Jeff and Susan Sams take partnership to an entirely different level.
You could say that Jeff and Susan Sams are one of those great love stories you’ve read about. The St. Charles couple has been happily married 27 years, and working together for over 32 years, growing the company from a one-man cleaning business to a 30-plus employee company serving both Missouri and Illinois. In their spare time, the couple devotes time, money and energy into giving back to the community that has given them so much in return. So what is the secret to their success?
The couple met at Francis Howell High School after Susan transferred her junior year from Chicago. They started out as friends and ended up dating the summer after her senior year in 1985. The Sams have been married for 27 years and have two children: Danielle, 21, and Brendan, 19. Danielle is currently pursuing a career in Real Estate Investments and Interior Design. Brendan is pursuing a Health Science degree at the University of Missouri- Columbia and is a member of the Mizzou Army ROTC program. Brendan and Danielle are passionate and driven young adults, something that they’ve learned from watching their parents grow their business over the years.
“My parents never sat back and hoped for the best, they work their hardest to ensure their business succeeds, their customers are happy and their employees are taken care of,” said Brendan Sams. “It’s because of them that my sister and I have the drive and dedication, we know we can accomplish anything we set our minds to.”
Jeff Sams started his business—Sams Carpet Cleaning & Repairs—at the young and ambitious age of 18. Just out of high school, Jeff started cleaning apartments and running the business out of his parent’s home. His parents were a huge support and one of the reasons they are a successful company today.
His first clients consisted of mostly family and friends, and his services expanded when he started cleaning carpets.
“I cleaned the carpet one day and saw how I could make a difference in someone’s house and it grew from there,” said Jeff.
After a couple of years in his parents’ house, Sams Carpet Cleaning and Repairs moved into its own space. As the company continued to grow over the years, it moved to different locations in St. Charles County, currently operating at 1602 N. Fourth Street in St. Charles. Thirty-two years later, the company boasts over 30 employees, and 22 fleet vans, serving the St. Louis metropolitan area and parts of Illinois.
Even though Susan worked in the corporate world, she helped in any way she can from preparing and attending trade shows, marketing, going on small jobs with Jeff; as well as, attending school for her Business Management and Marketing Degree from Webster University. After their son was born in 1998, Susan and Jeff decided to take the risk and she quit the corporate world to start working at Sams Carpet Cleaning & Repairs full-time.
“[We] were [both] working 24/7 and it seemed like we needed to do the next step, and take the exciting risk and quit my corporate job to work full time for the business,” said Susan.
The couple quickly found their own roles within the company. At the beginning, they worked long hours to do whatever it takes to run the business. Susan handling the human resources, phones, scheduling, marketing and advertising while Jeff focused on the hands-on operations in the field. As the company grew and employees able to take on different responsibilities to support the demand of services, Susan was able to focus more on advertising, marketing, and networking.
“I had a niche at what I did with running the company and she has her niche with doing the marketing and networking,” said Jeff.
“If we both would have continued to work on the operations side it wouldn’t have worked,” said Susan.
Jeff said all of the specialized services sets them apart from the competition, as well as the extensive training of employees. The Sams team is more than employees, they have become family, with many employees working for the company for 20+ years. The fast and efficient responsiveness to the community is also a strong testament of the company’s honest and trustworthy service.
“We’re very involved with our customers and we’re very involved in the relationship with our customers,” said Susan. “We want a relationship with our customers for life.”
From a spilled glass of wine to the aftermath of a teenage party to the water restoration at a company, Sams Carpet Cleaning & Repairs has the ability to tackle any size problem.
“We’re there for our customers when they need us most, they know they can rely on Sams,” said Susan.
The Sams are also there for the community, as giving back is a trait each of the Sams hold dear. Jeff was board member for the nonprofit Community Living Inc. (CLI) which helps the developmentally disabled. In his six years on the board at CLI, Jeff has loved seeing the differences CLI has made with its participants. He continues to serves on the CLI financial committee.
“They have a great teen program where teens can go somewhere after school…they actually have a life for themselves,” said Jeff.
Jeff is also involved in professional associations like Home Builders Association and St. Louis Apartment Association. Over the years, Jeff’s passion to give back to many different nonprofit organizations including the St. Charles Goodfellas, which raises money for local children’s charities, and he is a member of the Men’s Club at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Susan was involved with the Greater St. Charles Chamber of Commerce for eight years, serving on the executive board and past Chairman of the Board. She received the Athena Leadership award in 2015 and she is currently mentoring a young businesswoman as a board member for Athena.
“I love the passion of working with small businesses like ourselves and building those relationships and helping those businesses succeed. I also love collaborating and connecting, networking with other entrepreneurs and business owners in our community,” said Susan who also was a part of the St. Charles County Vision Leadership program in 2012.
As a company, Sams sponsors a lot of charity functions for a variety of nonprofits, from Youth in Need to Community Living to Kids with Cancer to Susan G. Komen and Connections to Success.
Susan also has a passion to help young students cultivate and learn their strengths. She is a part of the Career Exploration Alliance Program which works with all of the school districts in St. Charles County to provide job shadowing internships, externships for teachers, and mentoring programs. She also mentored and judged for the DECA program.
“It’s wonderful to see the drive these students have and to help them to pursue their careers,” said Susan.
Susan is involved with the CAPS (Center of Advanced Professional Studies) program which brings on experiential hands-on learning to high school juniors and seniors before entering college. Susan checked out the program in Kansas City with other fellow school administrators and professionals. The CAPS program involves business and educators working together to provide opportunities for students in many professional STEAM, advance manufacturing, and entrepreneurial fields to engage in potential careers.
“The goal of the program is to get more students hands-on experience, real life experiences doing projects for small/medium size businesses and being able to be in a professional setting and take what they learn from high school and expand on it to technical schools, college, or right into the workforce,” said Susan.
The Sams advice for small business entrepreneurs—have perseverance, be adaptable to change, build relationships, never stop learning and be there for your community.
“You’ve always got room to grow,” said Jeff. “Get involved and educate yourself. Always learn and believe in what you do.”
“Be totally involved in the community that you are passionate about to make a difference,” said Susan. “Don’t sit back and let others do. We take pride in our community involvement and we wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of our community, our awesome team of employees, our friends and our families.”