With a career spanning over 25 years in sales and marketing efforts, Chris Nakos knows a thing or two about creating effective business strategies, developing a comparative advantage and executing sales. Having spent the past 16 years at Georgia-Pacific, he is now the vice president of sales, focusing his efforts on increasing the company’s competitive position with national distributors in the office, janitorial sanitation and wholesale channels, as well as leading the customer team responsible for commercial real estate and retail segments.
Get to know Chris, including his take on recent trends, the best advice he’s received, his leadership style and more in the Q&A below.
What are some trends you see developing in the industry?
As labor has tightened, building service contractors (BSCs) are leaning into technology to drive custodial efficiency. The internet of things (IoT) and robotics are enabling custodians to get time back for hands-on cleaning within a facility.
Additionally, attracting and retaining labor is more challenging than ever before. Wage increases, benefits and the opportunity to promote within the organization is something BSCs are starting to pay attention to as they want custodians to make a career and not just a job.
BSCs are also going beyond their traditional verticals and diversifying their customer base. In place of office building cleaning, they are working to capture clients in education, high traffic, health care and more.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Collaborative. I like to work side by side with my team to build a plan, then get out of the way and watch them work through the plan, helping overcome obstacles along the journey.
What is one challenge you’ve experienced in your career, and how did you handle it?
The ongoing challenge I've experienced throughout my career is staying ahead of the technology curve. From smart phones to Skype, Bluetooth, social media, IoT and now artificial intelligence, my guiding principle has been to embrace change and do what it takes to dedicate the necessary learning to adapt and maximize all that technology provides us in the pursuit of efficiency.
What advice do you have for new BSCs coming into the industry?
- Diversify your business, which will provide more revenue opportunities.
- Be the best with certain specialty cleaning (i.e., tech cleaning, lab rooms, pharmaceuticals, etc.) Don’t limit yourself though.
- Pay attention to technology, such as IoT and robotics, as it can enable a BSC to use less labor and be more competitive when quoting new business opportunities.
What is the best advice you’ve received in your career?
The best advice I’ve received is to listen and learn from others, make decisions based on facts, not emotions, it’s okay to ask for help and be sure to show your appreciation.