FACETIME- Clean living: Trice makes homes nice

As a Marine, Scott Trice was one of the few, the proud... the clean. "We were required to do inspection," he says, "and part of our inspection was janitorial service."

Eighteen years after his honorable discharge, Trice, now 40, says his military training helps him run his company, 815 Inc., which he started in 2001 with wife, Thea Nicole Trice.

"One needs to have that discipline," he says. "It all boils down to that military training."

It may also boil down to entrepreneurial spirit, which Trice, a 1984 grad of Albemarle High School, showed early.

"As a little kid I started out fixing bikes for 50 cents," he recalls. "It wasn't much, but it was a start." 

That enterprising spirit never left him. During 16 years working for Centel (which changed names many times before its current incarnation as mobile phone company Alltel and local provider Embarq), Trice found an independent way to earn extra money at work: starting an exercise program for company employees.

And today, he says, he's always looking for ways to diversify his business. In addition to standard commercial and residential cleaning services and distribution of janitorial and medical supplies, the company is offering a new service, "Home Assistant," designed to help people with errands, shopping, and the other minutiae of running a household.

Trice says he decided to launch the extra service after scanning the yellow pages and finding nothing similar. "We saw a niche we could fill," he says. Conversations with his current housecleaning clients– many of whom are working parents– also suggested there would be demand, he says. Returning videos, picking up or dropping off dry cleaning, and picking up groceries are all services offered, as are washing and folding laundry and even preparing basic meals. 

Event planning is also on the list. "We can get balloons, flowers, clowns," he says, "or set up a nice dinner for two."

The latter service, he says, is popular among husbands. "We guys need some help in the romantic area," he jokes.

Five years after its launch with a staff of three, 815 has expanded to 15 employees– including Trice's older sister, Linda Jackson– who acts as his general manager– and several cousins and nieces.

While some families might be at each other's throats, Trice says working with his family is no problem, even when there are disagreements.

"We all know it's not personal," he says. "It's all about business when it comes to our clients." 

And, he insists, being a local family-run business offers customers advantages over the larger franchise cleaning operations in town.

"I'm visiting the clients, checking in behind my employees to ensure that the job gets done right," he explains. And while he admits "We're not the cheapest guy on the block," Trice says the company makes up for it with a high quality of service.

"The thing that stands out is our personal touch and that we're here in Charlottesville," he says.

Customers are taking notice.

"How many cleaners actually give you a hug when they come to your house?" laughs 815 client David Sequeira, who commutes to work in Richmond and decided to outsource his cleaning last year.

"They know their customers, they care about their customers, and it's a pleasure to give them my business," he adds. "I don't know any other contractor I've ever said that about."

Scott Trice