Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Creating The Best For Success

March 24, 2011

One size does not fit all: That is the conclusion the custodial department at Penn State University came to in 2001 when they established their custodial program.

The program is run by Manager Ron Nagle, who oversees all operations, including program development and program direction, and Assistant Erik Cagle, who develops the training matrix, implements and conducts training and manages the online learning center.

The program arose from the need to standardize operations and achieve consistency across the custodial operation at Penn State as a whole.

Staff at the university found there were many inconsistencies within the custodial department, including quality, safety, product usage, procedures and expectations.

The goal of Penn State''s Achieving Custodial Excellence (ACE) program is to deliver a clean, safe and healthy campus building environment through sustainable cleaning practices.

The program is defined by the Quality Service Action Plan (QSAP), which challenges all staff members to:

  • Provide and maintain a safe environment

  • Perform each day''s work with a superior service attitude

  • Practice responsible financial and environmental stewardship

  • Remain flexible and available to provide customers with ease of service

  • Plan work, use time effectively and utilize technology to ensure efficiency.

Customization Is Key

It is important to note that, while the ACE program utilizes the foundation of may popular cleaning programs found throughout the cleaning industry, every program that is implemented or product line that is used is customized specifically for Penn State.

Nagle points to Team Cleaning and green cleaning as two examples of programs that Penn State has taken and adapted to fit into their existing program.

“Before we implemented Team Cleaning, we learned about the concept, attended training seminars and visited other facilities that had already implemented the plan,” said Nagle. “We brought back what we learned and built it into and around our current program. What we have now is the Penn State ACE Team Cleaning Program, which is not reliant on, nor limited by, a particular product line, equipment line or software program.”

Similarly, when the university began exploring the pros and cons of green cleaning, it was decided not to “rubber stamp” Green Seal, EcoLogo or Design for the Environment (DfE) on the program.

“We decided to extract the best parts of every program we could learn about and insert them in to ours,” Nagle explained.

Training Is Essential For Life

Both Nagle and Cagle agree that the number one benefit their custodians gain from the custodial programs is an increase in safety, with the department maintaining the lowest rate of injury of any unit at the university.

“The safety of our employees is our first concern. Each employee is trained on topics such as hazardous communication (HazCom), blood spill cleanup, laboratory safety, back safety, ladder safety and more,” stated Nagle. “Training helps us to achieve points on our QSAP by equipping employees with knowledge, a customer-oriented attitude and a stewardship mindset.”

But, the training each custodian receives, while geared towards a safe and healthy work environment, doesn''t stop when the custodian steps off the campus.

Other training categories such as Team Building and Health and Wellness have explored issues like conflict resolution and work/life balance to help custodians deal with relationships at work and home, while improving their overall job satisfaction.

“Our customers include students, faculty, staff and visitors. We strive to meet their expectations through excellent performance and respectful behavior,” concluded Nagle.

One size fits all, a simple phrase seen as a challenge by an entire custodial department, became a mission to be better than any one label or program; it became a mission to be different.

Mission accomplished.