By Adia Walker / Published December 2013
Like many other individuals in the pressure washing community, Gary Don Holley, CEO of Cross Cleaning Solutions, attended the 2013 annual trade show held by the Cleaning Equipment Trade Association (CETA) to demonstrate his support for the industry and make new business connections. “We are currently looking to make new business relationships with equipment dealers and distributors,” says Holley. “This year, we attended our first CETA show and are just starting to move toward our goal of becoming a global distributor.”
What started out as a small, mobile contract company has developed into a diverse enterprise that now manufactures virtually every piece of pressure washing equipment it uses. “The only things we don’t make are the coils,” says Holley. “Everything else we manufacture in house. We stand behind what we make and sell, which are some of the best parts and equipment in the industry.” As founder of Cross Cleaning Solutions, Holley has an interesting story to tell about how his personal convictions have helped to shape his life, business, and the pressure washing industry.
Holley attributes the success he has experienced in both personal life and business to his adherence to a philosophy found in the Bible. “Proverbs chapter three verses five and six says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will direct your paths’,” quotes Holley. “This is the best philosophy. This company belongs to Jesus, and we are just called upon to be stewards of it,” he says. “It just works better that way. He is the owner, and He guides us through the storms—and we’ve had many storms.”
Though the business is currently successful, this wasn’t always the case. Holley recalls how the business failed not once, but twice before it became fruitful; he distinctly remembers its turning point. “After I gave my life to Jesus, it really took off,” he says. “I would like to give all the glory to God; I don’t want to take anything away from what is His.”
Holley’s humble attitude toward his success reflects the modest beginnings of his business. It all started when Holley’s father gave him a small pressure washer as a graduation gift in 1987. “It was a really old machine,” says Holley. “I stuck it on a trailer and rode around washing houses, driveways, car lots, machinery, and stuff like that.” For over a decade, pressure cleaning was a side job for Holley, who worked full time in supervisory positions with various companies. “The pressure cleaning gig was hit or miss,” he says. “It wasn’t consistent.” In 1999, after Holley started going to church, his business began to see steady growth.
“At the time, I was working as a supervisor for Trinity Industries and also doing my side job,” says Holley. “I was working 19 to 20 hours a day; I was so busy I knew I couldn’t continue to do both. So I prayed to Jesus for a sign to tell me what I should do.” When his wife came to him and told him he should quit his full-time job, Holley knew this was the sign he had asked for.
Holley cashed in his 401k account and used what remained after deductions to buy a mobile wash rig and never looked back. This was the beginning of Cross Cleaning Solutions. “It was a total step of faith,” he says. The years that Holley spent as a mobile contract cleaner helped to shape his business into the multi faceted company it is today. “Even today, we still sell more mobile wash rigs and skids than anything else,” he says.
Though Holley first focused on using his mobile wash rig to bring power cleaning services to his clients, it wasn’t long until he began branching out. “I really took an interest in chemicals,” Holley remembers. Using the rig as a laboratory, he and Jimmy Dees began to manufacture the chemical cleaning solutions needed on the job. Today, Cross Cleaning Solutions experiences success in equipment distributing, chemical manufacturing, trailer-mounted machine rigging, pressure washer manufacturing, trailer manufacturing, and more. “We do it all,” says Holley.
Behind the many services and products offered by Cross Cleaning Solutions stands a staff that Holley declares is “second to none.” “I really have to give recognition to all the staff,” he says. “From the ground up, from the washing crews to the service department, to the management, they are a wonderful blessing. I just can’t say enough about our staff. The Lord always sends the right person for the job.”
Holley names a few long-term staff members who have proven to be key players over the years. Jimmy Dees, the Plant Manager, takes on the vital task of overseeing the manufacturing of equipment. His wife, Tammy Dees, is the Office Manager who “is the glue that holds it all together,” says Holley. “Melinda Mauldin, who works in the home office showroom, also helps to keep everything in line.” Gayle Beams, the Parts Manager, is not only an important employee, but also a personal mentor for Holley. “He is a real inspiration in my life,” declares Holley. “He is so humble; really they all are,” he says of his staff.
As the CEO, Holley says he doesn’t ask his staff to do anything that he won’t do himself. “I still get out and do some washing and servicing,” he says. “I’m glad to do whatever is needed on any given day. The biggest thing I do though is interacting with our customer base. I like to check with them on a weekly basis and make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing for them.”
Though many of the company’s services cater to clients in the oil and mining industries, Cross Cleaning Solutions provides services for both residential and commercial customers alike. “What’s unique about us is that we treat everyone the same,” says Holley. “Whether they are buying five gallons or 2500 gallons of chemicals, we charge everybody the same price.”
The company’s location in East Texas makes the oil and gas industries an obvious customer base, but even so, Holley is quick to point out the wide range of equipment and services offered. “What’s good about being diversified is that if one area is slow, another area will pick up the slack,” he says. “We’ve got a design for every application.”
The years Holley spent in the mobile wash rig played a key role in shaping the design process for the manufacturing aspect of his company. “Mobile washing really helped us to develop equipment that caters to the needs of the end user,” Holley explains. “Our technicians had a big role in design too.” Simplicity is a key element, Holley explains. “We want to make it easy to use and easy to service,” he says. “For example, we make it easy to get the belt guard off. We also make all our tanks with stainless steel so you don’t have to worry about plastic parts.” When Holley and his sales team are showing a product to a customer, they take their time to go over every carefully planned detail of the equipment. “We are not selling just to sell,” says Holley. “We are trying to provide people and businesses with equipment that can be useful and helpful that their companies may succeed.”
Cross Cleaning Solutions has developed a full line of equipment, and each product is given a name that clearly represents the beliefs that guide the business: Redemption, Rapture, Glory, and Resurrection are just a few. In addition, the Bible verse John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” is placed on every machine that is sold. “Whether they leave it there or not, at least they’ve been witnessed to in that moment,” Holley says. “We just want to give God all the glory, and this is one way of doing it.”
The company now has three facilities in Kilgore, TX, as well as branches in Fairfield and Gladewater. No matter which branch employees report to, they can be sure that prayer will be a part of their day. “We don’t require someone to be a Christian to work here, and we don’t force our employees to pray,” says Holley. “They do it because they want to. We’re not only a place of business but a ministry.”
Prayer happens on a corporate level at Cross Cleaning Solutions: new employees are “prayed in” to their positions within the company, and staff members pray for customers and competitors alike. “Sometimes our customers will call us and ask us to pray for a friend or a family member,” Holley says. “I think that’s really neat that we have that kind of relationship with our customers.” This type of rapport is exactly what Cross Cleaning Solutions strives for; in fact, the company’s mission is to “bring glory to God, and make the most of the opportunities granted to share the love of Jesus Christ with you, our customer and friend.”
Staff members even send prayers to what others may think is an unusual target: their competitors. “In the last five to ten years, the industry has been saturated with competitors,” notes Holley. “I think this is a beautiful thing. There is plenty of work for everybody.” Holley believes that competitors can be great colleagues and his recent trip to the CETA convention affirmed this idea. “We don’t ever want to get in the habit of down talking our competitors; instead we like to wave at them when we pass them on the road,” he says. “This shows a lot about who we are.”
Anyone who takes the time to learn more about who Holley is will learn that he is dedicated both to his job as CEO of Cross Cleaning Solutions, and also to his job as a street minister. “I minister to gangs, prostitutes, and others in the streets,” Holley says. “They’ve been told for so long that they have no value, but Jesus loves them just as much as He loves us. As a street minister, it’s my job to share the gospel with them. It’s what I love to do.”
Another priority in Holley’s life is his family. “My wife Leanne has been incredible through this whole business venture and everything else. We’ve learned a lot together and she has been just amazing,” Holley says. The couple has been married for 21 years and they have two children. Their 14 year old daughter, Graceon is involved in volleyball and cheerleading. Logan Don, their 18-year-old son, currently works for Cross Clean-ing Solutions and is being trained to one day take over the business.
Looking toward the future of his company, Holley knows that they will continue to sell and service equipment, but believes that manufacturing will begin to play a bigger role. “We are currently welcoming dealers and distributors to partner with us,” says Holley. “I know they won’t be disappointed with our equipment.” As the company’s reputation continues to grow, new clients and business partners alike can count on Cross Cleaning Solutions to provide high quality equipment, friendly service, and lots of prayers.