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Management And Training

Get to know ... Gary Walker

September 19, 2010
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Gary Walker, CEO and chairman of Magic Touch Cleaning Inc. and his wife, Trish, say they are revolutionizing the world of commercial cleaning from their headquarters in Lee’s Summit, MO, a suburb of Kansas City.

Known as “The King of Green Cleaning,” Gary’s main priority has been investing back into his business to make the shift to cleaning exclusively with environmentally friendly products, without increasing costs for his clients.

Gary founded Magic Touch Cleaning in 1996.

It is the only all-green commercial cleaning company in the Kansas City area.

The success of Magic Touch is due, in part, to the long-term, personal partnerships enjoyed by Gary and his clients, many have been customers for over 10 years.

The recent opening of Return to Green, a retail store that sells environmentally friendly cleaning products, is just one of the many endeavors Gary and his wife have embarked on in their quest to paint the cleaning industry green.

If he could change one thing about the cleaning and maintenance industry, Gary says he would get rid of all the toxic chemicals.

How did you get your start in the cleaning and maintenance industry?
I was moonlighting with a friend, Dennis Lowe, who was part-owner of a floor restoration company. He offered me $10 an hour to run a buffer, which at the time was a lot of money for part-time work. Dennis was a very good friend; I credit him for giving me my start in the business. I was teaching him how to sell during the day, and he was teaching me to clean floors at night.

What does a typical day at your job entail?
Being proactive. What I mean by that is looking for what the next issue is before it ever happens. I need to have my finger on the pulse of my business by staying in touch with my clients, my associates, and my vendors. So I spend most of my time talking on the phone, in meetings, and if at all possible, face-to-face. I am a body language person. I picked it up working as an undercover police officer. It still serves me to this day.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
First, helping change people’s lives by providing a living wage and good benefits. And second, taking a trashed-out building and making it spotless. It is that pride of accomplishment, seeing the finished product that your team pulled together, doing something that was so overwhelming to everyone else.

Have you had any industry-related schooling or training?
The only formal training that I had was when I worked the night shift for the U.S. Air Force. They always wanted the floors looking “spit and polish,” so the guys who worked nights had that task. Also, we learned a lot about cleaning in basic training. Since then I have been to more classes than I could list. We believe in nonstop education at MTC — we are constantly training.

What is the difference between the tasks you perform today, and the tasks you performed when you started?
I think the biggest change is the process itself, and, of course, the chemicals we use. We have moved to environmentally safe practices and chemicals. I can remember using products that would clear a room because you couldn’t breathe, but that was accepted practice then.
Thankfully, there has been a change for the better. Health and the environment have become a major concern. We want to be responsible partners when it comes to how we work, no matter what the task may be.

What are some activities you enjoy to escape the stresses of your job?
I love to spend time with my family, travel when time permits, and read World War II books. Another thing that gives me great joy is charity work. Trish and I have a foundation, and we spend a lot of our spare time raising money to give to three causes close to our hearts: Battered women’s shelters, the arts, and the environment.

What is the best advice for newcomers in your field?
Take pride in what you do, and have passion for it. If you don’t have passion for something, get out of it. Find something that you do have passion for, and throw yourself into it. Become the expert. Become the go-to person that they need. Do this and you will always have a job.


If you know of someone who you think should be featured in A Clean Sweep, e-mail Richard DiPaolo at rdipaolo@cmmonline.com.
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