Jan-Pro of Utah is more than just a cleaning business. Last year, President and CEO Tom Richter started a nonprofit called Elevate 1 Life.

“We started our pay-it-forward franchise opportunity which entails giving away several entry-level franchises a year to someone who is under or unemployed or underserved (including veterans),” said Richter. “We give them all the tools, equipment and clients to get started. Their only commitment is that once they get out and running, they have to pay it forward, back to the community.”

So far, Jan-Pro of Utah has given away two franchise opportunities, with a third one planned for around Labor Day. The Elevate 1 Life program has about 12 different franchise plans overall that provide business support and resources. Its tagline is Enhancing one life at a time.

“We’ve learned very quickly that helping people achieve things for themselves, that maybe they couldn’t do on their own, is pretty rewarding,” said Richter. “We’ve given people a business that helped them afford a new car, get their own apartment, qualify for their first home and quit their daytime jobs to work as a full-time franchise owner.”

Before buying the rights to Jan-Pro of Utah, Richter worked 20 years in corporate America. His previous boss bought Jan-Pro of Tampa – which spurred Richter’s decision to become self-employed.

“After going down and meeting the founder, I came home and told my wife, ‘I don’t think I’m supposed to work for anyone else. I think it’s time for us to start our own business,’” said Richter. “As I looked around, what inspired me is that seven of my eight siblings have their own business. We grew up as farmers in Nebraska, which is kind of the ultimate entrepreneur place to do things on your own.”

Midvale, UT was the 12th city to start with Jan-Pro. Today, the business is in nine countries and 140 cities worldwide. In Utah alone, there are 80 franchise owners responsible for cleaning 500 different buildings along the Wasatch Front and St. George.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth,” said Richter. “With the economy as it is in Utah, there’s a lot of commercial development and new buildings going up all the time.”

Richter’s role as a regional franchise developer is to mentor and train individuals who start their own commercial cleaning business under the Jan-Pro brand. This includes handling the sales, marketing, audits, invoicing and more.

“If someone comes to us and says, ‘I want a $100,000 a year cleaning business,’ we go find those accounts and contracts for them,” said Richter. “Once they get up and running, we provide feedback and help them resolve issues with clients.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jan-Pro’s services have never been more valuable.

“Something that’s kind of new since COVID started is electrostatic spray technology,” said Richter. “However, we’ve had that system in process for almost 12 years where we’ll spray a hospital-grade disinfectant that’s safe and very effective against bacteria, viruses and fungi.”

Once someone tests positive for the virus in a building, the Jan-Pro of Utah team will gown-up, spray and hand-wipe everything from touch-points to exits, and then repeat the process.

As the Utah economy continues to grow, Richter encourages the community to support small businesses.

“Using their products and services is first and foremost,” said Richter. “When people are looking for employment or opportunities, look at small businesses. The GDP statistics say that the small businesses drive is significant. Without them, the economy would be at a stand-still.”

Small business owners looking for connections, benefits, and brand awareness can apply to be a Salt Lake Chamber member here.

“The Chamber has not only helped us get Jan-Pro of Utah’s name out, but has provided us with contacts and business relationships to help us grow,” said Richter.

*To be featured on the Salt Lake Chamber’s blog, please contact Communication Coordinator Jessika Clark at jclark@slchamber.com.