We Can Do It!
For woman-owned and operated Construction Clean-Up Specialists, the future is female
Running a family-owned business is no small feat. But staying in business for more than 40 years is remarkable, especially as a woman-owned and operated endeavor in the male-dominated construction industry.
In 1968, entrepreneur Pat Chastain founded a one-woman cleaning service that would later become Construction Clean-Up Specialists, Inc. (CCS). The business originally began as a residential cleaning operation and has grown into a thriving commercial company with more than 70 employees across its two divisions—data center cleaning and post-construction cleaning.
Although initially held back by the heavily unionized state, Pat remained undeterred. With the motto, “We Can Do It!” an ode to the famed women’s empowerment slogan, Pat kept her business afloat. A turning point for Pat came in 1980, when Georgia became a right-to-work state. By 1984, she began to work with Marriott, cleaning their facilities from the post-construction stage. From there, she entered into the bidding process for multiple jobs. Her daughter, Shannon Browning, current CEO, President and Owner, shares proudly, “She was one of the first female companies on these job sites in the 1980s.” Today, the company is a certified woman-owned business with the city of Atlanta.
Having been taken under her mother’s wing at an early age, Shannon learned everything there was to know about the business. She remarks, “I grew up in this business. My mom has passed on now but she pretty much groomed me to take over. When I was 10 years old, she would pick me up from school and I’d help her vacuum. By the time I took over in 2000, I was already a manager. But I had also done everything that everyone who works for me has done, down to cleaning toilets and sweeping floors.”
‘The Difference Is Our Experience’
As to its long-lasting success, Shannon proudly notes that “the difference is our experience.” More than a mere tagline on the company website, this sentiment is at the heart of CCS, which has earned a reputation as one of the premier cleaning companies in Georgia. “We have strong relationships with our customers, some of whom we have worked with for more than 35 years,” Shannon says. “That says a lot in this industry. There are superintendents that have known me since I was 15 years old! Also, we have a lot of employees who have been with us 20-plus years. We even have one employee who’s been with us for 30 years, and another who just retired.”
With a majority female labor force (almost 96% in the field and management are women, including lift operators) consisting of its own highly qualified and trained employees, the company is proud to say it employs a team of dedicated and reliable individuals with an outstanding work ethic. Even Shannon’s daughter, Liz Browning, is currently working in the business and plans to make it her career as well. Furthermore, safety awareness and proper equipment use is always a top priority. In fact, all the company’s employees have completed the GHS Hazard Communication and Fall Protection, and OSHA 10- or 30-hour Construction Safety, among other certifications.
Data Center and Post-Construction Cleaning
The two sides of the company run out of Construction Clean-Up Specialists’ headquarters in Marietta, Georgia. With the data center cleaning, which makes up about 35% of its business, they deal with all the big tech companies, with whom CCS has long-term contracts. CCS has cleaned some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious data centers, and it has over 7 million square feet of data center cleaning experience.
Notable among its current and recent post-construction projects are the State Farm headquarters project in Sandy Springs, and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, which is approximately 2 million square feet, as well as SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves.
Looking Out for the Future
CCS also takes an interest in the next generation of workers through its decade-long affiliation with the CEFGA (Construction Education Foundation of Georgia) organization. In connection to CEFGA, CCS provides the building maintenance competition for high schoolers, which is an annual event put on every year as part of Skills USA.
As to where CCS is headed, Shannon says the goal is to continue to grow the business with long-term contracts. “We try to build a relationship out of every job that we do. As those superintendents and project managers move on to their next project, we want them to be fully satisfied and think of us in the future. Whatever the service, they know they’re going to be provided with the level of quality that they’re looking for.”