Martin Janitorial Service Corporation

by Terry Watson | August 6th, 2011
Wanda and Louis Martin

Wanda and Louis Martin (Photos by Howard Gaither)

It all began in 1953 when Nathaniel Cogdell started his own business. He owned and operated a small restaurant and diner in Newton Grove, N.C. He served breakfast, lunch and dinner to many truck drivers and travelers who stopped by for home cooked meals. In addition to managing the restaurant, Cogdell also was a farmer, owning nearly 70 acres of farmland that produced vegetables, tobacco, cotton and hogs. He believed in hard work and supporting his family. Not only was Cogdell a successful businessman, he was very active in his community. He was the first African American to be appointed as member of the Johnston County grand jury. His goal was to leave a legacy to pass along to his children and grandchildren.

Next to carry the torch of self-employment was Cogdell daughter, Wanda. Along with her husband Louis Martin they have owned and operated Martin Janitorial Service Corporation for the past 36 years in Greensboro. Working out of their home with one contract and only a few cleaning supplies, Louis determination and dream was to own his very own business. This dream has materialized with the support and encouragement that Wanda provided.

A family owned commercial cleaning business, they serve Greensboro, Liberty, High Point, Burlington and Raleigh. They provide full service building maintenance with skill professionalism and pride. Some of the services offered are General Janitorial Cleaning, Window Washing, Carpet Cleaning and Maintenance, Restroom Santizing, and Recycling. Some of the facilities they serve are Retail Stores, Funeral Homes, Car Dealerships, Hair Salons and Barbershops, Post Offices, Banks and places of worship.

MJSC strongly believes in cleaning to protect health without harming the environment. They realize that while every client is unique, they all have one thing in common. “Each client wants and appreciates a service that specializes in the handling of their particular needs and provides a organized, well trained workforce capable of performing the clients request,” Wanda says. They also strive to maintain high performance and healthy buildings by utilizing a combination of proper practices and environmentally preferred products. Their client base varies from small to large and single to multi-tenant commercial properties.

Wanda Martin attended North Carolina A&T State University. She later received a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a retired Registered Nurse and Program Administrator with experience supervising over 80 employees. Her knowledge of the cleaning industry and attentive ear to customer service reflects well upon her versatility and commitment to satisfy customers. Her role at MJSC allows her to administer employee safety programs and manage all human resource issues that may arise.

Louis Martin joined the Greensboro Fire Department in 1975 and later attended Guilford Technical Community College and earned a associate degree in Fire Science. Based on the work ethic instilled in him by his father, his commitment to Greensboro’s Fire Department was reflected in his many accomplishments as a firefighter, as he was eventually promoted to Captain. He concluded his accomplished career and retired from the fire department in 2006. Throughout his life, he has worked tirelessly to encourage and reach back to assist other small minority business owners. He has shared his office space and generously shares words of wisdom from his own personal experiences and growth as an entrepreneur. “If I can help someone also the way then my accomplishments in life will mean more than just words,” is his motto.

The eldest of five children born to Lewis and Florence Martin, his dream was not to succeed for himself, but to have something to pass along to his sons. He has accomplished many things by being committed to making and achieving goals, being tactful, zealous, dedicated and prayerful. He often speaks of his dads dream of owning a new truck, a dream never realized due to his fathers death as a young man. In 1996, Louis purchased and renovated the current headquarters for MJSC located at 320 E. Sycamore Street. In 36 years, under his leadership the business has grown from just one employee to one full time and 45 partime associates.

Louis and Wanda have faced many challenges in business. Both have worked fulltime jobs while managing a business, and say there have been many sleepless nights to ensure that their customer needs are met. One of the biggest challenges are bidding for contracts in such a competitive market. Marketing your business with limited dollars can be difficult, but is very significant to maintain and acquire new business. “Money was tight at first with all of the overhead expenses of a small business,” they say. Stretching a dollar was a lesson taught to Louis by his father and father-in-law.

The Martins says hope to inspire other young adults to dream big and work hard. In addition to leaving a legacy for their children, they aim to give back to the community in some fashion. They also hope to be the best small business possible and to enjoy the benefits of their hard work. By proving others with employment, they take pride in knowing that are helping others make ends meet during these tough economic times.

Recently they hired a young man that had spent time in prison. He had never received a paycheck in his life but had received job training. Wanda says she felt that he needed a second chance and MJSC was able to give it to him.
Their children Louis Demar and David Durand have also followed in their parents footsteps and decided to be self employed also. In a partnership with Kim Johnson, they own and operate the Snack Bar, a full service upscale restaurant and bar in downtown Greensboro. Their vision is to be one of Greensboro’s finest places to eat. Their mission is to provide every meal as a memorable culinary experience.

The Snack Bar opened on April 12th, 2011. Loius Demar had a vision that one day he would also own a business. Watching his dad walking under the legacy of his grandfather Nathaniel Cogdell, it was natural for him to one day operated his very own business. After realizing this, he planned and made contacts to make his dream come true.

The Snack Bar opens early for breakfast. All day long the menu offeres gourmet pancakes, Belgium Waffles, Omelets, Muffins, and Stuffed Crossiants. Lunch and dinner includes wings, catfish nuggets, chicken and waffles, chicken salad, Fish Po Boy, and Texas Rueben. Their signature special is the Potato Swirl, two large potatos sliced as a spiral on a stick, dusted with signature flavors and deep fried. The Snack bar opens early and closes late at night. They are open 24 hours a day Friday and Saturday.
Louis Demar Martin, the youngest son of Louis and Wanda, graduated from Southeast High School in Greensboro. He attended East Carolina University and worked parttime for his father at MJSC.

David Durand Martin is the eldest son of Louis and Wanda. He graduated from Southeast High School and attended North Carolina State University and also worked parttime for his father at MJSC.

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