It wasn’t long ago that Jordan Harris was a college kid trying to decide what he wanted to do when he grew up. This year, he was chosen by the US. Small Business Administration as the 2023 Small Business of the Year for the state of Kansas.
The whirlwind in between has been “quite a ride,” he said.
“I went first to Butler County Community College for two years and then to [Wichita State],” he said. “I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. I had just been signing up for classes I enjoyed. Then somewhere in my junior year, I asked my advisor if I was close to a degree in something.”He looked everything over and told me that I only needed a few more credits to have a degree in business administration, so I signed up for what I needed and graduated in business. I still didn’t know what I was going to do.”
He saw an ad for a position as a “site manager” with a Spirit Aerosystems contractor and applied for it.
He soon discovered that the contractor managed janitorial services and he was in the business of cleaning factory buildings.
But the job ended when he was laid off in 2013 and he was left scrambling to find work. He said he tried a couple of other jobs, but nothing was a fit. Then, In March 2015, he and his wife, Marissa, found themselves both unemployed.
“At that time, what I knew was cleaning buildings, so I took $45 from an unemployment check and I went to Walmart and bought a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner and started knocking on doors, and Harris Dream Clean Inc. was born,” he said.
Rapid Growth Curve
Harris said his big break came when Sedgwick County hired his company to clean the courthouse. “Now, we manage the daily janitorial services for the courthouse and we also have a federal contract to maintain the U.S. Federal Courthouse. We do the landscaping, trash hauling, snow and ice removal and pest control on that contract,” he said.
Three years into the enterprise, his older brother, Lance, joined the company as a 50-50 partner. He handles the day-to-day supervision of the company’s 65 to 70 employees, freeing Jordan to pursue growth of the business.
Lance Harris, a former Shocker basketball player, provided an opening for Harris Dream Clean to secure the contract to clean Koch Arena.
“The direction we are going is toward federal contracts,” he said. “That’s where I see the growth.”
More Family Branching Out
Jordan isn’t the only entrepreneur in the family. His wife, Marissa, has been by his side the whole way.
“In the early days, we were very much in there pushing the vacuum, cleaning and scrubbing the sinks and bathrooms,” he said. “She was even there every day, heavily pregnant and still going.”
However, Marissa’s heart is in early childhood education, so as Harris Dream Clean prospered there was an opportunity for the couple to team up with Marissa’s mother, Jennifer Quillin, to open Angel Wings, a daycare and preschool for children ages two weeks to four years.
They now operate Angel Wings in three locations. They serve about 60 children in a church building near Harry and Fabrique in southeast Wichita, another 145 children at a much larger building at Kellogg and Greenwich Road, and about 30 children at a location in Wellington.
Giving Back, Helping Others
As his business has flourished, Jordan said he takes joy in being able to lend a hand to others in need of work or in need of help with getting a business going.
“I think there’s too much selfishness in the business world,” he said. “I remember the despair of being unemployed with no money and no idea how I was going to take care of my wife and family,” he said. “I think it’s incumbent for people to give back. So when I can lend a hand to help, I’m going to do it.
“There’s one thing I know for sure and that is God did not bless me with all the success I’ve had so I can hoard up a bunch of money and buy a bunch of stuff. I have my dream car, I’ve been able to provide my wife with her dream house and it felt good to buy those. It feels good to have them. But nothing feels as good as it feels to help someone else get on the road to realizing their dreams.”
Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Harris will join state winners from the other 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico on April 30 and May 1 for recognition during the National Small Business Week awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
At that event, one of the state or territory winners will be announced as the 2023 National Small Business Person of the Year.
Harris said he is excited about the trip.
“I’ve never been to Washington, D.C.,” he said. “I’m excited about seeing the Capitol.”