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Cleaning up at museums, airports and bus terminals. (Profile of the Week).

Cleaning companies are a lot like baseball umpires: no one notices them unless they do a poor job. And an unkempt museum is sure to draw plenty of notice --taking away from the pleasure of viewing the displays and even putting them at risk of damage.

That's why managers of-airports, bus terminals and museums know that they any cleaning service they hire has to be trustworthy and able to handle delicate work while ensuring that priceless objects are not damaged.

Laro Service Systems, Inc. has taken on the task at many museums in the New York City area -- from the Museum of Modem Art to the Whitney Museum to the Statue of Liberty. After 26 years in business, Robert Bertuglia, Jr., has led the company from its roots in Bay Shore, Long Island, to become a major provider in the Northeast and Middle Atlantic states of cleaning, mechanical maintenance, janitorial, engineering, environmental services, landscaping, wood/metal/marble work and more. It handles many high profile accounts including significant public facilities, commercial buildings, non-profit organizations, and transportation centers. Laro has over 2,200 employees and annual revenues of more than $70 million.

Bertuglia, president of Laro, is proud of the way the company has expanded. "I started the company on Long Island (Suffolk County) and for a number of years we have been operating very successfully throughout New York City." We have a number of high-profile clients like LaGuardia Airport and the Port Authority Bus Terminal."

The work done by Laro at the bus terminal shows just how important hiring a good cleaning service can be. When Laro was hired, the facility in Manhattan was so filthy that potential riders avoided it and few cleaning companies were even interested in trying to clean it up. Bertuglia knew the task was risky -- many thought impossible -- but he also knew his employees were up to it. Gleaming floors and spotless bathrooms helped change the perception of the bus terminal leading to an increase in ridership.

Turning the Port Authority into a calling card of the mass transit authority was an amazing undertaking. No less amazing -- or difficult -- is keeping museums filled with precious objects spotless despite the huge amount of people that visit each day.

"We have the expertise needed to be entrusted with the care of precious and priceless objects," says Bertuglia. "With knowledge gained cleaning Ellis Island, the Museum of Television & Radio, the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Folk Art, the Museum of Modem Art and the Cradle of Aviation Museum, besides delicate historical sites, Laro understands the special attention that gallery spaces need. This includes careful scheduling to take into account security concerns and public hours. On issues of valued items and rare possessions, Laro personnel exercise a craftsmanship level of maintenance combined with patience required for proper performance on this project."

Unlike a Hollywood movie of few years ago that revolves around the misadventures of a cleaner who accidentally ruins a priceless painting. museums in the real world can't afford to become part of a farce. Laro Service Systems often has to deal with sensitive cleaning environments. For instance, besides delicate and priceless treasures, museums have alarms to protect specific objects that must be considered by cleaning personnel.

Not satisfied to hire employees and just send them out to clean, Laro has long made sure that its workers have a chance to grow. The company even implemented a program to teach English to its Spanish-speaking workers. While obviously helping the employees, Bertuglia says the program improves client satisfaction because workers understand exactly what the customers want done.

Because of this program and others, Laro has received several business achievement awards including: "Entrepreneur of the Year" from Ernst & Young, and one of Long Island's "fastest growing private companies" by Newsday.

Laro Service Systems has proven many times that it has the expertise to clean and maintain the most challenging buildings. The next time you are admiring a Picasso at the Museum of Modem Art or browsing the Liberty Sciences Center in Jersey City, you might just notice that the artists of Laro Service Systems, Inc. have done their job, too.
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Bertuglia, Robert, Jr.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 6, 2002
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