Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Nov-Dec 2016 Contents 48 INCLEAN November/December 2016
By Rachel Pietracatella
With a plan to do something great, in her late 20’s Donna Rothwell
backed herself and her accounting prowess when she bought into
established Australian vacuum cleaner brand Pacvac. Now some
10 years later she’s at the helm of a truly global enterprise and sees
no end to the opportunities that have allowed her to introduce
backpack vacuum technology to the world.
Bright and bubbly from the offset, Donna credits her staff for the
continued success of Pacvac.
“Terrific staff produce terrific products,” she said. “They are why
an American cleaning industry great chose Pacvac’s products over 12
Donna has tripled her team in her time with Pavac from 10 to
30. She has also taken on a lot of young talent to ensure Pacvac
retains its strong position, hoping they will grow with her and I
am introduced to them in the new purpose-built Belmont, Western
My first stop is the spacious new product development room where
I am told top secret engineering is taking place. The engineers are
hard at work and noticeably happy in their new digs. The marketers
look up from their desks to greet me in the marketing room, the
floor is a colourful array of marketing materials which support the
launch of a new brand in the Pacvac range.
In the middle of the building, Donna’s office overlooks an
expansive warehouse and distribution area that she says is priority
placed to ensure the interconnectivity of all areas of the business.
A worthy poster girl for inspired Australian business practice and
entrepreneurship, it becomes more obvious as she talks about her
experiences in the cleaning industry while whisking me from room
to room, that she reaches high from a firm position on the ground. A
ground she tells me that she often observes very closely while testing
out her own ‘wearable’ Pacvac technology. One day, she arrived at
work and told the cleaners not to vacuum the floors anymore.
“My staff and I experience what our end-user does by using our
products to clean our own floors every day,” she smiles. “Ongoing
feedback from our customers ensures our products deliver optimal
performance setting us apart from our competition.”
2016 has been a very good year for Pacvac’s expansion, with
substantial market interest in a new battery operated model, the
Superpro battery 700. With the aim of setting up UK distribution,
Rothwell took her brand to the May 2016 International ISSA/
INTERCLEAN show in Amsterdam.
“Since Amsterdam, Pacvac has successfully set up authorised
distributors servicing the United Kingdom and is rapidly expanding
throughout Europe – the expo was great for us,” she said.
“Australia, New Zealand and America realise the benefits of the
backpack unit, with Europe and the United Kingdom fast gaining
traction in understanding the productivity gains to be had. “You can
clean up to three times faster utilising backpack technology.”
I imagine Donna jet-setting around the globe clinching cross-
continent deals with her snappy intellect. But has she suffered
discrimination in the traditionally male-dominated cleaning industry?
“I think if anything men have been quite respectful and I’ve never had
anyone treat me differently for being a woman,” she said.
Donna believes that women have a lot to offer by combining
intelligence with compassion, ultimately creating passionate
environments and encouraging productive outcomes. The sort of
environment that she says has helped her retain one particular staff
member for 35 years, together with many loyal and hardworking
supporters within her team.
“For me in this business and life in general, success stems from
emotional intelligence. I have one staff member who had a baby
four weeks ago and she will be returning to work next week – with
her baby. She is a valuable contributor to the company, something
that has not changed since becoming a mother, and it makes good
business sense for me to support her career.
“It’s a win-win relationship. I offer my staff stability and a chance
to grow, and in return they deliver fantastic results, time and time
again,” she revealed.
There are no cracks in Donna’s machinery, her game plan is strong
and her capability covetous. By the interview’s end, I wonder how it
feels to be in such an extraordinary position.
“It’s a fantastic time to be involved in the cleaning industry. It’s
exciting, invigorating, fast and there is just so much potential for the
business I’m in and the cleaning industry,” she said. “The industry
is growing from strength to strength and I enjoy being the head of a
company that is shaping the future of cleaning.”
Women in cleaning...
Pacvac’s Donna Rothwell is helping
shape the future of cleaning
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