Kevin S. Rohan, CBSE, decided early on that he didn’t want a career that consisted of sitting at a desk all day. So after he graduated from college, when a relative asked him to join his small building service contracting business in 1974, he took the opportunity and hasn’t looked back since.
Now the CEO of Cavalier Services and incoming BSCAI president, Rohan recalled being intrigued by the BSC industry, mostly because he found working with a diverse client base interesting. And while his very first account probably seemed substantially less than “intriguing” (he worked in a large furniture showroom and warehouse where he supervised a crew cleaning tile floors), the work soon became one of the factors that prompted him to start his own business.
“After my first child was born, I figured that if I was going to work long hours, why not start my own business,” he said. “When you are young and the bottom isn’t far below you, falling doesn’t hurt that much. Having a child was the greatest motivation for me to work the long hours and provide for my family.”
Thus, Cavalier Services began. Rohan founded the company in 1977, primarily operating in the Northern Virginia area. Currently Cavalier has nearly 2,000 employees, and it operates in the
Mid-Atlantic region, from Pennsylvania to South Carolina. The market segment Cavalier services include commercial office buildings, schools and colleges, medical, light industrial, and assorted owner-occupied facilities.
The company was also one of the first BSCs to attain GS42 certification, and it is working to reduce paper consumption through automation of inspections, proposals, customer and prospect marketing, and more. The company’s overarching mission is to “consistently deliver uncompromising quality service to all of our customers and teammates every day.” Rohan, who worked solo for a while as he built his business, can attest to the importance of ensuring customer satisfaction.
“After I started my own company, my first two accounts—which I cleaned myself— were an oriental food-processing facility and a truck body shop,” he said. “I still laugh when I think about having to stack the Playboy magazines neatly in the locker room, or I would get a complaint from the shop foreman.”
These days, Rohan doesn’t have to worry about stacking adult magazines. He’s built his business from the ground up and has a good team to support him. In explaining his route to success, he said: “It certainly isn’t because I am particularly bright. I think that if you treat your team and your customers with respect, good things will happen for you. Also, I have had the pleasure of working with some really great people throughout the years, and I’ve learned a lot from them.”
Challenges in the Industry
While many businesses and industries in the country are facing tough times in today’s economic situation, Rohan is especially worried about BSCs.
“Our industry is facing the biggest challenge I have seen in my lifetime,” he said. “Hopefully, Congress will enact legislation that is acceptable to BSCs and not shoulder us with excessive taxation and regulations. We will all have to employ strategies to deal with Obamacare, shrinking margins, taxation, and probably a very difficult NLRB. “Cavalier, like many others, has been working with our insurance carrier, accounting firm, attorneys, and customers as we plot a course of action that will hopefully mitigate some of the overwhelming government activity. Until Congress finally acts on some legislation, none of us will be able to craft a good plan.”
BSCAI Involvement and Looking Forward
Rohan said that the first BSCAI convention he attended was in 1976, and he was “blown away” by the experience: “That was when I realized that these people were serious about what they did and were very professional in how they conducted themselves. I have never forgotten that and continue to see it in the eyes of new convention attendees. I loved the entire experience.
“[BSCAI] hasn’t just helped my career; it has guided my career. I doubt that I would be where I am today without the fabulous people —many are now my good friends—who have not hesitated to share information with me throughout the years. The networking at BSCAI events is invaluable.”
|Cavalier Services’ executive management team (from left): Paul C. Renick, chief financial officer; Maria C. Tueros, human resources manager; Kevin S. Rohan, chief executive officer; Linda C. Pendergrass, director of performance management; William T. Warnecki, president.|
Rohan considers BSCAI his mentor and said that because of his company’s participation in the organization, Cavalier enjoys the expertise of 22 RBSMs who attend many of BSCAI’s programs, and as a result, are very well-informed on the latest information about the industry. “
When they speak with clients, they are able to share their knowledge and experience, making Cavalier a stronger organization,” he said.
Regarding his presidency of the association, Rohan is looking forward to his term—but first, he thanks Taylor Bruce, CBSE, for his contributions to the group as BSCAI president in 2012.
“He will be a tough act to follow,” Rohan said.
As the incoming president, Rohan’s agenda for the next year includes three main areas: “First, we need to continue to grow our membership by reaching out to contractors of all sizes,” he said. “The education programs that we are offering through distributor members will offer tremendous opportunities for all BSCs to attend educational programs locally. It also creates a great opportunity to grow our relationships with distributors around the country and create a win-win for everyone. Second, through our BSCAI SmartBrief and other collateral, we need to keep our membership informed about government legislation—now more than ever. And third, we need to continue to be the destination that BSCs can count on when they need some help.”
In his spare time, Rohan said that he enjoys relaxing; spending time with his family, particularly at the beach; traveling with his wife Debbie; and “any day on the golf course—good or bad.”