GREENVILLE — Mitchell Swiger started M.A.S. Janitorial in 2008, after working for a janitorial company for a few years as a teenager. He feels that many people probably have a lot of misconceptions about his job.
“Most people probably don’t think about all the legwork involved,” Swiger said. “Quoting, negotiating, training, scheduling, interviewing. Doing meet and greets for new customers, doing paperwork.” As the company’s owner, Swiger has to deal with many of the same responsibilities and customer service-related issues as any other manager.
Jacob Donthnier, whom Swiger refers to as his “righthand man,” has worked for the company for a little over five years. Much of Donthnier’s job involves supervising other employees, dealing with clients on-site at different locations, and making sure the people their company employs do their jobs to a high standard.
Donthnier agreed that customer service can be one of the toughest aspects of the job.
“People can be challenging,” Donthnier said. “Trying to make people happy. Fixing problems. Problem-solving is a big part of what we do.”
A lot of those problems involve working in environments that aren’t necessarily sanitary.
“We go into a lot of places that have not been maintained,” Donthnier said, “and we spend a lot of extra hours the first few weeks on a job just getting things up to a maintainable standard.”
And, of course, different clients have different expectations about where the company and its employees should focus their efforts.
“Everybody’s specific in what they want done, so we cater to what the individual client wants,” Swiger said.
A standard day for Swiger’s employees involves routine tasks like cleaning restrooms, lobbies, break rooms, cafeterias, and the like. Other jobs are not as routine, however, like the time a septic system ruptured, showering an adjacent office area with sewage. Swiger’s company came in and assisted with the clean-up. In another incident, an employee at a local factory was using nontraditional materials to draw on the walls of a bathroom stall.
“We were cleaning up after that guy almost daily for a couple months,” Swiger said.
Other gruesome tasks include incidents involving illness, blood, and other bodily fluids, not to mention drivers making deliveries to local facilities having “accidents,” and leaving the mess behind for their customers to clean up. They also deal with dirty undergarments being thrown away in trash cans and boogers being flicked on walls.
“You couldn’t pay me enough to do your job,” Donthnier said. “That’s what we hear the most often.”
Both men were quick to point out that there are more positive, enjoyable aspects to the job as well, however.
“It’s about meeting new people,” Swiger said, “and knowing that you’re leaving their facility in the best shape it could possibly be in.”
The type of personality it takes takes to succeed in this job, according to Swiger, is a person who is always positive and feels like they want to make a difference.
“I like to tell myself that I left,” Donthnier said, “and the place was better than it was when I got there.”
M.A.S. Janitorial is located at 7428 Fisher-Dangler Rd. in Greenville.
EDS NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series titled “Dirty Jobs” that showcases tough jobs (and the people who do them) that can be less than savory on any given day.