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As a local business, Environmental Cleaning Services has been operating for decades in the Lebanon area. Now, the company is going big, with a new 22,000-square-foot headquarters currently under construction in Palmyra’s Flight Path Business Park.
The new building at 110 Landings Drive, which comes with an approximately $6 million price tag, will feature multiple conference rooms, a central lounge, and various meeting areas, as well as offices for a company with several hundred employees and offices in 10 U.S. states, from Nebraska to Texas, Florida, and Georgia.
LebTown caught up with ECS founder Dave Ober to talk about how the business has grown since its founding in 1989 into a major enterprise.
He said there’s been a lot of “blood, sweat and tears” put into the business as it grew from a tiny family company to a real presence in the industry. Ober started out as a franchisee of Rainbow International Carpet Drying and Cleaning Co. before going independent in 1990, originally with the name Ober The Rainbow Services Inc.
“It was just me and my wife,” he said of the early days when ECS was just starting out. “I remember leaving the house in the morning (looking to grow the business) – to pay for diapers (for the kids). It was a mentality of ‘whatever it takes, 24/7.'”
Eventually, all five of his children grew up and got involved in the business, and they in turn helped to hire more talent, including a financial director and a director of business development.
“I couldn’t have run the business alone and have it come out this way,” Ober said, describing his childrens’ involvement. “They’re all very hungry (in terms of proactive business administration). It’s incredible.”
Ober reminisced that he previously had all of the responsibility. His role now, he said, is confined to the company’s vision, culture and financial oversight.
Growing and changing
Big changes have come to ECS as the family worked on it over the years. One change Ober mentioned was an expansion into a new market, as the business has also branched out into offering staffing services in some of its locations.
“The one feeds the other,” Ober said of the cleaning services and the staffing offices.
From the old bank
In getting into the new corporate headquarters location, ECS is coming from a small bank on South White Oak Street that has housed the central business offices for so long.
“It was built to blend in with the houses around here,” Ober said, clarifying that the bank vault and other infrastructure had been removed at move-in.
More administration, Ober said, requires more room.
“When we came in, we said: ‘this place is a mansion!’” he said. “Now, we’re just crawling over everybody.”
Another company founded by Ober last year – Eagle Distribution Services – will also be sharing the space.
Ober said H.R. Weaver is quickly building the new headquarters for a proposed July move-in.
“They listen … they take care of things,” he said.
The official ribbon-cutting is planned for Sept. 15. Ober said it will feature guest speakers and more.
“It’s a big celebration,” he said. “A lot of work went into this … we’re thankful and grateful.”
Specializing in commercial work
ECS has a local focus. The company concentrates specifically on commercial cleaning, and Ober said over the years, the various “Hershey” concerns have been its longest-standing clients. Specifically, ECS has contributed to many cleaning projects at the Milton Hershey School, as well as its trustee organization, the Hershey Trust Company, and other parts of the Hershey network.
Ober talked about the enormous positive impact that Milton Hershey School has on its students.
“We’re honored to be able to contribute to that,” he added.
The building plan features high-tech teleconferencing infrastructure and a full cafeteria, as well as other features facilitating all of the connections and work that will go on under its roof. Ober said that the facility is expected to draw visitors from other areas of the country.
Servant leadership, Ober said, is a value at ECS: with the idea that leaders should be willing to stand on the front lines of the business with others when necessary, and engage with all levels of staff, knowing their people.
He talked about visiting a manager in Kentucky with cancer, and connecting through that opportunity. Ober mentioned that he’s also exploring how a nonprofit might fit into the mix to help more people.
Then, he said, there’s also a goal for strategic acquisitions, to continue to grow the business in a smart way.
To that end, he said, he seeks out advice from a diverse group of professionals.
“If you’re going to accomplish something,” Ober said, “you’d better surround yourself with really good people.”
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