Alpine Building Maintenance: Customized cleaning solutions

Alpine Building Maintenance CEO Harj Johal in The Canadian Business Quarterly

Founded in 1980 in the interior of British Columbia, family-owned building services company Alpine Building Maintenance has evolved into a national Canadian minority-owned business enterprise and a preferred national service provider.

Alpine is a second generation family business, and is now directed and overseen by CEO Harj Johal, the son of founder Satnam Johal. With offices throughout Canada, Alpine is a Certified-Minority Owned Business (CAMSC), and services some of the most prestigious customer facilities in the country, with its expertise touching several different industries. Mr Johal spoke with us recently to discuss the background of the company, the range of important and prestigious buildings, the services and solutions provided, and the industry issues that are encouraging the company to embrace new ideas and technologies.

Alpine Building Maintenance CEO Harj Johal in The Canadian Business Quarterly
Alpine’s greatest strength is the experience and ability of its workforce, which has resulted in excellent long-term client partnerships

40 years in business

Alpine was founded by Satnam Johal in 1980 on the principle values of quality, exceeding client expectations, respect of staff, industry partnership, and transparent communication. Its impressive history is a reflection of satisfying clients and delivering outcomes.

“Alpine has a history spanning 40 years in the commercial cleaning business,” Mr Johal says, “and we are very fortunate to have clients who have maintained a close business relationship extending 20 years. Today, as a National Services provider, Alpine has a workforce of more than 2,000 outstanding team members, providing excellence in janitorial service delivery to over 100 million sq ft of commercial real estate across Canada.”

Alpine is capable of providing services from BC to Ontario and beyond, and is currently expanding into Quebec through existing national partnerships. It works on thousands of sites across multiple sectors, including large complex office towers, consumer retail, financial institutions, high tech offices, and the transportation sector.

“Alpine provides comprehensive cleaning solutions to over 1,900 locations daily across Canada. Our clients include some of Canada’s most important and prestigious buildings, owned and operated by Canada’s most successful, trusted and admired corporations.”

The company’s clients are in such fields as Big Box Retail, Airports, Grocery Retail, Retail banking, Property Management Companies, and Large Integrated Facilities Management Service Providers.

Family-owned business

Staying true to its roots, Alpine Building Maintenance is a family-owned business, and is certified through the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC) as a Minority-Owned Business.

Alpine has evolved its mission to match its principles and move towards the ultimate goal of delivering an outstanding experience for clients, aiming to become the trusted and relied-upon services provider across Canada through the delivery of professional, performance-driven, high-quality, and customer-centric janitorial and cleaning solutions.

Having recently acquired 3 commercial cleaning companies, Alpine’s footprint has expanded across Canada. During 2021, the company experienced 39% new business growth, making it the 4th largest cleaning company in Canada.

Alpine Building Maintenance CEO Harj Johal in The Canadian Business Quarterly
With a vision to improve the quality of its clients’ buildings by employing great people, offering superior service, and achieving amazing results, the future looks bright for Alpine

The company’s differentiators are its dedication to high-quality execution and consistency​, its responsive and local capabilities, continued growth and expansion, and giving back through community involvement.

“Managed by second generation family members and supported by a team of highly engaged and capable cleaning experts,” Mr Johal says, “Alpine has excelled by offering high quality, responsive service delivery with a client-centric focus.”

Alpine’s chosen janitorial management strategy is best summed up by its four strategic choices: strengthening the organization (people, processes and systems), focusing on culture, servicing clients, and a detailed plan for growth.

For 40 years Alpine has been at the forefront of various innovative industry approaches and concepts, achieving success in such areas as technology, reporting methodology, safety, and back to basics cleaning, whilst also recognizing the need to advance the organization to meet the continually changing and evolving needs of the industry and its clients.

Alpine is fortunate to have key clients within its portfolio who have maintained a close business relationship, extending over 20 years. By investing in strategic choices, the company is well-positioned to continue to build positive long-term relationships with its existing client base, while also growing the business, with new clients and contracts across Canada.

The key focus of delivering clean buildings and safe workplace environments remains the cornerstone of Alpine’s forward momentum. Aligned with its strategy, the company has continuously invested in leading edge software, hardware, and communication upgrades, as well as increasing focus on staff training, specifically for compliance, safety, and security.

Alpine’s senior leadership team includes experts from across the service industry that help guide and navigate the company’s evolution to achieve its strategic choices. They bring a wealth of experience and knowledge related to outsourcing service delivery that will enable Alpine to further develop its business, resulting in continually improving service and increased benefits – both operational and financial – for its clients.

The company’s growth strategy combines organic wins with capital investment toward the acquisition of janitorial providers based on geography, services, and strong relationships. A strong balance sheet and excellent reputation will allow this growth to continue from organic portfolio increases and acquisitions fueled by sector and geographic spread.

Industry issues

Global Supply Chain challenges are impacting the cleaning industry as a whole, including availability of critical equipment, supplies, and consumables. There are also increased costs due to general inflation, as well as supply and demand.

Alpine leverages its experience and relationships with a trusted supplier community to get priority service in order to best support clients and mitigate any potential business disruptions. Through partnerships with suppliers, it is able to find solutions for equipment and supplies needs where timing is critical and accelerated.

As with many other industries, the janitorial industry is facing challenges with finding and retaining a steady workforce, with heavy competition for both skilled and unskilled labor across the country creating a shortage of available and willing candidates for jobs.

Alpine’s greatest strength is the experience and ability of its workforce, which has resulted in excellent long-term client partnerships. In order to support staff, it seeks to provide a professional, safe, respectful, and enjoyable work environment that fosters job enthusiasm, positive relationships, and effective teamwork within all roles and responsibilities.

Alpine works to provide clear communication of direction and goals, and to motivate its team to achieve these goals, seeking to inspire company loyalty by treating employees with respect, recognition, fairness, and understanding.

Most recently, Alpine has been working with one of its clients to implement a ‘living wage’ – the hourly amount a family needs to cover basic expenses such as food, clothing, rental housing, childcare, transportation, and small savings to cover illness or emergency.

Alpine believes in leveraging innovation to find new sources of value for clients. While preferring to take a strategic and proactive approach to innovation, the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the workplaces it services has caused an imminent threat to the commercial janitorial marketplace, as it has in many other industries.

The increase in instances of working from home is reducing office tenancy, and publicly accessible workplaces such as retail and grocery stores have seen their cleaning and sanitation demands increase dramatically. This puts a lot of pressure on janitorial teams and increases the need for comprehensive and detail-oriented quality control processes.

Alpine is actively engaged in investigating various innovations, with a critical focus on automation (such as robotic scrubbers and vacuums) and employee efficiency (smart washrooms, cleaner beacons, other IoT opportunities) to ensure its cleaners are as efficient and effective as possible.

By introducing automation to simple tasks and reducing administrative burdens related to service validation activities, Alpine can provide efficiencies to its clients and give cleaning teams more time to ensure the most complex tasks are done right.

Similarly, Environmental Social Governance (ESG) mandates are more important than ever in the modern business, with clients keenly focused on documenting and tracking their ESG initiatives and impacts.

Alpine takes great pride in its ability and commitment to support clients and their ESG objectives, focusing on providing a safe and inclusive environment for all employees, clients, and strategic vendor partners.

Alpine Building Maintenance CEO Harj Johal in The Canadian Business Quarterly
Alpine Building Maintenance has evolved into a national Canadian minority-owned business enterprise and a preferred national service provider

The company has implemented a strong governance platform to ensure consistency in process, management and systems, such as CIMS GB Certification, and a Global Biorisk Advisory CouncilTM (GBAC) STAR™ Service Accreditation, to ensure teams can deliver efficient and effective services to all clients.

The company is also committed to protecting the environment and has put Green Cleaning at the core of its value proposition, having a CIMS GB certification and experience with WELL, BOMA Best, and LEED certification processes and certified buildings.

Procurement strategies focus on partnerships with companies that drive the ‘green’ message throughout their product lifecycle, targeting the product, packaging, transportation and disposal impacts on the environment. Alpine’s service delivery strives to continually reduce the use of all chemicals, eliminate toxicity, and improve indoor air quality.

“We are very proud of all of our accomplishments over the past 40 years while growing to become one of the largest janitorial services companies in Canada,” Mr Johal concludes. “As we continue on our journey of growth on a national scale, we remain committed to positive long-term relationships at a local level with our new and existing customers through the delivery of superior services and amazing results.”

With a vision to improve the quality of its clients’ buildings by employing great people, offering superior service, and achieving amazing results, the future looks bright for Alpine. Find out more about Alpine Building Maintenance by visiting www.alpineservices.ca.

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