In Celebration of MHS Class of 1958

In Celebration of MHS Class of 1958

A Tribute and Celebration

We were the class of 1958, members of the Greatest Generation as well as children of the Greatest Generation. Born in 1940, we are also called members of the Traditional Generation.

Our childhood, post World War II, "was the best of times . . . it was the age of wisdom . . . it was the epoch of belief . . .it was the season of Light . . . it was the spring of hope . . . we had everything before us . . .we were all going direct to Heaven . . . ." (A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.) At least, that's the way I felt about it. We were truly blessed.

- Ouida Tomlinson -

This blog is a place for 1958 graduates of Meridian, Mississippi, High School to stay in touch, post their news, items of interest and photographs.

CLASS OF 1958 MEMORIES (Click to read all posts relating to sports, honors, graduation and other memories of our class in 1957-58.)




Sunday, March 25, 2012

Moss Point woman’s business cleaning up - Business -

Moss Point woman’s business cleaning up - Business -

Posted on Sat, Mar. 24, 2012

Moss Point woman’s business cleaning up


MOSS POINT -- Beth Singley started a commercial floor cleaning business in 2010 that last year generated $1.4 million in revenue.

“We started with nothing,” she said, standing outside the store of a new client, Petland in D’Iberville.

Most of her clients are in Mobile. But she has managers in Mary Ester, Fla., Gulf Shores, Ala., Gulfport and Louisiana to coordinate a staff of 45 to 50 part-time and full-time workers. And she has expanded the company’s repertoire to post-construction cleanup and a certain level of facilities management.

With technology, she’s able to work out of her home on Griffin Street in Moss Point and rarely needs the business office in Mobile.

What has helped her succeed is the reputation of her employees. They are good with floors.

And word of mouth has been one of the biggest ways she has connected with the work. A Yellow Pages ad, her husband’s old cleaning business telephone number and some exquisite timing also were crucial.

She’s got one of the best wax men in the business. But he came to her, not the other way around, and encouraged her to start on the journey that has established Gulf Professional Services and garnered Singley a National Association of Professional Women “Woman of the Year” nod for 2011 and 2012.

The journey

Singley’s husband, Leon Raines, died in 2007 and left a cleaning business he had built during 27 years in Mobile.

He had an extensive client list that included 120 buildings. After his death, the family was offered $2 million for it but she did not sell, because her stepson wanted it. He gave it a shot, but soon walked away because it was a difficult, time-consuming job and he had a young family.

One of the managers at the old cleaning business created a business of his own and picked up most of the clients.

There were no hard feelings, she said.

She went back to her job as a paralegal with a Mobile law firm. However, there was a group of long-time employees who had been dedicated to her husband’s company and wanted their old jobs back. Among them was Furman Brown, known as the best floor man in the business because he knows the chemicals and his work is meticulous.

Furman had a hip replaced and was on crutches.

Singley started looking at a way she might help this group of about five pick up floor jobs in the area, a way to keep them busy.

She saw that her husband’s former company, Gulf Services Inc., still had a Yellow Pages ad and a land line number available. So she had the number transferred to her cell to see if anyone called. After all, many of the jobs they did were done annually.

The first call that came in was a floor job at Bishop State Community College’s auditorium in Mobile, she said.

“I bought a floor machine, mops and buckets and the chemicals,” she said. They did the job and when she was paid, she used the profit to pay herself back. Other jobs came. They picked up some residential work and a church.

“I wasn’t really going after work,” she said. Her crews specialized in some work that no one else wanted. They handled resurfacing brick floors that requires intensive work on hands and knees.

She was managing the jobs from her desk at the law firm.

“They’d walk in and I’d be on the phone talking to someone about their floors,” she said. “But the lawyers were proud of me.”

That was early 2010.

Then the BP oil spill hit and JESCO Inc., a major construction company, called the number and business, as she knew it, changed.

‘Perpetual motion’

The law firm was in the middle of a big suit when she got the call to look at the floors in a 52,000-square-foot building that was going to be renovated. She was torn.

But when she told the attorneys which building she needed to go look at, she said they told her, “You’d better go now. BP just bought that building.”

Turns out it was the one BP remodeled for the oil spill mobile Command Center in nine days.

It was whirlwind, but she hung on, and they stayed with her.

She hired 30 people in one day and kept expanding.

From that came the seed money she needed to really grow a business on the scale of her husband’s former one.

“I had a crew in perpetual motion,” she said as she explained how she kept up with the work.

She has since expanded into property management and post-construction cleanup, big work in the region.

She manages janitors, but there are times when she is hands-on.

She’s married to Dr. Thomas Singley, who’s retired, and she has her family and part of his family involved in different aspects of the business at times.

Her husband likes her business spunk and encourages her.

She likes the fact that her business has created jobs that have saved families in these tough economic times.

Two of her employees were in bankruptcy and one family was about to lose its home when they started, she said.

“Most janitors work at minimum wage, they’re the bottom of the totem pole,” she said. “But BP paid more and wanted more. I was able to start some people at $12 to $15 an hour. And they made overtime initially.

“They were able to save their home and to get back on their feet.”

Her workers have varied backgrounds. Some have an education and some from good families were unable to find work.

Because one was working on his master’s degree, Beth Singley was able to use his expertise to set up a tutoring program for her employees and their children. She has acted like a bank at times.

“I learned that a lot of small businesses work like that,” she said. “And it made me feel good. I could help when they didn’t have anywhere else to turn.”

Married to a doctor with a son in medical school herself, she saw another side of life.

“I know a lot of people look down at janitors,” she said. “But these people work hard.”

And so does Beth Singley.

Managing the company, going to the new job sites, overseeing it all and ultimately taking responsibility, it’s demanding work, she said. She’s known as the boss who will wear a hard hat with her high heels.

“It’s like digging ditches sometimes,” she said. “But I enjoy what I do.”

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