Jim Harris, Sr. has managed a productive and highly successful career in the cleaning industry for more than 47 years. Perhaps his proudest achievement came in 1972, when he started Janitronics Facility Services, with aspirations of being a top local cleaning service in upstate New York. Today, the company is a seven-branch comprehensive cleaning, maintenance and management service that specializes in creating and sustaining healthy indoor environments.
To do this, he and his staff make use of the most state-of-the-art cleaning systems based on validated cleaning science research. Always on the cutting edge, Janitronics recently achieved the ISO 9001 Certification. In a recent interview, Harris stated, "ISO 9001:2015 is a Quality Management System designed to promote process development and continuous improvement, measured and monitored to ensure customer satisfaction. Global manufacturing has been exposed to ISO since its inception in the '90s and has used it as supply chain and operations tools as a basis for evaluating quality in organizations brought into their environments."
For a building service contractor (BSC) to achieve this certification, much was required. Harris and his team were up to the challenge. For one, he said, "There needed to be management commitment from each discipline, understanding the value of this program to drive support from the top." There also had to be in place standard processes, procedures, instructions and controls to measure and monitor progress. Harris added, "An invaluable resource we adopted in the very early stages of the process was bringing on a seasoned quality consultant who had experience working with organizations to achieve this very program."
So, was there some advice given early on in the process that proved especially helpful? Harris was quick to answer: "Training, training, training … Also, there needs to be a clear understanding of what the requirements are to be ISO compliant and ultimately ISO certified."
Harris and his colleagues couldn't be happier with the end result. He commented, "This certification as a BSC places us at a completely different playing field than our competitors. Not only do we speak about quality, which is common in every organization, we live it! And this is derived from the components of being an ISO 9001:2015 certified organization through stringent third-party auditing and the requirements for monitoring and measuring performance to validate conformance to standards and defined levels of quality."
Still, there were formidable challenges along the way. Chief among them?
"Who could depart from their duties and responsibilities to allow appropriate time to oversee the training of our staff, set up the system, permeate the corporate culture, and take charge of the implementation?,” he said. “It happens that we had a new employee join our firm at that time, and he was without portfolio and heading toward training in all systems. That would be Brian Harris, my grandson. His dad, my son and I had many discussions about what the best way would be to teach him the business. He very soon became the lead manager to oversee the implementation and training for ISO: 9000 – 2015."
So, what advice would Harris give to a BSC reading this who's thinking of going for ISO 9001 certification? "Define quality as simply as it can be made," he answered. "Leverage tools and resources available in the market that have worked for outside organizations who adopt quality as a cornerstone of their culture.
Organizations like Toyota and McDonald's have identified the critical processes and the methods to achieve their own defined levels of quality and consistency to achieve results that ensure the customer is satisfied at any location they choose to go in, any vehicle they choose to purchase, and any building that is cleaned. The level of quality is consistently improving across the board. Use upper management and those with experience working in the BSC field to develop those mission-critical processes that will be audited and must be measured to validate conformance. Do not wait to ask questions. And use the Internet—cautiously—to obtain information that could not otherwise be made available."
Finally, take inspiration from wherever you can get it. Being a top player in such a demanding and competitive industry for nearly five decades has taught him that lesson. Harris concluded, "In a very indirect way, BSCAI was a strong influence in this decision based on 45 years of exposure to hundreds of members of the association who were and still are very willing to share experiences. The best presentations at meetings always came from seasoned BSCs. Those who have been active in BSCAI over the years know what I mean. Those who see no benefit in participating have no clue what they are missing."