flexibility and customization, and provides real-time cleaning data and metrics,” explains Yiannis. “This allows us to see the big picture, which is critical to maintaining our competitive advantage.”
But it’s not the only contributing factor. The company’s strong and positive corporate culture has been instrumental in achieving its competitive edge.
“We’re a family,” says Yiannis. “We’re in this together — not just Chris, George, John and I — but the entire Impact Cleaning team.”
Clare Tattersall is the editor of Facility Cleaning & Maintenance