Decades of Experience has Created Unique Level of Expertise
Sunshine’s North Area Manager Bob Popenhagen lets out a brief laugh when he recalls taking new team members to the nearly 80,000-seat Doak Campbell stadium on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. The company has been cleaning the nation’s largest continuous brick structure every July for the past 14 years.
“I tell them to look out at the stadium and know that in 30 days the entire stadium, inside and out, will be clean,” he said, adding that Sunshine pressure cleans the university’s baseball stadium also. “Their jaws just drop in disbelief. I try to help my team members focus on smaller parts, however, instead of getting overwhelmed.”
Bob and his team have been cleaning hospitals in North Florida for more than 15 years. He says they are among the toughest jobs, and, especially these days, safety is paramount. “Whatever kind of injury or sickness a patient experiences, someone has to clean it up,” he explained, “protecting our team members is critical, even when we’re just cleaning outside areas and entrances.”
Sometimes he says when faced with tackling a challenging job, he at first wants to find the architects and ask them what they were thinking. For example, the iconic semi-circle, stair-stepped features on the Orlando Convention Center require careful planning. “I climbed up on that roof myself,” he recalled, “and I’m afraid of heights, but wanted to make sure the job was completed safely and properly.”
Artists also rarely consider the long-term maintenance of their creations. Bob points to the massive mama sea turtle and her 1,000 hatchlings dangling from the ceiling at the Tampa International Airport, a Sunshine client for more than 25 years. The turtle display is an art piece created by Ralph Helmick. The exposure to humidity and air causes the tiny wires to get dusty and sticky, according to Bob.
“The job requires an intense focus on care and safety,” he said. “We use a lot of microfiber cloths.”
Other challenging assignments across the years have included using a 120-foot lift to clean the Osceola County clock tower, eight-story parking garages and the box factory, where pipes and beams above the floors are covered in cardboard dust and spiders.
Many of Bob’s stories elicit gasps from listeners, yet to him it’s just another day on the job and a tough task he’s been happy to tackle on behalf of Sunshine Cleaning Systems for the past two
decades. Best of all, the decades of practice have led to perfection and the confidence to tackle any cleaning challenge.