Entrepreneurs / Small businesses

A cleaning service keeps racking up local awards

Gemini Janitorial Services founder and president Janet Killian was named 2014 Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year by the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. Here's how she has kept her business going strong for 30 years.

Gemini Janitorial Services recently held a ribbon cutting and 30th anniversary celebration. (Photo via Facebook)

Decades ago, Janet Killian began a small house-cleaning operation out of her own home.
The Prices Corner native returned to administrative work when tendonitis flared up and kept her from cleaning. But commercial cleaning was calling her name.
Now, 30 years later, Killian is celebrating the success of Gemini Janitorial Services, a commercial cleaning service with nearly 100 employees and a tri-state reach.

Janet Killian

Janet Killian. (Courtesy photo)

Earlier this year, Killian was also named Entrepreneurial Woman of the Year by the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re not looking to be the biggest janitorial company in Delaware,” said Killian, president of the company. “I want to be able to give people a job and I want to provide good, quality work. If you get too big, you could lose track of that and customers become a number then.”
Killian’s organization, founded in 1984, ballooned in the early 2000s. In the first 15 years of business, she said she had about 20 employees. Fifteen years ago, Killian purchased accounts from another commercial cleaner who went out of business. By then, there was much more work to be done, so she expanded her staff list to 50, she said. Today, the business boasts 85 commercial accounts and about 100 employees.
Throughout her 30 years leading a janitorial company, Killian has hit some roadblocks, she said. As a woman in a male-dominated market, she’s had to stay aligned with other female business leaders for insight, advice and friendship.
“It is very male dominated and a lot of men were old school and dealt only with other men. It was very hard to break through the glass ceiling and just being able to prove myself,” Killian said. “In a way, it’s a shame, but we’ve developed a good reputation. It just took a long time.”
Killian said she plans to keep the momentum of the business going, adding accounts and employees when she sees fit. But for her, it’s not all about how big or how successful the business is.
“It’s about the employees and how you treat them, and treating employees with the respect they deserve,” Killian said. “It’s making them feel important, respecting them and listening to them.”

Companies: New Castle County Chamber of Commerce

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