Celebrating 30 Years in Business — Here’s How It All Began

Janet Killian, President, Gemini Janitorial Services started the commercial cleaning business in 1984.  At that time, Delaware construction firm, George & Lynch, hired the company to clean their offices. In 2014, as we celebrate 30 years in business, we are very proud that George & Lynch remains a valued customer.  We look forward to serving them for many years to come. Below, is a very personal and candid account of how this remarkable women grew Gemini Janitorial Services into the thriving commercial cleaning business it is today. Many people have asked me how I started Gemini Janitorial Services.  I was hesitant to answer until a few years ago.  It’s funny after I reached the age of 50; I realized my story is a true American Success Story. Being raised in a family of 9, where every penny made went for food had many challenges.  The situation was not really difficult for me.  Hand-me-down clothes were also OK, as long as they fit me. It was just how it was and I never knew anything different, at least not until I got older. At 14, I had my first summer job.  I worked 8 hours a day at a school and made $77.00 a week. I thought I was rich!  I was able to buy the clothes I wanted, and on occasion a cheeseburger, fries and a coke from Woolworths. At the age of 15, I finally invited friends over my house.  With two parents and seven siblings, the house was never clean.  So prior to my friends coming over, I would clean the whole house. Sometimes it would take me all day.  Much to my dismay, within hours it would be messed up again, so when my friends came over I would put them in the parlor and shut the door. I hoped they didn’t have to go upstairs to use the bathroom!  (there was only one!) Fast forward, I worked at many jobs until I was 29, when I put an ad in the paper for house cleaning.  Although I did like my previous jobs, I got very bored after a while. After two years cleaning homes, I had so much work I hired family and friends to help me. During that time, I received a call from George and Lynch.  They wanted cleaning on Saturdays and Wednesday nights. When I started cleaning for them, they were so impressed with me.  They told their neighbor Brosius and Ellison which was across the street.  After I met with them I was hired. So I was working six days a week and one night a week. A few years passed, and I developed tendonitis.  I worked through the pain but after a while I needed to get cortisone shots.  After the third shot, the doctor said I could not get any more.  I had to make a decision.  Should I continue cleaning or find another job? My family and friends could not work the hours I did.  Eventually, I made the decision to go back to work as a secretary, but I would keep my commercial cleaning accounts. This scenario did not last long.  I loved the cleaning business!  However, I knew I couldn’t physically do the cleaning, so I decided to hire employees and enter the commercial cleaning business. At first, I hired a person to make phone calls to get me appointments.  I had acquired a few accounts and was on my way.  A friend of mine called and said he had a commercial cleaning business for sale.  I jumped on it. I put an ad in the paper.  I rented a room at the Sheraton Inn on 273 to interview employees since I was working out of my home. Within a few months, I had my first office.  How excited I was! One of the accounts we purchased from the other company was Beneficial Bank.  There were 10 branches that needed to be cleaned 5 nights per week.  Every night, I was out training and cleaning, and most importantly, I was learning. Listening to the employees was so important to me. I got to know them, their strengths and personalities.  At that point, I was coming home every night after 2:00 AM getting up at 6:00 AM. With determination and a positive attitude, I worked hard and knew one day I would have a well-managed and profitable business. Have I had difficult challenges?  Why yes, I have had many.  It’s a growth process. I believe overcoming challenges make you stronger. Some good advice that I will share with you, get rid of all negative people in your life. Educate yourself, work hard, believe in yourself, stay strong, stay positive and you will persevere. By the way, as we celebrate 30 years in business in 2014, we are still cleaning offices for George & Lynch, our very first customer! Janet Killian, President – Gemini Janitorial Service