Blue collar roots propelled cleaning service

blue collar entrepreneurs ron holt

Blue-collar work was pretty much all that Ron Holt was exposed to as a child.

"My mother worked in a paper mill and my father dug ditches with the local city government in Colquitt, Georgia," said Holt.

But Holt aspired to work for himself. In college, he did a variety of hands-on jobs -- scooping chemicals from tractor trailers and working on a paper mill floor.

After landing a lab job in Atlanta, he still still took odd jobs to save money.

When he'd saved $120,000, he quit his job, sold his house and moved to Pensacola, Fla., In 2003, Holt started a cleaning business called Two Maids & A Mop.

"I became a housekeeper and cleaned nasty toilets and streaky floors one day at a time," said Holt. After six months, he introduced a "pay for performance plan."

"This was our secret sauce," said Holt. "I asked customers to rate us from 1 to 10 and that would determine the employee's compensation."

The idea took off. "Customers loved the idea and it motivated the employees," he said. "Our growth was ridiculous after that."

Last year, the business generated $6 million in sales and employs 175 people across seven states.

First published February 10, 2015: 9:30 AM ET