WATERVILLE — With a bachelor’s degree in zoology, Waterville native TJ Bolduc said some simple things got him where he is today — the owner of a successful cleaning operation, Advance 1 Cleaning, and this year’s Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year.

“It took hard work. I consider myself a hard worker,” he said. “I do like things clean and orderly, and that has helped my business immensely.

“And it does give us an advantage that the employees that come here like to clean and enjoy that type of work.”

After graduating from the University of Maine, Bolduc embarked on a trip to California with a friend, but only made it as far as Colorado, where he began working at a ski resort. There he started out at the bottom of the hospitality ladder and eventually worked his way up to becoming manager of the resort’s 250 luxury condominiums. He noticed he was contracting out for a lot of cleaning services, and with that his entrepreneurial spirit was fueled.

“I decided I wanted to work on my own and own my own business, so I moved back to my home here in Waterville. I got into carpet cleaning because it was something I could do on my own,” Bolduc said.

In 1987, just after the Kennebec River flooded, causing damage to more than 2,000 homes in the region, Bolduc established Advance 1 Cleaning on Water Street in Waterville.

Ever since then, the company, which now employs 65 people, has been helping area residents bring order back into their homes and businesses after disaster.

“When times are tough, their disaster restoration department goes above and beyond their scope of duty,” said Christian Savage, of the mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. “They service tons of chamber businesses in the area and have always had a great reputation of being really friendly and really professional.”

Advance 1 Cleaning has two divisions that each provide specialized cleaning services. The company’s carpet cleaning and disaster restoration division services homes and businesses in cleaning up after a flood or fire. They also have a commercial cleaning division which services 65 area commercial spaces ranging from small offices to car dealerships.

With the carpet cleaning and disaster restoration, Bolduc said he and the cleaning crews have seen it all. Whether it’s mold, water damage or fire damage, Bolduc said, the mission is to put the people’s lives who were affected back in order as quickly as they can.

“When you walk into a disaster and you put people’s life back together, they are so grateful,” Bolduc said. “We feel we are providing a very welcomed service after a disaster happens.”

In the beginning, Bolduc said, he did it all, working the day shift doing carpet cleaning jobs and also the night shift to service their commercial cleaning accounts. His wife, Donna, also helped Bolduc with the night cleaning, working up until she was nine months pregnant with their first child.

“Long days,” Bolduc said. “It was a lot of hard work in the beginning.”

To learn more about the trade and make sure he was giving the best service possible to his clients, Bolduc visited carpet mills to have a better understanding of how carpet was made. He also took several training courses on how to remedy water and mold damage.

While the company’s growth has allowed for Bolduc to step back from the cleaning side of the company, he is still very hands on in the operations.

“I’m not on the truck like I used to be, but we have a meeting everyday before we go out to the jobs,” Bolduc said. “We’re getting constant communication about what’s going on, what happened today, where are we going.”

Bolduc, who called himself a slight control freak, said it was difficult passing over the responsibility of walking into people’s homes to those working for him, but said he has been blessed with great employees.

“You learn that there are a lot of good people out there and there are trustworthy people, and I’m blessed to have the (employees) that I have,” Bolduc said. “I may be called businessman of the year, but it’s almost a misnomer because it’s my people that work with me that have created the success.”

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate

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