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By Michael Kleiner
When Dan Dillon walked away from the family janitorial services company after it was sold 10 years ago, he wanted to go start a different online business that he could clean up in.
Dan decided to utilize what he knew best and leverage that with the trends he foresaw in the business world. That meant staking his new career on the Internet with CleanItSupply.com. When e-commerce was new, it was recommended that a business have a brick and mortar store to back it up. Now, that e-commerce has proliferated on the Internet, the brick and mortar stores have struggled to sustain themselves.
“Brick and mortar is a dying breed,” said Dan, whose company is located in Jeffersonville. “That business was not the future. Online was the future. Here’s a quick stat. In 1991, there were 24,000 brick and mortar distributors in my industry. By 2006, it was half, and now less than 3,000.
“My story is that I’m a janitorial e-commerce entrepreneur. Since I grew up in a commercial janitorial service business, I had experience cleaning carpets, refinishing floors, shining surfaces, servicing offices, and scrubbing toilet bowls. I became familiar with a lot of products. I possess hands down, good solid information for the janitorial industry. I figured that I could lend that expertise to janitorial service companies to help them choose the right products to use. I went from janitor to online janitorial supplies entrepreneur.”
In 2006, Dan started CleanItSupply.com. “There was a void in the market place,” he said. “There was no Internet site selling strictly janitorial products. There was an opportunity to grow from there. We’re online, but we have a sales staff that can take calls, add people to the database and help customers, both worldwide and local.”
The site is extensive and wide-ranging. It’s also responsive, fully functional and easy to navigate. There are high quality pictures and enhanced descriptions. There are product videos starring Dan as Danny D on CleanItTV. “CleanItSupply.com is the online superstore of janitorial supplies with a value add,” he said.
There are over 65,000 products on CleanItSupply.com, with more than 2,000 green products. Dan says the line is dimming between green and “non-green” products.
“Everyone is trying to be green,” he said. “It’s a trend we recognized. The technology has allowed for better performance.”
Staples has diversified its offerings, now selling breakroom and cleaning supplies. Similarly, in addition to janitorial supplies, CleanItSuppy.com sells restaurant, snack and breakroom, and office supplies, industrial and safety and technology products, ink and toner and office furniture. Again, there was a trend Dan saw and took advantage of it.
“We realized we touched distinct consumers,” he said. “They enjoyed the one stop shop. In all these industries, the same person is making the same purchases for the other items. About 51% of our customers are residential, 49% are commercial, but 80% of our revenue comes from the commercial customers. Companies and services buy in high volume, while a resident will go to the web site, and want to buy one of a product. We’ll sell an individual item to whet the appetite. About 70% of our clients are repeat customers. That is why our company slogan is Everyone is our Customer.”
Due to a demand in the marketplace, Dan recently started D&D CleanIt Janitorial Services, and it is rapidly growing. He related, “We have 90 employees. We’ve leveraged our ability to market on the Internet and apply that knowledge, which has really grown the business in a very short amount of time. What still sets us apart in the janitorial supply and service business is that we know what’s trending on the .com side of businesses and can apply that knowledge to grow our customer base.”
The CleanIt Companies cleaning duties extend beyond business to their many community service activities. They clean rivers and donate bags to clean up playgrounds. Using social media, they promoted a flash mob cleanup at LOVE Park in Philadelphia. In 25 minutes, they collected 25 bags of garbage.
“We’re in business to make money, but that’s not my prime intention,” Dan said. “I want to give back to the community. If people buy something as a byproduct, that’s the cherry on top, but that’s not the intention. You would not think a service company would be e-commerce and socially responsible. It’s good, old fashioned business. I enjoy a pleasant experience eating at a restaurant and having great service. So many businesses are getting away from that. CleanItSupply has a great reputation in the industry. We’re a Google Trusted Store, which is based on customer performance. When people buy from you and like you, that adds value. We have great products and our employees guide customers in the right direction. What I enjoy is hiring new employees. I watch others prosper from what we’re doing as a team. I don’t worship the dollar. We’re the largest online janitorial service supplier. That’s a reflection of our team.”
Even in the online world, he could never take the personal touch out of the business.