By Lorraine Day
TJS Cleaning Services was appointed to clean one of the most advanced aquatic centres in the southern hemisphere – the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre in the southern Adelaide suburb of Marion. The facility, owned by the South Australian Government, covers a site of more than 10,000 square metres, and is managed by the YMCA.
Included in the complex is a 50 metre competition pool, a 55 metre water polo/diving pool, plus 1,000 square metres of leisure water including play equipment and water slides, a learn-to-swim pool and toddlers’ pool. There is also seating for 4,500 people, a comprehensive health and fitness room with the latest cardio and resistance training equipment, sauna, crèche and café, as well as a dedicated training room for elite swimmers and divers.
TJS Cleaning Services’ operations manager, Gerard Bennett has swapped his passion of cleaning up opponents on the football field for a passion in ensuring a high standard of facility cleaning. A former Sydney Swans and Southern Adelaide Panthers player, three years ago Bennett relinquished his football career to concentrate on managing the Adelaide arm of TJS.
According to Bennett, the biggest challenge at the SA Aquatic Centre is cleaning during a major event. “The Australian Age Swimming Championships were held the week before the centre officially opened, and the first week the centre opened to the public was school holidays,” he said, “and it was mayhem!”
“We were involved in the initial phase of taking over from the builders, which enabled us to define the scope of the work, and determine when we could do day cleaning, before submitting our tender,” he goes on. “We already had the contract for the Elizabeth Aquadome, so we had an established relationship with YMCA.”
“Because it is a government building there is a lot of scrutiny so we want to achieve the highest standard,” Bennett said. “The centre is new, and everyone wants it to look new.”
Night cleaning involves four or five people for 15 to 20 hours while there are two day cleaning staff overlapping between 10am and 7pm. The centre is open daily from 5am to 10pm.
Because the tiles around the pool, locker room corridors and change rooms are non-slip design, they are high pressure cleaned once a week, which involves an extra six hours and two people. A recently installed hot water system has made this task a lot easier.
While the Aquatic Centre staff take care of cleaning the machines in the gym/fitness area, TJS staff cleans the glass and floors, as well as the change rooms, entrance foyer, office areas and cafe floors. The floors in the foyer, café and office areas have carpet tiles.
Bennett said the most challenging aspect of cleaning at the SA Aquatic Centre is maintaining the high standard in the change rooms and the tiled surface areas, especially during events, when there are about 4000 people in the grandstand, plus the athletes.
“When an event is on, we have a couple of cleaners check out the site before anyone comes in,” he explains. “Then, during the event, we have four day cleaners continually monitoring the grandstand, toilets and change rooms. Also, between the morning and afternoon event heats, we do a full clean, so that basically everything is cleaned twice a day.”
SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre has also secured a number of national and international events including the 2011 Australian Short Course Swimming Championships, the 2012 World Life Saving Championships and the 2012 World Junior Diving Championships.
SA Aquatic’s facility and asset manager, Gordon Friend, formerly from the Adelaide Aquatic Centre in North Adelaide, said the new Marion centre covers a huge area and maintaining the tiles on the pool deck is a major challenge.”We are more than happy with TJS,” he said. “If we notice anything that needs attention, they take care of it immediately; they are very responsive. As the interim cleaners, they cover all aspects of cleaning and waste disposal, including recycling. They’re doing a great job.”
Friend said there has been an additional challenge because of the air conditioning causing some environmental problems and surface deterioration. “It is usual to have some teething problems with a new building,” he said, “but this is being rectified.”
According to Friend, a two year cleaning contract for the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre will shortly be put out to public tender.
Based in Sydney, TJS Cleaning Services began operating in Adelaide six years ago now, and cleans more than 80 sites in South Australia, many of them gyms and fitness centres. There are two managers employed in South Australia, an administration officer and more than 200 cleaning staff.
“We like to give clients the option to be as environmentally aware as possible,” Bennett said. “However, not all products work as well in high traffic areas. We take precautions not to cross-contaminate and ensure we comply with all OH&S requirements regarding chemicals and safe operation of equipment. We also support recycling wherever possible.”
“It is important to look after staff and give them the right environment to work in, so they enjoy the relationship,” Bennett reveals.”Having a football background I think stands me in good stead to be a team player; to be able to listen to the staff.”
“Also, it is important to be responsive to short-term requests, whether it’s from the biggest or smallest client. It is great when we hear praise for our staff. There is no better advertising than word of mouth.” Bennett continues. “We don’t turn a blind eye to criticism. We are the same as the people who work for us, and are prepared to listen to them – we’re all on the same team.
“Both our senior managers have had their own cleaning businesses and understand the industry and what’s needed to achieve good outcomes.
It is important to communicate and use their experience and knowledge to give clients better service.”