Even after 20 years in the building services industry, sometimes Dean Goforth can’t help but get a thrill from his work. Who can blame him? His company, SCSI, Birmingham, AL, has been serving the cleaning, supply and equipment service needs of businesses in eight Southern states for two decades, but Goforth was still excited by the prospect of adding the new Barber Motorsports Park and Museum to SCSI’s list of clients.
“It’s a top notch facility and perhaps the largest Grand Prix road racing course in the country,” he said. “George Barber, a local businessman started collecting motorcycles and Lotus race cars 30 years ago. Over the last seven years, he has spent $50 million of his own money to build a 150,000 square foot world-class museum and a 740-acre park for motorsport racing (www.barbermuseum.org).
“We’ve worked with Barber over the last 10 years when it was a private museum downtown, but being able to handle all of the new facilities’ cleaning needs 7-days a week is another story,” said Goforth.
On a day-to-day basis SCSI will have three or four people on site, but when there is a major race 50,000 people can be at the park, and SCSI will have at times 40 employees on site to perform cleaning duties before, during and after the event. During a busy weekend, it wouldn’t be uncommon to go through 30 to 40 cases of toilet paper and towels in a day.
“This is a big place with a lot of traffic and it takes a lot of work and supplies to keep it clean and looking like new at all times. On top of that we frequently get special cleaning requests that are out of the ordinary,” said Goforth.
A Racetrack, Museum, and More
The Barber Motorsports Park is also home to the “Porsche Driving Experience”, which offers one- and two-day driving school courses with 20 students each, 150 days a year. Even at $2500 per person for the two-day course, classes are booked solid six months in advance (www.porschedriving.com).
Mark Lewis, Manager of the Porsche Driving Experience says: “The park is the best of its kind in the world‚ [and] much better than our previous facility in Florida.
“The track is friendlier to the cars and drivers. Mr. Barber’s goal of maintaining an immaculate facility matches our goals at Porsche. It’s worked out great and we’re excited about the relationship,” said Lewis.
As for the cleaning, “Dean and his staff do a great job of keeping our classrooms and restrooms spotless and in like-new condition. The real test is when there is a big event in progress and they are able to keep the sidewalks clean and trashcans dumped.
“We are really picky about our facility. Even fingerprints on a windshield are a big issue for us. Dirt on the floor would be totally unacceptable. We want the floors clean enough to eat off of all the time and that’s no easy job considering the people and vehicles we have running through here each day. We are very pleased with the service we get here.”
“Those 911 Porsche Carrera’s and the racetrack are really sweet,” admits Goforth. “It’s a great racetrack that is 2.3 miles in length with 16 turns that vary in radius from 40 ft. to 377 ft., including 80 feet of elevation changes that will challenge even a seasoned driver. When it comes to racing or cleaning, there is no other place like it anywhere in the world.”
Special Cleaning Needs Abound
“We offer a full package of services to all our customers,” said Goforth. “This can range from cleaning to providing the supplies and servicing the equipment used at the facility. We also consult with management on how to organize cleaning functions at the museum and provide training support to their day staff on how to operate and maintain the equipment they use.
“Other challenges include cleaning the two elevators at the museum and in the race control building. Both are glass lined and one is big enough – at 10 by 20 feet – to haul a full-sized car up to the fifth floor,” Goforth explained. “To clean the glass on the elevators, we need to actually get inside the elevator shaft and ride on top of the cab. To reach the glass at the bottom of the elevator shaft we have to crawl under the cab to finish the job. It’s specialized work that takes skill, daring and attention to detail so that no one gets hurt.
“Last winter a pipe froze in the elevator shaft in the race control facility and we had to get a crew out early on a Sunday morning to clean up the water before any permanent damage occurred,” said Goforth. “Sure it was a little inconvenient, but we realize that responding to such requests is part of our responsibility and we are happy to do it when people call.
“Another time, I got a call from Jeff Ray, the Executive Director of the facility. There was a construction crew on site using a 5-story lift, and he wanted to know if we could get a couple people out to the museum right away to clean some difficult to reach windows in the lobby while the lift was still there. Within an hour we had two people onsite standing on top of a five-story lift cleaning the windows.
“We see ourselves as a full-service company and don’t mind going out of our way to meet the customer’s special needs. We are pleased that our customers trust us enough to call us when they need some out of the ordinary work taken care of. If a customer has a need, our goal is to take care of it for them. We are proud of the fact that we can respond when a customer has a special need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Goforth.
“Occasionally we get a request to do something real special, like dusting some of the 800 motorcycles on display in Mr. Barber’s collection. Some of the bikes are very rare and can be worth over $250,000.
“Since it’s a big facility there are thousands of square feet of floor space that need to be taken care of every day. We have one riding auto scrubber as well as a walk behind.
Some of the floors are diamond polished concrete which requires scrubbing but no stripping, refinishing or burnishing. In the restrooms, we have quarry tile that requires regular mopping and an occasional scrubbing.
We also have VCT tile and carpet that must be cleaned and kept spot free. The facility even has a sixty-seat theater, several classrooms, a gift shop, a medical clinic, and a helicopter-landing pad.
“Our primary goal is to keep the entire facility looking like it is brand new every day: even when there are thousands of people using it at one time. We use wide area and backpack vacuums for daily cleaning of carpeted areas because they are fast and contain the soil. With all the rare motorcycles and cars on display, the last thing we want to do is put dust in the air. The four-stage filters on the backpack vacuums capture even the smallest particles of dust that might otherwise settle on the displays.
Another nice thing about the backpacks is that they allow us to quickly pick up dust along the edges of the rooms and in stairways, as well as up close to and even under the displays. The backpacks are ideal for much of the specialized cleaning that we have to do here and they save us a lot of time and money.”
A Pristine Environment
“This is a park,” Goforth continues. “There are no bleachers or grandstands. People picnic on the grass and watch the races. The owner and management team are great to work with, that’s one of the reasons I pay special attention to their needs. They really care about the facility.
They have high expectations and standards, and we understand that. Everything is first class here which in the long run makes our work easier because we get the support we need. Our goals are the same. It’s a friendly place that we really enjoy being a part of. It’s a pristine environment and it’s our job to see that it stays that way 7 days a week.”
– Bill Griffin