From Consulting to Cleaning

Journey to Success
by Amy Chovan

What began as a consulting firm has evolved into a company that provides cleaning services, janitorial supplies and more to commercial and manufacturing facilities.

When Joan and Jeff Flaugher founded Manufacturing Cooling Processes in 1991, they offered consulting services to Fortune 500 companies like Caterpillar and Chrysler, teaching them how to manage coolant and filtration processes, in addition to offering ancillary products.

“Originally, we sold a product line of filtration devices and filters,” Jeff explained. “However, as our company, customer roster and product lines grew, we chose to focus on janitorial products and services and absorbent products.”

In the late ‘90s, many companies started bringing consulting services in-house, causing MCP to phase out its own consulting. After diving into industrial and safety supply for a time, the company found its niche in janitorial supply.

Filling a Need
As one of MCP’s major clients fretted over the loss of his cleaning company, he suggested to Joan, “I wish you guys cleaned.” After turning him down for about a month, the Flaughers finally gave in and took their first cleaning job, understanding that they didn’t really know what they were doing. “We had to learn,” said Joan. “There’s certain equipment you use to strip and wax floors. Well, we were novices. We were out there with a wet-dry vac!”

“It was comical,” Jeff added.

Humorous though the scene may have been, it paved the way for the thriving company MCP is today. After its consulting side was put to rest, the name “Manufacturing Cooling Processes” no longer fit the company’s offerings. But having recently developed new branding, a change of names was neither Jeff nor Joan’s first choice. Instead, they simply shortened the name to MCP Incorporated, which worked out quite nicely. “Everyone assumed it was Morton Cleaning Professionals because we were based out of Morton,” Joan said.

While its primary focus at the time was selling janitorial supplies, the company’s cleaning services began growing exponentially. Again, they found that MCP’s priorities had shifted. “We may not have known exactly what we were doing when we started off,” explained Joan, “but our focus has always been customer service.”

“The key to success in business is diversity,” added Jeff, “and we are always looking at better ways of supplying the needs of the customer. Although they may not even understand that they have the need, we need to know they have the need before it even arises. So we’re always looking at opportunity…where do we see a need in our market segment?”

With that in mind, MCP Incorporated branched out from simple commercial cleaning, and now offers floor care and stone restoration services as well. It is one of a handful of area companies that specializes in caring for commercial and residential stone installations.

Joining the Family Team
As the company grew, the Flaughers always kept family front and center. When additional staff was required, they approached their daughter, Michele Hefner, who had been working in customer service for a local siding company. Deciding to give the family business a try, Michele joined MCP in 1996 and has been with the company ever since.

Starting off as manager of customer relations, Michele did time in nearly every other position in the company. She notes that, when joining a family business, “you have to work harder…to prove—not to [your parents], not to yourself, but to almost everybody else—that you’re there because you earned that position.” She eventually landed back where she started, as customer service was her obvious strong suit.

The Flaughers’ son, Taylor, joined the family business in 2005 at the age of 16, working part time on the weekends, doing odd jobs in the cleaning and floor departments. Working his way up, he now leads MCP’s floor department.

While no formal succession plan is in place, both Joan and Jeff hope to see future generations continue what they have built up. “We want the company to move forward, and ultimately, with someone in the family,” Jeff said. “It could be our grandchildren, who knows?”

Where Business and Family Meet
Before deciding to go into business together, Joan had worked in a beauty salon for 16 years and owned her own business, while Jeff worked at Caterpillar. “As the new kid on the block,” he recalled, “I got the worst job there, which was managing their coolant and filtration systems.” Nonetheless, it paved the way for him to start his own consulting company and begin working with family, something he says is in his DNA.

Growing up, Jeff worked with his father, Lyndell Flaugher, in several different businesses the family owned. While many father-son business relationships don’t pan out, it worked well for the Flaughers. “We had [a donut shop] and construction companies, we farmed, we did a little bit of everything,” he said. But once he finished high school, Jeff went his own way, a path which led to where he is today.

Although doing what he believes he was meant to do, Jeff said it’s not easy to run a family business. One of the biggest challenges they face is keeping family and business separate. Joan admits to taking work home with them. “It takes an extreme discipline to make that work,” Jeff explained. “You have to have that separation, or else you undermine family because the company overtakes everything, and it’s not worth it.”

Michele and Joan agreed that when they’re at the office, professionalism is key. They made such an effort to separate family from business, said Joan, that for a long time, other employees didn’t even realize Michele was their daughter.

Blessed with little turnover, MCP employs about 35 non-family members, and most have been with the company for several years. The company’s lack of turnover is due in part to how the Flaughers treat their employees. Jeff explained that they try to instill ownership in all of their employees to make them feel like they’re part of the family. By keeping micromanagement to a minimum and allowing employees to make their own decisions, they have created a work environment in which thorny issues rarely arise.

And that has created tremendous growth for MCP, so much that they had to take a step back to control their expansion. It was important to the Flaughers that new customers be treated as well as those they’ve had for many years. “As a company, you have to have growth. Sometimes, companies just want it to be wild,” said Jeff. “I want it to be sustainable.” 

As MCP Incorporated continues to grow, the Flaughers note that they must do so with patience. By taking their time and giving top-notch service to all of their clients, they are ensuring their family business remains strong well into the future. iBi

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