Albany State Aspire Magazine
Brian Williams, a 2005 graduate of Albany State University is about to take over the operation of a multi-million dollar Atlanta janitorial service. He boldly and unabashedly gives credit where it is due. The confident professional says ASU provided the tools needed for business success. At age 30, Williams is co-owner of Atlanta-based AccuClean, Inc. The commercial janitorial enterprise leaves executive offices, college facilities and recreational buildings in thirteen metro counties spotless. The company has 75 employees, 25 accounts and grosses more than $2 million annually. “There were early signs that the entrepreneurial spirit had taken hold of the youngster in elementary school,” said his father, Bob Williams. The 12 year old organized a basketball event with online research, then a letter writing campaign and word of mouth advertising. More events throughout high school followed.With an ASU marketing degree firmly secured, the consummate entrepreneur landed an entry level job asa management trainee at Enterprise Rent-a-Car. After spending only a year there, he joined his dad’s small business.
“Brian possessed the ability to lead as a young boy. He attended school to hone his craft and did well at Enterprise, but wanted to join me,” said the elder Williams, a longtime corporate executive who started the company 12 years ago. He describes Brian as “thorough, dependable, respected by customers much older and able to deliver.” After double digit growth for three consecutive years, his dad’s characterization was spot on. “He’s well organized and commands the attention of people that work for him. There’s a level of trust that I have with him,” said facilities manager Robert Wilder of Jones Lang LaSalle, a financial and professional services conglomerate that specializes in real estate services and investment management. Recently, Williams’ company expanded from two accounts to six with the firm.Brian is a communicator who lets you know if there’s a problem, and he takes care of it,” Wilder mentioned. Williams said all of the courses and internships at ASU were preparation to operate the family enterprise. Every subject covered by ASU professors and mentors is applied during the course of the day: from developing business plans, reviewing profit and loss statements and cash flow to advertising and customer service.“I established a solid business foundation from professors who were authors, entrepreneurs and doctors in my field of study,” said Williams.
“Upon graduation, I was able to adapt in any work environment through my knowledge of the field and great work ethic instilled by the faculty and staff at ASU.” Anyone can start a company, said the business whiz, but sustainability and growth are harder to achieve without proper education and training. “ASU helped me take the business to the next level. ”Several off-campus business ventures combined with information gleaned from textbook assignments, lectures, class discussions and tests enhanced his overall academic experience at ASU. Williams put business theories and practices to the test while marketing on and off-campus parties and book signings through a company he developed in college called Drive Productions. At Q102, a local Cumulus Broadcasting radio station located in Rome, Georgia, Williams hustled as an intern and exceeded expectations there. In the community, his entrepreneurial spirit kicked into high gear with the formation of business partnerships. Winn Dixie Stores, Sears and other local businesses supported multiple campus advertising campaigns proffered by the marketer. He brokered a deal with Winn Dixie to promote ASU student discounts and a Sears credit card with a special student annual percentage rate.
Williams said the entire freshman experience is his favorite college memory. “It was my first time being responsible for many aspects of my personal life, and I feel that ASU had a major impact in making that transition successful,” he said. When asked about the faculty member who had the greatest influence, Williams quickly responded. Dr. Cynthia Bennett, the department chair and professor of Business Information Systems left an indelible imprint. “I took a business communications course from Dr. Bennett my sophomore year,” he explained. “She constantly made remarks about my (lack of) punctuality, how my submitted work seemed rushed, and that I was not attentive in class. My grades drastically reflected that because I came into her course thinking I knew all I needed to know about business communications.” He dropped the class after falling behind. “After spending some time thinking, I signed back up for the class the following semester and became more attentive, punctual, and ready to take my professionalism to another level,” he said. “I passed the class. She wouldn’t accept me giving the class anything but 100 percent. Dr. Bennett was the first professor to teach me many of the communication skills I still use in my business every day.” Bennett remembers the student who sat quietly in the front of her class and was impressed by his leadership abilities, but this time it was applied to group assignments in her class. “Although he didn’t talk much, he was always ready to participate when called upon to answer a question,” Bennett said. “I subsequently concluded that his quiet disposition presumably meant that he was listening. He was an excellent student. It doesn’t surprise me that he has become a successful business owner.”
Williams has some words of wisdom for current and future ASU students. “Invest quality time using the resources at the college and tap into the knowledge of faculty available in each of the degree programs,” he advised. “Numerous resources are available to help students build a successful foundation for any career field,” he said. “The opportunities are endless. You will be well-prepared to succeed.” The ASU degree complements the teachings of a conscientious father eager now to pass the baton. “I told my kids, ‘go to school, get an education; then get a job with someone to become president of the company. You don’t have to be an employee. Own it or run it." Williams’ sister, Tracy, is chief financial officer and in the next three months, he will become AccuClean’s president when his dad retires.