Donna Allie of Team Clean is Philly's top businesswoman
The 2022 Paradigm Award will honor Allie’s nearly 40 years as an entrepreneur.
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Donna L. Allie, founder and president of Team Clean, Inc. will be the newest recipient of the Paradigm Award, the most prestigious award for businesswomen in the Greater Philadelphia region.
Throughout her nearly 40 years as an entrepreneur, Allie has developed a reputation as one of the region’s premier female business leaders.
However, getting into the cleaning business is not what Allie meant to do. She originally went to Wilberforce University for sociology and vocational rehabilitation. She planned to attend graduate school for engineering so she could learn to make prosthetics. Her plans changed when she ended up having her daughter soon after graduating and had to move back to her hometown of Bryn Mawr, PA.
Allie was on public assistance when she started cleaning houses for the rich people in the area. One of her first clients taught her an important lesson in worth. After working all day, Allie was asked how much she was owed. When she couldn’t answer, her client gave her only $10. This made Allie angry, but the lesson was learned. The next time she cleaned this client’s house, she was asked the same question. This time she said that she was owed $50 and the woman gave her this amount.
As word spread about her skills and friendly demeanor, she began to bring on more women to help with the demand, and Team Clean — her Philadelphia-based janitorial services company — was born.
She received her first commercial contract in 1985, two years after she started her business, with the Upper Main Line YMCA. She got her second big break in the 90s. A businessman from Baltimore had gotten a contract with Philadelphia to clean the now-demolished Veterans Stadium. Due to rules put in place by the city, he needed to have a diverse subcontractor. He called Allie to see if she wanted the job. She said yes, even when he said she would need a team of 200 people. At the time, she only had eight.
Nonetheless, she was able to put a large enough team together by the contract’s start date and stayed on until the stadium came down in 2004.
Since launching in the 80s, her business has grown from a one-woman show to an employer of over 700.
Over the past 40+ years, she has grown the company to a highly reputable, multi-million-dollar Philadelphia institution that has cleaned for a vast number of locations including the National Constitution Center, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the Kimmel Center, and the home of the Philadelphia Phillies: Citizens Bank Park.
Allie had worried about how Team Clean would fare when everything shut down in 2020 and they lost business. However, she soon found that her employees’ training in infectious disease and biohazard cleaning, as well as their sanitation equipment, made them very popular during the pandemic. Her business’ ability to weather the pandemic is also due to the PPE loan that they received, which helped her retain more of her employees.
The Paradigm Award is not the first award that Allie and Team Clean have received. She has also gotten the Harriet Tubman Trailblazers Award, the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Women of Distinction Award, and the City of Philadelphia’s Supply, Service, and Equipment Award, just to name a few.
The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia has handed out the Paradigm Award annually since 1992. The award ceremony will take place on March 17, 2022, at the Bellevue Hotel Grand Ballroom. In addition to receiving the award at this ceremony, Allie will also be giving out $10,000 in charitable gifts.