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Commercial cleaning company honored with small business award


In January 2015 when Joe Padlo founded his commercial and residential cleaning service with the express purpose of employing his fellow military veterans at a fair living wage, he knew his employees would earn their pay and he hoped the discipline learned as soldiers would make for a successful business venture. Padlo’s hopes have been realized beyond his wildest dreams.

Buoyed by boundless energy, endless hours of hard work, passionate dedication and a touch of serendipity — doing the right thing at the right time — the former Marine turned entrepreneur hit the small business jackpot in August 2016.

Winner of the second annual Small Business Breakthrough, a shark-tank like program sponsored by the Jacksonville Jaguars and, Padlo’s company, Veterans Elite Services (formerly U.S. Military Maintenance First Coast), has a brand new web site developed by and advertising at a combined value of $250,000.

Among the judges of the Small Business Breakthrough were Jaguars owner Shad Khan, CEO David Brown, Jaguars President Mark Lamping and Jaime Weston, senior vice president, NFL Creative Department.

“What began with an online submission turned into a huge boost for my company that included re-branding with a new name, new logo, website and a halftime interview at a Jags game that showed up on television across the country,” said Padlo.

The unprecedented success now being experienced by Veterans Elite Services has prompted Padlo take on his director of operations Kevin Copeland as a co-owner. Padlo’s wife, Brandie, a teacher at a local elementary school, has also taken on the title of Community Awareness Manager.

“As Veterans Elite Services expands, our management staff will expand, too,” said Padlo. “Our mission of producing results that are ‘military clean,’ has brought our people the respect they deserve. I hope our employees feel the excitement and are fully aware that there is great room for advancement at Veterans Elite Services.”

A resident of St. Augustine, Padlo’s service in the Marine Corps took him to Iraq, where he was one of the first Americans to cross Breach Point West in Basrah on March 20, 2003. He now heads up one of the first veteran-owned and operated commercial and residential services on the First Coast. In addition to reaching out to hire fellow veterans and giving them the respect they have earned, Padlo has affiliated his company with other organizations that focus on veterans, including Operation New Uniform ( and Team Red, White and Blue ( Currently, Padlo serves as Veteran Outreach Director for Team Red, White and Blue’s Jacksonville chapter.

Former U.S. Army infantryman Micah Goulet is just one of many local veterans whose lives have been changed by Veterans Elite Services.

“I moved back home to Jacksonville in order to be close to my family, but I couldn’t find an active job with a livable wage,” said Goulet. “I can’t work at a desk all day because of a back problem I sustained during my Army service and everything I was finding was just a little over minimum wage. Veterans Elite Services gave me a job when I needed it most.”

“Having the power and expertise of behind us is amazing,” said Padlo, “and now we are represented at the Jaguars Fan Zone at every home game. In the past four weeks, we’ve hired six new employees and secured multiple new clients. This is just the beginning. Veterans Elite Services is on a mission to grow.”

Photo courtesy Joe Padlo

Kevin Copeland, Director of Operations and co-owner, with Joe Padlo, owner of Veterans Elite Services at the Jaguars Fan Zone at EverBank Field.


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