2018 Nominee Two: A-Quality Facility Services

Chris Paxos can barely remember a day he wasn’t working. When other kids were hanging with friends after school, Chris was working in the tiny Massillon restaurant owned by his Greek immigrant father. At 16 he left the restaurant to spend nights cleaning the 30th Street Giant Eagle.

By the time Chris was ready to start his own company in 2003, he had a wealth of experience at every level of the commercial cleaning business, from swinging a mop to making sales calls. What he didn’t have in the beginning was a lot of money. The Stark County Library became his personal business incubator. He used their free computers to prepare quotes when he wasn’t knocking on doors. Nights were spent cleaning his customer’s facilities using a mop bucket provided by his father and a vacuum from his sister.

It was hard for others to see when he first started, but Chris was already creating the business model that has brought his company to the brink of major expansion. The model leverages (1) Knowledge of commercial cleaning; (2) Customized cleaning solutions; (3) Hard work; (4) Unique customer service programs; and (5) Innovative programs to find and retain talented employees.

In the beginning Chris used his deep knowledge of the facilities cleaning business to help customers improve their maintenance programs. He was young, but had already learned the value of listening to prospects talk about their problems in order to come up with better customized solutions. Chris showed them ways to cut costs and measure success based on their particular needs. Within one year this model helped Chris land his first big contract, Doctor’s Hospital, in Massillon. A-Quality Facilities Services was off and running.

Since winning that first major contract, A-Quality has grown into a 200+ employee company. Along the way Chris Paxos has refined his business model, making it scalable to accommodate aggressive plans for future expansion. Tweaks to the model have helped A-Quality bring new levels of service to medical, industrial education and headquarter facilities.

Looking back, Chris sees success as a squiggly line rather than straight. Along the way there have been plateaus requiring evolution. Every time there’s been a plateau or set-back, Chris has tweaked the model to make it more robust and customer-focused. When muddy communications created problems, Chris instituted regular “Voice of the Customer” Performance Reviews to make sure customer expectations were aligned with A-Quality performance. Few, if any, commercial cleaning companies incorporate this level of customer service into their standard, every-day business practices.

Learning how to develop a team also became a key part of the business model. Perhaps because he grew up hard, Chris has made it his mission to create ladders of opportunity for employees raised in poverty. As part of this mission, A-Quality’s business model was improved to open promotion paths and align bonus compensation to overall company success.

Less than fifteen years after Chris Paxos used the Stark County Library as his office and cleaned customer facilities at night, he leads a rapidly growing commercial cleaning company with an established, scalable business model. The man who started with a bucket, a mop and some big ideas now takes joy in watching others move up the same ladder he climbed, from work crew to management to corporate leader. It’s all part of the plan and the plan is working.