Zenith Cleaning was founded May 2004 by Tolu and Roni (who is no longer with Zenith) while Tolu was studying for his MBA at McGill University, Montreal.
At the time, he was co-president of Net Impact McGill, an organization comprising of MBA students around the world, committed to using the power of business to make the world a better place. Net Impact was an encouragement not to do business as usual. While Investment Banking would have been a natural path, He thought having an MBA and going into a humble activity was much more inspiring. He saw cleaning from the onset as practice and as a metaphor but was unclear how to bring out the practice and metaphor aspect of cleaning for the benefit of others.
Zenith Cleaning has been environmentally friendly from its founding, flowing from our desire to care for more than just the physical spaces we clean but especially the people our work intersect with.
We endeavor to hire people who thrive outside cleaning but by immersing ourselves in cleaning, we moved from struggling with the invisibility of being a cleaner to embracing the invisibility of being a cleaner. By immersing ourselves in cleaning, we find ourselves cleaning our own hearts and minds.
One day, while cleaning a rock climbing gym and loving it, Tolu thought it would be great to invite other people into cleaning, who do not have to do cleaning – professionals, consultants, executives – perhaps because they want to move their body in a more natural way without joining a gym or they want to experience the world differently or experience the therapeutic nature of cleaning.
He was on the board of Santropol Roulant at the time so he shared the idea with the board members at the next board meeting. Tana Paddock who was also on the board at the time, jumped at the idea and worked with Zenith Cleaning for over one year on a very part time basis while teaching at McGill and consulting for organizations in Montreal. She ended up cleaning for organizations she was also consulting for. It was the first time, the idea of cleaning and consulting would be juxtaposed. But we had so much dirt in our windows we failed to see the connection nor the power in bringing those two seemingly tangent ideas together.
The experience later evolved into what we call Cleaning as Practice which started as an experience for executives to spend time in cleaning, outside their comfort zone. It is no longer just an offering but who we are and has allowed us to cross the imaginary barrier between cleaning and consulting, to dare to believe that we did not need to choose between “cleaner” and “consultant”. After all, a true consultant had better be a great cleaner, exposing beauty, exposing potential. And if the consultant is a cleaner, they will approach organizations with humility and reverence, knowing that their work is not to create or to introduce anything new but to unveil the beauty and potential already within the organization and to leave the space better.
The heart of our work is to ensure our presence makes each space, each environment better. This is cleaning.
Our story is a developing story of possibility. By continually allowing the loftiest and profoundest expression of Zenith Cleaners to unfold, we intend to help bring into existence the loftiest and profoundest expression of others. This is cleaning.
For more, please read our testimonials and our blog, do a web search on Zenith Cleaning and read this post by Tolu on Stanford Social Innovation Review and this one on Organization Unbound, started by Warren Nilsson and his wife Tana Paddock.