One characteristic of many long established businesses is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Frequently, these companies started out as small family ventures that owe their resilience to time-honored values of hard work to make a quality product. One such success story is Marino Vileda Professional. What started out as two people making mops out of their home is today a world class manufacturing and supplier partnership in the professional commercial cleaning market.
In 1967, Sam Marino, who is legally blind, and his wife (Leda) made mops out of their house in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. By the early 1970s, their business had expanded beyond their garage to the point where they hired their first employee and moved into a 2,000-square-foot manufacturing space. Shortly thereafter a fire destroyed that facility. Marino, however, rebuilt the business and by 1989 its product line included not only mops and brushes, but also buckets and wringers. Today, it remains the only Canadian domestic manufacturer of buckets and wringers.
In November 2007, 40 years after the Marino’s made their first mop, 80 percent of the company was purchased by Vileda Professional, Europe’s leading manufacturer and supplier of cleaning systems with family business roots that are part of the Freudenberg Group, a diversified multi-national manufacturer of non-woven products, seals and vibration control technologies, filters, lubricants, release agents and mechatronic products.
“It was a perfect match,” explains Elio D’Alessio, commercial sales director for Canada. “Both companies share the same values and ideas. Vileda Professional is an established brand in Europe known for its high-end, high-tech value-add products that are packaged as systems solutions for industry-specific applications. On this side of the Atlantic, the Marino family and brand is well known, highly trusted and recognized for its excellent selection of mops, handles, brooms, brushes and other cleaning products. As Marino Vileda Professional, we’re combining our strengths and long-term customer relationships to offer commercial cleaning systems designed for the needs of specific applications. We’re doing more than selling mops and buckets, we’re selling systems that not only clean effectively, but result in direct improvements to the end-user’s bottom-line.”
He adds, “Our products reflect top quality. All too often the fact is that the money you may save from buying a cheaper product is lost both in time and effectiveness, as well as having to replace it sooner.”
PARTNERING TO PROVIDE SOLUTIONS
Marino Vileda Professional employs 70 people in Canada, of which 60 are devoted to manufacturing operations performed in an 86,000-square-foot facility located in Concord, Ontario, where they produce 1,400 SKUs. About 80 percent of sales are in Canada, with the remaining exported to the United States. “We’re looking to create long-term customer relationships,” D’Alessio says. “It’s important for us to stay in constant contact with our customers to create better solutions that meet their needs. We want to form partnerships with customers that pay off for both of us.”
He adds,” The focus is on providing a solution to cleaning needs, not just selling a commodity.” Product selections are determined by the size of the site, the availability of local laundry facilities, dirt levels, and, if the customer is a contracted janitorial service, the length of the contract. Also, the cleaning standards to be achieved can vary by customer as well as industry. Healthcare and foodservice, for example, have higher standards than a general office building.
One example of a leading solution the company provides for one step commercial clean-up is Swep, which includes mops, cloths, frames, handles and accessories for dry, damp and wet cleaning. There are two systems to choose from, Swep Classic and the new Swep Duo. The Duo adds to the classic configuration double-sided high performance mops capable of cleaning twice the area of a single mop, ideal for areas with heavy traffic or areas that tend to get dirtier faster.
Another example is Ultraspeed, a wet mopping system designed for easy, efficient and time-saving floor cleaning, featuring microfiber mops, ergonomic handle, and a light-weight press that rings out over 34 percent more water than traditional systems. All components are interchangeable, and buckets can be used separately or mounted on single or double chassis.
D’Alessio says that a solutions approach is particularly useful during the current economic downturn. “If your product is a commodity and money is tight, then customers are always going to think that they can make do with what they have or just put off purchasing as long as possible. But the fact is that whatever business you’re in, you’ve got to keep it clean. By demonstrating that our systems can make your cleaning operation more cost-efficient, we make the case that it’s actually not a purchase you can afford to put off, because it’s actually costing you time and money not to.”
Along with the greater emphasis on a solutions approach, Marino Vileda Professional is also entering new markets. “In the current economy, our traditional janitorial service business is definitely under pressure. Which is why we’re placing greater emphasis on industry-specialization, in particular healthcare, where cleanliness is something you simply can’t scrimp on. With our systems, however, you can do it more efficiently, ergonomically and lower your costs, which are a great benefit in any kind of economy.”
One tradition Marino Vileda Professional intends to maintain is continuing reliance on a print catalog. “While the Internet has grown and a lot of companies are moving more towards selling product over the Web, I’m not persuaded that the print catalog is going away anytime soon. There are still a lot of people who don’t use the Internet regularly, or like to buy over the Internet.
D’Alessio also says Marino Vileda Professional hopes to gain some market share below the border. “I think the U.S. is definitely an opportunity for us to expand and that our combination of family values of quality and customer commitment combined with high-tech solutions focused on improving the bottom-line will be welcomed.”