The CMI Member Spotlight for April focuses on Brandy Emmons-Powell, I.C.E.-GB. Emmons-Powell is director of quality development with Didlake Inc.
Phillip Lawless: Please give me some background on Didlake Inc.
Brandy Emmons-Powell: Didlake Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation headquartered in Manassas, Virginia. It was founded in 1965 to create opportunities for people with disabilities through services that connect them to employment, education and the community. It provides contract business services for commercial and government customers and has won numerous awards for its facilities maintenance; packaging/assembly; and administrative services. The organization operates throughout the Washington, D.C. metro area, in the Roanoke Valley and in Greater Hampton Roads. It serves more than 1,700 people with disabilities annually. Didlake, Inc. is licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia, accredited by CARF, is CIMS-GB-certified, and proudly serves the nation through the AbilityOne program. Its partners include the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services, local Community Services Boards and United Way of the National Capital Area.
PL: Why were you interested in custodial employee training at Didlake?
BEP: Didlake employs 805 full-time-equivalent positions for custodial contracts through AbilityOne in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia. In order to provide efficient service, employees need to be trained to perform assigned work tasks with accuracy and efficiency. While training employees to conform to standard operating procedures is effective, we felt that providing employees with a recognized industry certification would make this goal more feasible and raise the morale of our employees.
PL: How did Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) training options fit your training needs?
BEP: The CMI Basic and Advanced Custodial Technician certification training met our training needs well because it is in line with ISSA standards and greening efforts. As an organization, we look to ISSA for industry standards and trends for developing our standard operating procedures.
When we decided to pursue the CIMS-GB certification, CMI provided us with an opportunity to provide a consistent training program to our employees who work on custodial contracts. In addition, since 75 percent or more of our direct labor work force is made up of people with disabilities, the Custodial Technician training can be broken down into easily moderated training opportunities on-site.
PL: How have your operations improved since completing the training?
BEP: During the past year, 25 employees have completed the Advanced Custodial Technician training and we have three trainers on staff. The employees who have completed this training included operations managers, project managers, quality control staff and project supervisors. This has improved understanding of techniques, chemical use and the importance of consistent implementation.
PL: Why would you recommend CMI to other cleaning managers?
BEP: Training efforts in the custodial field are often considered a low priority, but changes in expectations and technology has made it critical for custodial operations to have informed and educated employees. Customers and tenants expect that their custodial providers will be more than cleaners; that they will be able to be partners who can provide solutions based on sound information, sustainability efforts and equipment. CMI is a huge benefit to those in cleaning operations that are willing to change their mindset and be ready to make the shift from an invisible cleaner to a partner.