Michael Cadotte – GDI Integrated Facility Services
Reminded of the old saying that cleanliness is next to godliness, Michael Cadotte chuckles. While the thought hadn’t crossed his mind, it might well hold true.
For in addition to being the vice president of safety and quality at one of North America’s commercial cleaning heavyweights for the past 25 years, Cadotte is a parochial vicar currently pursuing a master’s in divinity in theology and theological studies from Maine’s St. Joseph’s College. He’s spread the gospel on four continents and, since 2016, has been ministering at the Berkley, Michigan, parish of the socially progressive Christ the Good Shepherd Old Roman Catholic Church.
“So I’ve got two jobs, although just one pays the bills,” the good-natured Cadotte tells Vision from GDI Integrated Facilities Services U.S. headquarters in the northern Detroit suburb of Southfield. “It’s a well-known factor around here, me being a working priest.”
But the job that pays the bills still can entail a mission, one of which was in full swing this past summer. That’s when GDI’s to-do list included cleaning up and readying the Detroit public schools for the next academic year.
Passing all tests
GDI earned the ongoing contract last year, and its workload has expanded as another contractor fell short. Many of the 100 school buildings that GDI is serving are older than the middle-aged Cadotte—and showing it. Then there are the newer buildings with state-of-the-art technology which always needs updating.
“Kudos to Human Resources,” Cadotte says of his colleagues in the department down the hall. “They didn’t just hire the extra workforce (for the Detroit contract) but did extensive training that stressed security, safety and quality. The project has been running real well, with the school district and us being partners.”
It’s the kind of strategic partnering necessary in such an ambitious endeavor, he goes on to say, detailing the tasks at hand that call for skilled and unskilled labor or a combination of the two.
Elementary schools especially take a beating. Everything from mud to germs necessitates comprehensive janitorial, sanitation, disinfection, sterilization and spring cleaning services. High schools may endure somewhat different but no less daunting wear and tear.
Whatever the school, the cleanup and upkeep never really ends, and there’s no margin for error in such sensitive areas as kitchens, laboratories, restrooms and data centers. Then there are floors to wax, carpets to vacuum, lawns to mow, parking lots to maintain, trash to be collected or recycled, roofs to be patched and dusting needed everywhere.
GDI also is noted for expertise in plumbing, painting, electrical and mechanical maintenance, plowing snow and melting ice. With cooler weather setting in, the company’s boiler operators are readying the systems.
Down to a science
Efficiency being a necessary business practice, Cadotte says GDI ensures it through its GDCalc proprietary software that’s the brainchild of Ahmed Boomrod, the company’s tech-savvy president and chief operating officer. Once all the variables of a facility are entered into the system, GDCalc determines the time needed to do any cleaning task in a specific space, ensuring peak efficiency.
“Other companies may use generic products, but this is unique to GDI,” Cadotte says, adding that GDCalc, robotics and other technologies figure in the company’s ability to clean three to four times as much workspace in the same time frame as 20 years ago.
Then there’s the GDI Inspect follow-up which, based on LEED and APPA standards, evaluates the cleanliness of buildings, with electronic reports sent to the clients. It’s been a big factor in ensuring repeat business from such big-ticket clients as Ford Motor Co. and Kellogg, Michigan neighbors each with satellites all over the U.S. and Canada that also harness GDI services.
“We’re a one call destination for the services we provide, and we don’t go outside our lane,” he says. “That way the client can be assured we’ll perform as expected.”
Safely, too. Cleaning floors may necessitate caustic, acid-based solutions, but there’s a greener product for most every other job, Cadotte stressing that the health of nearly 30,000 GDI employees is at stake as well as the environment.
“Ahmed wants to reduce our carbon footprint,” he says of his socially-conscious boss. “We strike a balance between our use of environmentally friendly products and what’s needed for the most serious cleanups.”
He also notes that GDI has been listed under Canada’s Best Managed Companies for the past 12 years.
Now among the largest such operators in the United States and Canada, GDI has been servicing offices, retailers, schools, hotels, hospitals and industrial and institutional buildings since its 1926 founding under the name Robertson Janitorial Ltd.
In 1989 it was rebranded Groupe Distinction Inc., the new name appreciated in Montreal where GDI maintains its Canadian headquarters. Cadotte came aboard five years later with new degrees in general and international business from Central Michigan University—credentials he’d enhance with a proficiency in food science certificate from The Ohio State University.
He’s since been certified as a safety manager by the National Association of Sales Professionals and as a confined space supervisor by Eastern Michigan University.
And about that divinity degree which he expects to complete next year?
Cadotte says that he’s long had a spiritual calling that he’s tried to mesh with professional life, though the former always seemed to get short shrift. Then a few years ago, while lunching with friends at a Chinese restaurant, Cadotte’s fortune cookie seemed like a message from above: “You have been planning a journey for a long time. It’s time to travel.”
“I got the message,” he says. “It was none too subtle.”
All the better that Cadotte didn’t have to choose between GDI and Good Shepherd. Ongoing projects to the benefit of Detroit’s schoolchildren can seem both secular and spiritual, and Cadotte’s boss shares his desire to serve.
A strong community leader around Dearborn, Ahmed Boomrod is just as concerned about his ancestral home of Lebanon, where he’s built two chicken farms to help sustain the people there. In Michigan, he’s started a scholarship program and has been known to help his employees with funeral costs, medical concerns and home repairs. As his company grows coast to coast, he’s setting up a national foundation.
“Ahmed has been beyond generous with allowing me time, when needed, to take care of special church needs that may pop up during the day,” Cadotte says. “A man of strong faith himself, we have had many honest and meaningful conversations on our beliefs and how they intersect. Ahmed also lives his faith through many philanthropic endeavors and encourages the same in his leadership team.”
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