Cleaning company offers jobs to military veterans
Semper Fidelis – Always Faithful. That familiar salute of the U.S. Marine Corps is also the mantra of Joe Padlo’s cleaning company, US Military Maintenance First Coast. Padlo, a resident of St. Augustine, served in the Marine Corps on active duty from 1997 to 2004 and in the reserves from 2004 to 2008. He was one of the first Americans to cross Breach Point West in Basrah, Iraq in the early morning hours of March 20, 2003.
Now, Padlo helps other veterans cross social, emotional and economic barriers as they transition from military to civilian life.
After leaving the Marine Corps, Padlo became a corporate recruiter and observed that a large number of his fellow veterans were unemployed.
“It was frustrating to be in the corporate arena recruiting accountants while so many veterans were out of work,” said Padlo. “I decided I needed to do something about it.”
Padlo started his commercial cleaning service, US Military Maintenance First Coast, in January 2015, with the express purpose of employing military veterans at an hourly rate that exceeded the average pay of area cleaning services and provided a living wage.
“I knew our employees would earn their pay,” said Padlo. “I knew we would take pride in keeping things ‘military clean’ and organized for our clients, and that we would go out of our way to accomplish our mission.”
All employees of US Military Maintenance are required to receive janitorial service training and are certified in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10, First Aid, CPR and AED while following strict security protocols onsite.
Nick Doyle, CEO of publishing company The Doyle Group, went through a number of local companies before finding US Military Maintenance to clean the company’s 5,500 square foot office building in Ponte Vedra.
“We’d searched around for quite a while and the cleaning companies
we hired did a cursory job, at best,” said Doyle. “There’s a world of difference in the quality of work by US Military Maintenance. They have great attention to detail, you don’t have to remind them to do things right. They are super-polite, personable and they go above and beyond every time.”
Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4, Marco Ruiz of St. Augustine, is a US Military Maintenance employee. Ruiz met Padlo at an OSHA certification class funded by the Department of Defense for veterans transitioning into civilian life.
“Joe gave me a good opportunity,” said Ruiz, who now cleans the St. Augustine YMCA several nights a week.
Recently, Ruiz began bringing his “family cleaning crew” — 16-year old son and 21-year old daughter — to work with him.
“Joe is open to new ideas and he let me get my kids involved,” said Ruiz. “I split my pay with them and teach them the principle of the work ethic.”
When Ruiz and family are unavailable, Padlo cleans the YMCA.
“Joe leads by example,” said Ruiz. “One of the key principles in the military is that you never ask your soldiers to do anything you wouldn’t do. He is willing and able to do the hard work.”
YMCA Director Peter Hicks is impressed with US Military Maintenance, not only with the quality of the cleaning service, but the premise of the company.
“Keeping veterans employed is a great goal and they do an outstanding job,” said Hicks.
Steven Ritter, broker-owner of Playa Realty & Management, LLC in Northeast Florida first began working with US Military Maintenance in July 2015.
“One of our property managers hired them to do cleaning services,” Ritter said.
Padlo and his team of veterans did such a great job for Playa Management that all seven of the company’s property managers now work with US Military Maintenance.
In the past year, the services provided to Playa Realty & Management by US Military Maintenance have expanded beyond cleaning to building fences, repairing decks, replacing ceiling fans, painting and more.
“Steven Ritter has helped me refine the direction of my company by encouraging my staff to do more, which has in turn required me to increase our staff and our skill sets,” said Padlo.
US Military Maintenance recently added Military Maids to the mix. Padlo established this new service when his employee, Jay Allen, asked for more hours because he and his wife, Jamie Allen, both needed work and couldn’t afford a babysitter for their infant son.
Jay and Jamie Allen, with their five-month old son Jarius in tow, became US Military Maintenance’s next unique “family cleaning crew.”
“The Allens clean my home in Ponte Vedra and my office on the Southside – they are an awesome team,” said Michele McManamon of Sandler Training who is also a co-founder, with veteran Justin Justice, of Operation New Uniform, a non-profit organization that provides training and more for transitioning veterans.
In February, when McManamon referred Jay Allen to Joe Padlo, the Allens had a new baby and were losing their home due to Jay’s joblessness.
“We were living on prayer. Jay was going out job-hunting every day, but we had just about given up hope,” said Jamie Allen. “Joe gave us the opportunity and it’s been life-changing.”
Photos courtesy Operation New Uniform
Retired Navy Commander Dennis Volpe (US Military Maintenance advisor); Michele McManamon, Operation New Uniform; Jay Padlo, US Military Maintenance; and Pat McManamon, Sandler Training
US Military Maintenance New Cleaning Crew Jamie and Jay Allen with, five-month old Jarius