ServiceMaster Clean Newbury MD retires after 30 years
IT started with a man driving around Newbury in a van and has grown into a business employing over 350 people with a turnover of several million pounds.
Today, 30 years later, the man who started it all leaves the future of the company in the hands of his employees.
Nick Dee Shapland took over the franchise for ServiceMaster Clean Newbury in 1991 as sole proprietor – and has never looked back.
It started as a ServiceMaster Contract Services franchise for Newbury and Reading, performing daily office cleaning services, and in 1998 the company became a limited liability company – Deeland Limited.
The first 15 years were spent cleaning commercial offices, during which time the company gained considerable experience serving companies such as Vodafone in the early 1990s.
This has enabled ServiceMaster Clean Newbury to attract a wide range of business customers, from large financial institutions to Formula 1.
As the business grew, so did the area it covered. In addition to Newbury and Reading, he expanded to cover Basingstoke and Andover, then added Marlborough, Swindon and Oxford to the roster.
Its operations now extend across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire.
Now, at the age of 70, Nick has plans in place for Deeland Limited to switch to an Employee Share Ownership Trust (EOT) in the future.
He said the move, which was finalized last week, “will place the future of the business in the hands of the people who have helped it grow over the past 10 years.”
“We have a great company and a great team in place,” said Nick. “Most employees have an average of 10 years of service, so there is a very good foundation to work on.
“I want employees to benefit from the great knowledge and teamwork that has developed over the years, allowing them to have control over the future of the company.
The transfer to EOT means that 80 percent of Nick’s shares in the company have been sold to the trust, which represents all of Deeland Limited’s employees.
Other than that, it’s business as usual – the actual trading name of the company won’t change and neither will the contracts.
The Trust will be managed and operated for the benefit of all employees of Deeland Limited t / a ServiceMaster.
A three-person management team, comprising two directors, has been put in place to manage operations, while the trust will have a chairman, an employee representative and an independent business executive.
Nick acknowledges that the move to an EOT would not have been possible without the knowledge and expertise of Postlethwaite’s of London, in particular David Reuben and Toby Locke, who helped comply with the strict measures imposed by the franchisor ServiceMaster.
After the completion of the EOT, Nick got a call from Alan Lewin, the Managing Director of ServiceMaster Limited, congratulating him on being a pioneer.
Looking back over the past 30 years, Nick said the turning point for the business came in 2003, when it won the nationwide cleanup contract for the Sovereign Housing association.
He said: “The first 10 to 15 years it was a very responsive company (maybe Nick learning his trade) with me running around.
“The journey really started when Sovereign asked us to take the communal cleaning contract. “
The company now has a division dedicated to municipal contract services which has served various housing associations, including Sovereign, for 17 years.
In fact, Nick said that “municipal cleaning now accounts for about 50 percent of all our business and we have 50 vehicles for municipal cleaning contracts alone.”
Thinking back over the past 16 months, Nick said the Covid-19 pandemic had been a “strange experience” for the team.
“We have the products and methods to meet all the cleaning, disinfection and disinfection requirements, which has obviously been very important, especially over the past year.
“During the pandemic, for example, we performed disinfection cleanings for public housing, schools, doctor’s offices, NHS testing stations and commercial offices.
“However, at the same time, around 50% of the business had to close because many offices were closed and did not need cleaning, so we had to put a percentage of our staff on leave.
“If it hadn’t been for the government’s time off program, we would have been having a hard time, but we were lucky to be in the right industry. “
Nick moved to Newbury in 1977 to take on the new role of Regional Sales Manager for Vicon Farm Machinery, a Dutch company that manufactured and distributed farm equipment to a network of retailers such as Oakes Bros. Hungerford and John Wilder Wallingford.
He did this for 16 years, before moving briefly to Midwest America in 1985.
It was soon after, upon his return to Newbury, that ServiceMaster Clean first came to his attention.
In 1989 one of Nick’s colleagues bought the ServiceMaster Cleaning franchise for Leeds and he liked having his own business.
“I saw that the Newbury franchise was out there and at the age of 39 I was like ‘I have to go,’ Nick said.
“I spoke to my wife and managed to convince her and the rest, as they say, is history.”
He added: “When I started out as a man in a van, if you asked me if I would end up having an HR department, I would have laughed at you. It has been quite a journey. “
ServiceMaster Clean is one of the largest residential and commercial cleaning companies in the world, with more than 3,500 franchises in the UK, US and Europe.
The company offers contract cleaning services for commercial enterprises and social housing, professional soft and hard furniture cleaning for domestic and commercial properties, and fire and flood restoration services for the domestic market.
Nick and the ServiceMaster Clean Newbury team are planning a party later this year, if Covid-19 restrictions allow, to celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary and employee ownership.
For more details on ServiceMaster Clean Newbury visit www.servicemasternewbury.co.uk