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Updated: January 9, 2023 / 2023 Best of Business

Best of Business 2023: Best Ownership

Photo | Courtesy of Mass Commercial Cleaning Mass Commercial Cleaning in Sturbridge is an employee-owned company.

Best Employee-owned Business: Mass Commercial Cleaning

Mass Commercial Cleaning, founded in 1989 by Glenn and Peter Connly of Florence, has grown and evolved. With a second location in Sturbridge, MCC now has more than 120 employees and serves more than 170 facilities throughout New England. 

MCC, with clients such as Southbridge endoscope manufacturer KARL STORZ, goes beyond traditional janitorial services for commercial facilities and is certified in clean room and IT data storage room standards. But the company is unique for another reason: With the Connlys now retired, the company is owned by employees.

MCC President Katerina Cai has been onboard since May, but works with employee-owners who have been with MCC as long as 20 years. She calls them experts.

“I feel a tremendous honor to rely on the employee-owners and their years and years of wisdom,” Cai said. “Their knowledge of each facility – right down to ‘Don’t forget to empty that trash can, third floor, behind that door’– is priceless in our labor-challenged environment.”

MCC employee-owners, meanwhile, get Cai’s business guidance, such as the introduction of more technology, with MCC employees out working at various sites. Video conferencing makes staying in touch with one another easier. Tech tools have been introduced wherever they make getting the job done easier: Cai tells of adding a simple Google Form method for managers, but enabling speech-to-text for easier use, for example.

Its attention to detail makes MCC successful, Cai said.

Employees take great pride in the facilities to which they are assigned, said Cai, to the point they forget they are MCC employees and see themselves as working for that particular facility.

“MCC isn’t always top of mind,” she said, “but we are here, making sure they have the right access code; are alerted if there is a function going on there; provide backup when they are sick; and be sure they have tools and supplies they need.”

MCC has up to 12 positions open at any given time, Cai said, the result of a yearslong labor shortage.

Remote work has been a challenge to the bottom line: Fewer people are going to offices, so less office space needs to be cleaned.

The goal – beyond outstanding quality of service – is showing business owners the importance of a really clean work building, Cai said, not only for employees, but for the building itself.

“It’s increasing the lifetime of their facilities – the carpet, window washing – making that facility last longer,” she said. “It also gives that sense to employees clocking into that building every day that they are valued.”

- Story written by Susan Shalhoub

*denotes repeat winner

Best Family-owned Business: Koopman Lumber & Hardware

Location: Whitinsville,
Top executive: CEO Dirk Koopman, CFO Denise Brookhouse, COO Tony Brookhouse
Founded: 1939
Employees: 380

Koopman Lumber & Hardware expanded its footprint into Western Massachusetts this year through its acquisition of Boilard Lumber of Springfield and now has 11 locations throughout the state. The family-owned company is run by the third generation of Koopmans and is training the next generation to take over the operations in the future.

Notable runners-up: Coghlin Cos., Pagano Media

Best Woman-owned Business: PENTA Communications, Inc.

Location: Westborough,
Top executive: Founder & CEO Deborah Penta
Founded: 1989
Employees: 16

Deborah Penta has run PENTA Communications for nearly 35 years, as a full-service integrated marketing firm. Penta considers it an honor and a privilege to have worked with hundreds of companies over the years, helping them to grow, strategize, and scale up. PENTA prides itself on providing personalized service and client care.

Notable runners-up: Sullivan Benefits, Studio Jade

Best Minority-owned Business: Studio Jade*

Location: Worcester,
Top executive: CEO Brittany Wong
Founded: 2021
Employees: 9

In 2022, its second year in business, Studio Jade opened its first satellite office in Florida and grew from six employees to nine. With the new space, the marketing agency added more creatives to bring big ideas to its client roster, focusing on growth.

Notable runners-up: K Sense Co, Bri's Sweet Treats

Best Business Incubator: Venture X Marlborough - Apex Center*

Location: Marlborough,
Top executive: CEO & Owner Ryan Gagne
Founded: 2018
Employees: 4

A coworking space, Venture X Marlborough offers offices and meeting rooms for members and non-members to rent. In 2022, the company broke pre-COVID occupancy rates at 97%, added more than 100 virtual office members, and will open a new 24-person training and meeting center this January.

Notable runners-up: Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, Entrepreneurship for All

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