Building a new company, how do you do that?

It was a major operation: merging nine cleaning companies. Mark Keur is the managing director of Vebego Cleaning Services, the new large cleaning company in the Netherlands that started on 1 January 2023. He led the merger in 2022. ‘We transition from cleaning company to impact company.’

Mark Keur

How do bring companies together, with all those cultural differences and backgrounds?

 ‘We have been working towards this new company for two years. All our employees were involved in the process. We told them what their role would be half a year in advance. Then there’s time to get used to the upcoming changes. And we immediately said that we wanted to keep everyone on board. Removing unrest, which is a very important part of an operation of this size with almost eight thousand people, two and a half thousand customers and a turnover of €350 million.’

  Did that go smoothly or rather painstakingly?

 ‘We have hardly had any employee turnover, which is exceptional in a reorganisation. The payroll system was a very stressful thing to implement. And of course, the new manner of time tracking and expense reporting, among other things, led to questions, for which we had set up a support service. The new company clothing and lettering on cars, rolling out the name; it was a huge turnaround.’

  It must have been an impactful time. What has the company become?

‘Decent, socially engaged and innovative. We are the experts when it comes to cleaning. And a conversation partner when it comes to prevention and advice. Vebego Cleaning Services is a company that stands up for its people. They need to know that they are respected and valued in their workplace. Motivated people do a good job, so you also maintain quality that way. Our people are important, and so is the work they do.’

 Does it help to be the largest?

 ‘The size helps in a number of facets. You will be more and better listened to. Our voice becomes more relevant. We were modest, a well-kept secret, and the marketing was fragmented. We are now so big that we can pump a fist at the market. Now it’s time to be more visible, and to take a different position: from a cleaning company to an impact company.”

  Pumping a fist, that sounds combative.

‘We are. We want to take the market by storm. And become the leader. People need to think about us first when it comes to cleaning work, both customers and employees. But we don’t work for everyone. We are saying goodbye to customers who do not support our corporate philosophy. Customers choose us and we choose our customers.’

 What are you innovative in?

 ‘Think of exoskeletons and sensors on the tucker pole system for our window cleaners. Cleaning windows at height is hard work, an exoskeleton supports the arms and the sensors tell you when to stop. And smart hygiene. Cleaners can read on their tablet what the measurements a sensor in a room has taken – was it used or not – and then know what to do and what not to do. Advice and prevention, we will focus heavily on this. Vebego Cleaning Services is our home. The foundation is there, and now we are building steadily. That’s why we are solid.’