“Chief Housekeeper”. Perhaps it’s not a title to which many of us would aspire. But once you get to know Alan Grindstaff, the low-key, gentlemanly founder of MasterCorp, the title “Chief Housekeeper” is appropriate. There’s no pretentiousness about Alan; he may head up an extremely successful nationwide housekeeping firm, but you don’t need to dig very deep to discover how this modest, hard-worker lives up to his company’s motto as “the most trusted name in resort housekeeping.”
A little over 35 years ago, Grindstaff was picking up janitorial work and cleaning carpets to help pay his way through graduate school at the University of Tennessee while supporting his family. Fairfield Glade near Crossville, Tennessee, had about 70 units at that time and Alan spoke to the Property Manager, Wally Crowder, about getting their carpet cleaning contract.
At first, the answer was ‘no deal.’ Then came the week following Thanksgiving of 1980 when Crowder realized he had to get some help immediately. In desperation he promised Grindstaff that if he could turn the resort’s units, he’d get the carpet cleaning contract. Come January 1st, 1981, Grindstaff’s small family business was not only the official carpet cleaning supplier for Fairfield Glade resort, but became the housekeeping supplier, as well.
Today, MasterCorp’s 6,000-plus housekeeping professionals serve millions of resort guests nationwide. The company’s growth can be attributed in large part to Alan’s drive. He tirelessly visits multiple resorts every month. His fellow team members remark that frequently they will receive calls or texts at odd hours as Grindstaff has an idea about how to make an improvement. From minor tweaks to major upgrades, his tireless creativity is an inspiration.
“I am just blessed to have energy,” he admits when asked what led to his success. “But most of all, it’s just been serendipity.”
This serendipity, plus a lot of elbow grease, has led to an organization that reaches resorts throughout North America. In the early years he continued to grow with the Fairfield Resorts’ system. But eventually, he found himself getting calls from other resorts looking for solutions. Resort managers often spend 40-60 percent of their time on housekeeping issues…and much of that on staffing alone. He saw a niche and who better to fill it than a small-town guy with big dreams; someone never too proud to clean a toilet or scrub a floor himself?
He modestly leaves it to others to remark on his visionary introduction of new ideas and technology or his enthusiastic receptivity to understanding trends and sensing the changing tides. “I believe the brands are our future,” he says. By way of response, he is considering ancillary services such as maintenance. He oversaw the creation of a detailed software system with web-based applications to create operational efficiencies that differentiate MasterCorp from competitors.
“Our MasterMind system integrates with the resort’s own system in most cases and simplifies the day-to-day operations significantly. For example, we have one resort that has 2400 units. Our software can assign the units, track employee activity and handle their payroll as well as more than 6,000 other employees. I can’t take credit for it, though,” he says. “It’s the brainchild of our CIO Jonathon Loveday who’s been with the company from our early days of expansion.”
Grindstaff’s latest out-of-the-box move (out-of-the-box for anyone as hands-on as he has been for over three decades) was to secure senior-level talent to set up a new executive management team. After serving as President for 35 years, Grindstaff appointed a new President, Gary Byrd, most recently from Bluegreen, and a COO, Gary Hyde, who this author has known since we worked together in the mid-90s at VRI. Both are stellar executives who work out of the new MasterCorp headquarters in Nashville.
“Plus, we have a new Chief Development Officer, Scott Schreiber, who was with Marriott,” Grindstaff says. “I am really humbled that men of this caliber would agree to come onboard with us. They’re very intelligent men with a great deal of hospitality experience, plus they have sound ethics, both morally and professionally. I have a deep appreciation of them.”
Alan’s strategy is to broaden his existing client relationships with the hotel brands involved in timeshare and cross over to the hospitality side. He’s looking to expand horizontally by delivering a deftly tuned operation worthy of a military regiment.
“We have supervisor training daily, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” he states. “Each Executive Housekeeper and up in the organization is flown into Crossville for a week-long training session during which they learn the MasterCorp method while working in actual timeshare resort units. By the time they leave, they are intimately familiar with our ‘7 Steps’ method of cleaning.”
The 7 STEPS TO CLEAN™ brand service is a fine-tuned, systematic approach for delivering consistent cleans efficiently and on time. According to the web site, “We teach our approach to every housekeeper from the first day, which means that every unit is cleaned the same way regardless of the housekeeper.”
The company’s mission statement is simple: “MasterCorp consistently sets the standards for the resort housekeeping industry.” But in our estimation, the web site sums it up best for both the man and his company: “Tested. Trusted. Tried. True.”