Best in Business 2023: Best Owned

Best Employee Owned Company: Mass commercial cleaning

Founded in 1989 by Glenn and Peter Connly of Florence, Mass Commercial Cleaning has grown and developed. With a second location in Sturbridge, MCC now has more than 120 employees and serves more than 170 facilities throughout New England.

MCC, with clients such as Southbridge endoscope manufacturer KARL STORZ, goes beyond traditional janitorial services for commercial facilities and is certified to clean room and IT storage room standards. But the company is unique for another reason: Because the Connlys are now retired, the company is employee-owned.

MCC President Katerina Cai has been with the company since May, but works with employee-owners who have been with MCC for as many as 20 years. She calls them experts.

“I feel tremendously honored to be able to rely on the employee-owners and their years and years of wisdom,” Cai said. “Their knowledge of each facility – right down to ‘Don’t forget to empty the trash can, on the third floor, behind that door’ – is invaluable in our challenging work environment.”

MCC’s employee-owners, meanwhile, get Cai’s business guidance, such as introducing more technology, with MCC’s employees working in various locations. Video conferences facilitate mutual contact. Tech tools are introduced wherever they make work easier: Cai talks about adding a simple Google Form method for managers, but allowing speech-to-text for ease of use, for example.

His attention to detail makes MCC successful, Cai said.

Employees take great pride in the facilities they are assigned to, Cai said, to the point where they forget they are MCC employees and see themselves as working for that particular facility.

“MCC is not always top of mind,” she said, “but we’re here, making sure they have the right access code; they get an alert if a function is taking place there; to provide support when they are ill; and make sure they have the tools and supplies they need.”

MCC has up to 12 open positions at any given time, Cai said, the result of a long-standing labor shortage.

Remote work was the ultimate challenge: fewer people go to offices, so less office space needs to be cleaned.

The goal—in addition to outstanding service quality—shows business owners the importance of a really clean office building, Cai said, not just for the employees, but for the building itself.

“It extends the life of their facilities — carpeting, window washing — making that facility last longer,” she said. “It makes the employees who come into that building every day feel valued.”

– Story written by Susan Shalhoub

*denotes repeat winner

The best family business: Koopman Lumber & Hardware

Place: Whitinsville,
Chief executive officer: CEO Dirk Koopman, CFO Denise Brookhouse, COO Tony Brookhouse
Established: in 1939
Employees: 380

Koopman Lumber & Hardware expanded into Western Massachusetts this year with the acquisition of Springfield-based Boilard Lumber and now has 11 locations across the state. The family business is run by the third generation of the Koopmans and is training the next generation to take over the business in the future.

Outstanding runners-up: Coghlin Cos., Pagano Media

The best company owned by a woman: PENTA Communications, Inc.

Place: Westborough,
Chief executive officer: Founder and CEO Deborah Penta
Established: in 1989
Employees: 16

Deborah Penta has led PENTA Communications for nearly 35 years as a full-service integrated marketing firm. Penta considers it an honor and privilege to work with hundreds of companies over the years, helping them grow, strategize and scale. PENTA prides itself on providing personalized service and customer care.

Outstanding runners-up: Sullivan Benefits, Studio Jade

Best Minority Owned Company: Studio Jade*

Place: Worcester,
Chief executive officer: CEO Brittany Wong
Established: in 2021
Employees: 9

In 2022, its second year in business, Studio Jade opened its first satellite office in Florida and grew from six employees to nine. With the new space, the marketing agency has added more creatives to bring big ideas to its client roster, focusing on growth.

Outstanding runners-up: K Sense Co, Bri’s Sweet Treats

The best business incubator: Venture X Marlborough – Apex Center*

Place: Marlborough,
Chief executive officer: CEO and Owner Ryan Gagne
Established: 2018
Employees: 4

A coworking space, Venture X Marlborough offers offices and meeting rooms for rent to members and non-members. In 2022, the company broke pre-Covid occupancy rates to 97%, added more than 100 virtual office members, and will open a new 24-person training and meeting center this January.

Outstanding runners-up: Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, Entrepreneurship for All

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