A cleaning company exec says stores like Staples and Office Depot are crucial to his business, while workers push back on 'essential' designation

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  • Office supply stores like Staples and Office Depot consider themselves essential businesses and are staying open amid coronavirus shutdowns.
  • Employees say their stores' 'essential' designation is misleading as they sell out of cleaning and work products.
  • Paul Spenard, COO of commercial cleaning company CJ Maintenance, Inc., told Business Insider that his company relies on Staples to provide essential cleaning materials to disinfect buildings, airports, health facilities, and other places to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As employees at Staples decry their company's designation as an essential business, at least one cleaning company says it is thankful that the office supplies company is still open for business.

Regional commercial cleaning company CJ Maintenance, Inc. gets a good portion of its cleaning products and equipment from Staples' commercial Janitorial Sanitation) division, Staples Advantage, the company's COO Paul Spenard told Business Insider. Spenard said his company spends close to $50,000 a month with Staples on supplies like trash liners, toilet seat covers, hand soap, chemical for disinfecting, mops, buckets. Advertisement

As the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the US, CJ Maintenance has been tasked with cleaning and disinfecting commercial buildings, airports, health facilities, financial facilities, and other places to prevent any further spreading. The company, which mostly services facilities on the East Coast, also carries out deep-cleanings on certain spaces after someone tests positive for COVID-19.

According to Spenard, none of these tasks could be carried out without the essential supplies the company gets from Staples. Spenard added that his company relied on Staples' retail stores to pick up work-from-home enabling products in the last month or so.

"When some people were working remotely, I needed some more monitors," Spenard said. "I ran over to Staples and picked up some monitors."
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Spenard added that his company also regularly purchases office supplies from Staples, including paper, toner, pens. His company purchases supplies from Home Depot as well.

In leaked internal memos, Staples said it should be considered essential because it sells cleaning and work-from-home-enabling products to support hospitals and healthcare providers. In a previous statement to Business Insider, a Staples representative said that the retailer is an essential business because it provides business and educational materials and products, household goods, and cleaning supplies. The spokesperson added that these products also help support other essential businesses. Meanwhile, Staples employees say their stores' 'essential' designation is misleading as they sell out of cleaning and work-from-home-related products.Advertisement

Read Staples' full statement to Business Insider:

At this time, as an essential provider of business and educational materials and products, household goods and cleaning supplies, Staples Stores will remain open to support local communities. Staples itself is an Essential Business as it supplies a large variety of products and services (including shipping services) utilized by small and medium sized business, teachers, students and consumers of every type. Additionally, Staples supplies these products and services (including technology and cleaning products) to numerous other essential businesses which are critical infrastructure facilities. We are monitoring the COVID-19 situation daily, following guidance from the CDC, local, state and federal regulations and will continue to reassess as needed. New protocols have been put in place to help support a healthy and safe environment for our customers and associates, including asking associates to stay home if they feel sick or if they do not feel comfortable coming into work, reducing hours chainwide (exclusive times for seniors and at-risk customers to shop), offering curbside pick-up, requiring social distancing (6 feet between every person), limiting the number of people inside our stores, asking associates to wash their hands every 30 minutes and actively working to restock all of our cleaning supplies.

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