Maren and Brad Valentine’s small business began in 2013, and Oso Clean has seen many changes on its journey to success.
Oso Clean began as a small business offering painting, handyman and cleaning services for apartments. They quickly expanded in the residential market and grew to offer commercial services as well. As the growth of the business continued, their focus became commercial janitorial services. “It was important to develop the confidence to take on big clients or situations that seemed overwhelming at first,” Maren said.
They offer commercial cleaning to healthcare and manufacturing facilities as well as places of worship and many other industries. Health and safety are a top priority for this team, always being mindful of security and access as well as personal protective equipment. Maren said, “We truly believe in building partnerships with our clients and work behind the scenes to support the people we clean for.” This level of care is extended to Oso Clean’s employees as well.
Maren and Brad work to enhance days, times and hours of employment for their team. They were thrilled when their growth gave them the opportunity to offer full-time employees benefits like paid time off. The staff also loves the custom bobble heads that are designed for each employee that reaches a three-year anniversary with the company.
Maren said, “The business runs like a well-oiled machine when quality standards are met, equipment is up to date, systems run smoothly and employees are happy.” The team, which started with only Maren herself, has grown to 30 employees. “And we have capacity to hire 10 more people!” she shared.
The team growth also included hiring Melanie Trego in 2016 as an Operations Manager to help with human resources and other tasks. “Retention and high turnover are a reality in this industry, and Melanie helps keep positions filled.” Hiring is one of the struggles this small business faces, and there were other challenges along the way.
Maren explained, “In the beginning, it was tough to make the jump from ‘We are starting a business’ to ‘We are running a business.’ We built systems from scratch and faced a lot of uncertainty, and our first website was horrible, but we also discovered the importance of the ability to laugh at inevitable upsets and setbacks.”
Oso Clean found valuable small business assistance through the Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) offered by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). “The ETP course was extremely valuable in helping us develop our business plan and building relationships with other entrepreneurs,” Maren said. She now even works as a facilitator for current ETP programs offered at the UW-River Falls SBDC.
Looking forward to the future, Oso Clean is excited for every opportunity that comes up but keeps their eye on the focus of performing to the best of their ability. Maren concluded, “We feel it is so important to be content with what we have, even as we continue to grow. And continue to hire!”
Accomplishments with UW-River Falls SBDC
- Entrepreneurial Training Program
- Business plan
- Relationship building