Mister Kleen was founded by Ernest and Mary Ann Clark. The company began as a small business operating from the family home providing janitorial and maintenance services consisting of office, retail, window cleaning, snow removal and landscaping. Later a special services division was started providing water and fire restoration, floor care, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and many other needed services. From the start, Mister Kleen was a “family affair”, with the entire family pitching in to clean the very first contracts during the evenings while the Clarks continued with their day jobs. Ernest and Mary Ann’s son Ernest, Jr. (“Ernie”) and daughters Dianna and Cindy worked alongside their parents. They would all pile into their old Ford Grand Torino station wagon with mops, brooms and the household vacuum cleaner, and worked around the clock. Evenings were occupied with cleaning the Ford Motor Company District Office and the J.W. Bateson Construction Company. They also would maintain the grounds of these facilities on the weekends. The Mister Kleen office consisted of a vintage 1940′s typewriter that Mary Ann’s father had given her and a desk constructed from an unfinished door on two saw horses.
Sadly, Ernest Sr. was diagnosed with a rare form of meningitis as a direct result of the environment in which he worked. As a result of his illness, he was forced to retire at the young age of 42. This was a tough blow for the family and they struggled with how to proceed and whether to continue building the company. They were approached by a national company interested in buying Mister Kleen, but ultimately decided to keep the company going. They had worked too hard and sacrificed so much that they wanted to work even harder to build upon what their parents had established.
Fresh out of high school, Ernie Clark, Jr. took over the leadership role at Mister Kleen. He had ten years of on-the-job training under his belt and made the difficult choice to stay and run the business instead of going off to college. Ernie knew the importance of education though; he took business classes at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and attended workshops and conventions sponsored by Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI). He didn’t shy away from hard work and built a strong foundation for the company that would lead to future success. It took some time to establish himself, but he soon became a respected leader in the industry. Ernie was determined to continue the dream of his parents.
Ernie and Dianna decided to create a residential division at Mister Kleen. Dianna developed and successfully ran the residential division that would eventually service more than 100 households.
Mister Kleen celebrates its 20th anniversary! The first edition of The Kleen Sweep, Mister Kleen’s newsletter is released. While this communication medium has evolved over the years, keeping our partners informed and the main message of “A Professional yet Personalized service company” continues.
A dream came true for Mister Kleen with the purchase of an 8,000 square foot office and warehouse facility centrally located in Alexandria, Virginia. There was now space under one roof for all aspects of the company, which included an onsite repair shop where Ernest, Sr. would repair company equipment until his passing in 2009.
After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Ernie realized that with stricter security requirements there would be a need for a new kind of commercial cleaning company. Ernie acted quickly to develop a new division of Mister Kleen that would meet the requirements necessary to work within this secure environment. He developed systems, special training and unique hiring strategies geared towards high security facilities. Years of hard work to obtain the proper credentials necessary to service secure facilities paid off and Mister Kleen was awarded its first high security facility contract in 2005.
Mister Kleen celebrates 30 years and decides to sell the residential cleaning division to focus on their core clientele – High Security, Commercial, and Specialty cleaning services.
Ernie served as President of BSCAI. Ernie realized early on the importance of surrounding himself with successful business leaders in the same industry to share business ideas and help each other solve critical business needs. In 2008, Ernie served as President of the Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI), and continued to be active in many associations while receiving several industry awards, including the James E. Purcell Leadership Award, and The Walter L. Cook Award for Distinguished Service.
Mister Kleen becomes GS-42 certified in 2014. We have an unrelenting passion for the health and welfare of our employees and the tenants of our buildings. We take pride in being a vital part of the “Green Kleening” movement. As a certified Green Seal (GS-42) company, Mister Kleen not only uses environmentally preferable products and processes, we also help guide many of our clients through their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications.
2018 & Beyond
Mister Kleen continues its journey under the leadership of Ernie, Dianna and the rest of the leadership team. With an unrelenting focus on service excellence and by investing in infrastructure, technology and people, Mister Kleen has become an industry leader in the commercial and high security sectors servicing tens of millions of square feet of space and employing over 500 employees. The story continues…