Tom Schurman, Chief Technology Officer
How did you learn about Servicon?
I was introduced to Laurie Sewell (Servicon CEO/President) through a mutual friend. At the time, Laurie was exploring her options to establish strong technology leadership at Servicon. Our meeting was very opportunistic, in a good way, for both of us. Laurie got a chance to get a fresh perspective from someone outside the janitorial industry, I was able to learn about Servicon and its unique vision.
Was it a hard decision for you to come work in the janitorial industry?
No, it wasn’t. Once I saw the challenges the janitorial industry is facing, I realized I can make a real difference in peoples’ lives here, every day. Good product developers always think about the ways software can help people. Servicon is a perfect opportunity for this.
What were the key challenges of implementing new technology solutions in the janitorial industry?
The key challenge is to optimize for efficiency while taking care of the people who work so hard to do a very challenging job. Coming from the tech industry I’m used to building products and here the “product” is the people and the service they provide. In the tech world you often have a tech person talking to a tech person. At Servicon you learn to take a step back and understand what employees and the leadership are experiencing and how technology can simplify this experience.
Another challenge is working in different, complex environments: aerospace, healthcare, government, commercial, etc. Sometimes you have connectivity, sometimes you don’t; sometimes you have people who are experienced using smartphones, sometimes you don’t. Additionally, we work in many high security facilities. Finding the right solution that is flexible and customizable is essential.
Are there any differences/similarities with your previous experience?
I spent most of my career building new software products or helping others to build software products and sell them to the marketplace. In a technology startup, for example, the imperative is creating and selling a new solution to a customer-base often unaware of the product’s or service’s real value. Similarly, in the janitorial industry we are always measuring and communicating value, creating alliances and opportunities with customers who might otherwise take the work for granted. It’s real when we tell our healthcare clients and staff, “We’re not just sterilizing an Operating Room, we’re helping patients heal.” We project real value.
Was there anything that surprised you about Servicon?
Walking through the doors of the Learning Center and seeing a bright classroom environment is a surprising twist to what one may expect from a janitorial company. I’m not going to lie, I expected to see a dirty warehouse with supplies stacked everywhere. This was very different, but at the same time, it wasn’t a posh office full of high-priced executives. Servicon has a balanced, functional workspace that enables its people to get their work done. It’s refreshing to see that the company understands that investing in its people is a major component of overarching success.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to continuing evolve company’s adaptability to change and innovation. Servicon has a small-company feel inside of a mid-sized corporation. This allows for adoption of new technology rather quickly in our leadership ranks where operational challenges are the greatest. We are always looking for new opportunities to enhance our productivity to enable our leaders to spend more time on the ground with their people.
What would you tell younger generations considering a job at Servicon?
I tell every generation, Servicon is in a demanding industry. These challenges can be translated to/from any industry: how to manage people doing difficult work, how to manage diverse clients, how to present the value of our results, how to use data to measure and drive success. There’s a fundamental aspect of Servicon’s leadership that is rare no matter where you work: they truly care about people. Over 40 years the owners have created an environment where leaders and those aspiring to lead can take risks and safely learn from their mistakes; they can adapt and grow. In many ways, you can define your own success. It doesn’t get much better than that in any industry!