When sisters Debi Sarandrea and Vicki Brown founded Harmony Clean, Inc. in 2003 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the concept of green cleaning was not familiar to most of their clients or competitors. “It was just a guiding principle for us,” said Debi. “We’d been using natural products for over 20 years in our own homes.” Part of their initial outreach to customers was explaining how the cleaning products they use are healthy for pets, children, and the environment, and letting clients know that the house would not smell like bleach or pine scent when they were finished. The name of the company comes from your home being in harmony with nature.
The sisters had grown up in an eco-friendly household ahead of its time. “When we were kids, our mom shopped at the natural foods store because we had allergies. We had those brown packets of Sugar in the Raw in our sugar bowl and our friends would ask what that stuff was,” said Vicki.
Harmony Clean, Inc. went to the ARCSI’s first cleaning convention and discovered that they were the only green cleaning company there. By 2007 green had become a big buzzword in the industry and the sisters were enthusiastically welcoming other cleaning companies to their cause.
Prior to launching their own business, both Debi and Vicki had experience running family-owned businesses. Vicki spent ten years working with their father in a fastener business and Debi founded a computer business with her husband. After Debi and her husband sold their business, they were enjoying living on their sailboat and sailing to the Bahamas to learn kiteboarding when Debi approached Vicki with the idea for launching a business of their own.
I love to clean. I really enjoy the satisfaction of it, it’s a very zen-like experience.
The business experience the women had from previous jobs meant they didn’t need the support structure of a franchise, so they built Harmony Clean, Inc. from scratch. The sisters feel very fortunate to be operating in the community that they chose—Doylestown, PA—because the busy families in the area are extremely appreciative of their services. “We knew that we’d only want to use healthy cleaning products for our staff because they would be working all day with those products. Our company motto is ‘Healthy Home Cleaning, Naturally.’”
Cleaning runs in the family, and their grandmother, who immigrated from Scotland, cleaned homes for a living. “Personally, I love to clean. I really enjoy the satisfaction of it, it’s a very zen-like experience,” said Debi.
In addition to an earth-friendly consciousness, a love of animals pervades the entire organization. Vicki’s daughter, Chelsea, helps out in the office while she goes to school to be a veterinarian technician. “Chelsea is quite the wildlife and domestic animal rescuer. She rescued a bunny from a local wildlife sanctuary.” One of the cleaning teams rescued a baby squirrel that they found stranded while on a job, and they brought it to the sanctuary where it was nursed back to health. The company also has a veterinarian come once a year to discuss pet safety with the organization, such as how to handle animals in distress and situations with animals who are disturbed by the presence of strangers in their home.
Their rescue skills have come in handy on more than one occasion. “We had a team arrive at a house and the homeowner’s dog was outside on a very hot day. The dog looked listless—it was panting, you could tell it was overheated. So one of the cleaners called the homeowner then brought the dog water and moved it to the shade and kept it calm until the owner took it to the vet to be treated for dehydration.”
Besides rescuing animals, the teams of cleaners have a lot of fun on the job, playing carpool karaoke where they change the lyrics of popular songs to be more cleaning-related. They came into the office a few weeks ago singing Michael Jackson’s Beat It with the revised lyrics of “Just clean it!”
Debi’s favorite part of the job is being able to help her clients. “They are so positive and grateful for the help our team gives them. One client recently wrote a review that said she loved coming home after a busy day of work to a clean home. It’s gratifying to be able to help people.” She also feels great about being able to provide solid jobs to her dedicated crew of employees. Another of her passions is helping women start their own businesses, and Debi was one of the founders of the Women’s Business Forum.
Vicki enjoys giving back to the community by mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs through a program called SCORE. “With nearly fifteen years experience with our own business, it’s fabulous to be able to give back to others who are looking to start their own business.” She’s also on the board of directors at ARCSI. The sisters found the resources available to them through ARCSI to be invaluable. “We are immensely grateful and indebted to all the folks in the organization who helped show us the ropes and help us get to where we are today. Having that support group was crucial for us, being able to pick up a phone and call someone who’s been there and done that.”
While running a successful cleaning business takes a lot of their time, the sisters find various ways to relax. Vicki loves watching her children play soccer—her son plays for Rochester University—and Debi goes paddle boarding. Both women enjoy baking using all-natural, healthy ingredients. “I make a killer banana bread,” said Debi. You can also find Vicki puttering away in her garden, and she makes her own jams to preserve the fruit through the winter.
Part of the success of the business is driven by the strong emphasis that they put on communicating well with their customers and employees, and providing the best customer service possible. Anyone looking for a top-quality cleaning service in Central Bucks County would do well to check out Harmony Clean, Inc.
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