Keeping Canada Shining

Swish Maintenance Limited
Written by Pauline Muller

As COVID-19 reminded the world of the importance of good hygiene, family-owned and operated Swish Maintenance Limited stepped in to help protect the nation with a high-value offering that helps its customers set themselves apart in highly competitive markets. Ahead of its time in many ways, the company is a Canadian leader in the sanitation industry, offering its customers a range of cleaning assessment software, equipment, and custom green certified cleaning solutions. Shopping with Swish is easy whether on account, through one of its 13 retail centres, or via its full ecommerce website.

Swish Maintenance primarily serves retirement/long-term care homes, hospitality establishments, schools, and other businesses from its 13 locations stretching across the country from Nova Scotia to Vancouver, alongside a partnership that serves Quebec.

Established in the 1950s, Swish Maintenance Limited today is as strong as ever. Owners of the third-generation firm, the Ambler family take pride in being a part of this dynamic company.

“As an organization, we consider ourselves a best-kept secret in this industry. Partnering with Swish brings more than great products,” says Jason Moorehead, Vice President of Sales, speaking to the level of customer satisfaction, innovation, and knowledge that the company provides.

Customers are often surprised at the sheer volume of the company’s quality offerings, which includes more than 10,000 products, a point of pride to this lively team of over 300. The result is a team that looks at doing business from the perspective of building and supporting local communities, growing and evolving its offering in ways beneficial to entire regions and not just its bottom line.

“We carry a wide range of cleaning supplies and equipment. We have an extensive line of innovative equipment including robotics and other leading-edge technology,” Moorehead adds. In addition to its own brand, Swish also stocks materials and equipment from other trusted industry brands, ensuring that customers get what they want and benefit from the best quality and variety possible.

Headquartered in Peterborough, Ontario, its national presence means that the company has become a household name for many, and its materials are not only developed in Canada but a stone’s throw from its headquarters. “As part of our group of companies, we have made a significant investment to manufacture all cleaning chemicals within the Peterborough, Ontario region,” Moorehead explains. “We have [also] invested heavily to reduce our carbon footprint and really focus on sustainability and innovative cleaning products,” he adds.

Here, continuous improvement is the key to adding depth, and Swish Maintenance Limited maintains a steady and consistent pace in introducing innovations. Its most recent addition, Swish Clean Checkup™, is a trademarked service that assists companies in establishing effective cleaning audits of all spaces in buildings. The company employs customized technology to help customers assess, validate, and document their overall cleaning plans and their status.

By implementing Swish Clean Checkup™, companies benefit tremendously from developing and implementing in-depth cleaning plans and procedures through the use of SAVI software. The system ensures cleaning efficiency, maintains the levels and condition of hand soap/sanitizer dispensers, and checks flooring, carpets, and more. The software also logs issues in any specific space, including foyers, lounge areas, offices, and washrooms, with the help of photographic evidence and reports.

Using another software suite called Pathfinder and a proprietary mist developed for the task, the team can even record surface swatches that render images of the microbiomes existing on tables, consoles, vanities, and the like. In the process, the tool identifies any pathogens that are thriving in such places.

By validating the cleaning process, the tool can also be employed to educate staff members. One case in point illustrates how a recently cleaned cafeteria table tested clean on top but displayed contaminated edges—the surface area many customers often have first contact with. For this reason, retirement/long-term care homes have found the tool especially helpful as this level of hygiene means that they can lead with cleanliness as one of their main selling points when appealing to prospective residents.

“Their customers want to ensure that they or their loved ones will be safe in a communal-type living space,” Moorehead says. “So this is an opportunity for any retirement/long-term care operators to use this tool to make sure they validate their cleaning, offering their customers a safer environment and minimizing the chances of an outbreak.”

The tool can be applied to test furniture and other service components residents would have direct manual contact with, like doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, and more. The system also supports companies that run on lower staff numbers, helping to establish and maintain transparency between task schedules and execution. In addition, Swish Clean Checkup™ identifies where a building’s weak spots are in terms of cleanliness to ensure that every shift is equipped for success.

For instance, “By letting a Swish hygiene expert validate the cleanliness over the day, that might raise the need to add a second shift,” Moorehead explains, highlighting that by partnering with its clients, Swish can add value to their operations by investigating the facts about their cleanliness situation. Even though a night shift may be in place for cleaning, bacteria proliferate during untended hours, often making second cleaning shifts imperative. “That ensures that staff and customers are safe,” he says.

This process is supported by another software suite, the aforementioned SAVI, which is essentially a sophisticated building management program complete with a progress tracking tool with additional functions like profiling each cleaner’s performance to determine the need for further training. SAVI is also designed to test air quality and hold equipment service records, based on the in-depth cleaning experience of decades. The software is an impressive addition to an already well-thought-out service.

“Automation is coming into our industry very quickly,” Moorehead says. “Primarily, it’s driven by a labour shortage—specifically, a shortage of workers in the cleaning industry.” Due to this, Canadians already see increasing numbers of automatic vacuums and scrubbers around—especially in restaurants. Swish has agreements with a few of the best names in automated equipment, ensuring customers benefit from top quality. That not only makes up for the staff deficit in many cases, but it also allows staff members in cleaning positions to take care of more important tasks.

“We’re quickly becoming well-known for our expertise in robotics. Being considered an expert in the field is something we are committed to,” Moorehead adds. Being an industry leader means continuously developing better, faster, and more thorough ways of helping customers keep their establishments and institutions on par with global standards. Swish is also committed to ensuring that it has a team of field staff ready to service and repair machines onsite.

To this end, every branch offers a nationwide service department with technicians educated and equipped to keep automated fleets in good working order and running smoothly. Therefore, customer support does not end as soon as a customer’s payment has cleared; Swish professionals understand that while cleaning is a superbly important part of their customers’ offerings, it is rarely their business. Therefore, ongoing quality service cultivates longstanding partnerships that safeguard customers from having to rough it on their own. It also gives them a healthy return on investment.

This is simply because keeping things clean can be quite an undertaking. Seams where tiles meet the floor or faucets meet porcelain, for example, are notoriously tricky to clean as that is typically where tough dirt gathers. Moorehead points out that having the right tool is the answer to every challenge, and Swish Maintenance’s automated scrubbers are programmed to deal with even the toughest dirt.

Looking back at the situations that formed and elevated the company’s current position in the market, the COVID-19 period may have been a nightmare to start with, but in the end, a shortage of disinfectant imports from the United States meant the development of a local industry that was, initially, comparatively small. Today, the company’s sustainable chemical output is significantly higher. In the process, Swish sourced a Health Canada-approved and Canadian-made hand sanitizer while keeping its carbon footprint in mind, resulting in a few suppliers within 25 kilometres of its front door. The blow-moulded containers for these products are also fabricated nearby.

“Being a Canadian manufactured product, if we run into some of the challenges we did with COVID… we have the capabilities to supply the Canadian market with hand sanitizer,” Moorehead says of the process that ultimately took the company from being dependent on foreign suppliers to being self-sufficient.

Moreover, the team introduced a USDA-certified organic hand soap that is also locally fabricated. With so many people suffering allergic reactions to standard hand cleansers, this soap has been met with appreciation by organizations that understand how imperative the product is to those with sensitivities as well as informed citizens who prefer to protect themselves by using top-quality products. Naturally, among the biggest supporters of the product are schools that protect children’s health while being mindful of what goes onto their skin. Beyond this, the product has also proven popular with senior living and hospitality establishments.

Underpinning its formidable offering is a company culture that upholds mutual respect and family values. The Swish Way is a set of company guidelines by which all employees conduct themselves. In addition to this, the company is heavily invested in providing its staff with continuous education to ensure that everyone has what they need to excel at becoming and remaining industry experts.

“We’ve committed ourselves to being cleaning experts; that’s a top-to-bottom priority within our organization. As a result, we have people within our organization with significant tenure,” says Moorehead, who has been with the company for just over a year but is looking forward to a lengthy future here. To have several staff members who have helped build a company—some for over four decades—is no small achievement and is something that Swish genuinely values.

It also proves the value of a company culture that practices its ideals. Another way Swish does this is by giving each of its 13 branches the freedom to choose local charities they wish to support, highlighting the company’s commitment to contributing meaningfully to the communities in which it operates. This is just one small way in which the company shows its appreciation for being welcomed into and supported in these areas.

While mergers sweep up smaller firms to feed ever-growing multinationals, Swish Maintenance Limited continues to keep its commitment to remaining Canadian and supporting Canadians. The company knows that it is doing its part to support local communities while staying authentic in its service delivery and maintaining its close relationships with customers. That does not mean, however, that it is opposed to growth or evolution.

As the company moves ahead, answering the visible market need for fresh and novel ways of getting the job done well is its main priority. Within this context, the fast upward trajectory of its hand product sales accompanying demand for software and automated equipment gives Swish the leverage to help secure and build Canadian expertise and knowledge in the field. Achieving that efficiently also means continued investment in its customers’ success.

As cleaning large, high-traffic areas to exacting standards demands a significant depth of product and equipment knowledge, making in-person service available at all times sets the company apart in a big way. “There’s a lot of complexity when it comes to cleaning. Expertise is what you get with a partnership and a company [like ours] that invests in its employees to make them experts,” says Moorehead.

With that said, Swish Maintenance Limited is now most certainly set up to achieve its aim of becoming Canada’s number one source for cleaning supplies and equipment.

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