Family firm celebrates 50 years in business
Cavan Industrial Cleaning Services - CICS SiloClean
Despite having over 50 years of experience in the cleaning industry with CICS Silo Clean Ltd in Ballinagh (formerly Cavan Industrial Cleaning Services), the aptly named Ron Tidy, owner and managing director CICS, had somewhat of an inauspicious start in the industry.
“I started off 50 years ago cleaning windows. I’m from West London originally and I came over to Cavan in 1971 on holiday. There was very little known in the UK about what was going on in Ireland, even with the Troubles. I drove around looking for window cleaners at 6am one morning but there wasn’t one.
“I ended up getting arrested because I was in a UK-registered car and I made the Gardaí suspicious. I told them, I was over visiting friends from Ballyhaise, which was the truth, so they rang the parish priest who both verified my story and gave out to them for ringing so early.”
Ron went back to England, but couldn’t stop thinking about Cavan, in particular some of its dirty windows and the gap in the market.
“When I went back to England, I couldn’t get it out of my head that there was a town in Ireland without a window cleaning business. I came back in April 1973 to set up and started knocking on doors for business. The first house I cleaned belonged to Brian Finlay of the showband ‘The Mighty Avons’. His wife told some friends, who told friends, who in turn spread the word further, and that’s how I got started.
“I left my wife and two kids in England. I said I’d work through the summer and see how I got on, but they came over on May 10th. There was a better business potential here than in London,” recalls Ron of his business’s humble beginnings in the early 70s.
“The first shop I did was on the corner of College Street and Bridge Street. It was Pat Bennett’s shop,” he further recalled. Soon, due to the quality of Ron’s work, his friendly demeanour and many satisfied customers, business was expanding at a rapid rate.
“It was a natural progression into cleaning offices as, once I started cleaning the windows, people asked me to do their offices as well.”
It was by chance Ron’s business evolved into silo cleaning and more industrial services, as he explains.
“Twenty seven years ago there was a fire in a local feed mill. The loss adjustor told me to go down and have a look at it to see if I could fix it. I initially thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but they insisted that we were the only company that could do it in Ireland and it was too expensive to bring someone else in from abroad, so I eventually did it.
“Afterwards, I spent two weeks driving around Ireland, dropping leaflets to feed mills. Once we started in some, they were able to recommend us to others.”
As the business grew and evolved, so too did the team of staff they now have 20 full-time employees and 40 employed on a part-time basis.
Stan Urbanski joined the company in 1989 and became a director less than 10 years later. “He was one of our first employees to qualify in industrial rope and confined space access. Stan has an amazing work ethic and is one of the most honest and dependable people we know,” praises Ron.
“There is nothing he cannot do. He can almost fix a problem before it even happens! The team look on him as a mentor and really respect and look up to him.
“Our clients regularly call Stan directly to help them solve an issue they are having, and he doesn’t hesitate to pull out all the stops.”
Rafal Klimczak has been with the company for over 18 years. “Rafal is a supervisor and is a fantastic mentor to new and existing team members. He has an incredible work ethic, and is patient, understanding and very popular not just with his peers, but with clients alike. He is meticulous in everything he does and enjoys seeing jobs through from start to finish,” Ron says of another of his valued employees.
Milo Kearns joined the company in 2015 and was promoted to contracts manager in recent years.
“Milo is a fundamental part of our organisation. He has built up some great relationships with the clients, travelling all over the country, building up our customer base. He manages not only the work we do on site but also makes sure that all Health & Safety procedures are in place,” says Ron.
Stephen Lewis joined the team as Yard Supervisor in 2016. “We never had a yard supervisor before this, and his organisational skills were put to good use. Stephen is in charge of the maintenance of our machinery and equipment, as well as the day-to-day running of the yard. He has turned our yard from a storage unit to a fully operational depot with his diligence and practicality,” outlines Ron.
“We have a lot of staff, for a long time. We recently had two ladies retire after 25 years of service, there were a lot of tears the day that Mary Smyth and Oriel Condell retired. They were part of the fabric of the company.
“It’s important to look after the people you employ, they’re more important than you. You need to be able to trust them, when they’re going out on the roads, we need to be able to trust them so they need to have faith in us.”
Ron and Mary’s only son Jefferson was also working for the business until his untimely death in 1998.
“Those who met Jeff will never forget him. He had such a way with people and they still come up to me reminiscing of the fun they had with Jeff. He is a big loss to our family and our business,” says Ron.
Today Ron is proud to have his daughter Ruth as a director with the company. “Ruth worked in Galway for many years as a site cleaning manager for a medical device manufacturer. She brought invaluable knowledge with her. She can speak the high-tech language that I can’t,” says Ron.
CICS SiloClean Ltd employs 60 local people in the Cavan area and are incredibly proud of the firm’s reputation.
Ron believes that the secret to any successful business is taking care of good staff. “We are a family business, and the staff are part of that business so are like part of our family.”
Today, CICS SiloClean prides itself on being Ireland’s leading industrial and silo cleaning company offering services to the milling, dairy, food and pharma industries on the island of Ireland. They have a wide range of high-profile clients across multiple sectors.
“The office division has a list of over 40 clients, including the county council who we have proudly served for nearly 45 years.”
The office cleaning division works in local offices and schools in the county. Emma Gradwell is the office division supervisor. She started as a part-time supervisor covering a new contract in Loreto College earlier this year and she has progressed to full-time office division supervisor since.
“Having a local cleaning company cleaning your office and school ensures the work is being done safely and to a high standard. A local company can also give your office or school the support of a local management team that is on the end of a phone or can pop in to see what they can do to help. Big international cleaning contractors cannot offer this service to clients and that is what sets us apart,” Ron believes.
“Without a cleaning service, the business and schools in this country could not function. It is a very important service.
“All business owners have a responsibility to ensure the cleaner working for you is insured and has certification for the work they are doing. The staff must be trained to recognised standards and their health and safety is everyone’s responsibility. That’s what CICS SiloClean Ltd do for our clients,” he explains.
The company also trains and operates to a high standard in both Health and Safety, as well as hygiene.
“Our office division operatives complete over five courses in areas of Health and Safety before induction training begins. Our industrial operatives complete 18 different courses including Industrial Rope Access and Confined Space access.”
All equipment is sanitised and cleaned in a specialist ‘clean room’ before the team call to high-care clients such as those making baby powder and flour. The equipment is transported in a bio-secure vehicle.
Their Industrial Rope Access technicians specialise in high-access cleaning including silo, bin and hopper cleaning and sanitisation, window cleaning, pressure washing, and industrial painting.
Industrial Rope Access is used as a safe alternative to hoist or scaffold. All CICS Silo Clean operatives are fully trained and certified in all disciplines of work at heights and confined spaces.
No detail is spared as they chase the highest hygiene standards possible, according to Ron.
“It’s quite high tech. In some places where we work they wear suits and, once our workers begin to sweat, they have to change clothes. All of our equipment is swabbed to check for contamination when we arrive on site, nothing comes out of our vans without being swabbed. “When we’re finished cleaning a high-care silo, it is also swabbed to make sure we have removed all traces of any contamination.”
“We’ve been going back to the same clients since 1975, so this method works,” says Ron.
Some of the business’s long-term clients include Tom Lynam in Kiernan Milling; Breccene Ennis in AW Ennis; Tom Horan, Carton Feeds; and Pat O’Leary Lakeland Dairies. “These companies have been creating jobs in this county for many years before us and they have grown into international giants. We should all be very proud that they continue to grow and, in turn, put Cavan on the map,” praises Ron.
CICS SiloClean has expanded dramatically in the past five years, with director Ruth set to continue the company’s evolution and growth into the future. She moved back to Cavan with her family in 2013 to join the family business. “It made sense to my family as my husband could move his business and he is a proud Drumalee man and I was already working in the cleaning industry so why should I not be doing it for my family business?” she says.
“We work tirelessly to make sure we are the best at what we do. The companies that avail of our services export food all over the world safe in the knowledge that their silo has been cleaned by us. When they are audited by the big companies they supply, the auditors know who we are and are really satisfied with our work and documentation,” assures Ruth.
“I am so proud of my dad. He started a small window cleaning company in Cavan, and it has turned into a national industrial cleaning company that is the leading specialist in general and high care silo cleaning. Not many people can say that.
“I am confident that with the good people around me we can take this company forward into he future and make it even bigger and even better.”
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