Values Founded in Entrepreneurial Spirit
40 years of success in facility management and commercial cleaning began with humble beginnings.
In the Beginning, There Was Just an Idea
After growing up in Iran, a young Eric Roudi moved from the life he knew to attend a British boarding school. After completing high school at 16, he traveled to Boston to attend Tuft's University--the beginning of a journey led by exploration, curiosity, and determination. All hallmarks of an entrepreneur.
Eric completed a dual major in Mechanical Engineering and Economics and found himself unclear about the future. He faced an economic downturn in the United States, considered the most severe recession since the Great Depression.
At the same time, Iran was experiencing the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and Eric could not return home safely. So, he had to rely on his smarts and "get-to-it" attitude to figure out what to do with his future.
While exploring city life in Boston, Eric was always impressed by the large buildings that made up the skyline compared to the ones that surrounded him in Iran. After some research, Eric found that building maintenance was a $70 billion industry, albeit very fragmented.
He also realized that these commercial buildings were often at risk due to improper cleaning and poor maintenance.
"I was intrigued by franchises like McDonald's, which provide consistent service wherever you go, whether in Boston or Atlanta. I also noticed that locally managed businesses take greater pride in their work and understand and know their regular patrons. So, I wondered if there was a way we could bring this concept to the facility management industry?"
The Early Years
As Eric began his new business venture, he cleaned large buildings independently. Bootstrapping the needs of his new company, Eric partially financed his first office space with a contract to clean and maintain it.
Eric quickly realized that he needed help to scale this business, and he also discovered that competitors fell short of service consistency and quality. So, Eric began creating, replicating, and growing franchised cleaning businesses that had the oversight and support of Eric's corporate entity.
"In these early years, I believed in, and took hold, of this idea. But as with any new business, I was learning and changing constantly. Strangely, I felt at ease and very comfortable with this process. But I knew there had to be a different catalyst to propel the company forward. That catalyst was a unique franchise model. A model that allowed us to partner with independent business owners that take pride in their work."
While other companies relied on direct employees, Eric's vision allowed OpenWorks to provide a higher level of service quality while understanding the unique needs of each customer location. And that is how OpenWorks started and then grew.
Today, OpenWorks is a national facility management provider with services including commercial cleaning and janitorial, plumbing, electrical repairs, pest control, window washing, landscaping, and snow removal.
And it's the independent franchisees and service providers who partner with OpenWorks and build relationships at each customer site that help provide the consistent level of service.
Into the Future
After 40 years in business, Eric's not slowing down. With headquarters in Phoenix and offices across the country, OpenWorks has more than 5,000 satisfied customers, nearly 2,000 service providers, and a customer retention rate of 99%. This number is practically unheard of in the facility management industry.
Even in Eric's early years, change was a constant–and today, it's no different. The company is leading through technology to improve service accountability and responsiveness, and Eric's vision is to enable COOs and facility leaders to manage their facilities proactively.
"Facility management tends to be reactive and often goes unnoticed until problems arise. Most people overlook poor maintenance until injuries happen, an inspection fails, or employees complain. We're working to provide actionable data that allows facility managers to be proactive and prevent problems from occurring in the first place."
Looking to the future, OpenWorks continues to grow, change, and improve. Through technology, data, dedicated service providers, and the improvement of the facility management function, Eric continues to operate OpenWorks with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for improvement.
So now, when he sees large buildings dotting a skyline–or disparate locations in the middle of the country– he only sees the opportunity of a lifetime.