Deborah Cassidy was on a solid career path with Arthur Anderson, one the nation’s top accounting firms, when it filed for bankruptcy in 2001 before laying off 28,000 workers in the United States.
Just like that, she was out of a job after 20 years with the same company.
“What am I going to do?” she wondered. “I decided I to start a cleaning business. I went to my accountant and asked what he thought. He asked me about three questions and then said, ‘Do it,’ ” Cassidy said.
Fifteen years later, Clean as a Whistle, a residential cleaning services company serving Bradenton and Manatee County, is still going strong.
“No matter how long you work with a company, there are always challenges,” said Cassidy, whose company was a finalist in the recent Manatee Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year awards in the category for those with less than $250,000 in annual revenue.
But there are opportunities, too.
Even though her retirement plans with Arthur Anderson did not pan out, she came away with lessons that benefited her with Clean as a Whistle.
“That’s where I learned a lot of my management tools,” she said. “Customer service is a big part of it. There are so many companies you’re competing against. No. 1 is customer service.”
The company now has six team members, and Cassidy says the best part is the pleasure her company brings to clients who are able to come home to a clean house.
“Our lives are so busy and hectic we don’t have the time to clean the way we would like,” she said. “It’s a relief to come home to a clean house after a stressful day.”
Clean as a Whistle is a participant in the Cleaning for a Reason Foundation. Her company does one free cleaning a month for four months for women undergoing cancer treatments.
“That’s my passion,” Cassidy said of Cleaning for a Reason. “It’s a great cause.”
An estimated 25,000 women have received the service since 2006, and partners have contributed $6 million to the Foundation.
Kevin DiLallo, chairman of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, called businesses like Cassidy’s the lifeblood of the community during the 38th annual Small Business of the Year awards luncheon.
“Ninety percent of our members are defined as small businesses. Of those, over 53 percent of Chamber members employ five or fewer. They are the Manatee Chamber,” DiLallo said.