Cleaning supplier marks 25th anniversary

Name: Mark Cadell

Age: 50

Job: President, Dutch Hollow Janitorial Supplies (6218 Old St. Louis Road in Belleville)


Outlook: "We feel strongly about delivering our own freight, driving our own trucks with our own drivers. We try to do everything to keep that personal level and try to keep it so that we know people's first names and they know ours."

The cleaning supply business Mark Cadell formed as a way to earn extra income is marking a quarter of century in business. Cadell started out cleaning and selling janitorial supplies before refocusing his enterprise into sales only. He recently talked about his 25 years in cleaning with business reporter Will Buss:

Q. Did you think you would be celebrating 25 years in business?

A. "Once we got going into what we do now, we felt this was going to be what I would do until I retired."

Q. Why did you get into the cleaning business?

A. "I don't do any cleaning services anymore, I just sell supplies. I did it as a part-time deal. I drove trucks, tractor trailers, for a living. I basically did it for extra money on the weekends to see if there was anything that I could do other than being gone driving. One thing led to another, and I got more and more accounts and got into selling products to our customers. That took a lot more time, and we opened our first storefront across from Home Brite Hardware on North Illinois Street. When we did that, I had to quit driving because (the janitorial supply business) was going to fail unless I gave it eight hours a day. I just quit my full-time job and did that instead of just working evenings and weekends."

Q. When did you do that?

A. "We started in 1984 when we opened for business. So I would say probably in '86 or '87 is when we probably went full-time into it."

Q. Why did you stop cleaning to focus only selling supplies?

A. "Basically, the service became not as profitable. I would say more and more smaller companies were popping up that offered cleaning, and we also were trying to keep bigger accounts. We just found that when clients start buying supplies and when we sold supplies, there is more profit in the marketing and selling. There are less headaches and not all of the employees working nights, they mostly work in the daytime. We sold supplies and did cleaning service. I realized that we needed to make a choice and focus one way or the other and decided to focus on supplies to contract with cleaners. I sold off the cleaning side to one of my former employees. They bought it, but they did get my name. We focused strictly on supplies, which has turned out to be the best. We probably made that move in '92, '93."

Q. How has your business has lasted this long?

A. "One thing we try to do is we try to service everybody equally in terms of customer service. If it's a multi-million dollar company or a guy that has a one-man insurance office, we try to serve them equally. We don't have one product for one guy or another one for a price. We consider all customers the same. There are some you treat a little bit differently, but you want to make sure everyone feels comfortable. We strive for customer service."

Q. What's ahead for the next 25 years?

A. "Basically, my son is in the business with me. He's in it and he has been working in it since he was in college. After he graduated from St. Louis University, he has been working full time with me now for four years. He even worked with me when he was going to college. When I started, my goal was to have a successful business for myself, retire and take care of my family. He has decided to come into business and he has stayed. He wants to have 25 years here and be here for the 50th. As far as I'm concerned, I have no intention of retiring. But his outlook is the same as mine. He looks at what he's doing as far as what he will do and what he has to do to keep the company's outlook the same, and hopefully, be here for another 25 years."