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owner "teacher" to her employees

A truly great person is the one who gives you a chance.
-- Paul Duffy

Life sometimes takes strange twists and turns, such as the one that led Phyllis Dible, a popular English teacher who felt "called" to her profession, to leave the classroom and embark on a new career as the owner of a small business, PDQ Cleaning Services Inc.

Having grown from two employees to 35 since its beginning in 1993, the business is certainly a success. But Mrs. Dible has used her compassion, faith and gift for teaching to ensure that her business is a success on a much more personal level.

When Mrs. Dible talks about "serving through PDQ," she is not so much discussing the work her company provides for homeowners and businesses as much as she is referring to "serving" her employees, many of whom were unemployed and facing obstacles to steady employment when they came to PDQ looking for a job. Given a chance, she said, many of those employees have flourished.

"Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control," she said. "That's when a person needs a chance, an opportunity to succeed."

Mrs. Dible has been involved in efforts to move individuals from the welfare rolls to the workforce. Mrs. Dible has, in many ways, become that support system. She has been known to pay for employees' mammograms, provide support for those with legal issues and assisting in the completion of applications. She provides transportation to and from work sites when road conditions are hazardous and, when necessary, will provide transportation for an employee's children to day care or school.

Prospective employees are told from the very beginning that the atmosphere they are joining is not your typical work environment.

"We never do a job interview that we don't tell them right up front that what we really are here is a family support group and things will be run in that fashion. That works for some people, but there are those who are not comfortable with it, and that's okay. It's so wonderful to see someone who has been hurt and disappointed and has struggled so much finally open up and trust us. I feel very fortunate that the employees who have come through my door share my philosophies and are willing to risk their energies and personal growth to see that that philosophy happens," she said.

While she is pleased with the success she has found on a professional level, Mrs. Dible said she refuses to accept the Above and Beyond Award on behalf of herself. It is the hard work and dedication of her employees, she said, that has made the business what it has become.

"When I first heard we won the award, I thought 'No... no'. Not that PDQ doesn't deserve it, but there are so many long-term small businesses that are deserving. Small businesses are the heart of our community and our economy and I was just aghast that we would be singled out. I am grateful that Theresa Figg (FUTURES Coordinator with the Division of Family Services) and the other agencies would recognize our efforts. I personally do not accept this award because there are so many more individuals who do as much or more. But I acknowledge the award on behalf of PDQ. This is not just about Phyllis, it is about all of us here pulling together."

-- Written by Ronda Lickteig, published by the Trenton Republican-Times in a series featuring the 2000 recipients of the Trenton Area Chamber of Commerce "Above and Beyond" Award.

image: pdq cleaning inc.


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