Anago Cleaning Services helps enterprising workers start their own business through franchises.
David Povlitz built a company on a simple idea: No matter how good – or bad – the economy, people are bound to make a mess.
Povlitz – whose grandfather, Gust Keros, started the American Coney Island in Detroit – began a cleaning company in Michigan 40 years go with his three brothers – Rob, Chuck and Marty. They picked up contracts and grew quickly.
But, after about 15 years, Povlitz said, the brothers sought their own paths.
“I don’t want to say we were fed up with each other,” he said. “But the time was right for us to divide and conquer something else.”
Povlitz moved to Florida, where his mother lived, and started another cleaning company, Anago Cleaning Services. This time, he focused on selling cleaning franchises to help entrepreneurs do what he had when he first started. The company has 2,400 franchises, including some in Michigan.
“I want to lift them up to a higher level,” Povlitz said, pointing out that Anago means “lead up” in Greek.
Now, at 66, Povlitz said he’s getting ready to turn the $45-million company over to his son, Adam.
Here is the edited interview with the father-son duo:
Question: How did you start this company?
David: After graduating, I went to work in the restaurant industry.
Q: Restaurant business? Are we talking Coney dogs?
David: No, but along the same lines. I went to work for Ponderosa Food System. They had the 99 cent rib eye steak, you might remember that. I was working a tremendous number of hours and decided maybe the restaurant business wasn’t all it was cracked up to be for me. I went to the Pontiac area and opened up a cleaning company because I thought to myself, what were the coolest classes I experience in college and they were all about cleaning and maintaining the hotels.
Q: Would you talk about being a family business, the advantages and disadvantages.
Adam: Let me ask you something: How would you like to work for your family?
Q: You know, your son’s right there.
David: I know. I think working in the family business has given me more pain and more pleasure than anything I could ever experience in my life. Let me put it this way. When I started a business, I said, you know, if I can only build it big enough to have my children join me – maybe as a part-time job, maybe take it over entirely. But, only if they wanted it. As a parent, I feel a tremendous amount of pride that my children want to come to work with me. But, the most the most difficult thing I’ve had to learn in being their father as well as their boss is giving up the reins.
Q: What do you think about this, Adam? This is where you confess what you really want to do is become general manager for the Miami Heat.
Adam: Not after they lost LeBron. Part of what’s unique about our relationship is that I never, ever wanted to do this. I never had a desire to work for my dad out of college. He frankly told me point-blank, “As much as you have book smarts you don’t know anything. Work for someone else, I can’t use you.” There’s the tough love part he left out of his story. He said, “Go learn something and if you’re still interested let me know.” So, I got into investment banking out of college. I was working 80 hours a week, and I’d get a frequent Sunday call saying we need a pitch book for Monday morning – and that got old real fast. I went back to school got my master’s in Miami, and got a job at IBM. But, IBM’s so big and I realized after a while no matter how hard I work there, I’m always going to be one tiny little cog. I made a call, and said, “I think I might know something now.” My dad said all right, but I’m not giving you any favoritism even if you are my son. You are going to start from the bottom. I started as a daytime telemarketer to set appointments for the sales people to get cleaning contracts. At night, I worked for a franchisee. I cleaned a daycare. Talk about a crappy job. But, it gave me an appreciation for the amount of work for someone in the cleaning industry.
Q: So, where do you go from here?
Adam: There’s only one direction: Up.
Title: Chairman, founder
Family: Frances, wife; Adam, son; Lisa Ritenour, daughter; Kimberly Lord, step-daughter
Hobbies: Golf, boating guitar playing
Education: Michigan State University, bachelor’s degree
Car he drives: 1993 Chevy pickup
Title: Vice president, operations
Family: Erin Baker, fiancee
Hobbies: Fitness, sports fan
Education: University of Florida, bachelor’s degree; University of Miami, master’s degree in business administration
Car he drives: 2012 BMW 328i