BY RACHEL PHILLIPS
With the emergence and spread of COVID-19, proper cleaning and disinfecting are more important than ever. As an essential service, there are several Capital Region commercial cleaning services still operating on the front lines during the pandemic.
When the first cases of COVID-19 broke out in the U.S., Matthew Montesi, president and owner of North Country Janitorial Inc. in Glens Falls, said he saw an uptick in business.
Initially, many businesses were requesting more thorough or more frequent services, he said. After the state-wide lock down went into effect, many of his contracts had to freeze services. However, business has increased for clients in essential industries, such as medical facilities and hospitals.
Derek Foster, president of Daigle Cleaning Systems, has clients from Albany to Lake George. He said is using displaced workers to fill the void and cover the increased demand for his company’s services.
“In our industry as a whole, we’re trying to do our part by helping those who are either out of work or are temporarily looking for something to keep them busy,” he said. “I’ve spoken with a few folks who are in the restaurant or bar industry who are reliant on tips. Unemployment isn’t able to cover their living expenses, so we’ve been able to train them and bring them on, and they’ve been able to help keep people safe and healthy and get a living wage at the same time.”
Though many of her clients’ offices have closed, April Weygand, president of April Fresh Cleaning, said she has received more requests from one-time clients requesting large disinfectant cleans.
“I’m hoping that people will realize that real clean is more than just ‘looking clean,’ and that ‘real clean’ takes time, and is therefore more costly,” said Weygand.
North Country Janitorial Inc. has five different divisions: janitorial, rental mat/laundry, resilient floor care, residential and commercial carpet cleaning and disaster restoration. Montesi said his company is particularly well-prepared to deal with the current pandemic thanks to its new training facility.
The training facility features a replica medical exam room modeled after those found in Hudson Headwaters heath centers. The facility also features a janitor’s closet, a waiting room and a kitchen, all of which are used to train new workers in how to properly clean these areas, as well as proper use of tools and equipment.
“We partnered with healthcare officers to plan how this should be done. There’s certain protocols in place from the CDC determining how offices have to be cleaned with regard to COVID-19,” said Montesi. “Training is the key for the future of mentoring people in our field. It’s not just about picking up a mop and broom, it’s a little more technical than that.”
North Country Janitorial, who employs between 240-250 cleaners, is looking to hire more to help meet this increased demand.
North Country’s chief operating officer Chris Barden emphasized that a big concern for the company is keeping the employees safe, which they are doing through increased education and strict monitoring of equipment, disinfectants, and PPE.
North Country Janitorial has also been offering advice to clients.
“Things to underscore are the importance of good cleaning and disinfecting, which are two separate processes. We’re still learning about this disease and how it works. I think it’s important to follow the directions from the CDC and the health professionals, such as consistent and vigilant hand washing, as well as maintaining our distance from our most vulnerable populations.
“Minimizing our interaction even in the office, having phone conversations instead of in person conversations. We’re offering them service where we can, and even products to clients who would prefer to do things themselves.”
Weygand had similar advice for mitigating the risks of COVID-19.
“Disinfection is a moment-in-time. An office can be 100 percent disinfected, but as soon as someone sneezes or touches a doorknob, that disinfection is gone. Businesses can help by cleaning high touch points such as door handles, light switches, etc. frequently, as well as ensuring soap and water in the restrooms is full. If anyone is working in the office, professional cleaning is recommended.
“This is also a good time for carpet cleaning with steam, as well as tile and grout cleaning, because the COVID-19 virus is easily killed with high heat.”
April Fresh Cleaning operates out of Saratoga Springs, and offers services to clients ranging from Clifton Park to Queensbury. Along with full janitorial cleaning, they also offer carpet cleaning, tile and grout cleaning, upholstery cleaning and residential move-in and move-out cleaning.
Daigle Cleaning Systems offers commercial and residential cleaning company offers office cleaning, all aspects of commercial maintenance, specialty work with trauma remediation, post-construction cleanups, apartment turnovers, as well as some house cleaning.
The company currently has 75 workers on staff, and is also looking to hire temporary workers to meet increased demand.
According to Foster, Daigle Cleaning Systems cross trains their employees, allowing them to be a “one-stop shop” for clients who need multiple cleaning services done.
Foster anticipates there will be another increase in clients requesting large-scale, one-time cleaning services for their offices when the pandemic winds down.
He said above all, he hopes his business can be of help to the community during this trying time.
“If anybody needs any guidance, if any folks that are in the restaurant or another business that has been closed or effected by this, if we can do our part in putting people to work temporarily to help them provide for their family, reach out and we’ll do whatever we can to help out,” he said.