PATERSON, NJ – For Tshon Wells, running a business based in Paterson isn’t just about making a living for himself and his family. It’s also about inspiring others to pursue their dreams and giving back to his hometown.
Wells, 42, is the owner of Wells Cleaning Company, a professional cleaning business he has grown over the past two years. The business services offices, schools, churches, condominiums, apartments, health clubs, hotels and other facilities throughout North Jersey.
He’s also picked up several large accounts, including cleaning Auto Zone stores, snow removal at MetLife Stadium and doing COVID-19 disinfection for the City of Newark’s libraries, fire departments and mayor’s offices.
His company now employs about two dozen part-timers and is set to hire between 60 to 65 part-time workers. Wells recently hit a milestone when he cut the ribbon on the company’s first-ever physical office space at 714 Broadway to serve as a headquarters.
“Our goal is for you to have the feeling you get when you walk into a hotel, and you see it’s nice and someone took care of it – the carpet is clean, the glass is good and everything is in order. It shows that people care,” he said. “Our mission statement is that cleaning isn’t only based on appearance but also public service.”
Growing up in Paterson, Wells was inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of prominent residents like Lewis Cole.
Launching a cleaning business is an idea that first came to him back in 2004, when he was enjoying a quick bite at a local pizzeria one day and really took notice of just how thriving the city was. With so many businesses, Wells believed he could “provide inspiration, do business and take care of the place where I was born.”
He said he decided to start his own business, Four Jays Cleaning, and began “branching out to doctor’s offices, churches and other businesses in the area.” Wells would jump on a bus, along with his vacuum cleaner, broom and other cleaning supplies to take care of his accounts.
On the days he didn’t have enough money for bus fare, he would hit the streets, walking from Paterson to Fair Lawn, and the back again, to make connections with stores, businesses, churches, schools and organizations that may be in need of his services.
But, in between trying to build his business, he also worked two temp jobs to make ends meet. While working those long hours (a regular workday for Wells typically began at 5 a.m. and didn’t end until 2 a.m.), he was always thinking about his long-term business plan.
Unfortunately, the timing for Four Jays Cleaning just wasn’t right because Wells couldn’t focus 100% on it due to his other jobs and the business became inactive.
Then, four years ago, his family convinced him to “just do it” and give his all to launching his own company. “It was a dream of mine,” he said. “But, I was on the cusp of putting it down.”
This time around, Wells hit a home run, thanks to positive word of mouth, and the support of the community, as well as his wife and six children.
“I always gravitated towards the cleaning business,” he said. “I knew it was a lucrative business. But thinking back on it – and I had to do some real searching – I think it has to do with Saturday mornings on North 7th Street with my grandmother.”
“Every Saturday, I’d wake up to her playing music and taking the stove apart to clean, or soaking the tubs in Comet so she could scrub it or moving furniture to clean the radiators and baseboards,” he said.
He’d then join in and help out with the chores, while spending time with his grandmother, whom he said was a hard-working factory employee that took care of her husband and family. The Saturday morning routine is something he’s carried with him and passed along to his own kids, he said.
Ultimately, Wells hopes he can be a role model for local kids and show them anything is possible. “If you have a dream, write it down, visualize it and then you have to go out and do it,” he said.
Besides bringing on new hires, Wells plans to produce a podcast, “Talents 2 Business,” that’ll “tap into the difficulties of entrepreneurship.” The show, set to debut on Nov. 10, will feature interviews with entrepreneurs and strategies on how to succeed.
Wells also wants to run programs online and on social media platforms for homeowners about tips and tricks to keeping a clean house.
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