Written by: Wendy Heddrick & Jackie Fountain
Edited by: Jennifer Owen
Innovation blossoms in environments that embrace diversity. At Argus, the female-run janitorial service defies the traditional insular, male dominated profession with a workforce largely consisting of women, minorities, and people of all abilities. We sat down with General Manager Jackie and Senior Manager Wendy to learn about their model of inclusive employment and all the strides Argus is making in the Pacific Northwest.
With offices in Spokane and Seattle, Argus boasts over 30 years of experience in janitorial and facility management in Washington State. Initially Argus was solely a janitorial venture, but quickly branched out to meet their clients’ growing needs. This commitment to clients has always been at the core of Argus’s business model, and is what has ensured them decades of success.
General Manager Jackie is well versed in what it takes to keep clients happy. Having been a part of the organization for over 16 years, she began as the HR Manager before moving into the role of HR Director to Decontamination General Manager. She worked her way up to being the General Manager of the branch herself, a position she has effectively executed for the past 12 years.
“Working in HR provided me the opportunity to understand people. Not only did I gain insight into what creates a good team environment and a happy employee, but I also learned that one of the best ways to achieve success is to defy the mold,” explains Jackie. “I gained first-hand knowledge regarding the power that comes from creating teams that include people from myriad backgrounds.”
Understanding how to compose and motivate a dynamic group of people helped propel Jackie further into her career at Argus. Never afraid to get her hands dirty, she has always been quick to jump into the fray – working 60 hour weeks she’s always on the clock and her team knows they can reach her at 2 a.m. if need be.
Her hard work and determination has gotten her far, but Jackie admits that at times the patriarchal nature of janitorial and facility management services can cause friction.
“It can be tough; I sometimes experience the ‘good old boys club’ mentality. It’s a community based industry, so it’s not always as easy as fighting it. You gain others’ trust by proving time and time again that your organization is the best on the market by continually providing superior service to clients,” says Jackie.
She describes a situation when her team walked into a meeting to bid on a project and those in the room were visibly surprised they were a female-led team. Argus stood apart from the competitors by making a point to address the client’s concerns and providing solutions to potential problems. Needless to say, they won the contract.
While growing the impact Argus has in the Pacific Northwest is rewarding, Jackie notes that the inclusive model of the business is where she truly finds value in her work.
“We hire individuals with all abilities,” says Jackie. “If you are wanting to work and we have a job open then we’ll hire you. Northwest Center’s mission is what keeps me coming to work every day.”
Northwest Center is passionate about equal rights, anti-ableism, and full inclusion for people with disabilities. Thank you for reading.