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August 13, 2019

Faces of Fauquier: He sets high bar for cleaning service

Photo/Don Del Rosso
Major Gaines says he has learned cleaning “secrets” that set his business apart.
I’m going to do this as long as God gives me strength and I’m able to do my work — do it on a professional basis.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
After almost two decades in business, the Warrenton-based custodial services company never has had a “call back” from a disappointed client.

“Not one,” said owner Major Gaines, who started Major’s Cleaning Service in 2000. “We’ve never had to a repeat a job.”

He attributes that to “the system” — a combination of tried-and-true practices he declines to disclose, fearing that competitors would adopt and use them to the company’s detriment.

“I don’t want to give my secrets away, because people latch onto them and that’ll cut me out,” the Fauquier native explained with a laugh.

It also helps to set the bar high, said Mr. Gaines, whose company does no residential work.

“If it meets my standards, it’s going to meet theirs,” he said. “And, I guarantee my work. If you’re not satisfied with me, you don’t pay.”

His wife, Vera, 66, coined its motto: “I consider every job a Major job.”

Longtime clients include Warrenton’s Country Chevrolet.

“We have seven locations now,” Country Chevrolet owner Andy Budd said. “Major takes care of all of them. He’s always been very responsive. His people do a good job.”

And, “He’s one of the finest, hardest-working human beings I’ve ever met — a man of great integrity, great work ethic and good character,” Mr. Budd said.

Like his two employees, Mr. Gaines works nights — after regular business hours — Monday through Saturday. Logging about 30 hours per week, their days sometimes extend to 11:30 p.m.

After a 30-year career as a construction laborer, Mr. Gaines took a Fauquier High School custodian’s job in 1981. He left that position eight years later to do the same work for a City of Manassas school. He retired in 2012.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Gaines took a part-time night job with a Warrenton cleaning service.

“I needed a little extra money,” said Mr. Gaines, 72.

When the owner of that company later retired and shut the business, he realized an opportunity to start a cleaning service.

The company generates as much work as it can properly manage, Mr. Gaines said.

“I don’t take very big contracts, because then you find yourself falling into trouble,” he said. “I keep it small — something I can handle. I try to do the very best job that I can.”

But, added: “When the extra work comes, I’m more than pleased accept it.”

He plans to keep working as long as his health and God allow.

To slow the job’s physical toll, Mr. Gaines years ago learned to make the most efficient use of his equipment.

“I found out what you have to work them and don’t let them work you,” he said. “You can take a vacuum cleaner and push it. If you’re not doing it the right way, it will break your back.”

But ultimately a higher power will decide when he should retire, said Mr. Gaines, a deacon with Warrenton’s Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.

“I’m going to do this as long as God gives me strength and I’m able to do my work — do it on a professional basis. Whenever he says quit, then I’ll quit.”

• Age
72

• Home 
Warrenton

• Work
Owner, Major’s Cleaning Service, established 2000; custodian, Metz Middle School, City of Manassas, 1989-2012; custodian/night watchman, Fauquier High School, 1981-89.

• Why do you do the job?
In order to pay bills — that’s the main thing. I have a mortgage, car payments and stuff like that. I have to do it to make ends meet.

I like the results. I like the way it looks — like when people come into the dealerships, when they open the front door and the floors are shining and the place is nice and clean.

• Family
Wife, Vera, 66; children; son; 2 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild.

• Education
Attended W.C. Taylor High School, Warrenton.

• Church involvement
Deacon, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Warrenton.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
61 years.

• Why do you live here? 
I really love it here. We moved to Manassas and we stayed there for 11 years. It got too congested, too many people. So, I said “I’m going back to Warrenton.”

• How do you describe this county? 
It’s a rich county. The people are nice. Warrenton’s beautiful and the county is, too. There’s open space. There’s not a whole lot of industry.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
What I would like to see is affordable homes. I would keep the prices low for the middle class and the lower class. But, they price them so high you can’t afford them. I think the taxes are a little high. I would like to see that changed.

• What do you do for fun? 
Take care of my lawn. I like getting with my family — cookouts and stuff like that.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
My church — Mount Zion Baptist Church.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years? 
More homes, less farmland, because people are getting out of farming. They’re not making a profit. You’re going to see farming decline and houses go up.

More restaurants. Every time you turn around, there’s a new sandwich shop opening up. People are really getting out of cooking. If we could get a Red Lobster up here, then I’d take my wife out more.

• Favorite TV show?
“First Take.”

• Favorite movie?
“Love Me Tender.” 

• Favorite book?
The Bible (King James version)

• Favorite vacation spot? 
Massanutten Resort

• Favorite food? 
Hamburgers

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom? 
My mom told me you treat people the way you want to be treated. It’ll take you everywhere you want to go. The payback is people respect you. It works; there’s no doubt.

• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery? 
God would come first. The first thing I would do is go to a lawyer and tell him to write out 10 percent to my church. Then, I’d pay every bill that I owe. Then I would set aside some money for my son, grandchildren and great-grandchild.

I would donate a portion to the heart association, because my grandson at 8 days old had heart surgery. I would donate money to the diabetes foundation, because that was one of the causes of my daughter’s death (at age 20 in 1993).

The rest of it — me and my wife would just enjoy.

Have a suggestion?
Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or Lou Emerson at LKE@fauquiernow.com. 
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