It’s a rare occurrence that the first experience someone gets in an industry is as president of a company—but this was the case for 2012 BSCAI President Taylor Bruce, CBSE. After 27 years in the manufacturing sector, he decided to make a change and move to the building service contracting industry, where he has been for 15 years.
Bruce began his career as a textile manufacturing manager, starting as a trainee, moving on to a night shift manager and then to managing a department. By 1978, he was the plant manager of a large manufacturing plant in southern Georgia. After several moves and promotions, in 1985, he was on to vice president of manufacturing for one of the largest employers in Virginia—Dan River Mills. He then moved to Greenville, S.C., as president of an Australian-owned manufacturing, marketing and retail operation. From Greenville, it was on to Atlanta with The Bibb Company where he managed operations and was later president of its hospitality division.
“By this time, I was tired of bankruptcies, uncertainty, moving, etc.,” Bruce said. “IH Services offered me a chance to run a great company, live in a great city—Greenville—and not move again.”
Bruce said that he joined IH Services as president in 1996 after The Bibb Company went into bankruptcy. He and Ryan Hendley, CEO of IH Services, had been friends, and when Hendley offered him the position, Bruce gladly accepted. Yet it would be his first experience in the BSC industry.
“Some might say that I didn’t have any BSC experience whatsoever!” Bruce explained. “It’s hard to get first-hand cleaning experience when you start as president of a company. Looking back, my first real experience in cleaning came in the U.S. Army as a Private First Class. You learned from the bottom up, and I cleaned my share of bathrooms, latrines, sleeping quarters and mess halls. I became involved in textile manufacturing facilities in the early 1970s and part of the task in those facilities was cleaning offices, restrooms, cafeterias, factory floors, machines, overhead, etc. So, in effect, I learned the BSC business as a manufacturing manager, having to manage the same people and tasks that IH Services manages today in many of its industrial facilities.”
IH Services was founded in 1955 by Dick Hendley and his wife, Lucille, to supplement their income and provide for their six children. Meager beginnings of cleaning gas stations, bars, restaurants and offices led to cleaning manufacturing facilities. IH has maintained a steady growth, and today, with all its related partner businesses, covers 17 southeastern states—Delaware to South Florida and South Carolina to Texas. The related businesses that are owned and managed by the Hendley family include IH Services, Newbold Services, Pinnacle Staffing and Gatekeeper Maintenance. Combined employment is almost 5,000 and combined revenue is more than $100 million. The many services the company provides include janitorial, grounds, facilities maintenance and temporary staffing.
Facing Challenges in the Business
Although Bruce thoroughly enjoys his profession and says that he loves the challenges that come with it, it can be difficult. “As most would say, the business is as tough as it has ever been,” he said. “I would say that managers back in the 80s probably said the same thing, though. The challenges are too much competition, wages too low, threat of unionization, undocumented workers and illegal subcontractors, and our newest is Obamacare—the health care plan. Nobody knows what the cost and fallout of this plan will be for businesses.”
But to face some of these challenges, BSCAI membership is key. Bruce has been a member of the organization since “the minute” he joined IH Services.
“Ryan Hendley, a past president of BSCAI, became involved with the organization in the 80s, and he knew the value that it brought to a company, as well as how valuable it would be for me as I became involved as a BSC,” Bruce explained. “The first event I attended was the World Congress event in Orlando in 1997, where I met many BSCs, had a great time and started my relationship with BSCAI. I saw the value immediately and fortunately had a leader in Ryan, who was a believer in the organization and encouraged me to get involved.”
As far as mentors within the association, Bruce said that he looks no further than the office next door—Hendley. “He has been active in BSCAI for more than 25 years, was president of the association in 2003 and has stayed active in support of the organization,” he said. “Others who really stick out in my mind who were strong leaders are Jay Greenland, CBSE, past owner of Aetna and father of our current board member; Paul Greenland, CBSE; LeRoy Dock, CBSE, Gali Services; Arlo Luke, CBSE, Varsity Contractors; Don Pottieger, CBSE, FMI; Stan Doobin, Harvard Maintenance; and Michael Horgan, Hurley, Inc.”
BSCAI has been a tremendous help to Bruce in his career as a BSC, he said. “The relationships that I have made with other BSCs have made me much more knowledgeable of our industry, our competition, our customers and federal and state regulations,” he explained. “The many BSCAI conventions, seminars and training sessions have made me a better person and IH Services a better company. My entire senior management group is active in BSCAI, with six certified building service executives (CBSEs) on staff and nine registered building service manager (RBSM)-certified managers.”
The Future of BSCAI
Bruce explained that his overall goals for his term as BSCAI president are to gain more members, to deliver a positive financial impact, and to leave the organization even healthier in 2013 than it is today. Some individual goals include computerizing and updating the CBSE/RBSM educational material and exams to be studied and taken over the Internet, making a real impact on increasing membership in BSCAI and strengthening BSCAI’s relationship with ISSA and the annual ISSA/BSCAI tradeshow.
“The future opportunity for BSCAI is to reach out to the thousands of BSCs in North America, educate them on all the benefits of being a member and help them to be more successful in business by offering the best education and peer-to-peer networking that is available anywhere,” he said.
On a Personal Note
Although Bruce says that he enjoys working hard and the challenges that work brings, in his spare time, he and his wife Dottie like to spend time travelling and with family.
“[We] enjoy our time at our log home we have tucked away on a mountain stream in western North Carolina,” he said. “There is nothing better than being there in the mountains, where the temperature is 15 degrees cooler than South Carolina, with a drink in one hand, a fishing pole in the trout stream and kids and grandkids all around you. I guess that’s why I love work—someone has to pay for all that fun! Dottie and I do love to travel, and we have been fortunate to be able to travel abroad and have been to more than 15 countries over the years.”
Bruce said that throughout the span of his career, he has also been very involved in every community he has lived in.
“Looking back on my 43 years in business, I think I have been a part of every community organization and headed up most of them,” he said. “Moving seven times gave Dottie and me the chance to be part of many communities and civic organizations. I have been a Rotarian, Kiwanis, scout master, district scout executive, Sunday school teacher and superintendent, [and I’ve been on] college board of directors, business boards, community boards, country clubs, etc. At this time of my life, I am happy working, helping BSCAI and spending time with my family.”