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Everyone loves a rags-to-riches story.
Sadly, all of these stories start with rags and some never achieve the riches.
This one starts with a man approaching 40, two daughters about to start high school, and no way to support them or himself.
A recent post on social media platforms from Mark Baker tells how this story played on in his life and how he went about trying to overcome the challenges he faced.
“I had made so many bad mistakes and bad decisions, I was a grown-ass man, a 40-year-old, who wound up on welfare at one point in my life living in a 30-year-old fifth-wheel trailer with nothing, but my flea-ridden cat (Minew),’’ he said.
“I was humiliated, embarrassed and ashamed. I could not provide for myself let alone my teenage daughters (Morgan and Taylor).”
Set to turn 46 in March, Baker had seen his C.B.S. Minor Basketball venture fail and that demise placed him back at Square 1. He had suffered through the days of collecting a welfare cheque five years earlier and now he needed to circle the wagons yet again and see what and where life was going to take him.
Deep down he felt he was meant to succeed and vowed to never give up no matter how many times he had failed, and find a way to succeed in life, to provide for his daughters and get himself to the place he thought he should be as he approached the middle stages of his adult life.
That constituted taking a hard look in the mirror, figuring out what went wrong, and how he could fix it.
This task sounds easy, but soul-searching is tough on everyone who has ever done it.
Then something happened that changed it all for Baker.
He did that self-evaluation, looked at his values, his behaviours and the choices he had made in his 40 years and after making a list of all those things, took responsibility for his mis-steps and set out a path to try to make amends and changes that would help propel him down that path.
“I would have to learn from my mistakes, forgive myself for them and get to work,’’ he said.
It was not an easy path initially as he took a job at minimum wage washing dogs at a local pet store, talked his way onto a drill rig floor (a place he readily admits he never should have been) and made several additional bad decisions in the interim that set him back again.
For example, he said he made a bad decision to operate a motor vehicle without the proper paperwork. The consequences came from the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, he said, and he had to pay thousands of dollars in fines. Doing so while trying to climb out of poverty was difficult.
But somehow he did it.
He decided he would become a cleaner and set out with a borrowed mop to his first client. He laid out a plan for a cleaning business and bummed rides to potential clients to give them quotes on their homes and offices.
This plan has allowed him to start his own successful cleaning business — Motivated Maids Inc. — that today has more than 345 regular, recurring customers, employs 35 certified professional maids and has three office staff helping him to run the operation, including area manager Colleen Roberts, assistant area manager Aleah Miller and office administrator Monique Hedderson. There are also more than 150 additional clients who use Motivated Maids on a part-time basis, taking his client base to more than 500.
Company takes shape
Started in St. John’s in 2016, the company’s certified maids, combined with the sales revenue and number of customers serviced, make it a large player in the province.
Baker said that by the end of 2018, Motivated Maids Inc. is projected to be the largest operation of its kind in Eastern Canada and will have locations in five provinces by the end of 2019.
“Our company is proud that 98 per cent of the time the customers we have rate their cleaning quality either nine out of 10 or a perfect 10, which is the absolute best clean quality rating in the country,’’ he said.
Baker said Motivated Maids Inc.’s goal is to be Canada’s most recognized and successful residential cleaning brand through quality and customer service.
He is opening additional locations — in Halifax and Ottawa — in the early part of 2019.
His run of good luck and hard work have paid off — and even boiled over into his personal life.
As he was starting and expanding the business, trying to play some recreational basketball, raise his twin daughters and get them poised for a better life — and live his own life — he met someone who not only gave him inspiration and support, but also became his fiancée, a relationship that produced a baby girl who is now 15 months old.
“When I started this thing three years ago, I couldn’t reach in my pocket and give my twins a dollar,’’ he said, tears welling up in his eyes. “That hurt. They are beautiful young women who deserved a lot more than what I was giving them. I don’t ever want to forget that feeling. If I do, I’m lost.’’
Today, he has his fiancée and a 15-month-old who wants for nothing. He now can help his twins with money for their university education and he owns a residential cleaning company that’s expanding in Eastern Canada.
While he is not rolling in millions of dollars, he has a company with a net worth north of $1 million … and growing.
And while that may seem like a lot, Baker keeps things in perspective and is living his life accordingly and within a means that helps him not over-extend himself.
He drives a used vehicle, new to him, but not a fancy sports car. He rents his home instead of buying one for now and, when not at home with his family, devotes his waking hours to Motivated Maids.
“I have co-workers who are friends and the love and respect of my family,’’ he said.
“What more can I ask for? We have an outstanding St. John's office to rival any maid company office in the country already, and we recently took possession of the new Motivated Maids Inc. home office location that will support our local pods as we aim for $100 million in sales for the end of 2021 and 50 locations.’’
Lofty goals? Perhaps. But don’t count him out. He has made it this far against heavy odds and he has the drive to attempt to reach those goals.
“Will we make it? Will I make it? I may not make it to tomorrow. I may die in my sleep. If I fail or if I die, then at least I never quit. But personally, I know I am going to make it,” he said.
“So, to the nameless person who thought I could not turn my life around … thank you. I already had the fire in me, but you made it burn a little hotter.’’