Every great entrepreneurial journey begins with a spark that ignites one’s passion for creating a disruptive yet successful business that serves its community. Carolina Alvarez is one such individual, who avidly transformed her business operations experience into creating a remarkable cleaning service provider. Carolina worked in customer service for a national janitorial company after graduating from college, eventually rising to Vice President of Operations. Carolina realized her long-awaited passion for starting a business when one of her clients encouraged her to do so in 2017. She founded J&S Building Maintenance, Inc, followed by J&S Construction Clean-Up. At first, she started with a commercial janitorial business and later entered into a construction cleaning, prevailing in both sectors. “When my parents moved us from Argentina to the US my father worked odd jobs and essentially became an entrepreneur, and my mother took care of us at home. I always saw his hard work and ability to provide, and I knew I wantedto do the same,” reminisces Carolina. Carolina successfully applied these inherited values to achieve success in the male-dominated janitorial industry. They currently have a Commerce office for J&S Building Maintenance Inc and a Garden Grove office for J&S Construction Clean Up Inc.
Carolina is adamant about following a path that validates the mission of J&S, which was founded on the idea “to simply be the best.” She and her team utilize innovative solutions and provide excellent leadership in all of their job sites and projects to achieve their mission. “All the while achieving the highest cleaning standards and competitive pricing,” she asserts. Carolina says the company’s core values, are straightforward and reflect its people. With every client and project, irrespective of the size, its knowledgeable team, supervisors, and crews incorporate the highest quality control for cleaning. These aspects are grounded by its core values of safety, integrity, care for its employees, excellence, and innovation. She believes in doing the righteous thing by uncompromising standards of integrity and ethical conduct; building lasting relationships through honesty, respect and trust. She has created an environment in which the company’s employees can do their best work while maintaining a high level of safety. Furthermore, she asserts that the company’s most significant accomplishment is the way it connects with and cares for its employees. “Every employee who works for us is paid above minimum wage and industry averages. Because this sometimes means we come in higher than our competition, I try to educate potential clients. Paying a little more means happier employees, less turn over rates, and better cleaning. It is not always successful, as many companies believe that janitorial services should be inexpensive and lowest price should be chosen.” says Carolina. “We must change the way we do business as an industry and as a community because if we do not, and continue to accept the old ways, nothing will change. I’m hoping that our company will be part of a new wave of businesses in this industry that are doing things differently.” The company strives to provide opportunities and support to its employees to help them reach their full potential, while also instilling personal responsibility. “I 100% agree that our success is because of our employees, our retention rates, the recognitions they get, and our involvement with our community,” says Carolina. Along with this, she feels that serving with excellence is the key to success. The company consistently delivers on expectations, through constant improvement of their services by innovation and an attitude to achieve excellence. She mentions, “We provide our team members remarkable skills so that we provide high-quality services and excellent customer service.” The end goal isto bethe largest woman–owned company of choice for commercial and construction cleaning services for general contractors and various markets and industries by exceeding customer expectations and providing excellent communication.
“We have shown the importance of what we provide at job sites to our clients and know there will be a continuous need in the post-pandemic world,” says Carolina. “Our growth is our people and our communication style.”
Supporting its clients
J&S offers an end-to-end experience that includes seamless communication, budgeting, on-site organization of commercial janitorial, and post-construction clean-up. As clients require a job site that they can trust will be safe, clean, and disinfected for their employees, Carolina, and her team ensure complete satisfaction at the end of the project. The company aims to provide a service that demonstrates all of the hard work that has been put in by its clients for their customers. “The organization does the job that is at times thought of last for clients yet we know we are the ones who will make all their hard work show after cleaning,” she says. She constantly reminds her clients of the importance of keeping a clean workspace during large construction projects, as well as at the end before turning it over to their customers. She shares, “Social media has a positive impact on our business, we can showcase our professional accomplishments along with our team bonding.” In addition, the company is a Women-Owned, Minority Business Enterprise, and Small Business.“Each of these has helped our industry tremendously,” she adds. “AsJ&S Construction Clean up. is Woman-Owned and Minority-Owned it gives us a unique selling point to our clients.”
As new companies are entering into the industry, the competition has substantially increased. J&S’s main competitors are the industry’s pioneers. Carolina observes and studies what these trailblazers are doing and devises novel approaches to incorporate and implement practices through an innovative window. “What we find is that with our larger competitors, clients don’t get the personal touch, the relationships, they would otherwise get with a smaller business like ours, where everyone has my cell phone and can call me or text me as needed,” says Carolina. “We also are able to know all of our employees on a personal level.”
Being prepared for a Post-COVID Era
“COVID-19 has changed our model and put a spotlight on our services,” highlights Carolina. Post-COVID lockdowns, the primary concern of the clients was re-opening their businesses and bringing back their employees safely. She devotes herself entirely to providing top-notch services to these clients. “We do that by having constant communication with our clients and being able to be flexible with their schedules whether it is last minute same day to scheduling it for future cleanings months ahead. Including budgeting needs they may have,” adds Carolina. She states that an increase of safety protocols and training classes will be a permanent structure of the company. During the COVID-19 crisis, it was brought to light the importance of having continuous safety training classes not only in the field but also in the office. “We have shown the importance of what we provide at job sites to our clients and know there will be a continuous need in the post-pandemic world,” says Carolina. “Our growth is our people and our communication style.”
Adapting with Technology
Carolina claims that the technology with cleaning equipment keeps evolving. “Equipment that’s safer, quieter, lighter, and easier to manage to keep the end-user safe,” she mentions. It also includes applications that display real-time updates, allowing customers to track the status of their jobs as they are completed. J&S embraces all such new technologies and is always looking for innovative ways to make the job easier in the field but also faster in the office. She wants to expand into all industries across the states and focus more on post-construction cleaning along with a focus on developing policies for safety in the field. She says, “Some of our low-income apartment renovations jobs are some of the most satisfying jobs to be on because we know it will provide a shelter and an opportunity to someone in need.” The company also gives back to their communities through donations several times a year of consumable goods such as toilet paper and paper towels, cleaning supplies, and toy drives for Christmas.
Through this business and her compassionate activities, Carolina hopes to create an example for her children, Julian and Sofia after whom the brand (J&S) is named. Carolina wants them to know that anything is possible, despite the obstacles she faced as a result of her race, gender, and status as an immigrant. “I don’t want them to take over the business, I just want them to know that anything is possible with hard work, dedication, and giving back to those in need,” she adds. “And that this company is just an example of it.”