TWO Services are an independent family business, specialising in providing cleaning, maintenance and equipment services to commercial kitchens, facilities management and catering organisations across the UK. They are one of few cleaning and maintenance companies accredited with ISO 9001, ISO 14001 (environmental) and OHSAS 18001(health & safety) and this year are celebrating their 30th anniversary.
Here we speak to founder Alan Osborn and his son and current MD, Barry Osborn, to find out about the early days, get their take on why TWO Services have managed to go the distance and, how remaining independent benefits their clients.
In the beginning…
Alan Osborn first experienced the foodservice industry at the Compass Group where he worked for 18 years as a Regional Manager in the B&I sector. When his time there came to end, Alan needed to support his young family and with his hard work ethic, was soon working day and night at two, and sometimes even three jobs, including running a wine bar in EC4.
When a friend mentioned that they were looking for someone for a daily office cleaning contract at the Doomsday exhibition, Alan decided that he would tender for the work and sure enough, he got the job. It became his first cleaning contract and on 20th June 1986 T.W.O. Services became a registered company.
Alan Osborn’s word was his bond and once he committed to something, then it got done – and to a high standard. This attitude stood his fledgling company in good stead and is partly why TWO Services have reached their thirty year milestone.
A lucky escape
More office cleaning contracts followed, but in December ’86 Alan’s work load became unsustainable and he had a lucky escape after falling asleep at the wheel and crashing his car. As a result he hired student, George Baffoe, to work with him part-time. That part-time student went on to become an integral part of the business and to this day is a Director of the company.
A few months later a friend of Alan’s mentioned that they were tendering for a Catering Contract which included a kitchen deep cleaning contract and how hard it was to find someone to do the job properly. Alan explains: “He said, with your catering experience, you should be cleaning kitchens, so I thought yes, why not give it a go?”
Alan duly tendered and in July ’87, won his first kitchen cleaning contract at the Iveco Ford truck manufacturer headquarters in Watford. This necessitated more staff and he subsequently recruited two of George’s friends; Charlie Annan and Sammy Donkor, who once again, have remained loyal to the company for much of the thirty years.
Once the Ford clean was complete, client feedback was that ‘it was the best kitchen clean they had ever had’ and thanks to word of mouth from Alan’s friends who had remained in the catering business, more jobs soon followed. The rest – as they say is history.
The secret to success – loyal staff and consistent service
More staff were employed and Alan drilled them all in his exacting standards. Years later, after growing up earning pocket money on cleaning jobs, Alan’s sons; Barry (who took over from Alan as MD in 2011) and Jon (Financial Director), eventually joined their Dad in the business.
Today TWO employs 120 people and has a turnover of over £4 million, providing a complete range of cleaning, maintenance and equipment services to organisations nationwide. Family values and high levels of service are still central to the company and staff turnover is unusually low for this industry.
When asked what – if anything -has remained the same over their 30 year history, both Alan and Barry mention the team.
“We’re proud that many of our staff have been here nearly as long as the company has been going – it’s like a big family. My first ever recruit, George Baffoe, was made Company Director for his loyalty. And there are many others who came on board in the early days that have spent the majority of their careers with us and been promoted as a result. Charlie, Sammy, Gareth -who was our first ever apprentice catering engineer, to name a few.”
Indeed a spate of recent internal promotions illustrates this fact. For instance new General Manager, Carl Twaites was previously Chief Maintenance Engineer for 11 years. Kay Wiskin who spent 10 years in the office as Sales and Operations Co-ordinator is now out and about as the face of TWO in the South, in a Sales Exec role.
“It‘s that consistency and personal touch that our clients like. Over the years the commercial industry has become dominated by big corporates and FM companies where staff come and go, but they can rely on us as the one fixed constant. We’re still an independent, family run business. There are no automated machines and our customers get to speak to real people who have an ongoing responsibility and relationship with their account. Our staff know their kitchens, their equipment and their history.
That level of knowledge and experience is priceless because it saves them precious time, we can get on delivering the services we know they need and they trust in our determination to provide the highest quality, whether it’s cleaning, maintenance, ductwork or equipment supply”.
And that pretty much sums TWO Services up – they care – about their staff, their clients and doing the job right. It’s a trait that has helped them reach this milestone anniversary and should see them continuing to serve the catering industry, for years to come.
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Call us 0800 22 44 33
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