We are going to speak to a gentleman who says there is money in dirt. Jerry Crawford, he has been the president of Jani-King International since 1996. Also serves as President of Jani-King Incorporated. Now the company was founded in 1969 and was born when its founder Jim Cavanaugh befriended a night time janitor and discovered there was an untapped opportunity to help that janitor grow his business by signing new customers for him to service. Now Jerry joined Jani-King of Oklahoma in 1987 and in 1988 was promoted to the corporate headquarters in Dallas responsible for Marketing and supporting master franchises in the United States and abroad and he served as President of Jani-King franchising Incorporating again and now he is president of Jani-King, Jerry, Welcome to Playmakers Talk Show!
Thank you it’s an honor to be here Steve
While you were working with Tandy Corporation which everybody in North Texas Knows prior to joining Jani-King, why did you make the move to work with the King of Clean?
Well, my major had been in computer science in college and I actually was owner of a software company NCR Licensing Software Company and when this new thing called a PC came back out, that may date me a little bit, with 5 MB disk, I thought we had it all going our way, but what happened in the computer industry and the software industry had just kept changing and then this guy named Bill Gates came along with this thing called Microsoft and it just keeps changing so I decided back then I would look around. I joined Tandy Corporation they had a great deal of business there in the Oklahoma territory in Oklahoma City. From there I worked a lot of hours and decided I’d like to get involved where I could also have some ownership and I met Mr. Cavanaugh who owned Jani-King at that time and he was looking for someone to oversee the Oklahoma City region and I accepted the offer and I never regretted it and it’s been a great opportunity and it’s a great company and there is tens of thousands of employees of Jani-King franchisees around the globe and it’s been an honor to serve as CEO and President of that company.
Now when you began to operate the Jani-King of Oklahoma had Jani-King moved to Dallas at that point?
No, actually our headquarters was in Dallas but each region that we are in has a regional support office so I was overseeing the Oklahoma City region as one of the Regional directors throughout the United States. Why I’m fascinated by the history, I’d like to talk a little bit about Mr. Cavanaugh just for a second in terms of just the beginning of it.
How did Jani-King evolve from him working with one janitor to a multi-billion dollar company with all the franchisees?
Well, glad you asked that because it’s all about his vision, his passion, his tenacity back in those days and his excitement about what he saw in this dirt business, in the janitorial business. There were just a lot of unhappy customers and there are still unhappy customers today. There is a lot of turnover in the janitorial industry, it’s a service business. But Mr. Cavanaugh came up with a concept that he pioneered that’s our model today and it’s called our owner operator concept. And the difference in Jani-King and the conventional companies is that we have people with pride of ownership and that produces the performance that people are looking for in their businesses. We say trust your keys to the company that cares because they also have a vested interest in their company. So it was his vision, Mr. Cavanaugh’s vision when he founded this company and he worked it, he slept in the back of his car, he sold accounts and he grew this company in Oklahoma and then later moved our headquarters to Dallas Texas where we are at today. Gotta give him the credit because he is still involved and he still has that same passion and he is just very knowledgeable about our industry.
Well not only in the cleaning business but he had to have been cutting edge in the franchising industry too, because we are looking back in the 70’s and outside of maybe fast food franchises there weren’t that many outside the food industry. So that was something that was relatively new if I’m correct?
It was something that I had the pleasure of going to 28 countries on what’s called International Franchise Association trade missions. Everywhere we went with these franchise companies on trade missions we met with people who were interested in investing in the American dream, you could own your own businesses and be in business for yourself, but not by yourself. So it was just really kinda special to be in on those earlier years where franchising, you had to educate people about what franchising was all about. It was simply cloning a proven concept. It didn’t matter if it was a tea business or a janitorial business. You were proving it and opening up and expanding, and opening up new locations. So, it’s been a very viable and great model for us in the cleaning business and it’s been an honor to be involved in travel and help people get into business for themselves and be successful.
You mentioned about the expansiveness of Jani-King but how expansive are your, how much of the globe do you cover?
We’ve got more that 10,000 franchisees on all 5 continents, we are in 14 countries today and we are continuing our expansion. It’s amazing to me to see that these people service more than 60,000 customer locations worldwide. So it’s exciting to continue to see it expand and grow.
As large as you are it seems like there is a tremendous amount of potential for Jani-King out there because as you mentioned “There is money in dirt” and there is dirt everywhere.
“Money in dirt” and every place that I land, it doesn’t matter what country or what city, all you have to do when you are landing is look around at all the cranes that are still building new businesses, you know what Steve, somebody’s gotta clean those businesses and people want them cleaned right. So the potential is there and if you do it right they stay with you.
How do you support Jani-King’s future franchisees, you’ve been talking about that because Jani-King supports them so well, probably as good if not better than most franchise companies, what do you do for them?
Well the first thing, you’ve got to educate and train your franchise owners. So we have a very extensive initial training and education program. But then we have customized online videos, training videos, education videos. We continue to roll out programs and train our franchisees. There is always new chemicals, there is always new equipment, and it’s all about production rate. Our biggest cost in the cleaning business for a franchisee is the labor cost. So anything we can do to clean more efficiently, and quicker makes more money for our franchisees, and it’s a competitive business. We can go in to bid a large office building or a hospital or school, it doesn’t matter and there may be 10, 15, 20 other bidders so we have to be, as we say, the best at what we do.
I want to talk about that in a moment but again we are speaking with Jerry Crawford. Jerry is President of Jani-King and the website is janiking.com to find out anything you want to find out about Jani-King, services, locations, green cleaning, etc. but you mentioned the different industries. By looking at your website you are covering a lot, I’m just looking at it right now. General Office, Manufacturing, Retail, how many different industries or types of cleaning do you do?
It’s a good question, we have actually started years ago in what we call specialty industry divisions in our corporate headquarters and just starting there I can tell you that while we clean office buildings and general cleaning, we also have an EVS or Environmental Services Division and that’s where we get into the medical and we clean hospitals…
Because that has to be much different than cleaning an office
You have to have certain certifications before you can even step in to clean an emergency room. There is infectious control, there is all kinds medical certifications and these hospitals can literally get shut down if they are not cleaned properly. So we have our own customized medical certification program to clean hospitals throughout the country. So we have a division headed up by a gentleman named Mark Regna right now, who oversees that division and his team out at corporate works with the regional offices throughout the world and we clean EVS facilities. We specialize in hospitality, that’s timeshares, motels, hotels, resorts and we clean 300+ different types of facilities just in the US and we have a very large hospitality division in Australia and other countries around the world. We also have the sporting venues. Obviously we clean the worlds largest indoor sporting venue, AT&T stadium, it’s quite interesting to see the 100’s of people it takes to clean that facility and keep it as a beautiful as a stadium as you know. We are very proud of that. That’s the icon in that industry for us and we clean many other NFL, NBA, MLB, the Rangers Stadium right here in Dallas. We have Lone Star Park, many horse racing facilities, bowling alleys, manufacturing, international airports, and the list goes on and on.
So if I’m a franchisee and I don’t know how to do that, there is somebody within Jani-King that can show me how to do that or I can be shown how to clean those facilities.
That’s exactly right. If you’ve got a customer that’s got that old aggregate floor with a polyurethane finish on it, we’ve got the operations expertise to go out with the people in the field and consult with them as to how is the best way to clean that floor.
Well you’ve been very involved with, as you mentioned before, the International Franchise Association for most of your career at Jani-King and I’ve had a number of people on the show who were franchisees and involved in the IFA and VetFran too but what is it important for franchisors to be active with the IFA?
I’ll give you my own example, in about 1989 or 1990 our owner Jim Cavanaugh gave me some leads and said take this international. I looked at him and said, how do I do that? He said, well I think you need to get involved in the IFA. I called up the President and said I was told to go international and find some master franchises in foreign markets and I was told to call you. He said you need to get involved in the IFA. The next thing I knew I was travelling on trade missions and we met the people at the embassy’s in the foreign markets and had investors and prospects. I was doing presentations and speaking in front of 300-400 people in Singapore or wherever and it just kept going and you build relationships just like anything else. People do business with people they like so build all those relationships, started selling all those master franchises and the next thing you know, 1/3 of our revenue is overseas. So we got involved. The franchise association it doesn’t matter if it’s a retail restaurant association, franchising is the industry we are in so we’ve got at our annual convention 4000 plus people that come and I’ve had the privilege of introducing 3 Presidents as the keynote speaker and it’s been a trip so to speak that’s been an honor to be a part of.
Sounds like you’re excited about that. Just before we finish I want to ask you one more question. Because most people didn’t really know Jim Cavanaugh’s name and didn’t know he started Jani-King, but his name is synonymous with a museum that you’re involved with her in the area. Talk about the flight museum.
Cavanaugh Flight Museum, for years Mr. Cavanaugh has been gathering historic aircraft and he now has almost 70, he’s bought 3 or 4 just within the last probably year to 18 months and these historic aviation aircraft, a lot of them have war history, a lot of them fly, he’s won awards at the worlds largest air show in Osh Kosh, Grand Champion with a B-25 and his P-51 that he purchased and he loves to fly and Doug Jeans is the head over at our museum and it’s just exciting to see the flyovers at AT&T stadium and Rangers stadium, and being on the Board of Directors I just get to be a part of it and I appreciate it being a pilot as well.
So now you know the Cavanaugh flight museum it was started by the man who started Jani-King. Jerry thank you very much for being a part of Playmakers Talk Show.
Thank you, it’s an honor to be on your show.