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NKY Father, Son (and Mom, Too!) Build Business Taking Care of Properties

There are features of office buildings that most people take for granted. The landscaping on the outside, the painted stripes in parking lots, the clean carpets in the workspaces. 

Someone has to make sure these things happen.

That's where City Wide Building Maintenance of Cincinnati comes in. The Ft. Mitchell-based company was founded by a Northern Kentucky father-son duo. They offer over 20 facility services to local companies and have enjoyed tremendous growth in their 12 years of operation.

“We do everything from janitorial to handy-man services, to parking lot repairs to roof repairs, so we try to be a one-stop shop for our clients that deals with all of the nasty challenges that go into maintaining their building and their property,” said Brent Degenhardt, President of City Wide Maintenance of Cincinnati.

Brent and his father, Don, had talked about teaming up to start a business when both men saw a need for building maintenance through their previous employment.

“Dad and I had talked over the years about getting a business together,” Brent said. “I had been working for a general contractor in Northern Kentucky and as my time went on with that contractor, I realized a need for a company that can provide maintenance services for commercial properties. We were constantly having clients that were calling that construction company and we were focused on building $10 million buildings, not providing $500 or $1,000 worth of maintenance services on properties, but we would do it for our clients because obviously we wanted to take care of them.

“Dad was on the flip side. He was a partner of a manufacturing business in Northern Kentucky, and he constantly had a need for somebody to come out and fix the toilet, or fix the door or any maintenance related thing, because he really didn't have anyone on staff to handle those things. So the opportunity arose for him to sell his share of the business, and I was looking for an opportunity and we put our heads together and said let's have a go at this maintenance service.”

From there, the Degenhardts became engaged with a business from Kansas City called City Wide that had been providing similar services since the 1960's and a local business was born.

“The first two or three years of the business, I came from the customer service and project management end of things. I was immediately thrown into business development and probably knocked on every door in Cincinnati that was a potential client and grew the business that way,” Brent explained.

Since then, City Wide Building Maintenance has grown 15% or more in each of its 12 years of existence. It has opened a satellite office in Dayton, Ohio and employs 13 people directly with hopes of adding a few more in 2015. In addition to the staff, Brent's mother, Vicki, is also the office-manager creating a full family affair for the business.

“We have to explain the relationships when folks come in. We like the feel of a family business, but at the same time, we run the organization like you would see in a privately held business, so we kind of run hard and play hard. The family has to work just as hard or harder than everybody else that's engaged,” Brent said.

It was important for the family business to remain in their hometown of Ft. Mitchell, despite creating a footprint for its services from Lexington all the way to Springfield, Ohio.

“Dad and I are founders of the company and are both Northern Kentucky guys. We wanted to keep our office on the Kentucky side of the river.”

The core markets for City Wide are medical, automotive, manufacturing/distribution, schools, and corporate offices but they are branching out to other industries as well. Currently, Brent Degenhardt is looking at adding more maintenance services as well.

“There are always surprises. Hopefully most of them are good, but there are some challenges that come up. There is never a dull moment in our industry but we're going out and dealing with our clients and providing proposals during the day. Second shift is usually when the deep cleaning gets done. Some maintenance is done during that shift as well, so it's always interesting on a nightly basis,” Brent said.

So far, the first quarter of this year has been excellent for City Wide and they hope to keep that momentum going throughout the year.

“Growth-wise, we've enjoyed year after year of growth since inception. Our goal every year is 15% or more of growth from the prior year. We plan to exceed that, we've had a great start to the year and hope that the remaining quarters bring to us what the first quarter has.”

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor