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Last Updated : Sep 10, 2019 05:06 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

How Diversey is trying to build an army of skilled janitors and expand biz

The South Carolina based company is simultaneously trying to expand the market pie as well as gain a major portion of it.

Viswanath Pilla @viswanath_pilla

Radhabai (name changed), 50 of Govandi in Mumbai lost her husband, the only breadwinner in the family. With two young children to raise, she didn't have any means of livelihood. This is when she came to know about a skill development programme called Garima, run by Diversey, a US multinational which provides cleaning and hygiene solutions.

The week-long programme exposed Radhabai to scientific methods of cleaning, safe use of vacuum cleaners and other equipment, as well as the application of chemicals like disinfectants and their right dosing.

At the end of the programme, Radhabai was certified as 'Hygiene Technician'. It didn't end there, Diversey helped Radhabai get a job as a janitor at a major shopping mall in Kurla, through one of its customers - a facility and services management company.

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Radhabai started earning Rs 7,500, along with other benefits like ESI. Now, she has a steady income to support her family.

So far, Diversey has trained about 18,000 people across India through this programme, targeting unemployed rural youth and women.

This was a unique approach for Diversey in India. The South Carolina-based company is simultaneously trying to expand the market pie as well as gain a major portion of it. The cleaning and hygiene industry is said to be worth $400 million and is growing at 4-5 percent.

"It's just more than CSR activity for us, it is aligned to our business," said Himanshu Jain, Diversey’s President, Asia-Pacific, who has been the driving force behind the training programme, in an interview to Moneycontrol.

When Diversey entered India in 2004, cleaning and hygiene weren't organised. However, the Indian economy grew at a faster clip over the years, creating a large facility and services management industry, where both global companies like ISS, Sodexo, OCS Services and local companies are competing with each other. Most of these companies are customers of Diversey.

But what bothered Jain was, unlike the developed countries, lack of scientific approach to cleaning and lack of dignity to the cleaning job, given the background of a caste-ridden society.

"Cleaning still doesn't have the same level of organised approach, which we believe it should have. And the expertise and the science of cleaning is not respected enough. So many people still look at it as a chore. Just clean it up. Don't bother about how to clean up and what is the outcome," Jain said.

For instance, Jain said the approach to cleaning was spraying disinfectants like phenol with powerful odour, to mask the foul smell of toilets. This isn't the right technique. World-over disinfectants or cleaning agents should be odour neutral, as there would be many who could be allergic to certain smell.

"So when we start teaching the executors the right way of doing it slowly, but steadily, we will have a large base of people who will know how to do it. A more skilled workforce will help the industry expand, also it will help us build our brand with actual users," Jain said.

Doing the right way not only improves overall cleanliness and hygiene, preventing diseases, reducing the costs and saving precious natural resources like water and trees.

Bet on India

Diversey, which is the largest operator in this industry, confines itself to the business-to-business (B2B) segment.

Given the growth potential of India, the company has opened its R&D centre where it is building technologies built for India and global markets.

One of the solutions developed at the Indian R&D centre is a technology called Flush-Me-Not, a waterless urinal system. The waterless urinal system uses a combination of bacteria and enzymes.

Not only does it reduce the usage of water in toilets, but it also helps control odour. Diversey technology is implemented in 15,000 urinals in India including the ones at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu & Kashmir, and in other places.

The company's technology called Clax Advanced, a lower temperature laundry technology programme deployed in hotels and hospitals, reduces water consumption and enhances the life of the fabric. They also have a specialised stand-on scrubber drier that cleans and dries surfaces instantly.

Started in 1923 in Chicago, Diversey traces its origins to the beer industry. The company emerged out as a chemical reagent maker to clean the fermenter used to brew the beer.

It changed hands several times in the last two decades; from being owned by Unilever then passed on to S.C. Johnson, followed by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Sealed Air Corporation. Now, it is backed by private equity firm Bain Capital.

Diversey sells chemicals, materials, machines, and dispensing systems for the areas of food, building maintenance, kitchen disinfection, personal hygiene, and textile care, serving hospitality, public utilities and healthcare industries.

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First Published on Sep 10, 2019 05:06 pm
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