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October 24, 2016

Green Clean moves from leased space to new $425K Portland HQ

Courtesy / Malone Commercial Real Estate Green Clean Maine invested $425,000 in a 4,750-square-foot building at 583 Warren Ave. in Portland. The cleaning company has seen rapid growth since its founding in 2007.
Courtesy / Joe Walsh, Green Clean Maine Green Clean Maine founder Joe Walsh.

PORTLAND — A gung-ho cleaning service, Green Clean Maine, has been skyrocketing since its founding in 2007.

That’s why founder and CEO Joe Walsh decided to buy larger quarters to house the business.

Walsh purchased the 4,768-square-foot, three-level office building at 583 Warren Ave. in Portland, just west of the Maine Turnpike/I-95 overpass, from Casey & Paige LLC for $425,000. The deal closed Sept. 16.

Amenities include 25 onsite parking spaces plus a two-bay garage and deck. Walsh was represented by Matthew Cardente and Mark Sandler of Cardente Real Estate. Mark Malone of Malone Commercial Real Estate represented the seller.

“Joe and I had been searching for properties over the past year,” said Sandler. “This property fit perfectly into our mix of an owner/user investment property. Joe has the option to use a portion of the property to grow other aspects of his business or lease it out for extra income.”

Reached by phone after attending the Goldman Sachs “10,000 Small Businesses” program in Boston, Walsh said the new space is about six times larger than the current leased space.

“We’re moving out of an 800-square-foot space. It’s tiny,” he said. “I can’t even believe we’ve been there that long.”

The new building and grounds will allow for continued growth. That includes space for equipment for the field staff, supplies like low-moisture mop systems, high-performance commercial backpack vacuums, all-natural handmade cleaning formulas, cleaning trays, microfiber cloths, cotton cloths for glass, terrycloth mops for floors and microfiber dusters to get up high and down low.

There’s now also more space for the growing administrative and customer service office staff and a laundry plant with washers and dryers. The crew launders 1,500 to 2,000 cleaning cloths per day, a production line where the company produces cleaning supplies and will eventually package them for consumer sales. Outside is a fleet of environmentally friendly electric hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicles.

The building is about 40 years old and in good shape, requiring minimal renovations such as paint and carpeting.

“It was already laid out in a way that, when I walked in I knew it would be great for us,” said Walsh.

The move was planned for Oct 22-23.

Non-toxic cleaners can't keep up with demand

Walsh’s entrée into cleaning services was a surprising turn from his previous career as an advertising salesman for the Sunrise Guide, a Westbrook-based publication about healthy and sustainable resources. He was approaching environmentally friendly residential cleaning services about advertising.

“Everyone I talked with who was doing it in a nontoxic way said they couldn’t advertise because they already couldn’t keep up with demand,” he recalled.

The popularity of the service and the promise of good money meshed with his personal predilection for a clean and tidy home. He received a $5,000 grant from the Libra Future Fund and got his first client, a friend with a condo, in October 2007. He hired his first employee in January 2008. Now he has 30 employees and, he said, the company is the largest residential cleaning service in Maine, with about 400 subscribers, from Saco to Freeport, who register for an average of 3.5 to 4 years, with the average client signing up for bi-weekly service.

Recently, he was a finalist in the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s “Top Gun” program, developing a vision for the company’s future. Plans include additional services such as helping homeowners with other aspects of their lives, such as dog-walking, carpet-washing and concierge services.

Walsh plans to expand the commercial cleaning side. And he plans to increase production of natural cleaning supplies, which use baking soda, vinegar, essential oils and other plant-based ingredients. Customers often ask to buy his supplies, so he’s developed product labels and is finalizing packaging for sales.

“This building will make room to add divisions and service lines as we grow,” he said.

Also, the property is over two acres, so there’s enough land and buffer to add at least another 5,000 square feet of space.

“That’s part of the property’s appeal as well,” he said.

So why does he like to clean?

“I’m a little bit of a perfectionist,” he said. “It’s the satisfaction you get from making something just right, starting off with something dirty or chaotic and making it clean and neat. But what I didn’t like was the chemical part. I was interested in creating an environmental benefit and making money at the same time.”

Editor’s note: Green Clean Maine cleans the Mainebiz offices.

Read more

Top Gun classes named for Portland, Bangor and Rockland

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