After working seven years in the cleaning industry, 32-year-old Amy Van Derbur started her own cleaning company, Clean & Green. It was her “independent spirit cultivated in my formative years” that gave her the inspiration to start her own business two years ago. Her eight crews provide housekeeping, commercial janitorial services, hard floor care, carpet care, post-construction cleans and move-out cleans. The company has 100 clients in five cities along the Front Range and uses biodegradable cleaning compounds and processes. This year, Van Derbur’s business has exceeded its financial goals and Van Derbur is setting a new bar.
Why is using biodegradable cleaning compounds important to you?
The biodegradable cleaning compounds are integral for reasons one might not see at first glance. Those compounds are used primarily for the benefit of those doing the work as well as the clients who reap the benefit of that work. Green cleaning compounds do not exacerbate asthma and allergies. They do not present the same health risks to my staff that the older butyl-based chemicals did and the client can rest assured that any residue left behind won’t harm them, their staff or family.
Is it difficult to convince companies that they should go green?
At this point, there has been so much press on going green that the concept is not so foreign to my potential clients. In fact, many of my current clients have sought me out simply because we are green.
You celebrate your two-year anniversary in business in October and your business has grown to 100 clients in five cities along the Front Range, what is the secret to success?
The secret to our success is very simple — I value everyone who has touched my company; whether that is my staff, my clients or my vendors. None of us could do this without the other’s expertise and trust. We all realize our own personal limitations and lean on each other when needed. I am very grateful to be surrounded by such amazing, giving people.
You’ve said your company has exceeded your expectations. What are your new goals?
Since we exceeded our annual goal in July, it was time to set a new one. We have doubled our gross sales quarter to quarter. Therefore, the new goal is to increase our sales volume by 50 percent and maintain it throughout fourth quarter. That will set the company up to reach $1 million in gross annualized sales by the end of 2012.
As a young professional, what do you think is the No. 1 challenge young professionals face in the Springs?
Colorado Springs is a city that truly welcomes and nourishes the entrepreneur. Having come from the D.C. area originally, I can honestly say that this is the perfect city to launch your dream. Our community and local Chamber truly support the efforts of the small business. Therefore, the two biggest hurdles I see for a young professional are finding the funding for your dream and finding your niche in the community. Personally, I overcame those hurdles by initially working in my own company (I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty) and I became an ambassador for our local Chamber. The key is educating yourself properly in your field and having an appreciation for all facets of your industry as well as surrounding yourself with people in the community who, quite frankly, know more than you.