A local Doncaster lad come good is moving aside but keeping things in the family, as at the age of 76 he is handing control of his hygeine business to his two daughters.
John O’Brien will continue as chairman of Doncaster-based Trustclean Limited, but he has begun the process of transferring the shares to his two daughters, Jackie O’Brien and Andrea Nesbitt.
The entrepreneur who turned his window cleaning round into a £3 million specialist cleaning company employing more than 200 people has completed a restructuring of the family firm after opting for succession over sale.
The modern Trustclean Group operates nationwide and the change will bring a sharper focus to the activities of Trustclean Food Hygiene & Consultancy Services Ltd, led by Andrea, and Trustclean Commercial Contract Cleaning Services Ltd, under the direction of Jackie.
But the history of the company is a classic Yorkshire tale of “where there’s muck there’s brass”.
As the son of a miner who was injured in an accident at work, John contributed to the family finances by dipping a tomato tin into the drains of Bentley and scooping out coins as well as marbles, which he would sell at school. He said: “Miners used to get an allowance for coal but it always needed breaking up. When we were due for another delivery I used to clean out the coal shed and take the slack in a barrow to sell to the pensioners. I also knocked on other people’s doors and asked if I could clean out their coal sheds.”
He initially called his company Shamrock Cleaning Services, wheeling his own barrow around Doncaster town centre, but after adverse reaction to the name and logo following the M62 coach bombing in 1974, his wife persuaded hi n to change the name to Trustclean.
He said: “We were having scampi in a basket at the Spread Eagle in Darrington and my wife June came up with Trustclean. We nearly sold the business once but we pulled back.”