Cleaning up construction
A unique career path leads to entrepreneurial success
Lois Reason first tapped into her entrepreneurial spirit at the young age of 8, while helping a family friend with house cleaning in exchange for a weekly stipend. Although Reason has spent the bulk of her career running Rise & Shine Contract Cleaning, a post-construction cleaning company she founded in 2000, she has held a variety of occupations. The common thread that runs throughout her career is her entrepreneurial calling.
After attending college, Reason enlisted in the United States Army Reserve for 14 years. During her military service, she joined the music industry for 10 years and started Lo-Five Productions and MichLo Artistic Ventures, a company that managed musical talent. As a music industry executive, she secured a recording contract for a local group with Atlantic Records.
Reason credits her start in the cleaning business to the owner of Allen Construction & Remodeling, a local construction contractor who asked her to perform a final clean for one of his projects. “I did the work with help from a neighbor — and the rest was history,” Reason says. “I started receiving work through word-of-mouth referrals and the work never stopped; it’s been a continued blessing.”
“I like seeing the finished product and providing customer service,” Reason says about her decision to start a cleaning company.
According to the entrepreneur, who grew up in Roxbury, the startup costs for Rise & Shine were minimal. For the first 10 years, Reason operated the company from her home, and only invested in a few pieces of equipment, such as floor-cleaning machines and vacuums.
“It’s really not a lot, unless you’re doing things at a larger level. But our contracts usually don’t exceed $100,000,” says Reason.
She continues, “You have to know what you can handle. Some companies grow too quickly and too big and they’re not ready for the growth.”
Rise & Shine does not have residential customers, only commercial clients such as newly constructed buildings, office buildings and gyms.
Reason employs 20 workers, including contract cleaners and administrative staff. She says they’re all from Boston. “I like hiring people locally,” she says. “I love and respect my community.”
She adds, “I have an incredible team of individuals. It’s a collaborative effort that makes Rise & Shine work.”
At the time of this interview, Rise & Shine had seven cleaning jobs going on, which is considered busy for the industry. The company has 10 customers for whom it regularly provides cleaning services, including some who have been with Rise & Shine since 2000.
Reason says firms such as the John B. Cruz Construction Company and Crosswinds Enterprises Inc., both based in Boston, have been Rise & Shine loyal customers since the beginning.
Although there is no shortage of work, some challenges come with a clientele that is mostly construction companies.
“In construction, you’re waiting up to 60 days for that first check. So, if you’ve got four construction jobs going on and they’re all telling you 60 days, but you’re paying people weekly—that’s a challenge,” says Reason.
Reason relies on her past experience as a project manager for Putnam Investments and as a trust administrator at Bank of America to keep her company financially strong and in the black.
She recently reflected on her career and business journey while preparing to speak at a Madison Park Technical Vocational High School career day event. “What I wanted to let the students know is that you don’t have to choose one career,” she says. “It’s okay to change. Change can be positive and healthy.”
From military service, music production and corporate finance to commercial cleaning, Reason says she is satisfied with where her entrepreneurial drive has taken her. Her future plans for Rise & Shine include staying local. She says, “I would love to acquire more work in the community. More contracts locally would allow me to continue to provide employment and professional growth opportunities for Boston residents.”