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Innovative Solutions in Facility Maintenance

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By Jeff Cross | June 8, 2020 << Back to Articles Innovative Solutions in Facility Maintenance

To maintain a safe, clean, and healthy facility can be an exhausting task. Limited funds, the high cost of labor, and scheduling issues can make effective and productive cleaning a demanding job. That is where Dalco Enterprises comes in.

For over 60 years, commercial, institutional, industrial facility maintenance, cleaning supplies, and equipment has been the focus of Dalco Enterprises. Dalco is a full line facility maintenance and janitorial distributor. Their services also include laundry warewashing, custom floor matting, training, food service, and industrial packaging.

The people of Dalco work hard to provide innovative cleaning and packaging solutions for a safe and healthy environment. But where did it all start?

Family culture

The Minnesota-based Dalco was founded in 1959 by Dale (Norgren), Al (McGerty), and Lloyd (Berggren), thus the name D.A.L. Co. Ted Stark Jr. came to Dalco in 1960 as their financial controller and became a minority shareholder at that time. By 1969 Al, Lloyd, and Dale left and sold their shares to Ted, making him the sole owner.

Dalco has been named 2019 Minnesota Family Business of the Year. It became a family business as Ted Stark III came to Dalco in 1986, followed by Rod Dummer (son-in-law) in 1988, and Peter Stark in 1990. But the Stark’s aren’t the only family in the company. Several employees have other family members, spouses, children, or siblings, working at Dalco. “We try to instill family value through the company and our culture,” says Ted Stark III.

Currently, Dalco has 180 employees, six distribution centers, and two additional sales offices.

In recruiting and keeping employees, including younger workers, Dalco advocates a career development program, a preference to promote from within, and encourages charitable activities. Dalco has become involved with ISSA Charities, Cleaning for a Reason, by doing volunteer days. “We are proud that Dalco has been named a ‘Best Places to Work’ in Minnesota for the past 2 years,” says Stark.

Core values promote growth

Dalco has grown over the years both organically and through 14 acquisitions, including their most recent acquisition in October 2019 of Falk Paper Co. in Minneapolis. “I attribute much of our organic growth,” Stark says, “to the Dalco team and our culture, the foundation of which are our core values: expertise, attitude, relationships, and solutions.

“We distribute for multiple major manufacturers, but we focus on identifying and providing the best overall solution for our customers, regardless of product or brand.” These major customer industries include health care, education, BSCs, grocery, government, and many others.

With the rise of online competition and big-box players, Dalco continues to thrive. Dalco focuses much of its growth on specialty products and services that online and big-box distributors do not provide.

Regarding industry consolidation, Dalco has been an acquirer and continues to look for opportunities to merge with good companies that share its values and business philosophy. “We are also a member of Network Services. This membership and our relationship with other Network members give us additional strength and resources,” says Stark.

What the future holds

Stark also sees some of these key trends emerging in the near future for the cleaning industry:

  • Continued consolidation within the jansan distribution industry.
  • Continued entry of non-traditional distributors.
  • Continued growth of technology, including robotics and artificial intelligence. These will get better and less expensive.
  • Customers will become less price-sensitive and begin to focus more on results and their business outcomes.
  • Availability and cost of labor will continue to be an issue, creating focus on efficiency and labor reduction techniques, which tie in with technology uses.

But what does the future hold for Dalco Enterprises itself? They plan to spend 2020 fully integrating their most recent acquisition, Falk Paper Co., and developing new opportunities that it brings to the company. But they won’t stop there. “Then maybe we will look for another acquisition,” says Stark. “Overall, we plan to continue creating value for our customers and adapting our business as we identify new services and value for our customers.”

The impact of ISSA

ISSA has been a great resource of information, education, and networking for Dalco. “Personally, I have learned so much and developed wonderful relationships by being on the ISSA board of directors, including a term as president of ISSA, claims Stark. “ISSA is the association for the cleaning industry. It keeps us current on all the trends and information for the cleaning industry.”

Dalco and its employees are also fervent supporters of Cleaning for a Reason, an ISSA Charities program.

And let’s not forget ISSA Show North America. “I love the ISSA Show,” Stark continues. “There is so much going on. I learn something every year and I get to see so many industry friends. The seminar day is full of world-class speakers and educators. This is by far the greatest value. You can’t get this information at this price anywhere else.

“I am befuddled why some people don’t take advantage of it. The show floor is full of my key suppliers and exhibitors with new innovations. I love that some of my competitors do not attend the show. That becomes a huge competitive advantage for me.”

Several Dalco customers also attend the show. “We like to walk the show floor with them. They appreciate the attention and it enhances our relationship.”

Many Dalco employees are present at the show as part of their career development program. They are amazed at the size and breadth of the industry.

Stark advises, “Get to know all that ISSA offers and take advantage of the resources. It will make your company and leadership team better.”


About the Author.

Jeff Cross is the editorial director of ISSA Media. He can be reached at jeffcross@issa.com.