© 2023 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
NPR and KMUW are thoroughly committed to monitoring COVID-19 activity and its potential impact on your lives. We are continually updating kmuw.org with the latest news.

Growing Wichita Cleaning Service Tackles New Challenge: A Pandemic

Nadya Faulx
Delorean King (left) and brothers Lance and Jordan Harris

Jordan Harris says he started Harris Dream Clean in 2015 by buying a $45 vacuum and knocking on doors after he quit his cleaning job at an aviation company.

One client led to another, and then another. He eventually convinced his older brother, Lance, to quit his cleaning position for a different aviation firm to join him.

"(He) turned me down a few times, but he finally agreed to it," Jordan said as both brothers laughed.

The company, which offers commercial office cleaning and janitorial services, now has nearly 40 employees, including operations supervisor Delorean King, a high school friend. Among the company’s 35 clients are the Sedgwick County Courthouse and Union Station.

They continue to pick up new clients who need their buildings cleaned and disinfected as people who have been working remotely return to the home office.

Both brothers are Wichita State University graduates; Lance played basketball for the Shockers.

And both say attention to detail and customer service are critical to helping the company grow.

They talked with Tom Shine and The Range about working during the pandemic, why they love being their own boss and who was a neater kid growing up.

The interview was edited for length and clarity.

Starting the company

Jordan: I was the only employee running around doing all kinds of stuff that nobody wanted to do. We … had like pretty gradual growth. And then I ended up landing an account that had 10 locations that were spread across Kansas. I'm like, ‘I don't know how I'm going to manage all this.’ … So I ended up begging Lance. He turned me down a few times, but he finally agreed to it.

Dealing with the pandemic

Jordan: We lost a few locations. But thankfully we were fortunate to have some locations that called us for these one-time cleaning gigs for going through and … disinfecting the whole business, the whole building. So that pretty much supplemented everything else to where we didn't feel too much of a financial burden.

Lance: Then the ones that stayed open, they increased cleaning so they could stay open. So that kind of patched everything up.

Keeping employees safe

Lance: Face mask, gloves. Always. Don't take them off. If you do take them off to use your phone, new gloves. You don't ever reuse (gloves) or take it off and put it back on. Because people forget that if you touch your phone with those gloves, your phone now has whatever you were doing on that phone. Anytime you take a break, new gloves. Anytime you touch your phone, new gloves. And I can tell we've been using more gloves, but I've told them to do it. And this is what we need.

The dirtiest place in an office building

Jordan: One of the things that gets overlooked all the time is light switches. … Almost everybody touches the light switches.

And the back of the chair as well. You grab the back of the chair daily and you wouldn’t consider that. That needs to be wiped.

Being in business for yourself

Jordan: I love it. I do. I love it. I love being able to help people for one. Like I love being able to hire people.

And then I worked with some bosses who were, uh, I guess not my favorite people. … So I learned how to treat people based on how they didn't treat people, if you understand what I'm saying. So a lot of our employees, they love working with us because we treat them as people, not as numbers.

Lance: One of my favorite things is at my previous company, they liked to tell you exactly what time you need to do something when I know what's best for my building at the time. He (Jordan) just lets me do what I need to do. If I have to work at four in the morning and come back, and he's just like, "Just do what you do and then make sure it's done." And that's it. I don't have to allot for my time or tell him what time I was doing this or send a weekly report saying what time I did this. It's like, "It's done. I'm not getting complaints. We're good."

Practicing good customer service

Jordan: That's part of why our customers like working with us … because we are a growing business, but we're able to keep those small business values. So whenever a client calls me or Lance or Delorean, Delorean is not going to say, "All right, well, let me talk to my manager." And then the manager says, "Well, let me talk to the GM." And then the GM says, "Well, let me talk to … ." Like, no. Delorean can fix it right then.

You call me, I'm going to be like, "OK, you need that done? We'll get it done." I call Lance, and it's done. So that's part of why our clients love working with us because we’re able to do things that large companies do, like sending invoices through QuickBooks, but we're able to do the small things as well, like respond on the same day when something needs to be done.

When they knew the pandemic was serious

Delorean: When we had toilet tissue walking away, I was like, "Is it that serious?" And I mean, literally we had cases stored, and they will walk out of the building.

They were breaking dispensers and taking the toilet tissue out … And look at one of these toilet tissue holders, they're like steel, like safes. .. And they were breaking it open and getting them out. So I said, "This is getting real."

The neater brother growing up

Jordan: I was the one that like, when we both got a Ninja Turtle for Christmas, I kept mine pristine. And as soon as Lance opened his, he took the arms and the legs off. And then he's like, "Jordan, you want yours to look like mine?" I was like, "Cool." So he pulled mine off, too.

So I was the one that wanted to keep everything pristine. And Lance was the total opposite. Lance was finishing cereal and putting the bowl on his head for whatever reason.

Tom joined KMUW in 2017 after spending 37 years with The Wichita Eagle where he held a variety of reporting and editing roles. He also is host of The Range, KMUW’s weekly show about where we live and the people who live here. Tom is a board member of the Public Media Journalists Association, serving as small station representative, a volunteer coach for League 42 and an adjunct instructor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University.