Craig Poulson Is Simply the Right Person for His Job(s)
When you name your company Simply Right Inc., you better have a solid track record of good work and optimal customer service. Because people are snarky. You'll hear things like "Simply Right? More like Simply Wrong!" if you come up short. Fortunately, businesses that have required cleaning services in Utah and 36 other states have counted on Simply Right to do its job for many years now. Based in Ogden, Simply Right has been delivering everything from superior carpet care, hard service cleaning, and construction cleaning to window cleaning and daily janitorial services for over three decades now.
One of the main executives behind the company's success has been CIO and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) Craig Poulson. This past month, he celebrated his 11th year with the firm, having previously served as President and CEO of Designer Doors Inc. and Vice President of Marketing and Product Development at Trek Alliance before that.
BSCAI: What is the favorite part of your job … or rather jobs?
CP: I love the [information technology, IT] side. I like seeing our company becoming more and more integrated with technology. The human resources side is also appealing to me. I especially like to see employees who really enjoy the company as much as I do and are here for the long term.
BSCAI : What do you still find challenging, even hard?
CP: Finding labor and hiring good employees at this time is very difficult, especially in our cleaning teams. Government regulation is also challenging. There are the minimum wage increases. We do a lot of business in California, and the state, counties, and cities are consistently raising the minimum wage. The State recently raised its minimum wage from $12 to $13 an hour for employers with 26 or more employees. Cities such as Novato are raising their minimum wage $4 this year. That is crazy and very difficult to sell that value to your customer. The government always wants us to be accountable for everything, and then they make crazy rules like California's AB5 [also known as the "gig worker bill," it went into effect Jan. 1, 2020 and reclassifies gig workers as employees].
BSCAI: What makes Simply Right stand out in the marketplace?
CP: What makes us special is we are very good at what we do! Logistically, we can handle lots of different things. We run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. We have people who can solve problems for clients anytime, anywhere. We are currently in 36 states. We have special projects crews that can do carpet cleaning, pressure washing, and seat cleaning for our customers across the United States. We are especially good with big customers such as Cinemark movie theaters, Emcore, Service Channel, and companies like that.
BSCAI: What did winning BSCAI's New Member of the Year award mean for your company?
CP: For us, it was a big boost in morale. It also really legitimized what it is we do. We've been focusing on a lot of the things we've learned from BSCAI over the years, especially with some of the peer groups we've been involved in. We've been able to talk with them about focusing on our profitability, our people, and managing our growth. Winning the award has helped validate the course our company is taking, which is essentially the BSCAI way.
BSCAI: So, BSCAI's educational offerings have been of benefit to you and your staffers?
CP: They've been a huge benefit! Membership has also helped in other areas like networking, best practices, and so forth. We've gotten together with different companies in Washington, D.C., and Michigan and other places throughout the industry that we've met through BSCAI, and we have ongoing conversations with them in which we discuss our issues, their issues, and how we're all solving those same issues. Membership has been really good on the peer-to-peer side.
BSCAI: Do you recall how you found BSCAI?
CP: What happened was our CEO Danny Kilgore and several of our senior managers went down to a conference in Las Vegas -- an ISSA conference. They attended the classes that ISSA was offering, and they just weren't clicking. Danny went out into the hallway and to the restroom, and he saw that BSCAI was also offering classes and he immediately liked some of the things they were doing. He texted all of our management guys to come out into the hallway, and he told them, "Hey, let's go over and check this group out!" So, we checked BSCAI out, loved what they were offering, signed up, and we've been with the association ever since.
BSCAI You're based in Utah, yes? What are some of the unique challenges posed by the geographic areas that you service?
CP: Again, the biggest challenge for us is finding qualified labor. We currently have a very low unemployment rate here and there's not a lot of immigration population here. So, finding qualified workers who are willing to push a broom, mop a floor, and so forth is very difficult. We're doing all kinds of things to attract the best workers, to train them and keep them. Customers in Utah don't really want to pay what it really costs to clean their buildings. They just don't understand how hard it is to get a good worker at $9 an hour. The living wage in Utah is more like $12 to $13 an hour. That's what it costs to get somebody to do the work. There's a huge difference with the minimum wage set at $7.25 here and what we really have to pay. For whatever reason, the perception is that janitorial work is inexpensive and low-cost. It's hard to get the customer to understand the value of our services and pay for them.
BSCAI: Our exit question is kind of a crystal ball question. If you and I were to chat a year from now, what will have constituted success in those 12 months?
CP: A successful 2020 will mean attaining our growth goals. We're looking for another 12 percent to 13 percent growth on top of what we did during the previous year. We also want to see our profitability increase above industry average. And I'd really like to see our turnover go down! Those are the three biggest [key performance indicators, KPIs] we want to see.