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Hotelier cleaning his way to success

by Ben Oduor

Parapet turns sprucing up organizations into an art

By Ben Oduor

When Alex Nyaga was planning to return home after years of study and work abroad, a number of business ideas crossed his mind.

He had worked in a hotel in the West after graduating with a degree in hotel management from Les Roches International in Switzerland and looked forward to helping build his homeland.

On arrival in Kenya, Nyaga noticed that a number of companies and organisations were keen on outsourcing services such as sanitation and identified this as a business opportunity.

Armed with some savings and a bank loan, he established Parapet Cleaning Services in 1998.

He says the initial contracts were viable as at the time, most firms depended on their own cleaners, whose services did not match international standards due to the inefficient equipment they used.

“With such an opportunity, coupled with limited professional services, I found a platform to exploit my skills in providing modern cleaning services,” Nyaga says.

However, like any other start-up, a number of challenges ranging from marketing, competition and brand building arose.

“Managing a company is not a walk in the park. In the initial stages, we had sleepless nights working out how we could build our brand and establish market confidence in our company,” he says.

In a bid to approach the market as a fresh brand, the firm embraced a culture of recruiting professional but passionate staff, acquired modern cleaning equipment and comprehensively trained the workers.

With such investments and through cut-throat marketing, the firm signed a mega contract with Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), following which it got referrals to other huge clients.

From a start-up operating in a single room, the company has grown to a regional cleaning giant with offices in Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan and has projects in Kenya’s 47 counties.

It has also increased its staff 4,000 across the East African region.

The firm also offers various domestic, industrial and commercial services such as fumigation and pest control, gardening and landscaping, floor sanding and varnishing, carpet and executive office cleaning, sanitary and washroom solutions, and façade cleaning.

Additionally, it provides garbage collection and waste management, event clean-up, post construction cleaning and swimming pool vacuuming and cleaning.

The certified cleaning firm has been rated among the 100 fastest-growing mid-sized companies in Kenya and is registered with the International Sanitary Services Association (ISSA) and International Detailers Association (IDA).

“Our affiliation and membership with ISSA and IDA goes to show we are committed to providing modern, professional, environmentally friendly and efficient service to commercial, industrial and domestic clients,” Nyaga says in a statement, adding that Parapet has been ahead of its competitors due to its high regard for hygiene and the direct impact it has in society.

“Imagine the situation if cleaning services could be withdrawn even for a week. There would be chaos everywhere,” says Nyaga.

An expert report from the website Confessions of the Professions says that employees are prone to certain health problems in an unclean office space and that they may suffer from breathing problems when exposed to such environments.

The report further says poor indoor air quality and filthy workplaces can drastically affect workers’ state of mind, with infectious bacteria and viruses spreading within 2 to 4 hours. It says contamination can be reduced by about 99 per cent with proper hygiene.

Concurring with the report, Nyaga says individuals should consider the competence of cleaning service providers, the time they take, previous record and the machines used.

“These make a difference between a professional service provider and those providing cheap but unsatisfactory services,” he says.

In its 18 years of operation, the firm has attracted a huge clientele base that includes the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), higher institutions of learning, embassies, parastatals and banks, among other local and international institutions.

Going forward, Parapet aims to perfect cleaning to a science by selling its brand in the African continent and oversees.

“We aim to transform cleaning services from the common traditional across the African continent and beyond,” he visualises.

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