Cleaning up is big business as four young Jamaican entrepreneurs team-up to clean-up

Observer writer

Sunday, June 16, 2019

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Imagine visiting a venue and being told that a party hosting hundreds of people was just held there. You look around and everything is in order and clean. There isn't a single piece of garbage or other evidence of an event to be seen.

“A party was just held here?” you ask, doubtfully. “What party?”

That is the question that four, 24-year-old entrepreneurs want you to ask after their clean-up company called What Party cleans up after an event or special occasion.

A year and a half ago, Romario Creary, Matthew Levy, Nicholas Griffiths and Oliver Turnbull, all Wolmer's Boy's School graduates who studied at the University of the West Indies, founded this ground-breaking clean-up service company. The idea for the business was generated while they were at university speculating about what kind of enterprise they should venture into.

“We were all really close friends and we hung out together,” Romario Creary, the company's treasurer explained. “We explored the idea of other businesses prior to What Party. We always went to parties out of town and we realised there was a need for a certain service-being the clean-up. When we left these events, we always realised there was a lot of garbage.”

They took on their first clean-up job which was a house party promoted by friends. The feedback they received upon completion of the task was so positive, they were convinced their decision to start the company was fully justified.

“When we started, we did so with our own money. We did not borrow. From our first jobs, the four of us shared the profits, if there was any, and reinvested when another job came up. At no stage did we leverage the business of What Party,” a confident sounding Creary stated, while adding: “Right now, What Party consists of a pool of 30 contractual workers and their services go well beyond just post-event clean-up and we employ drivers, trucks and what equipment we need on a job by job basis.”

Creary then shared how the company has developed.

“We started out as a small group of owners basically cleaning up after small events like house parties that our friends would have kept,” Creary said. “We ventured out and realised that we needed to offer more, a wider suite of services including clean-up during events, clean-up prior to events, and also not limit our scope of services to just parties. Anything that requires clean-up, we can basically do at this point.”

“For example, we've done events where there was rain before, and the promoters or the coordinators wanted to make sure that the area was clean and presentable to the patrons when they got there, so they would normally ask us to come in a little bit before,” he continued. “We might have to do a little bit of landscaping there, a little bit of suction of the water, basically anything that the promoter requires just to make sure that the place is suitable for partying and the patrons.”

What Party's pool of contractual workers are trained not just to do clean-up but to serve in roles such as bathroom attendants or recycling officers who separate plastics from regular garbage. Each staff member is designated a certain area of a venue and assigned specific tasks, such as mopping or wiping off tables, so that there is no confusion on the day.

Creary explained that cleaning up during an event to prevent the build-up of garbage can be the most important part of the job.

“We don't want the garbage to become overwhelming for two reasons,” he insisted. “One, we don't want the patrons to become uncomfortable and two, we don't intend to stay at the venue for two or three hours when the party is finished trying to clean-up, so we try to practice some level of garbage control. But at the same time when we are at the event, we try to be as discreet as possible. It's more of a rehearsed process when we are doing the clean-up during the event.”

What Party's success is clearly evident from their list of satisfied clients that includes names such as Main Event, Blue Print Consulting, Weekendr, Jamaica National and the Jamaica Observer among others. The Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards 2019 has been the largest event they have done so far spanning several days.

Convincing evidence of their clients' positive feedback can be seen through testimonials on the company's website which praise What Party's personalised service, responsiveness, attention to detail, punctuality and flexibility in accommodating last minute changes.

Creary said that “three years from now we want to be the leader, the brand that is recognised as the leader”, and he explained that being a brand is what separates them from the competition.

“Our pitch is always that you can hold us accountable,” he emphasised. “We are a brand that you can hold accountable.”

He went on to point out that you can't get that accountability from an individual that you hire to do the job, or from a group of individuals. It is something you can only get from an organisation of professionals. He noted that it seems the success of What Party has been “motivating other entrepreneurs” and better organised competition to enter the market.

The four directors of the company are now looking at expansion beyond Jamaica's shores.

“We are actually looking into expanding into What Party UK and we are supposed to be going to Florida later this year to look into expanding to What Party USA, as well,” Creary revealed.

The treasurer believes that this is the right time for the company to grow and expand.

“We really intend to have a wider presence, especially now in this time of environmentally friendly policies that are coming out,” he declared. “I think that now is the time for any business of this nature to really kick on and do well.”

Who are the four young directors behind What Party and what else are they doing?

1. Nicholas Griffiths, head of marketing and communications at What Party, is currently employed to JN Bank as a sales performance analyst and is pursuing an MBA at the University of South Wales.

“The business has grown exponentially in comparison to what I had imagined. My partners and I have put sleep, pride and personal inhibitions aside to actualise the growth we're now seeing. From contacting small-scale party promoters to seeking and being successful in arrangements with the Jamaica Observer, Jamaica National and Main Event among others, we have put everything into ensuring this business will become and remain an industry leader. We're nothing without our workforce and we owe so much of our success to them, as well as all other stakeholders that have been essential in our success over the past year and a half.”

2. Oliver Turnbull is What Party's head of business development. He is presently studying sports management in the United Kingdom.

“We're always looking for new ways to grow the business and the brand both locally and internationally, expand our portfolio and improve service delivery. We have strategies in place to execute on What Party USA and What Party UK in the medium term. This journey has taught us the importance of professionalism and it's rewarding to see the synergy among my business partners and our work crew. As Wolmerians, the school's motto will continue to be our guiding philosophy: Age Quod Agis — Whatever you do, do it well.”

3. Matthew Levy, What Party's head of operations, is employed to T Geddes Grant as a medical representative.

“The growth of What Party over the past year and a half had significantly impacted my personal growth and taught me many valuable life lessons. As head of operations I have learnt to be a better leader and learning to hold myself accountable, learning to adjust to situations outside of my control and thinking quick on my feet to find quick solutions to problems as they arise. When your staff, partners and clients are looking to you for answers you can't crumble under pressure but rise above it. The growth of the company has also humbled me in several ways. In dealing with clients and staff, I've learnt to be more professional and less egotistic.”

4. What Party's treasurer, Romario Creary, is also employed to JMMB Bank where he holds the title, manager, FX Trading.

He is pursuing an MSc in Corporate Finance at the Mona School of Business and Management.

“Our strategy, particularly in the earlier stages, has been to work with our clients regardless of their budget and building the brand through service quality and strategic marketing efforts. We've brought consultants on board in the past, and that has definitely given us a boost. The model worked, and over the past year we've developed a solid clientele including industry leaders in their own space, who understand and appreciate the value and level of accountability that What Party brings to the table.”

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