Alec Jaslow is the CEO of Total Maintenance Services, Inc., a building service contractor providing janitorial services, commercial cleaning, window washing, stripping and waxing, and day porter services. Total Maintenance Services, Inc. also specializes in medical facilities and disinfection services.
Alec graduated cum laude from Drew University in New York with a B.A. in Economics and then began working in investment banking, focusing particularly on equity research and analytics. This taught him the true fundamentals that are important in evaluating the strength of a company, but after five years he was ready to become an entrepreneur himself.
Alec entered the realm of entrepreneurship when he started Lodging for Professionals in 2015, providing lodging and a lodging placement services in the New York and New Jersey area. After successfully managing that enterprise as CEO for over five years and building a network with a recurring client base that was steady and growing, he was ready for an even greater challenge.
Alec decided he wanted to head up a company that had gotten far, but to take it even to the next level. He specifically looked for a service company that had not yet invested in technology, software, and processes, and he decide to acquire Total Maintenance Services, Inc.
The acquisition of Total Maintenance Services, Inc. was originally planned to close in January or February 2020, but then it got postponed until March, so Alec became the CEO at a very challenging time. He inherited clients that were facing COVID, some of them shutting down and many requiring scheduling changes. Total Maintenance Services, Inc. provided service to clients, paid his own employers, but then had to wait for many of those clients to pay their invoices. April was a very difficult month, but they made it through.
Total Maintenance Services, Inc already has a lot of great customers. Alec plans to add technology and more processes, including a new web site, a better web presence, and the addition of software to track when supplies are low. Alec is also considering the addition of a customer portal where customers can view existing contracts and invoices, request additional services, and order needed supplies. He attributes the stabilization of his business during this tough time to his ability to maintain a balance between his personal and business lives.
In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit, or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?
Adding fitness into my life really has helped with handling stress and anxiety. I realized over time that if I do not at least work out and do something active for 20 to 30 minutes a day, it impacts everything I do and slows it down. I must be active; I must work out, otherwise, everything else suffers. I try to incorporate that in every day. Before I was doing that, and I think I was not handling stress, my workload, and my schedule as well as I could have.
When you feel unfocused, what do you do?
Typically, I will make a list of items, a to-do list, and I will start with the easier items so that I have momentum getting into the more difficult items. I try to make sure I walk away at the end of the day with at least a few of those items marked off the list. Even if it was not as productive of a day as I wanted, as I long as I got some things done and I’m moving forward, that has helped.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
1. Work for a start-up. My advice would be to work for a company or in an industry where you feel there is a lot of growth. If you are going to be more on the corporate side, I would try to work for a company where you get potential equity down the road and your incentives and compensation are aligned with work accomplishments / goals. I believe start-ups / early stage companies that give incentives with equity are the places to work at so that your efforts you put in are what you get out of it. I have learned you have to choose your time wisely and make sure that whatever you are doing, your efforts are aligned with the interests of the company.
2. Always have a mentor in your career that will give you guidance and push you along. They should help you set short term and long-term goals so that you can see how you progress. They should also help you learn your strengths and teach you how to play them up as much as possible.
3. Do what you want to do, not necessarily what your parents want you to do. Your parents want you to be secure and safe. There is no path that you must take in life. I think you should go with the flow. If something is working right, you should continue down that path until it’s not, and then you switch directions.
What is one lifestyle trend that excites you?
Incorporating healthy eating is exciting to me because often you can feel the benefits when you do make changes. One of my friends recommend I go off of milk completely. I was always a big milk person. I completely switched to almond milk and I immediately felt more energy. Everyone has different philosophies about food and healthy eating. As you learn different things and how it impacts your activity level, it is interesting to me.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My mother has been the biggest influence in my life. She was always my biggest supporter. She was always there when I needed her. When she died in 2015, it made me grow a lot because of the challenge of not having that number one cheerleader on your team anymore.
It was the most difficult things I have ever experienced, the grief and the loss, and it strengthened me as a person. I had not felt like I had a lot of real challenging moments up to that time. That was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever gone through. It is difficult and it changes you.
That is also when I started becoming more entrepreneurial. Once she passed, it was so difficult that I took bigger risks. Losing her encouraged me to live the life I want to lead to be happy, rather than the safe life or making the safe move. I wanted to have more freedom and be able to work when I want to work. Losing her made me realize how short life is and sometimes you must make a move quickly. Sometimes it is better to take a risk when you have less to lose. She is the main supporter in my mind all the time.
What is one of the biggest life lessons you have learned?
Take risks when you can. As an entrepreneur, if you want to take a risk make sure you have it planned out how they are going to do that and have a plan in place on how they’re going to live while they’re growing their business.
Plan out everything you do in advance, it saves time. An even more important thing is for everything you do, you should organize your plan and sketch it out. You should build a blueprint and follow that blueprint. Too many people are just not planning things in advance. I try to plan everything before I do it. I would rather spend time planning it, making sure the details are worked out, and not jumping in too quickly. When you jump in too quickly everything becomes a mess. The aspect of creating structure, creating lists, and creating plans is all important.
What do you think it is that makes you/someone successful?
I think it’s the ability to continue when things are the grimmest. I think that creates success. When things are at their worst, you must continue through the pain and get through the downturn.
When I was doing the lodging business, I started it in 2015. It was a lot of work and I had not seen a lot of results yet. In 2016, I had this moment where I was like, is this even worth it anymore? I thought about absolutely stopping, but I continued it because at the time it just seemed like it was the right path to go down. I went through the down period and rode it out. I think that is extremely important in everything. Go down the right path and even if you have face difficult times on that path, you must ride it out and finish.
How do you stay motivated?
Setting goals, short-term and long-term, helps to keep me motivated. Once you achieve those, you must give yourself a pat on the back and then move on and reset up new goals. I think the most important thing in life is continuing to challenge yourself by setting new goals. Otherwise, you’ll get bored and complacent. You must keep creating new challenges.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
I want to be looked at as a successful entrepreneur who took care of his employees, treated everyone fairly, and aligned everyone’s interests with the success of the company. I want to be a good employer to the people that have worked with me. I want everyone to feel like their work is aligned with the success of the company.