Contracts switched for janitorial services

Mirella Ruiz is a contracted janitor for SERVPRO in Kilcawley Center. Photo by Christopher Gillett / The Jambar

By Christopher Gillett

Youngstown State University’s janitorial services switched its contracts for janitorial work to two new companies over the summer to two new companies.

The companies SERVPRO and Vocational Guidance Services replaced CORE and Compass Family Services because they offered lower costs in their contracts and were locally based.

YSU’s janitorial contracts are divided into six zones, with different YSU staff overseeing zones and deciding which contract to accept for their zone.

Janitors were either reinterviewed by the new contractor or left to a new location with the old contractor. The transition between contractors occurred at midnight between June 30 and July 1.

Dan Kuzma, the interim manager of Building Services, oversees three zones. Kuzma said the hardest part of the transition was switching right at midnight.

“We have to make sure the old company is cleaned out completely, but at the same time, bringing in this new company so they are ready to hit the ground running as of July 1 at midnight,” Kuzma said. “You have very little time in between, and so it is a very chaotic process.”

Kuzma also said the new contractors had to learn the university.

“Once the new companies got in, it’s expected that it’s going to take a couple weeks or even up to a couple months before they’re 100% confident and comfortable. So, we have the learning curve that’s associated [with that],” Kuzma said. “Both of the companies — SERVPRO and VGS — have adapted very quickly to the buildings on campus and have been doing a great job with the transition.”

With the transition and the start of the fall semester, janitors and students have interacted under the new contractor system.

Olivia Cupp, director of Housing and Residence Life, oversees the zone that includes university housing and Christman Dining Hall. She said students generally are courteous toward the janitors.

“[Rudeness has] honestly been a really rare occurrence, which I think is great. I think people really recognize it’s a tough service industry. It’s a tough job to be the person that cleans toilets or scrubs floors,” Cupp said.

Janitors in that zone often work with residence assistants to make sure areas are kept clean.

R.J. Markowitz, associate director of Operations and Events at Kilcawley Center, oversees one janitorial zone, which only holds Kilcawley. Markowitz said students should talk with and get to know janitors when they can.

“There is a huge team of folks who work night and day — literally night and day — to keep this campus the way it is,” Markowitz said. “I would encourage students to get to know the folks that are around them who are cleaning their classrooms and who are cleaning their lounges.”

Markowitz also said plans are still in discussion over how janitorial work will change when construction of the Zoldan Center begins.

“[Kilcawley’s closure] is slated for [May 2025]. So, we still have time to work through what is going to happen … I’ve had a couple [of] preliminary conversations with SERVPRO, and they very much like to see mobility and movement within their staff, especially if their staff are doing great things,” Markowitz said. “We’re still in discussions over how it is going to be handled. So, stay tuned.”