When Sandra Potter founded The Cleaning Leaders thirteen years ago, she wasn’t just thinking about her family. She was thinking about the young single mothers she met while working as a registered nurse who did not have the skills or education needed for upward mobility. It was during those formative years that she felt a calling to leave healthcare and pursue a career as an entrepreneur.
“As a Mexican immigrant, I knew it was hard to make it as a Latina in this country. Very hard. After interacting with these women, I said to myself, ‘As soon as I’m able to start my own business, I want to help women put food on their children’s table. If it’s within my power to help people, then that is what I’ll do’.”
Founded in Dayton, OH in 2009, The Cleaning Leaders got its start offering landscaping services but quickly expanded to include construction, painting, and cleaning. It is in the latter that the company found its groove and relocated to Nashville a year later. The company now offers skilled labor, selective demolition, final cleaning, pressure washing, and janitorial services.
But as Sandra began to get a foothold in the industry, she still struggled to procure higher bids. That’s when she started attending workshops and classes at the Nashville Business Incubation Center, where she cultivated her business knowledge and confidence.
“NBIC provides you with a solid foundation. Through them, I was able to gain a better understanding of the importance of business education in solidifying partnerships. They show you what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and how you can fix it.”
As Sandra invested in herself, she also took what she was learning to invest in the company. One of the most significant steps she took was pursuing certification as a minority, woman-owned business. Achieving this milestone made her eligible to compete for commercial cleaning contracts amid Nashville’s building boom.
To date, The Cleaning Leaders has completed over sixty projects, working with some of Nashville’s most prominent contractors on some of the city’s most visible projects. Such as the new Terminal Garage at the Nashville International Airport, Tennessee State Museum, Bridgestone Tower, Ascend Amphitheatre, JW Marriott, Nashville 505, and the Metro Health Department. The company was recently recognized as the eighth largest minority-owned business in Nashville by the Nashville Business Journal.
Going forward, Sandra plans to extend her services beyond commercial cleaning and leaning more into the construction industry. Recently securing her contractor’s license, Sandra is currently working with a handful of architects and civil engineers to venture into highway construction.
Most importantly, because of her success, Sandra has been able to live out her dream of uplifting Hispanic women in her community. Over ninety percent of her workforce today are women, many of whom are single mothers.
“Latina women make up a huge percentage of the American construction industry. My ultimate goal has remained the same – to empower women to be economically self-sufficient. Many of them are doing electrical work, finishing sheetrock, painting, etc. We are a very powerful force in this community and we aren’t slowing down. We will continue to make a difference.”