Latina business owner sweeps up success

Betty Dillard

Nancy Galvan takes great pride in being a first generation-born American citizen of an immigrant family from Mexico. Born and reared on Fort Worth’s Northside near the historic Stockyards, Galvan attributes her dedicated work ethic and strong understanding of small business to her parents, who resettled north of the border to pursue the American dream. The 34-year-old owner and president of Unica Janitorial Solutions LLC says her heritage is a key to the growth and success of her award-winning business based in Fort Worth. “My parents are from Coahuila, Mexico, and I make that a point because I think that has a lot to do with my entrepreneurial spirit,” Galvan said. “My hard-working ethics came from both the Mexican culture and the American culture. I think I got a really good perspective being raised by Mexican parents in this country of opportunities. It was a wonderful blessing to get this first-generation perspective.” The youngest of four children – her three older brothers are all professionals – Galvan graduated a year early in 1996 from North Side High School and went on to earn an advertising degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. After college, she started working as a contracts administrator at Bell Helicopter and got married. Three short years later came a surprise divorce. That was the point in her life she says when her mindset shifted. Finding herself in “financial desperation,” Galvan became motivated to revitalize both her career and her life. “I had a pile of debt – we were still paying for our wedding. I had school loans and I was heartbroken and disillusioned. I had to decide what I was going to do,” she said. “I mourned the divorce for a good month but then the bill collectors started coming around and that’s when I started the business. I needed control of my financial destiny.” Galvan researched various business concepts, including those in which she could use her bilingual skills, before deciding on a janitorial services business, a business she found few Latinas were involved, a trend she says continues today. Although the recent recession, particularly the real estate bust, tarnished the cleaning and janitorial industry, the outlook is bright for the business. Demand for cleaning services remains ongoing. According to IBSWorld, the business of cleaning and maintaining America’s office buildings, retail, commercial, industrial, educational and health care facilities is an estimated $49 billion. Employment of janitors and building cleaners is expected to grow 11 percent to 2020, according to data from the Small Business Development Center. Galvan wrote up a business plan, got a startup loan from one of her brothers and with strong support from her parents launched Unica Janitorial Solutions in 2007 with two employees. Unica Janitorial is a full-service, fully-customized commercial cleaning company; services provided include green cleaning, floor maintenance, pressure and window washing, day porter services, construction clean-up, restroom sanitation, special event services, final cleaning and building management. The company recently added document shredding to its line-up of services. Unica Janitorial provides 24/7 commercial cleaning services. One of Galvan’s goals in operating her entrepreneurial enterprise was to continue her day job at Bell until she was completely debt free. She ran the cleaning business at nights and on weekends for three years before she was in the black. “It was a liberating experience and feeling,” she said of becoming debt free. “It was very empowering to control my finances in a time of desperation. Everything finally came together and that’s why success has been natural.” Once Galvan left Bell Helicopter in 2010, her business tripled its revenue. Galvan, who has since hired an accountant, a CPA and an attorney, says growth has been 20 percent year-to-year. “Steady growth is part of my plan,” she said. “Meeting customers’ needs is my priority.” Today, Unica Janitorial employs 21 cleaners, “the backbone of the business,” as Galvan calls them. Clients include local, state and federal government entities as well as private corporations across Tarrant County. Recognized as an emerging business, Unica Janitorial is a certified minority woman-owned business through the North Central Texas Regional Certification Agency and a Historically Underutilized Business by the state of Texas. In 2011, Galvan was named the Hispanic Business Woman of the Year by the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Last year, Unica Janitorial was nominated for the Telemundo Hispanic Salute award. “I feel like I have such an advantage,” Galvan said. “I’ve got that perspective being raised by Mexican parents and knowing that culture. The Mexican culture is a hard-working, loyal, proud culture. I implement that in my business every day.” Galvan is involved in various community organizations and is determined to give back to those who have led and inspired her. She serves on the boards of the Hispanic Chamber, First Tee of Fort Worth and for the North Side Legacy Foundation, which raises funds for scholarships at North Side High. She also is a member of the Hispanic Women’s Network. “I feel compelled to give back,” she said. “I got out of debt and distress and I feel like it’s my duty now to help and support others.” Thankful for the support she’s received from family, friends and her peers, Galvan is especially interested in helping other Latinas become entrepreneurs or becoming business women. “The best thing I’m doing and other women business owners are doing,” she said, “is to be vocal, to be out and show your face. This year is when I really decided to invest myself in these boards because I’ve got something to say. I’m vocal. I’ve got a story. I want Latinas to see me and know that opportunities are out there. You just have to go out there and grab them.”