Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Jan-Feb 2017 Contents 44 INCLEAN January/February 2017
After buying out her two partners in late
1990, Lynne Wilcox became the first
woman in the Australian cleaning industry
to independently own and run a cleaning
“Back then, it was very much a male-
dominated industry,” said Lynne. “All the
major contract cleaners were male; it was
very much what you would call a ‘boys club’,
and that didn’t change up until the mid-90s.”
While Lynne was originally from a customer
service and sales background, she discovered
running the business on her own was easier
than sharing the role with two others. But
that’s not to say it was always smooth sailing.
“In those days, it was very difficult for a
woman to get a loan on her own,” explained
Lynne. “It’s hard to believe now, but back
then it was quite sexist. The banks wouldn’t
lend me the money to buy my partners out
because I was a woman who had previously
had the support of two males.”
Interest rates were also at an all-time high,
creating further financial hurdles for Lynne.
“I loved the business and didn’t want it to
close down,” she shared. “But it wasn’t until a
bank manager asked me how I could possibly
run a business by myself that I decided no
matter what, I was going to do it.”
Fortunately, Lynne was able to borrow
some money from her family which helped
her kick-start her career as CCS director.
Finding her niche
According to Lynne, every business needs
a niche, which is why CCS focused on
targeting a particular customer base.
“I wanted to – and still do – concentrate on
supplying to the smaller contract cleaners;
mums and dads who run their own business.
We provide them with discount cards so they
can still experience the advantages the bigger
However, Lynne soon realised that her
business’s niche began branching out
towards healthcare as more aged care
facilities were built in response to the
country’s aging population.
“We simply realised that the kind of
service aged care facilities were looking
for was what we were good at, so we
concentrated on that market and built on it
greatly,” explained Lynne.
CCS now provides cleaning supplies to
major hospitals around Sydney, including
the Prince of Wales Hospital and The
Children’s Hospital at Westmead. It also
provides onsite training and evaluations
before selling any of its machinery to
customers to ensure what the customer
wants is the right fit.
Despite the many difficulties she has faced,
Lynne has many proud achievements under
her belt. Lasting for 33 years, she laughs, is
definitely at the top of the list.
“You see so many other cleaning suppliers
and distributors come and go, but we’re still
here,” she said on a more serious note. “When
we first started, there were probably two or
three other cleaning suppliers in Sydney. Now
there are just dozens and dozens.”
Lynne is also one of the founding members
of RapidClean – a national organisation
of cleaning supply experts who operate
their own stores and supply cost-effective
solutions around Australia.
“It all started when a few of us got
together at a robotic dealer conference and
decided that we could offer better pricing
to customers if we could collectively buy
better. From the steering committee to the
forming of RapidClean in 1988, this initial
small group has grown to the RapidClean
Co-operative with over 45 independent
members throughout Australia.”
Looking back over her time as director,
Lynne says both her business and the
cleaning industry have changed dramatically.
“I think there is more of an even footing now
between the men andwomen in the industry.
“You’re no longer left out or put down
for being a woman. Our male counterparts
talk to us because we’re on the same level. I
think that’s probably the biggest change in
However, being a woman in the cleaning
industry does come with its own advantages.
“I think a lot of doors open that wouldn’t
necessarily open to just anyone,” said Lynne.
“Women approach things a lot differently
to men; I think we take a softer approach
which can be helpful, especially when you’re
trying to sell something.”
Lynne adds that she loves working in the
cleaning industry because it is ever-changing.
“There are always new products and
systems coming out. The industry is quite
innovative. It is always interesting and there
is always something to learn.”
And while there were some tough times,
Lynne continued to persevere to make CCS
what it is today.
“It’s a bit corny,” admitted Lynne. “But
when it felt like things were really bad,
I always looked at a saying on a keyring
I’ve had for many years. The overall
message is quite simple; don’t quit. When
things seem bad, they aren’t really that
bad. Just keep going.”
“How do you expect one woman alone to do what three people did?” That was the question Lynne Wilcox was asked
when she decided to take over Sydney-based cleaning supplies store Complete Cleaning Supplies (CCS) as its sole
director. And boy, did she show them what one woman could do. INCLEAN’s assistant editor Lizzie Hunter caught up with
Lynne, who spoke about the initial difficulties she faced in the cleaning industry and how she overcame them.
How Complete Cleaning Supplies’ Lynne Wilcox
took on the ‘boys club’ and won
“There is more of an even
footing now between
men and women in the
industry. You’re no longer
left out or put down for
being a woman. I think
that’s probably the biggest
change in the industry.”
Women in Cleaning
Links Archive INCLEAN Nov-Dec 2016 INCLEAN Mar-Apl 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page