Donna Allie is the founder and president of Team Clean, a Philadelphia-based commercial cleaning business.
Over the past 40 plus years, her company has serviced major locations including the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the Kimmel Center, Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies.
She has also accumulated several awards including the Harriet Tubman Trailblazers Award, the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Women of Distinction Award, and The District Minority Small Business Person of the Year Award to name just a few.
We caught up with Dr. Allie to find out more about her business and entrepreneurial journey.
What inspired you to start Team Clean?
I was a down on my luck, single mother, and recent college graduate with student loan debt. I literally had no job prospects and no way to feed my daughter.
My family and neighbors were mainly domestic workers for affluent families in the area so I decided to turn my knowledge and expertise in cleaning into a business.
What business milestone are you are most proud of?
A milestone that I’m most proud of is successfully cleaning after 49,000 fans at Oriole Park Camden Yards hours before a doubleheader. We recruited 220 cleaners in 2 days and successfully cleaned the stands in 1.5 hours.
They bet we couldn’t do it. Never underestimate the power of a committed businesswoman!
How was your business initially affected by the pandemic and what helped you get through it and continue to thrive?
Because of our industry (cleaning) we actually thrived during the pandemic. Thanks to a great team of employees, we didn’t skip a beat. Our infectious disease team headed by Kwasi Ampomah continues to grow even after the worst of the pandemic.
We also have wonderful clients who trusted us to make sure their places of business were safe to open up and to ensure we continue to clean for the health and safety of the end users.
Describe your experience working with PIDC and the ways they have helped your business. How important is it that business owners research and take advantage of local resources?
I have many years working with PIDC. My first major move was from my place of business in Ardmore to the Navy Yard. Then another move to a larger space and more impressionable office in the Navy Yard.
This was a major step for us and many moons ago. PIDC loaned us the funds to make major renovations and furnish this location. Marla Hamilton and Tom Queenan understand the plight of a Black business and I personally call on them for insight. Everyone at PIDC is reachable and they want to help.
What advice do you have for service-based businesses that want to scale?
Give Gold standard service. I know it may be difficult with some clients. However, you must try. Show up to events and make sure people recall your name and don’t forget to reach back and help someone else.