Keeping it clean and green
In 2002, entrepreneur Candace Mills founded 2 Chicks and A Broom in Memphis, a cleaning service that championed the use of environmentally friendly products. A few years later, she sold the successful and groundbreaking business and moved to New York, imagining she was done running a cleaning business and managing people.
She was mistaken.
“I realized I knew too much about vacuums to not be sharing it with the world,” she says. “So in 2010, I started Team Clean in New York, which I still run. It was fun to get back into it and also in a different city, to apply what I was learning there about products and methods.”
Mills was quite the expert on house and office cleaning (“Keep it clean and keep it healthy”) but found that New York provided challenges particular to the needs of navigating the Big Apple. In Memphis, for example, cleaning crews could toss their supplies in the back of their cars and head to the job. New York cleaners, though, had to be able to compact their materials in a backpack or small rolling suitcase ready for any kind of commute. For Mills, it was continuing education in efficiencies in a business that aims for zero waste. “I am much more minimal and streamlined now in the cleaning kit and methods,” she says. “And it does a dirty space good!”
When she decided to come back to Tennessee, she started putting together her plan to expand Team Clean into Nashville and Memphis. She was in the enviable position of being able to answer the usually theoretical question “If you could do it again, how would you do it?” For her, “It’s the methods,” she says. “I’ve revamped the handbook, which is based on the old handbook but completely different. It’s 67 pages of information on specific products. I’m giving more information to my workers, explaining why we use products so they’re empowered with that information. The methods are even more streamlined, very clear.”
Mills moved to Nashville two years ago and planned the emergence of Team Clean in Tennessee. It got going in Nashville in January of this year and in Memphis just a few weeks ago. Using environmentally friendly products is a priority right up there with customer service. “I empower clients to feel comfortable coming to the business with any feedback, or kudos, anything.” The people who clean for her — they’re called Teamsters — are typically those who need flexibility in their schedules, who are reliable, quick on the uptake, and believe in the Team Clean mission. They tend to be grad students, artists, gig economy folks in Mills’ network.
Restarting a cleaning business in Memphis came about partly because she saw a need for it and partly out of plain nostalgia for birthing a business in her home town. And there are the relationships that she believes are the engine for a successful enterprise. “I liked “Team Clean” because the dynamics that happen between the teamster and myself, teamster and client, client and the business,” Mills says. “It’s that true empowerment that everyone, we all share, really makes the business even stronger. I feel this collectiveness, this strength in numbers.”
The devotion to the cleanest possible clean with no waste is clear. “No paper towels, all microfiber cloths and towels for cleaning,” Mills says. “They can be washed! There’s no need to burn through paper products or any one-time use cleaning tools. I embrace the Swiffer stick but the Teamsters use towels on the end instead of those throwaway Swiffer pads.”
The name, by the way, came about when Mills and some business partners were floating in a blow-up pool in someone’s back yard in New York (the way all meetings should be held). “Someone mentioned it and I liked that energy, that thought of it, just working together. Not me telling people what to do, but Teamsters feeling they have a voice to give a recommendation to the client or listen to the client and let them tell us what they want. The team can transcend.”
For info: (901) 262-6610 and weareteamclean.com.
News from other sources
The Daily News reports that a Montreal-based real estate investor has a contract to buy One Commerce Square. Read more here.
Memphis Business Journal reporter Jacob Steimer attended a Shelby County Commission meeting and heard a representative of the Greater Memphis Chamber reveal that high taxes and too much transparency are standing in the local economy’s way. Read his story here.
Code Crew was one of Inside Memphis Business’ Innovation Award winners in 2016. Read Marangeli Lopez’s story about how its doing in The Commercial Appeal here.
THE HOT SHEET
Inside Memphis Business magazine has long been running the Hot Sheet feature of promotions and achievements in local business. We’re now running the Hot Sheet in our weekly Tip Sheet email blast to keep the info more current.
– The nonprofit Medical Education & Research Institute (MERI) launched a new mobile bioskills lab to allow medical professionals easier access to its services. The 560-square-foot lab can meet sponsors at a preferred location and can hold up to 10 surgical stations.
– Hope House expanded its staff with Allie Lindsey (development manager), Brandi Taylor (tenant-based rental assistance case manager), and Lauren Robinson (tenant-based rental assistance quality manager).
– Harkavy Shainberg Kaplan & Dunstan, PLC, announced the addition of Jason M. Goldstein to its firm. Goldstein will represent clients in the area of civil matters, which includes civil litigation, landlord and tenant representation, estate planning, commercial real estate transactions, and commercial and residential real estate closings.
– Tish Pinion joined digital design agency Simple Focus as vice president of business development. In her new role, Pinion will be responsible for constructing sales strategy based around growing relationships with current and new clients.
Inside Memphis Business magazine publishes a list of local Power Players every year. These are the movers and shakers in more than 30 categories who get things done in their respective fields. IMB’s April issue has the complete list. We also publish individual categories in other issues throughout the year, and we feature individual Power Players in our weekly Tip Sheet.
Today’s Power Player: Jason Lee
Executive vice president and CFO, Orion Federal Credit Union. B.B.A., Finance, Texas Tech University; Executive M.B.A., U of M. Provides overall strategic direction and strategy for Orion. Chairman, Memphis Executive M.B.A. Alumni Advisory Council. Board member, RISE Memphis. Member, ConnectFSS Innovation Committee. Served on U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Credit Union Advisory Council.