Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
Cleaning service has Bible-based business plan
By Catherine Buday/Daily News staff
MetroWest Daily News
Posted Apr 22, 2010 @ 06:19 AM
Staff photo by Allan Jung
Serg and Elaine deLima, owners of Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services.
In a business world tarred by risky loans, outrageous bonuses, and ruthless competition for a diminishing amount of business, can a guy who insists on playing fair survive?
Serg deLima thinks he can. Along with his wife Elaine, the Marlborough resident recently opened a franchise of Office Pride, a commercial cleaning service whose business principals are rooted in the Bible.
The Brazilian-born deLima, who became a citizen two years ago, started his business at the worst possible time, when many potential customers have less to spend. Business has been slow. DeLima said he now has four clients but needs at least 25 to thrive.
Still, deLima said he won’t compromise his principals to wrest jobs away from others.
“Our market is people who are unhappy with their providers,” he said. “If they’re happy, we don’t want to try to get them to switch. That would be unethical.” “Our vision is to be ethical,” he added. “A lot of companies charge then don’t do the job that people pay them for.”
DeLima also said he will hire a staff only when he enough business to support hiring full-timers and giving them benefits. Unless a client requires strong germ-killing cleaners, deLima uses only “green” products. And when he needs to consult with Office Pride’s corporate offices in Indiana, the session includes prayer along with business troubleshooting.
While business has not yet taken off, deLima said he and his family – wife Elaine, and daughters Rebecah, 8, and Kaylah, 3 – are surviving by living simply. The family owns a modest condominium in Marlborough.
“God gave me a seed and we want it to multiply and grow,” he said. “It has been really tough, and we are stretching our budget to cover our bills. But God provides us with our daily bread every day. I’m not trying to make a quick buck.”
Both deLima’s moral code and his strong drive were instilled at an early age. Born in Brazil, he learned English from listening to radio broadcasts from the Voice of America and the British Broadcasting Channel. His father took on an extra job scraping metal from copper wire to earn money to buy Serg a dictionary.
When Serg was 10, his mother gave him an ethics lesson he never forgot. He had pocketed extra change given to him by an unwitting store clerk after he made a purchase. His mother made him walk back to the store, 15 minutes away, to give the money back.
After studying accounting, deLima began working for a church in Brazil, which later brought him to the U.S. to minister to Brazilian immigrants. He had $100 in travelers’ checks when he arrived in
Marlborough. Since he was fluent in English, he would serve as an unpaid translator for others who needed help.
Later, he worked for Citizen’s Bank and Sovereign Bank as a translator for customers who spoke Spanish and Portuguese. He also began taking classes at Framingham State and Boston University and will get his degree this year.
When he was laid off from the bank last summer, he began looking for other opportunities, and Office Pride’s business philosophy drew him in. Among the company’s core beliefs are “A business is just one tool that God provides certain people to accomplish His purposes through their lives,” and “We should treat all people fairly and with respect, and always take the high road when dealing with customers, vendors, and employees.”
DeLima knew it was the right fit for him.
“The business world today is sometimes against my conscience and against everything my parents taught me,” he said.
So while he builds his customer base, deLima said he knows he is in the right business and he is willing to weather hard times.
“Many people panic because of times like these,” he said, “but my faith is like an extra bag of oxygen.”