When Sheri Arbuckle started her landscaping business years ago, she had no idea that it would eventually evolve into a much different, larger operation. But when presented with an opportunity, she seized it. The sky is now the limit for Arbuckle as Classic Clean is in great demand.
HottyToddy.com’s Steve Vassallo met with Arbuckle for this Q&A:
Vassallo: Sheri, tell us about life growing up in Water Valley and your childhood dreams.
Arbuckle: This small town was amazing. We all knew each other. Our families worked together, praised God together and looked after one another. My dream was to become a lawyer and stand out on my own.
Vassallo: As a child, did you ever contemplate becoming an entrepreneur and directing such a large business?
Arbuckle: Somewhat. I have always been very competitive, even as a child. I did not take direction well and chose my path of independence early on.
Vassallo: Classic Clean accepts jobs large and small. Who are some of your larger, more well-known clients?
Arbuckle: RJ Allen & Associates, The University of Mississippi, Roy Anderson, Yates Construction, Century Construction and the All-Star team of David Blackburn.
Vassallo: Describe how the opportunity presented itself for your landscaping business to become a commercial cleaning business.
Arbuckle: There were literally no businesses like this when I began. I knew several contractors at the time that needed help. I quickly saw the demand and seized the opportunity.
Vassallo: You apparently have an incredible work ethic. Was this influenced by your parents and family?
Arbuckle: Absolutely! My father was my role model. He was retired from the Navy and with all of us, two brothers and a sister, we knew what work was! God first, family second and work always.
Vassallo: For those readers considering opening a business, especially for women, what words of wisdom could you provide?
Arbuckle: I have three forever goals. Honesty is always first and foremost. Instill a work ethic with your children daily. And be thankful even for the bad days as even these can teach you business lessons.
Vassallo: You have grown Classic Clean to some 16 employees. How did this evolve looking back?
Arbuckle: Knowing how to manage time, performance and job expectations from your clients such as deadlines, inspections, etc.
Vassallo: You have seen a great deal of new construction in and around Oxford close up as your business demands this environment. Did you ever see this tidal wave coming?
Arbuckle: Not to this magnitude. I don’t know if any of us did. But it has enabled young business leaders, offering growth opportunities that we might not have ever had.
Vassallo: At some point are you considering bringing your three sons into the business?
Arbuckle: All three of my boys have worked for me at one point. I prefer not to have my path become theirs. I would like for them to create their own dreams and goals. I also have a daughter who teaches school and is simply amazing.
Vassallo: One of your more dangerous and exciting assignments involved the Tunica casinos after the great flood several years ago. Can you describe a few of the obstacles reaching the job site?
Arbuckle: It was horrific! There were many trapped animals and reptiles with no place to go. We saw foxes, deer, squirrels, and there were snakes everywhere including hanging from trees. We had to reach the job site in pontoon boats.
Vassallo: One of the most unusual stories I’ve ever heard is working in a casino hallway and watching a deer run by.
Arbuckle: The survival mode of a mother is astonishing, animal or human, especially when surrounded by water. They were as terrified, as we were.
Vassallo: Classic Clean has worked with a great number of diverse clients. How do your clients find you?
Arbuckle: Mainly word of mouth. I do my best to exceed expectations with each and every client. My clients become like family.
Vassallo: Your marketing skills must be exceptional. Would you say this is the secret for your success?
Arbuckle: Professionalism, honesty and being prepared for any contingencies lead to success. My clients have to know that they can trust me in any and all situations.
Vassallo: Your business is not restricted by geographical barriers. Where are some of the “away” locations that you have worked?
Arbuckle: Memphis, Jackson, Starkville, Greenville, to name a few.
Vassallo: Your philosophy of “working harder than any man” appears to be much more than just words.
Arbuckle: It is! It is and was difficult to compete against men in their environment. This was a considerable challenge for me. It isn’t anymore as I have proven over time that I can perform!
Vassallo: Sheri, in wrapping up, would you ever consider teaching a course on entrepreneurship?
Arbuckle: Absolutely. I have actually taught classes to several companies
over the years on cleaning and more. I also have conducted business and management seminars.
What is so refreshing about Sheri Arbuckle’s success is that she’s not ready to rest on her laurels after 19 years of satisfying clients all over north Mississippi and beyond. Describing this lady as a go-getter would be an understatement! It’s exciting to see what an individual can accomplish once focused.
Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 985-852-7745.