This post was written by Nagiarry Porcena-Meneus, the Department of Commerce’s Program Manager, Office of Neighborhood Economic Development.
In the fall of 2020, the City of Philadelphia kicked off the Philadelphia Taking Care of Business (PHL TCB) Clean Corridors Program to expand the Department of Commerce’s existing commercial corridor cleaning efforts from 49 commercial corridors to 83 throughout the city. One of PHL TCB’s goals is to promote the economic success of neighborhood businesses by providing opportunities to minority-owned cleaning businesses in Philadelphia.
In this series, we are highlighting the stories of small businesses contracting with PHL TCB community-based nonprofits. In this post, you will learn about TWB Cleaning Contractors, which is owned by Trina Worrell Benjamin.
TWB contracts with North Broad Renaissance, Allegheny West Foundation, Oxford Circle Christian Community Development Association, and Enon Coulter Community Development Corporation for regular cleaning in North and Northeast Philadelphia. TWB cleans some of the busiest transit hubs in the city, including sections of North Broad from Spring Garden to Broad & Olney, North 22nd Street, Ogontz, Stenton and Wadsworth Avenues, Rising Sun Avenue, and Castor Avenue.
Here’s what Trina Worrell Benjamin had to say about what the PHL TCB program means for her and her business.
When did you start your business?
Trina Worrell Benjamin (TWB): TWB Cleaning Contractors started in November 2014.
What services does your business provide?
TWB: Our company provides professional commercial, construction, and public space cleaning services. We also provide landscaping and large debris removal services.
How many people does your business employ?
TWB: Currently, we have 36 employees. Before focusing on TWB Cleaning Contractors full-time, I was an employee of the Public Health Management Corporation working at a local prison. I’ve heard stories of people who came back to prison because they were not given the chance to be employed. TWB works to change that by providing returning citizens with opportunities to grow as individuals and as team members.
What inspired you to start your business?
TWB: I wanted foundational longevity in my cleaning services, which inspired me to start TWB Cleaning Contractors in November 2014. My long-term goal is for TWB to contract nationally as a management company. This is difficult for small businesses like mine due to the track record needed. Every day, I am preparing myself for opportunities so that our team continues to thrive.
What resources or people helped you build your business?
TWB: Temple University’s support has been instrumental. I enrolled in Temple’s one-year Entrepreneur Success Workshops, which helped me lay a solid foundation with a business plan, employee handbooks, legal policies, advertising skills, and business procedures before accepting my first contract in October 2015. The business plan keeps me on track. Everyone I’ve met along the way have also been instrumental including Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, the Philadelphia Commerce Department, Beech Community Services, and North Broad Renaissance. My parents and my grandmother always encouraged me, and helped cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset within me.
Note: The Department of Commerce’s Office of Economic Opportunity can support your business in registering as a minority, women, or disabled-owned enterprise (M/W/DSBE) to provide your business with opportunities. Once certified and registered, M/W/DSBEs receive preference in the City contracting process. They can be reached by calling 215-683-2057 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to open a small business?
TWB: Don’t rush the process and enjoy the journey. Take your time to take care. My grades were not as high in high school, but that’s because I did not know my learning style. I dedicated my studies in college to finding my learning style so that I could persevere. Find areas where growth is needed and focus on them. Everything will not happen instantly. It takes commitment, sacrifice, and determination. Even if you take half a step every day, keep going.
Note: The Department of Commerce’s Office of Business Services can help businesses navigate city services, understand business regulations, as well as assist entrepreneurs through the process of opening, operating, and growing a business in Philadelphia. They can be reached by calling the City’s business services hotline at 215-683-2100 or by emailing email@example.com.
How has PHL TCB affected your bottom line?
TWB: The PHL TCB Program increased my revenue and facilitated my capacity to grow exponentially by helping me purchase equipment and trucks.
How has your business been impacted by your new partnerships with the local groups that are part of PHL TCB?
TWB: I love my partners, they help me out so much. Enon Coulter Community Development Corporation offers services to my employees and even gives out food. Ron Hinton from Allegheny West Foundation is helpful by lending us a space in the recreation center with Wi-Fi to take the PHL TCB Workforce trainings. Ron has a wealth of knowledge. Enon Coulter CDC loaned us six computers and so did the Philadelphia Commerce Department. I am grateful for all my partnerships.
Since PHL TCB began, how would you describe the difference in the corridors that you clean?
TWB: The corridors are so much cleaner through all the ongoing challenges. Many business owners and residents respect what we are doing, support and join in our efforts.
This past year has been difficult for everyone. How do you stay inspired?
TWB: My mother always said “You either bend with the breeze or break,” which motivates me to do my best every day. My family, faith, and TWB team keep me going. We believe in each other. I am grateful for our supervisors throughout the city, who are pivotal in the growth of TWB. My administrative assistants have also been wonderful. If I give up, I am failing them too. I keep doing what I do because it’s not just about me. It’s about us.