Photo above: Debra with her two rescued Greyhounds.
Debra Dabney puts only one thing before her love of Beaufort and that’s her husband, Tom. Although she was born in Washington, DC, her affection for the area knows no bounds.
“I love, love, love the Lowcountry,” she exclaims. “The smell of the marsh grasses and watching the marsh grasses change color through the seasons and the calming effect of being on the water is heaven on earth!”
Debra is the owner and president of Alpha Janitorial Services, Inc., which she opened in 1986. What started as a Fripp and Harbor Island condo cleaning company expanded to include commercial cleaning. Today she employs over 50 staff and concentrates on commercial businesses like schools, professional offices and other multi-office businesses. Her business services include floor stripping and waxing and carpet cleaning in addition to general cleaning.
Before opening Alpha, Debra was the business manager of a Hilton Head electrical supply company. She credits her mother as the catalyst that led her to start her own business.
“She was constantly coaxing me to open a business of my own,” Debra says. “I’ve been told I’m somewhat of a neat freak.”
One of Debra’s most interesting work-related stories has a happy ending, but probably ranks in the top five of “Guess what happened at work today” anecdotes.
“While performing a move out clean at Parris Island, an employee accidentally vacuumed up a pet hamster. To our delight, the hamster was unharmed and was kept at our office as a pet until it could be retrieved by the previous tenant.”
After meeting on a blind date, Debra and Tom married in 1992. The couple has two grandchildren and two rescued greyhounds.
“Prior to our wedding, Tom was diagnosed with stage IV renal cell carcinoma with a life expectancy of 4-6 months,” Debra explains. “As my luck, or as I sometimes jokingly say, no luck would have it, he came home as the only survivor from an experimental treatment at Duke. He has been cancer free ever since. We are truly blessed!”
An avid boater and self-identified river rat, Debra also plays tennis at least twice a week and has served in several different capacities with the Beaufort Tennis Association.
She does plan to retire some day, but Debra currently enjoys working with her Alpha team.
“When I started my business I felt there was a need for more professionalism in the local cleaning business and I decided to act on that need. Our hard working employees put their hearts into what they do. I have been fortunate to work with a dedicated team and it is a pleasure to work with several schools and businesses in Beaufort County that appreciate the importance of a clean, sterile environment.”