Coincidental timing helps South Orange businessman

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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Ask Paul Greene how things are going with his new business, and, before answering, he’ll throw a question back: “You mean before or after my head exploded?”

The reason Greene’s head exploded, at least metaphorically, is because the business he bought is a sanitization operation, the South Orange resident said in a May 1 phone interview with the News-Record. He finalized the purchase of the business on March 16, just as the country was beginning to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ever since, Greene’s phone has been ringing off the hook, and he’s been scrambling to keep up with the job requests coming in.

“When you buy a franchise, you do what’s called ‘Discovery Day’ to learn about it,” said Greene, who bought a franchise of Enviro-Master, a sanitization service that specializes in cleaning public restrooms. “I went to Charlotte and did that in January and then decided to move forward with it in February. Then I started two weeks of training on March 2 and closed on March 16.”

Greene has three employees working for him so far, and when they clean they wear specific personal protective gear. Enviro-Master’s headquarters has been able to help get supplies, though Greene said certain things have been hard to come by. They’ve been cleaning grocery store restrooms, restaurants and trucking companies that still have open warehouses.

“You think you know what you’re getting into, but this is unprecedented,” Greene said. “It’s kind of this head-scratching thing of, ‘How did this happen?’ I believe it’s still the same opportunity I had identified it as before. I’m keeping my finger on the pulse of that.”

There’s no telling when life will begin to return to normal again, but Greene knows people’s expectations of what public restrooms will look like will be different. He’s anticipating that.

“When places can open again, they’re going to want to deep clean everything,” Greene said. “People are going to want to more frequently locate cleaner places. People are not going to be OK without that anymore. They’re not going to go to stores that don’t have clean facilities. This has already changed.”

Greene used to work in television product management, and decided to leave the changing industry to try something new. Amid a global pandemic, the one he picked just happened to become even more essential than it already was.

“No matter what happens, there’s always going to be someone who benefits,” Greene said. “I happen to have picked a business in something that’s needed right now. It’s kind of mind-boggling to see.”

Photos Courtesy of Annie Rogers