Janitorial Product Logo Learn from Polaris
Clean Up Your Janitorial Products

In 1994, Frank Schwarb, President and Roger Gomez VP, Operations at Polaris Building Maintenance, Inc. worked together with their vendor to reformulate more than half of their janitorial products to be safer to use. Polaris was at that time working from an inventory of over 30 cleaning products, most of them petroleum based. Today, Polaris has 10 water based cleaning products that it uses for all of its cleaning needs.

"I sleep better at night knowing I've made a good decision affecting the safety of my employees and the quality of the environment."

Frank Schwarb, President,
Polaris Building Maintenance, Inc.

Polaris simplified the burden of inventory control with requiring so few products, and it now strictly manages the amount of product used by each cleaning crew. Today, the purchasing department orders each product as a concentrate, and then a trained crew foreman dilutes and bottles the solutions needed for his crew.

Polaris Building Maintenance
  • 17 years in business
  • 80 janitorial employees
  • Major provider of building maintenance services in Silicon Valley
  • Polaris retrained their entire janitorial crew to work with the reformulated products. Initially not all employees wanted to change the products they used. However, company management maintained a stong commitment to the purpose of the changeover, and in time the new products were adopted by the entire janitorial crew.

    Polaris' cleaning crews learned that with little extra time and some better cleaning tools the job could be done just as well as with the old products. Mr. Schwarb advises that his new products can take a little more effort to do an effective cleaning job, but proper training can minimize the extra time needed.

    Reformulating cleaning products should be a joint venture between vendor and customer.

    The key to a successful product changeover is total management commitment.

    Reformulating can reduce the number of products used, saving time and money in inventory and training new employees.

    Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project - Sponsored by US EPA, State of California, Santa Clara County, the City of Richmond, and the Local Government Commission. Written by Thomas Barron, Carol Berg, and Linda Bookman. 6/99.