At the heart of business lockdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants and retail spaces have been front and center.
Open, now shut. Capacity squeezed. Sneeze guards at the registers and dining outside in tents. Hand sanitizer by the gallon.
Thousands of business owners have been forced to pivot one way or the other as virus cases surged or receded.
Imagine owning a maintenance company that hangs chiefly on restaurants, retail and offices that require your service.
Now imagine hundreds of your clients going offline, your services no longer necessary.
This was the nightmare scenario for Maintco Corp. a Burbank company that does routine maintenance, construction and cleanup for a variety of industries. The company was started by Abe and Inna Tuler in 1992. Inna has run the company since her husband died in 2011.
Rather than buckle under retreating business, the Maintco team turned its attention to making buildings COVID-19 safe. We asked Tuler to talk about the company and its expanded mission.
Q: Can you talk about some of the construction services Maintco provides?
A: The range of construction services provided by Maintco is extremely varied. We can act as the primary general contractor on all project sizes or as a second-level contractor. Maintco specializes in restaurants and entertainment, retail spaces, tenant improvements, and industrial workspaces.
Q: Your company has pivoted to retrofit buildings to be COVID safe. How and when did that begin?
A: When the COVID 19 crisis began, Maintco was in the game early. We began with deep cleaning services needed to bring foodservice and retail facilities to a high level of cleanliness. Cleaning services also include hot and cold beverage equipment as well as foodservice equipment. Using all health department and CDC requirements, we designed a program to assist our customers in retail, food service, office spaces, schools and medical facilities. The goal is to allow them to re-open and remain open safely.
Q: How do you do this?
Maintco enters a facility and completes a program to sanitize and disinfect the entire space, leaving the area free from viral and bacterial pathogens. Cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection are only the start. We also provide Plexi-shield safe spaces, hands-free fixtures, high tech air sample and testing systems and all required signage for safe spaces. One specialized service provided by Maintco is the ability to accept emergency service requests for a closed facility 24/7 and complete a high-touch sanitation and disinfection program allowing the location to open safely for both staff and customers.
Q: Maintco also specializes in making businesses ADA compliant. What kinds of retrofits are involved in this and are many businesses unaware that they’re not in compliance?
A: It is a requirement for any public building to be accessible to all. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) identifies the minimal requirements for accessibility. Many property owners are unaware of their basic responsibilities per federal and state guidelines. Most properties have some type of accessibility compliance in effect. But depending on the last date any improvement permit was pulled, those steps may no longer be compliant based on code changes.
It is important for a property owner to stay aware of the requirements for property access, including proper van accessible parking and path of travel accessibility. Along with these two major accessibility items, the lack of an available properly accessible restroom is a common problem throughout retail and foodservice customer facilities.
Q: What does the construction industry look like now as opposed to a year ago?
A: The use of new technology and high-tech tools has made a great change in the construction industry. The largest change is innovation, which improves efficiencies. Construction companies that take advantage of these trends are able to become more competitive as markets shift. The use of “smart contracts” has allowed for a more secure and fast-moving workflow.
Q: What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs who want to make their businesses a success?
A: Women must contend with a wide range of challenges in business. I find it very important to stay true to myself and use my own voice to rise above expectations.
Aside from the strength I already have, focusing on the basics of business is still paramount. Setting expectations is a key component to a successful operation. Everyone must know what is expected and have the tools to meet those expectations. All discussions should not only cover deliverables, but also goals for broader success, including everyone’s holistic role, from leadership to customer requests and the invoice process.
- Title: Owner, president and CEO of Maintco
- Organization: Maintco Corp.
- Residence: Beverly Hills and Palm Desert
- Education: BA in performing arts, Tel Aviv University
- Previous jobs: Property supervisor with Feuer & Knowles management company. Underwriter/project analyst with Washington Mortgage, Huntoon Paige
Five things to know
- Was a concert pianist in Europe
- Is a cigar aficionado and wine enthusiast
- Was a co-host (2013-2015) for the “Tuff and Tender” video blog with bodybuilder/actor Ric Drasin
- Participated in approximately 60 half marathons as well as bike marathons
- Is a first-time grandmother