Executive Snapshot: Heath G. Schuman
Naomi Brookner/The Gazette
Residence: Trappe, on the Eastern Shore.
Family: Wife, young son and daughter, and two Labrador retrievers.
Profession: CEO and president of several companies in Grasonville whose services include boat and yacht detailing, and commercial and home cleaning, and whose products include water-softening and air-purification systems for boats.
What his business does: "Schuman Cleaning is a boat and yacht detail service that provides an extensive list of detailing services and maintenance packages to suit every boater's needs. Schuman Boat and Yacht also provides products from water softening systems to our award-winning air purification system.
"Schuman Commercial provides services to the commercial and janitorial industry as well as custom maintenance packages that can incorporate a wide array of services from post-construction cleaning to maintaining your office building appearance. Our home division incorporates services from initial one-time details where your home is professionally cleaned from top to bottom to duct cleaning to ensure the air you breathe is healthy. Both companies provide products that will improve your indoor air quality.
"Nautic Air is our newest company that has invented the first air purification system that will fit into existing air handling systems in boats or can be added when a boat is being built. This system won the innovation award at IBEX 2008 this year in Miami. This system will reduce mold, [volatile organic compounds] and odors, and kill bacteria and viruses. This is something that boats have needed for a long time."
Pastimes: Fishing, boating, hunting, spending time with family.
Favorite reads: Fishing reports, business journals, anything on air quality.
Favorite TV shows: "Lost" — it keeps my brain working; "Extreme Makeover-Home Edition" — it's a happy-ending show every time and makes you want to look for ways to help someone; and "Survivor" for entertainment.
Community involvement: Real Life Chapel in Easton; chamber of commerce.
Favorite vacation spot: Florida Keys.
What he did before starting his businesses: "I started Schuman's Cleaning Service (boat detailing) in 1985 when I was in ninth grade. I worked for a local boat dealer cleaning his boats before that."
How he came to start his companies: "Schuman's started as just a summer job in high school and then college. After graduation from Salisbury University, I decided to give it just one year full-time, just to see what would happen. And of course we continued to grow each year, mostly by word-of-mouth. In 2002 we added Schuman's Commercial Cleaning for two reasons. First, our customers were requesting business and home services with the same level of quality that they received on their boats. The second was a strategic business decision — the boat cleaning is seasonal. The new services would offer year-round income and employment for our staff. And the air quality also evolved through requests by our customers and personally because my daughter has severe environmental allergies. I set out to find the absolute best indoor air solution for her. Once we saw how much her health improved, we began to offer these solutions to our customers.
"Improving indoor air quality in buildings is one thing, but boat customers have always complained about odors and allergy symptoms. It has always been one of the accepted negatives of boating. So I knew we could take the same principles and make the interior of boats healthier and more inviting. That's what we have done with our Nautic Air. And the response has been amazing."
What some of his goals or challenges were in creating and growing the companies: "Challenges were the same as most businesses — staffing, insurance costs, economy. Many look at cleaning as a luxury; our goal was to show people that it is a need. Expensive boats must be regularly cleaned and maintained to keep their value; the appearance of businesses and homes is crucial for first impressions and not many of us have the time with all our other commitments to clean anything the way we would like."
His proudest accomplishments: "My two children are by far my biggest accomplishments, but businesswise, winning the 2008 Innovation Award at the IBEX show in Miami."
Favorite part of the job: "Making my customers happy, finding a solution to a problem that others couldn't find or fix. I like the challenge. With the air purification, I love hearing how much better the owners feel and that their symptoms are gone."