DUNCANVILLE, Texas — While growing up in the heart of North Memphis, Saturday mornings in the household where Betty Pegues resided were virtually foreseeable.
Watch her mother, Vernice Johnson, cook breakfast.
Watch wrestling with father, Edward Johnson, Sr.
Clean the house.
Especially clean the house.
The third oldest of 15 children, Pegues was often thrust as the ringleader with regards to ensuring that she and siblings fulfilled their regular responsibilities of keeping a three-bed room house tidy.
“I came from a large household,” Pegues said during a recent interview. “But our house was one of the cleanest on the street.”
To her credit, while being raised mostly in a Christian environment in which attending church on Sundays and learning life’s toughest of lessons were essentially traditionally for what has always been a close-knit family, Pegues deemed it necessary to adopt clean establishments as a lifestyle, of sorts.
A veteran employee for Shelby County Schools (formerly Memphis City Schools) in which she is currently the plant manager for Germanshire Elementary, Pegues, 55, has blossomed into arguably one of the school system’s most sought-after and well-respected facility supervisors.
For starters, Pegues’ track record is such that she has proven to be an award-winning SCS employee, having garnered recognition for High Quality Performance during an SCS career that spans nearly 30 years. Add to the fact that her work has been so frequently recognized and applauded by her employers, that former Westwood High principal Michael Smith in 2004 said he would relocate across town to Kirby High on one condition: if Pegues would come along with him.
“He’d always tell (school officials), ‘This is my very fine engineer, Mrs. Pegues,’” said Pegues, explaining her success in having built a solid rapport with her former boss. “He always said, ‘Look at these floors because she and staff were responsible for cleaning them.’ He said, ‘If it weren’t for the chemicals she put on them, you could eat off them.’”
Fortunately for Pegues, the professional relationships she has built throughout her career for SCS has given way to more success, particularly as a thriving business owner.
As chief operating officer of Affordable Cleaning Services, Pegues’ current client is Cricket Communications in which her licensed, bonded, and insured business provides service for three locations throughout the Memphis metropolitan area.
According to Pegues, Cora Bailey, an acquaintance who manages one of the local Cricket stores, inspired her to erect her own cleaning business, informing her that there might perhaps be a need for services for several Memphis-area corporate offices.
Consequently, Pegues began to devises plans to start Affordable Cleaning. By mid-March of last year, she had signed her first contract with a client.
A business that recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, Affordable Cleaning specializes in a variety of services, most notably floor stripping and waxing, shower scrubbing, carpet shampooing and cleaning, and cleanings upon move-ins and move-outs.
While her establishment has been in operations for a year, Pegues emphasized that her experience in detail cleaning dates back to her days when she was hired for the local school system.
“We promote customer satisfaction all the time,” Pegues, a 1977 graduate of Kingsbury High, said. “We make sure our customers are pleased.”
Pleased and satisfied much like her parents during her days of growing up in North Memphis.
“My foundation was when I started cleaning at home,” Pegues explains. “I take pride in what I do. And I love what I do.”
Among the reasons Pegues has gained a passion for her work is that she says the biggest misperception people have about cleaning is that they think cleaning with their hands is beneath them.
“People don’t understand,” she said. “They think you shouldn’t like cleaning up. But I take pride in what I do.”
Such a trend, she acknowledges, has prompted others to buy into her longstanding vision as a rising entrepreneur.
“We are a superb cleaning business,” said William Pegues, Betty’s husband of 17 years who works alongside her.
Betty Pegues has been a plant manager for SCS since 2002, a stint that includes tenures at Westwood High (2002-2004), Kirby High (2004-2007), Riverview Elementary (2007-2008), and Germanshire, where she’s worked for the past seven years.
A mother of two, Betty Pegues’ daughter, Tiffany Johnson, 39, is a 1994 graduate of Whitehaven High. Her son, Andre Johnson, 40, a 1993 Whitehaven High and 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis, resides in Dallas, Texas, where he is an NBA reporter.
Despite an SCS career that spans nearly three decades, she credits a majority of her success to her mother and late father, who passed away in June 2008.
“They were really the beginning for me,” Betty Pegues said. “Had they not taught me how to clean and to do it correctly, I don’t think I’d be as successful as I am. I pretty much know what to look for when I go into a business. I know what to look for and my staff knows what to look for. I have high standards.”
Standards that, to her credit, were birthed long ago in the confines of a three-bedroom house in the heart of North Memphis.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information or a free estimate through Affordable Cleaning, call Betty Pegues at 901-351-3251 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, call William Pegues at 901-494-1696.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to email@example.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.