Laura Huthwaite started Giant Janitorial Service Inc. to create an extra source of income while her husband was in college and she worked another job.
In the 40 years since then, she has employed more than 5,000 people and today has more than 110 employees who staff janitorial contracts in the metro Detroit area. And she remains very involved in the business, visiting each customer to learn the requirements of the job and ensure expectations are being met.
Huthwaite also sees the business as an opportunity to advance the livelihood of her employees. Because she requires background checks and uses word-of-mouth to find employees, Giant Janitorial’s turnover rate is below that of the local industry standard. She also hires people who need a second chance, giving them training and empowering them through the responsibilities of the job.
And in a business where jobs are awarded to the lowest bidder, Huthwaite has worked hard to keep costs low, pioneering the “lost step” technique in which the activities of employees are planned so that all resources are near-at-hand and no extra time is spent locating supplies.
Her dedication and hard work have paid off with contracts that have included the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan State Fair and a contract with Wayne County Community College that has been in place for 25 years.
Although she’s been in business for 40 years, she has no plans to retire and is looking to expand into Florida. In addition, as community school districts have begun to privatize janitorial services, Giant is bidding those contracts, as well.
HOW TO REACH: Giant Janitorial Service Inc., (313) 886-7797