One business is returning to its Beloit roots thanks to the efforts of a band of brothers.
Robert Whitley Jr., Ron Whitley and Ricky Whitley are resurrecting the commercial cleaning business their parents, Helen and the late Robert Whitley Sr., started back in 1968.
Robert Whitley Sr. started Father and Sons Cleaning as a side business while he was a custodian at Waterman School in Beloit. His entrepreneurial spirit drove the business to eventually employ 15 and support his family. In its heyday, clients included the Besley Corporation, First National Bank, M&I Bank, PepsiCo, Alliant Energy, Durst, the Rock County and Winnebago County courthouses, as well as the Beloit Public Library.
“My mom and dad never missed a payroll,” Ron said.
Over many years the company has provided quality commercial cleaning for businesses, educational facilities, daycares, industrial facilities and churches, in addition to offering post construction clean-up. From the beginning, all three Whitley boys and their sister, Richelle Whitley, worked in the trenches with their father, while mom Helen did the book-keeping.
Their first contract was with the Claver House, a recreational space associated with Emmanuel Baptist Church where Helen was the financial secretary. As soon as the boys were tall enough to reach inside the sink, they were recruited, often to 5:30 a.m. wake-up calls on Saturday.
“And that’s after working Friday night,” Robert Jr. said.
“It really did develop an entrepreneurial spirit for me, and developed a work ethic for all of us. And it brought us closer together,” Ron said.
Helen raised the kids, helped manage the business and worked a full-time job.
“She is a wonderful mother to us and it’s just unbelievable what she has done to help sustain the business,” Robert Jr. said.
That parental support led each of the Whitley boys to obtain a college education while at the same time continuing their involvement in the cleaning business. Ron remembered one particular college break cleaning restrooms in Beloit area parks during the summer, not always a pleasant task after a busy weekend of hot weather.
During college, Robert Jr. was a student teacher at Wright Elementary School, and went on to become an officer in the military and to hold several management positions. In 1995 he opened Father and Sons Cleaning in Arlington, Texas. As the Beloit business began winding down and the Texas operation grew, Helen continued to do the book work for the Texas location.
Rick operated an independent insurance agency and then transitioned back into the cleaning business by opening a branch in Marietta, Ga. in 1997, focusing on floor care and post construction cleanup for at least 25 clients. Ron held a number of senior corporate management positions, most recently in Chicago and Dallas with two commercial real estate firms.
The brothers often talked about getting together to bring the business back to Beloit. It was Ron who finally decided to leave his corporate job to join his brothers in the family business.
‘We all grew up here and we love Beloit. All three of us also feel strongly about giving back to the community,” Ron said. “We got that from my mom who was very involved with the Crop Walk through Emmanuel Baptist Church and the Annual walkathon supporting OIC.”
With the re-launch of Father and Sons Cleaning in Beloit, the brothers view it as an opportunity to hire local veterans, who have always held a special meaning to the family, as Robert Sr., Robert Jr. and Rick are themselves veterans.
For more information visit www.fatherandsonscleaning.com or call Ron at 608-362-1125 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.