In 2018, Avmor Ltd., celebrated its 70th year of being in business. Although the Laval, Canada-based multigenerational company has been manufacturing and delivering cleaning solutions and janitorial supplies throughout Canada for decades, it in many ways remains very young and green.
Avmor was established in 1948 by Avrum Morrow and his brother-in-law Henry Chinks outside of Montreal, Canada. Not only was Morrow one of Avmor’s founders, the company’s name itself is a portmanteau of his first and last name.
Today, Avmor offers hundreds of cleaning products, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, the company originated from a single restroom deodorizer. “Our first product was a room deodorizer solution called Odorite,” says Paul Goldin, the company’s vice president of professional cleaning solutions. “And it was almost by chance that we entered the janitorial supply industry. It all started when one of our founders [Morrow] saw an interesting device—what they called a nonautomated room deodorizer—in a public bathroom. As the restroom door opened, a piston forced air through an attached perfume block, sending fragrance into the restroom. Morrow tracked down the manufacturer and began leasing the device to facilities, charging a maintenance service fee to refill them with Odorite.”
From that one deodorizer, Morrow and Chinks were able to start building a portfolio of customers. As their customer base grew, so did Avmor’s product offerings. Initially, the company served as a distributor to its clients, but it soon found greater success in manufacturing. “Like so many entrepreneurs at the time, things just positively snowballed for Morrow and Chinks,” Goldin says. “After a few years, they asked themselves ‘Why just distribute products? Why not learn how to manufacturer them, as well?’ They first learned how to make hand soap using an old cement mixer. And from there, one thing lead to another.”
Avmor’s product line continued to increase, and soon they were able to hire a team of scientists to develop other products, such as complex floor polymers. As the company’s internal staff expanded, Morrow and Chinks began solidifying an internal culture that serves as Avmor’s backbone to this day. “Since the beginning, our management has always been invested in creating a culture of caring for one another,” Goldin says. “We owe a large part of our prosperity to developing and leveraging an environment of family among our staff. We have people here who are proud to say they’ve been working at Avmor for more than 35 years.”
In addition to an established family-like culture, Goldin also credits Avmor’s success to its commitment to staying on top of its customers’ concerns. “I always tell our sales people: We sell with our ears not with our mouths,” Goldin says. “When we’re out in the field selling, we need to actively listen to what our customers are asking for and then deliver a solution. Let them tell us what they need, not the other way around.”
By listening to its customers, Avmor has been able to not only stay competitive but thrive in an ever-changing marketplace. “We work hard at being an active partner with our customers,” Goldin says. “While we sell our products through distribution channels, we are very active in gathering feedback from the end-customer level. We want to know their pain points so Avmor can better address them. We make sure our territory sales managers are the experts on the products they sell, so they can impart that knowledge to both their distributors and the users of our products.”
Another contribution to Avmor’s long-running good fortune has been the company’s relationship with ISSA. Avmor has been member of ISSA since 1950—almost since the company opened its doors—and has a long legacy of active participation in the association. Mattie Chinks, president and CEO of Avmor, served as a director on the ISSA board, 1997-99, and again 2004-2006, serving as board president in 2005. Goldin has proudly picked up the torch and upheld Avmor’s tradition of participation in the association, serving as a director on the board, 2014-16, and at ISSA Show North America 2018 in Dallas, TX, Goldin was sworn in as president of the 2019 ISSA Board of Directors.
According to Goldin, actively supporting ISSA is an easy decision for Avmor. “It’s been almost engrained in our corporate DNA to give back to any community we’re a part of,” Goldin says. “We feel if we’re going to be part of the cleaning industry, and we want its major association to thrive, let’s put our money where our mouth is and be involved. I’m fortunate enough to have spent more than 12 years involved in some sort of work with the association. I wouldn’t be here as ISSA president if my father-in-law did not blaze a trail for me, a path that I’m happy to walk along.”
Staying abreast of current trends is also crucial to Goldin and has led to some of Avmor’s most recent achievements within the burgeoning market of sustainable cleaning solutions. “Even though we’ve been around for 70 years, I like to think Avmor has the mentality of a young company,” Goldin says. “We are always seeking cutting-edge and creative opportunities for the marketplace. About a dozen years ago, we saw there were amazing developments in green cleaning products. Sensing an opportunity, we didn’t just dip our toes in the sustainability pool; we dove in head first.”
The jump into green and sustainable solutions proved to be a fortuitous one for Avmor. “We adopted a company-wide principle that when it comes to surface cleaning, there is absolutely no reason to not use green or sustainable products,” says Goldin. “In the past decade, we’ve developed more than 50 third-party certified green products in more than a dozen categories. If you look at our total volume of sales, more than half stem from green technology. It’s become a huge part of our success and what we are becoming known for in the industry.”
Sustainability has not only sparked an increase in sales for Avmor in recent years; it also has helped the company recruit fresh talent. “Almost unexpectedly, our push towards sustainability has opened up new arenas for us when it comes to employee recruiting,” Goldin says. “Suddenly, we started attracting a group of younger employees who didn’t view Avmor as a cleaning company or a manufacturer, but as a leader in the sustainability movement, a contributor to health and wellness that they want to associate with themselves. Millennials have found Avmor’s focus on elevating the importance of cleaning and our welcoming internal culture to be very inviting.”
Between providing healthy facilities and a healthy crop of new employees, Goldin sees sustainability as continuing to be crucial to Avmor’s future success and the cleaning industry as a whole. “Sustainability offers us a tremendous tie-in between environment and health, and it will continue to evolve throughout the years,” he says. “Eventually, I see the day coming where we don’t refer to it specifically as ‘green cleaning’ anymore; it will just be understood that’s the proper way to clean.”