Cleaning top of mind. Interview with Michel de Bruin


From a school cleaner to the Director of Greenspeed and Chairman ISSA Europe. Michel de Bruin told us about his experience and success in cleaning industry. 

How many years have you been working in cleaning industry?

Well in May it will be 30 years. During the Interclean Amsterdam I will celebrate this with a drink reception. You are welcome

What is cleaning in your life?

Cleaning always has interested me very much. Even when I was young I was always helping contract cleaners in the summer period to clean the floors in school buildings. Later I got fascinated by this global industry . I really love the fact that we are a people business industry. I meet and have met so many great people. From the workers on the job to the top management level and in between. Everybody had great stories and the their  passion for our industry is what keeps me excited to do my job

Michel, what is your mission in the cleaning industry in your opinion?

That our industry will become  top of mind in the students career planning. Therefore we need to work on a better PR for our industry. We are too modest….let us show how fantastic  our industry is by being more proud. Knowledge sharing and  a better marketing is key.

What were your first steps in this business, how did it develop and what plans do you have today?

I started as junior salesman in  floor cleaning equipment in 1988 and joined Electrolux Euroclean  in 1993. In this great company I worked my way up to become managing director Benelux in 1997. In 1999 we were sold to Nilfisk Advance and I became MD for the whole group in the Benelux. In 2001 I started with my own company Greenpeed. ( I bought it from one of my old bosses). We managed to turn a regional wholesaler into a global brand of circular cleaning concepts which we are today. For the future I would like to develop my business on a bigger global scale with smart cleaning concepts based upon the circular cleaning philosophy. Presented by  young enthusiastic people who love to work with people every day.   I was also very fortunate to have had some great bosses in my beginning years of my career. I learned a lot from them. These very special persons gave my the chance to become who I am today. Very grateful for that.

A few years ago you finally became a sole and absolute owner of Greenspeed. Were there any difficulties in taking a title and possession in Greenspeed?

When we bought Ecover Professional we became a bigger organization. Also I had to make a management team level in the company. the company needed a stronger fundament. Therefore the step  to become CEO was also necessary.

What did this experience teach you? (or: What did this complexity teach you?)

That you have to let go sometimes and be more a leader then a manager. I always say “you have to lead/show by example” > show what you want from your team. On the job ( with your team in the field) be a colleague and a leader at same time.

You became a chairman of ISSA cleaning association in Europe. How did this happen? Share your impressions.

Well they asked me because I was complaining that I did not see many things happening from the issa. So they said…you change it do it. So I did. Started to organize networking events and knowledge sharing events. In 2018 we have 13 events. So you can say that we did what the members wanted. Meet interesting people and learn from each other.

What is the task of ISSA Chairman in Europe?

Keeping the members informed about what is going on in the global industry. And presenting the European  industry to other region in the world.

Probably, it is not easy to manage two large-scale projects as a professional cleaning solutions manufacturer and the chairman of a cleaning association, one can say, of global impact?

I am very blessed to have great teams who are helping  me. In the Benelux I have a working group of 3 high quality entrepreneurs and in Europe I have my council team which also is formed by great international businessmen and true leaders.

What place does Greenspeed now take for you when you are the first person in ISSA Europe?

Greenspeed is my number one responsibility. That my life. The issa comes second but I am lucky to have the possibility to combine these two tasks most of the time. We are in the same industry.

Michel, what aim do you pursue as chairman of ISSA Europe?

To increase the image of the cleaning industry and that the issa can be the one voice for the people who are working in this industry. Also to get more young people involved in our industry. We need to become more dynamic  towards the young generation.

What did long experience in the cleaning industry give you?

Simple but true…….people really make the difference! Your passion and enthusiasm is your strongest power to make a great life.

What message or instructions would you give to the next generation of cleaning? (newcomer cleaners and future managers)

Never let your own true and passionate ideas or initiatives  be  influenced by negative comments/reactions. .

Do you have a hobby?

I love music  and wine.  The blues and I am a great fan of the Rolling Stones. I play some guitar. Not good be I am trying. Furthermore I love to listen to stories of other people. How they started in their business or how the see life. Philosophy is also a hobby of mine.  Traveling I see as my hobby too. Very convenient in my job.  Meet people from other regions in the world.

Tell us about your family and their attitude towards your work? Would someone of them like to continue the business that you’ve started?

I met my wife when I was 21. So 29 years ago almost. We are married since 1997. She is an amazing lady. Very beautiful and a great hostess when she organize a party for friends or business relations.  I have 3 daughters. 13-16-19 years old. I don’t see them in the cleaning industry unfortunately. They all have strong ambitions  to create their own fashion in clothing and  become beauty artists in the fashion industry.  But you never know of course.  I just was with my youngest daughter in UK to visit customers and she liked it very much. Especially that she could eat in restaurants every evening. Hahahaha

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