Scandinavian Building Services: Revolutionizing the facility maintenance industry

Web 1 - Featured image - Scandinavian Building Services President _ CEO Russell Hay_in The Canadian Business Quarterly

A Canadian leader in retail cleaning, commercial cleaning, and maintenance solutions, Scandinavian Building Services has set the standard for quality, service, and dependability for over 60 years.

Russell Hay was born and raised in the facility maintenance industry, honing his skills alongside his father in every area of the business. Bringing more than 15 years of experience and a commitment to best practices, Mr. Hay passionately leads the janitorial service industry with innovation and customer service excellence, serving as Scandinavian Building Service’s President and CEO. With an unmatched work ethic, Mr. Hay has set his sights on rapidly growing the business across North America, while ensuring client expectations are consistently met and exceeded. Mr. Hay speaks to us about his father’s aim to revolutionize the industry, the current challenges faced by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the idea of the ‘Scandi Family’ that defines the business.

Over 60 years of service

“Scandinavian Building Services is a facility maintenance company,” Mr. Hay explains, “and we are primarily focused on cleaning services. Scandinavian was founded in 1956, by two Scandinavian partners, and my father ended up buying it in 1982.”

The company serves several different industries, most notably retail, commercial, sports and entertainment, fitness, and industrial. Essentially, if it’s a building – big or small –Scandinavian can provide janitorial services for it.

“[My father] was in the property management business, and one of the main problems that he had was cleaning services. He couldn’t find consistency and he couldn’t find that company that was able to provide the service levels that he was expecting for his customers.”

After spending some time in Yellowknife honing his property management skills, Mr. Hay’s father moved back to Edmonton in 1982. That was when he discovered Scandinavian, which at the time had a property management division in addition to the cleaning services division, which he decided to buy and grow from that perspective. 

“What he wanted to do was revolutionize the industry. He really wanted to focus on the consistency side, the service level side, and the reporting, letting all of the different customers know exactly what we were doing in their buildings day in and day out, so they had an idea of what to expect.”

Web 3 - Scandinavian Building Services_in The Canadian Business Quarterly
A Canadian leader in retail cleaning, commercial cleaning, and maintenance solutions, Scandinavian Building Services has set the standard for quality, service, and dependability for over 60 years

What clients can expect from Scandinavian is general, everyday cleaning services. This can include floor washing, vacuuming, dusting, wiping, and all other basic daily needs to keep a site clean. This happens the same across all facilities, whether it’s an office block, a stadium, or a grocery store.

“Additional to that, we also provide what we call ‘extra services’. Those services are things like stripping and waxing, carpet cleaning, window cleaning, concrete polishing, and high dusting, just to name a few. These are more of a periodical piece, but at one time or another a company will definitely need these services, which we can provide.”

The company enjoys being creative, so it is always aware of the unique needs or idiosyncrasies of a particular building and is very focused on identifying those needs and providing a solution.

“Most people would recognize and know the sports and entertainment part of our business.  We do stadiums such as BC Place, Rogers Place, Commonwealth Stadium, Saddledome, McMahon Stadium, and IG Field. Those are some of the larger facilities that we do in sports and entertainment.”

Additionally, the company works within a large number of retail stores across the country, with big customers such as Walmart, Sobeys, Safeway, Home Depot, Staples, Ikea, Cabela’s,  Winners, Home Sense and Marshalls.

“Scandinavian is very unique,” Mr. Hay says. “We’re a family owned and operated business. We call ourselves the Scandi Family. Anybody who comes and works [here] – whether it’s me, whether it’s a cleaner, whether it’s maintenance staff [or] an accountant – whomever it is, we have one goal, and that’s to provide the best service in our industry.”

The expectation is that staff are passionate about cleaning and keeping people safe, keeping environments healthy and operational. This leads to a very customer-centric approach, with an unparalleled commitment to service.

“Everybody throughout our organization truly believes in that, and everybody that does work for us believes in our core values, which are service, motivate, respect and connect. When we provide all of those things, we have extremely happy customers, but what is essential is that everybody is happy and motivated to provide that service.”

There is no place in Canada, including the territories, that the company is not situated in.  It is equipped to clean both metropolitan and rural areas, with offices in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.

“We find it very important to have offices in these different areas, so we can continue to build on our corporate culture and make sure that everybody feels valued and feels that sense of Scandi Family. There really is no place in Canada that we cannot service.”

Web 2 - Scandinavian Building Services_in The Canadian Business Quarterly
Bringing more than 15 years of experience and a commitment to best practices, Mr. Hay passionately leads the janitorial service industry with innovation and customer service excellence, serving as Scandinavian Building Service’s President and CEO

Coronavirus pandemic

The major focus for the company right now is ensuring safety around COVID-19, which has introduced major challenges for all industries in making sure that clients, staff, and customers are safe in their daily activities.

“We felt that we were really the first out of the gate for COVID-19 disinfection,” Mr. Hay says. “We realized what was happening before it came to North America, so we created an extremely extensive pandemic plan for all of our customers and provided it to them. Right now, it’s about disinfecting services and cleaning.”

One of the most important parts of the business in relation to the pandemic is reporting, making sure that Scandinavian’s clients know what is being done on site, with information that can be passed onto staff and customers to help everybody stay protected.

“If there is a [Covid] exposure in a facility, we need to be able to respond to that, because what they do is close the facility until they are able to get disinfection services. We’re able to provide within one hour, anywhere across the country, spray disinfection, where we go into the facility and do a full electrostatic spray of the entire facility.”

In addition to this, the company provides day services for these facilities, with a day porter cleaning service performing high touch point disinfections. This includes cleaning smaller areas like door handles or shopping cart handles in a grocery store.

One of the biggest and most extensive cleaning projects the company has undertaken since the pandemic began was being responsible for the NHL 2020 playoff bubble for Edmonton at Rogers Place.

Web 4 - Scandinavian Building Services in The Canadian Business Quarterly
Embracing a family ethos, Scandinavian Building Services continues to innovate and revolutionize, taking the negatives of COVID-19 and turning them into positive solutions for its varied client base

“It was an absolute honor to be selected to do that cleaning of the bubble, and it was fantastic to work with the NHL, and Oilers Entertainment Group specifically. Their staff and their professionalism was incredible – everybody worked together, everybody was getting tested every day, and obviously disinfection services were of an absolute top priority.”

The work itself included daily disinfecting of the player’s dressing rooms, all of the media rooms, anywhere that food was consumed, or meetings and interviews were taking place. It was a period of providing heightened cleaning services.

“I can’t commend our staff enough for being there. Everyone was able to come through, nobody got sick, and our cleaners were really the heroes of the day. It was very special that the NHL and OEG recognized them for doing that, because it really was their hard work that was able to bring this altogether and make sure everybody was safe every single day.”

Another major honor the company received was being accepted into Canada’s Best Managed Companies, Canada’s leading business awards program, which recognizes excellence in private Canadian-owned companies.

“We found out about Best Managed Companies around nine years ago. It’s an incredible organization. It audits your organization in every facet of your business, they dissect everything about your company, and they hold it to an extremely high standard.”

Scandinavian underwent this audit in 2012 and was fortunate enough to be accepted into the program. The company is now going into its eighth year of being part of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, and has just received its platinum certification, the highest recognition that can be achieved.

“My father wanted to revolutionize the industry,” Mr. Hay concludes, “and we feel we continue to do that. We’re always looking at the new technology, best practices, [and] the safest way to provide cleaning services. Scandinavian has a relentless pursuit to continue to move that needle. We want to make sure we’re number one in our field, that we continue to bring our customers the best service, the best innovation, and technology they can possibly have.”

Embracing a family ethos, Scandinavian Building Services continues to innovate and revolutionize, taking the negatives of COVID-19 and turning them into positive solutions for its varied client base. Find out more about Scandinavian Building Services by visiting scandinavian.ca.