A.L. woman retires from ServiceMaster after 50 years
Published 10:43 am Tuesday, August 11, 2015
After more than 50 years in business, an Albert Lea family’s ties to a worldwide cleaning franchise have come to an end.
Marcia Stoneking retired June 30 from ServiceMaster — a professional cleaning service — after working with the company for 35 years. She owned and ran her branch of the franchise for the past 26 years.
The Stoneking family first got involved with ServiceMaster in 1961, when Marcia Stoneking, her brother, Steve, and their parents Donald and Norma moved to Albert Lea from Easton. Donald and Norma Stoneking initially ran the business out of their home.
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In 1976, Steve Stoneking bought the business from their parents and took over management of the franchise. Marcia Stoneking started working with her brother in 1980, until the siblings split the business in 1989.
Marcia Stoneking said that up until the split, the company provided both residential and commercial services. When the franchise separated into two sides, Steve Stoneking took over the residential aspect — also referred to as on-location services — and Marcia Stoneking ran the commercial side of the business — also referred to as contract services.
Over the years, Marcia Stoneking said there were ServiceMaster shops on South Broadway and West Front Street at one point. Her brother sold his part of the business in the early ’90s, and after 2004 Marcia Stoneking ran her side of the business out of her home. At the height of her business Marcia Stoneking said she managed 15 to 20 employees, and that her customers were mainly in Freeborn County as well as its surrounding areas.
According to Marcia Stoneking, ServiceMaster has four objectives: honor God, help people develop, pursue excellence and grow profitably.
“They’re in that order for a reason,” she said. “Do the first one and the other three will fall in line.”
As far as running her own business, Marcia Stoneking said she enjoyed the freedom of being her own boss.
She doesn’t think she’ll miss the physical aspect of the job, or the constant need to stay up with legislation regulations on minimum wage and other business aspects. She said she always wanted to pay her employees what they were worth, but that contract bids and other aspects needed to be considered in order to keep the business strong.
The main competition for her franchise was always the “mom and pop” businesses, Marcia Stoneking said, as they could clean locations for less, had no franchise fees and didn’t have to pay minimum wage, among other reasons.
Marcia Stoneking said that running one’s own business can be a challenge, but that those pursuing it should stick with it. She compared it to a marriage, saying that it’s something to commit to through tough times as well as good times.
“In the end, it’s worth it,” she said.
In retirement, Marcia Stoneking said she plans to travel to places she has never been before, as well as visit her family members that live out of town. In her spare time she likes to go bowling, and likes watching Minnesota Twins and Vikings games.
After about one month of being retired, Marcia Stoneking said the last few weeks have been the first where she has actually felt retired. Her first few weeks were spent cleaning and organizing her own home.
“We’ve done well,” she said. “God’s been good to us.”
Address: Albert Lea
Livelihood: Recently retired after 35 years of working for the ServiceMaster franchise.
Family: dogs Conway and Charley
Interesting fact: Stoneking enjoys cooking in her free time.