— From the pages of FLL Issue #37 / Fiscal Thinking Issue #03 • Written by W.C. McClure
There’s a certain something about Lancaster that makes the county a special place to live. There is a spirit of genuine personal connection, loyalty, generosity, and work ethic which infuses itself into every part of Lancaster County life. This is especially so when you walk into a local business like Clean Energy Maintenance, Inc. in New Holland. Customer service is a term for which the meaning has worn thin through overuse across the business world. However, at Clean Energy Maintenance, Inc., customer service is the natural byproduct of people caring about what they do and the people who they serve.
“Lori and I each have a lot of energy and the people who work for us have a lot of drive,” says Steve Weaver, co-founder and president of Clean Energy Maintenance, Inc. He recalls brainstorming over breakfast one morning with the woman who would become his wife, business co-founder, and the driving force behind the Clean Energy image with her background in advertising and commercial art. They were trying to think of a good name for what was, at that time, a commercial cleaning business, and energy was key.
“That’s what Lori and I are about,” Steve says. “We’re full of life and full of energy.” It’s that kind of energy and attention to detail that has helped Clean Energy evolve from an office cleaning contractor and wholesale paper and soap supply operation to the multi-million dollar full-service property maintenance firm it is today.
Twenty-three years ago when Steve and Lori Weaver started Clean Energy, they were a detailed office cleaning company. They had three employees and offered five services. As time went on, they started creating greater solutions as their customers expressed new needs. Snow and ice removal became part of the package. Facility care expanded to organic and traditional lawn care programs. Lawn care graduated to landscape and hardscape design services. Pest control. Insect and disease prevention. Natural select hand pruning. Calming water features to warming fire features, and even wholesale paper and soap supplies. As their customers’ requests grew, so did Clean Energy’s list of services and areas of expertise.
“What we’re able to do is simplify things for a homeowner or a commercial client by offering an affordable niche service that is tailored to each client’s specific needs and budgets,” Steve says. “Most companies just concentrate on one thing, whether it may be mowing, just doing fertilization, or custodians who handle cleaning only. They don’t offer the other unique, special touches and details that can bring a property to life. We’re probably the only one within a hundred mile radius that provides a combination of services like we do.”
As they continued to work on finding solutions for their customers, they soon found themselves running a complete property care business. Their team grew. The variety of certifications and specialties among their staff increased. These days, just about any service that keeps a business or residence looking its best is available to Clean Energy customers with one single call. And that call will be answered.
“Probably the best part about us is our great customer service team who keeps me on my toes,” Steve laughs. “And they keep my clientele informed,” he adds more seriously. “When you call most companies, you get an answering machine, but our clients have accessibility to a manager and customer service here at the office five days a week.”
YOUR NEED IS OUR SERVICE
True to Lancaster County style, Clean Energy’s first concern is their customer’s experience, which are personal connections, and they’re to be nurtured like friendships. Communication plays a key role in making sure that their customers feel this, and it has paid off. Steve explains, “Once on board, the communication from the point of contact through the end of the project, and hopefully into maintaining the project, is consistent every step of the way. The majority of our work is through word of mouth from client referrals.”
“No smoke and mirrors here, but a simple concept,” he says. “Everything we do is for the customer and everything we expect from our customer is clearly spelled out in writing before the contract is even signed.”
BEAUTY ON THE INSIDE
Commercial office cleaning is the heart of Clean Energy. It’s where they began and continue to thrive. They still offer customized cleaning programs and high-quality office cleaning services for businesses of all sizes, and these days they offer the same for high end residential customers as well. Office cleaning and porter services, professional carpet cleaning, floor cleaning/ waxing, and commercial window cleaning are just the beginning. Renovating or moving into a new space? You can call Clean Energy in to perform construction cleanup. In need of a superintendent to oversee and maintain your property? Yep, that too. They also wholesale paper, soap, and cleaning products so you can restock with ease.
“We can fulfill anywhere from three nights a week to five nights a week, or even seven nights a week of detailed top to bottom cleaning,” Steve says. “We can also provide green cleaning products throughout our services which are environmentally responsible and Green Seal certified, as well as stocking and supplying those products for daily use. Having a clean business environment is a priority for impressing clients and boosting employee morale.”
“A client can call us,” Steve explains, “and we can come out and take care of their lawn, trees, and shrubs by fertilizing as well as mowing. We can come out in the spring and summer and do the trimming of the shrubs, edging of the beds, weeding, and mulching. In the fall we can take care of the leaves. We also offer perimeter pest control for crawling insects like ants, spiders, and ticks. During winter, we can handle the snow and ice management. You can pretty much eliminate four to five contractors just by hiring us.”
Anyone who has ever taken a drive around Lancaster County can picture the signature Lancaster County feel. Tidy lawns and colorful gardens. Vibrantly colored autumn trees. Blue skies dotted by soft clouds. Farmland and old cities filled with character. There is beauty here, and it is well maintained.
Sure, Clean Energy maintains landscapes, but if you want to get Steve animated, get him talking about what they can create for their customers and how they can take ideas and make them become reality.
“Our process begins with an introductory visit to your home or business,” Steve describes. “Our design consultant will help you to define your ideas for the site and offer suggestions. We’ll discuss your budget and your wish list, and take pre-construction photos. The next time we meet we’ll review the design and a detailed proposal together. At the end of this design phase you’ll have a completed design that you have approved, as well as a completed, approved construction services proposal. We schedule the project and transform your landscape.”
“Seeing the potential qualities of each project through their completion brings a sense of accomplishment,” Steve says. “It makes you feel good to take part in making that happen. One of my favorite aspects of this business is working with our customers and our employees. We have a lot of fun,” he adds. “Together we create these perfectly sustainable outdoor living environments for our customers’ lifestyles and business environments. We get to be involved with the changing colors throughout the year. Different fragrances from different trees and flowers. It’s very rewarding.”
Can you imagine spending your days contemplating the colors and fragrances of the natural world as you collect new ideas for how to fill it with more beauty? Not a bad way to spend your time. “We also like to incorporate works of art into each project,” Steve adds. “Whether a sculpture, statue, water, or fire feature, these elements provide additional pleasure and atmosphere to the landscape.”
“One of my favorite trees is called the Japanese Coral Bark Maple,” Steve says. “In the spring, it has a rustic, gray bark like most trees and the foliage is a deep green, but come fall the foliage turns to a really bright yellow and as the foliage drops during November, the bark starts turning an attractive bright red color, giving interest to the landscape during winter.”
TAKING IT BEYOND
One of the aspects of Clean Energy, making them stand out in true Lancaster County fashion, is their commitment to follow-through.
“Once the project is complete, most landscaping companies just move on,” Steve says, “but our model here at Clean Energy is to create a partnership with the customer to ensure the vitality of the landscape. To accomplish this, we have what we call the TLC, or Total Landscape Care plan. TLC is an extended service plan that provides expert care during the crucial first year to ensure the thriving of the landscape.” “Once a plan is established,” he explains, “we do the installation and the total landscape care. There’s a lot that goes into that. The first year we take care of watering, fertilization, weeding, hand pruning, deadheading flowers, cultivating the mulch, and any plant replacement if needed. We do integrated pest management monitoring, pesticide application when necessary, and maintaining the water bags on the trees and tree stake removal when it’s time.”
IN THE COMMUNITY
For the past fifteen years, Clean Energy Maintenance has made an effort to be involved in community improvement each year. The company finds a project or a cause to which they can donate time and services, putting their efforts towards making it better.
One year, Clean Energy donated children’s books to a local elementary school. Another project can be seen as you come into Lancaster from Fruitville Pike. Look for the North Prince Street and Manheim Avenue garden where Clean Energy provided design services, plant material, and labor as part of the Lancaster City beautification program. The New Holland YMCA has an incredible one-of-a-kind water feature where each basalt column and dish rock was hand selected and brought in from Seattle, Washington. They also worked with the Lions Club on the Welcome to Brownstown beautification project on the corner of Oregon Pike/272 and Newport Road/772.
Last year, Clean Energy provided free landscape design services to the New Holland community park playground along with providing all of the material and labor to complete the project. This year they’re in the early stages of providing an outdoor environment to a local World War II memorial, as well as working with a local Pennsylvania-based nonprofit organization who works with disadvantaged adults.
“It’s not hard to find a nonprofit to give to,” says Steve, who has also volunteered his time with the local Kiwanis club for the past fifteen years. He adds, “We always include staff in choosing an organization so they are emotionally involved.” Energy and emotion drive many things at Clean Energy Maintenance, right down to giving back to the community.
IT’S WHAT’S IN THE HEART THAT MATTERS
“Our average employee has been with us eleven years, which is pretty darn good for a service-based business,” Steve shares. “Our talented uniformed employees are extremely well-trained and motivated, and they look forward to putting their skills to work for each customer.”
And here we see the heart of the company. What were those Lancaster County traits again? Loyalty. Work ethic. A strong sense of community. Clean Energy is an active member of the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association, the International Society of Arbor Culture, the New Holland Kiwanis Club, the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau and an authorized E. P. Henry and Techo-Bloc Hardscaping Contractor, just to name a few. If you get a chance, check out the awards page on their website. Photos of each project accompany each award, and there is a healthy list. Several gold, silver, and bronze awards won through the PA Landscape and Nursery Association, which is a state-wide award. And it’s no wonder when you consider their dedicated and highly specialized team.
“Our staff includes qualified individuals who hold designations from the Department of Agriculture,” Steve says. “We have a pesticides application expert, professional landscape designer, professional landscape technician, and we also pride ourselves in having a Certified Arborist on staff.”
Serving Lancaster, Chester, Berks, and York counties, Clean Energy has evolved into a business best described as a property perfecting solution. Their dedicated approach to their customers and obvious pride in the quality of their team resonate with those qualities that make Lancaster County such a special place to live and work.
“It’s passion, energy, and focus,” Lori says about her company’s success. “We all love what we do.”
“Our mission is pretty simple,” Steve says. “We’re a professional, complete property maintenance team dedicated to surpassing our clients’ expectations through dependable, responsive, and quality service.” “Our tagline is ‘Your need is our service.’” And there you have it in only five words.
CLEAN ENERGY MAINTENANCE, INC.
280 Earland Drive, New Holland PA