- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2007

Self-described “lifetime entrepreneur” Daniel Simon has come a long way from his third-grade business of selling pencils and erasers to his elementary school classmates.

Almost two decades later, Mr. Simon is the founder and president of Apartment Keepers, a housekeeping company that cleans only apartments and condominiums.

Apartment Keepers sells its services directly to consumers or through property managers and building owners who advertise the services to their residents. The Georgetown company cleans more than 1,000 residences in more than 150 buildings in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. It has about 10 direct partnerships with building-management companies.

In March, Apartment Keepers announced its biggest partnership to date, with D.C. residential property management company Archstone Smith. Through the deal, Apartment Keepers‘ services will be offered in more than 50 Washington-area Archstone Smith properties.

The partnership, however, does not guarantee that every resident will purchase Apartment Keepers‘ services. Rather, the residences’ employees are trained to recommend Apartment Keepers to residents.

While Apartment Keepers is the only area business devoted exclusively to apartments and condominiums, there are dozens of maid services available in the Washington area.

Mr. Simon said he hopes to help Apartment Keepers stand out from the pack.

The company aims to appeal to young professionals by allowing them to sign up for service entirely by Internet, he said.

Apartment Keepers also is working to expand, developing a laundry service among other new offerings.

“We are bringing a whole array of hospitality services that property management can offer directly to residents,” Mr. Simon said.

He founded the company in spring 2005, shortly after he moved to the Washington area after completing a graduate degree at Tulane University in New Orleans. Mr. Simon said the idea came from living in an expensive apartment building where he noticed hospitality services — such as housekeeping — were lacking.

“These days residents have expectations much like that of the hotel,” he said. “They don’t want to spend the extra time keeping their apartment clean.”

The housekeepers clean the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms and do such tasks as scrubbing, dusting, vacuuming and changing linens. Once-a-month visits cost between $70 and $80; biweekly visits range between $100 and $120 for the month; and weekly visits cost between $190 and $220 for the month.

What started as a three-person business now employs more than 50 workers and has become profitable within the last year, Mr. Simon said.

Mr. Simon’s great motivation has helped the company flourish, said business partner Rudy Covarruvias, who handles the company’s operational side.

“Planning for the future has so much potential that it’s exciting,” Mr. Covarruvias said.

Mr. Simon said he enjoys the freedom that starting a new business has brought, but he also said it presents challenges, such as keeping his large staff of employees happy.

“Challenges keep me waking up in the morning,” he said.

— Melanie Hicken

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