No job is too big

Chris asked if I can share my story about how we came into a job expecting one thing but got another.

Late last year we received a call from a property manager. They needed someone to come down and do a construction clean up on a flipped apartment complex. They informed us that this was a big job with 100 units and needed to be down in 3 weeks. We agreed to a contract to who a bonus was given if we finished earlier.  I told Travis that I’ll get my best men on the job and we can do it, no problem.

The next week was our first start date, this apartment complex was in the heart of Phoenix. It was in a very busy high traffic area with everyone and everything around. We meet with the project manager, He seemed real stressed and asked us if we clean everything. I had to ask why and He replied that recently the owner experienced my break-ins and theft in the area. All of the finished apartments were broken into and feces was smeared in around in some areas. Also, the demolition team quit and there was a lot clean up left. Right away I got ahold of Travis and asked if this is the right job for us. Travis gave the okay and we reconstructed the contract and time frame. 

The apartments with the vandalism were a mess and took a while to clean. Everything you can think of or imagine was in theirs. There was stuff all over the walls and stains in the carpet and tile. We offered carpet and tile repair to the owner because we are a one stop shop. I couldn’t believe how much work went into cleaning and repairing these units. It was one of the hardest jobs I had ever experienced with the company. We cleaned all 100 units before our deadline. We even repaired the carpet and tile within the same time frame. The owner was so pleased she offered each one of our employee’s Chipotle gift card to take care of lunch. 

This is just an example of what makes up different and displays our strengths dealing with ambiguity. We have done much more ambiguous complicated jobs after the Phoenix. But we will never forget the Phoenix apartment complex job that was our first m!

How it all began

My name is Travis Kozai, I am the owner of Commercial Custodial Services. I wanted to share my story of how this all began. This company means a lot to me because of our beginnings and success that my employees and I have had together.

I became motivated to look for extra income in late-2002. I was switching from working at the Chandler Police Department to working at the Chandler Fire Department and taking $30,000 pay cut. My wife was laid off from her job shortly thereafter, further compounding the problem.  I knew I needed a second job and I had enough spare time to invest in something, the question was what?

I knew the risks of starting my own business— most fail within the first year— but taking the risks looked better to me than flipping burgers. I started Kozai Custom Cleaning and started cold calling every business on Alma School Rd. between Riggs Rd. and Baseline Rd. looking for clients. It actually paid off! I started cleaning work for several doctors and dentists in the area. Slowly but surely my financial hardships started to become lighter.

When I got a job cleaning a construction trailer for the U.S. Army Reserves, I got an idea for how to develop my company: Provide a great cleaning service for both the private and government sector. This required me to maintain a high visual standard if I didn’t want another larger cleaning company coming and taking my jobs. As always, with growth in companies comes hardships. It was very difficult finding reliable employees as we continued to grow. It was also very challenging to keep our pricing competitive yet profitable. One of the biggest hurtles to overcome was simply figuring out what worked and what didn’t. What ended up being mine and the companies success was finding the right team to help it grow.

Now, fifteen years later, we have grown from me on my hands and knees cleaning some trailer to a business with forty-five employees. We clean for large commercial clients as well as for government agencies. We are able to serve in three states: Arizona, Utah, and Texas. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy starting my business but I wasn’t ready for just how difficult it can be. But businesses, like people, aren’t defined by their fail and fall. They’re defined by how they get back up.

Cleaning For Cancer



When I first heard of the Cleaning for Cancer program, I almost didn’t believe it could be real. What would a small business owner have the excess time or money to devote to a side project that makes no income and simply exists to help those in need? Well, his name is Travis and he started Cleaning for Cancer almost eight years ago when he looked around at his community and saw a need. One of his client’s wives was battling breast cancer and having a hard time. Travis was overcome with empathy and determined to find a creative way to help them— to try and make their lives a little better. He had only limited resources and a desire to serve so he came up with the idea of cleaning their entire house free of charge. This included floors, dishes, carpet and anything else dirty in the house. He did this all through her battle with cancer and her recovery. As others in the company were diagnosed with cancer over the following years, Travis gave them the same gift.

One time, during a casual conversation at work, I mentioned a friend to Travis who had just been diagnosed with a tumor on his adrenal gland. This friend doesn’t work for the company and Travis has never met him, but without hesitating he offered to send a team to my friend’s house to clean. I was amazed. I offered to help pay for it with my paycheck but he firmly declined to say, “It’s the right thing to do.” In fact, he has never been interested in praise or bringing attention to what he was doing. He simply interested in helping people in need in whatever way he can.

Last August, I got to witness the power of his selflessness first hand when I was diagnosed with a rapidly spreading cancerous tumor. I was forced to resign and start radiation and hormone-based chemotherapy. It really took a toll on my life. Physically I was constantly tired, nauseous, and irritable. Mentally I was miserable and frustrated I couldn’t do more or just get better. My wife had to transition to taking care of me and the kids which added a greater toll on her. We were all struggling. While this was happening, Travis continued to reach out to me. Even though I wasn’t working there anymore, he would still touch base and see if he could help at all. Every time he called or texted he would ask if I wanted him to send a crew over and I kept telling him, “No”. He refused to take that as an answer. “I know the toll this is taking on your, your wife, your family, everything,” he said during a very emotional conversation. “Please let me help.” I finally relented, allowing my friend and boss to clean my house, and when I did I think I finally understood why Travis started Cleaning for Cancer. After his team came and cleaned our entire house, I couldn’t stop smiling. Even though it was something as simple as a cleaning, it represented more than that. It represented a weight off my family’s burdened shoulders. It represented the kindness, love, and support of the community. And more than anything, it represented the selflessness and generosity of Travis, a man I’ve very grateful to call my friend.

If you or anyone you know is fighting cancer, we would like to clean your house free of charge. Just go to our website and click on Cleaning for Cancer under the About Us page. There is a form there to fill out. We will contact you afterward to schedule a service date. Thank you and God bless.

My fight for autism awareness



I know I have written in the past before about my son Anthony. He is an awesome kid, he’s a smart kid, just like any other kid he’s active and has his interest. Once I found out that Anthony was autistic  I knew I had to know more about autism. I had a show friends, family, coworkers and strangers what really is autism. Many people believed that autism was like down syndrome or schizophrenia or even cerebral palsy. when I told someone that Anthony was autistic they would constantly tell me your son doesn’t ” look autistic, he doesn’t “seem like he’s retarded”. Sad thing is, there’s really no look of autism and you can be Autistic without being fully developmentally disabled ( mentally retarded). For me, it was really difficult to have an explain Anthony. On good days Anthony’s awesome! He could tell you about the ins and out of a car, he could play chess, He could challenge you with a puzzle. Anthony has a lot of great days and some bad days. On his bad days, he is really difficult to handle. On his bad days, people will look at him with bad looks or whisper about my bad child, once I had a woman yell at me to control my kid or she will do it for me. 

All I can do is be a dad, teach him right from wrong in the way the understands I would say that this is actually Anthony’s struggle and all I can do this fight for him and be his advocate.  because I know when he grows older, I’m not always going to be there for him. Even though he has excelled in so many aspects of life, every so often he comes across “a little off”. So I made a promise that’ll be an advocate not just for autism but for people with all types disabilities .I’ll be more helpful, I’ll be more understanding. If a door needs to be open I’ll open it.  If there someone that needs help with translating ASL I would. Whatever the issue I will try to help. Nowadays I help volunteer for different organizations to help lead a greater cause not for autism awareness but also for awareness for people with disabilities for acceptance of people with disabilities. 

Anthony has taught me was to accept everything around you and see the world in a different light.

My son Anthony

I wanted to share my personal experience with my autistic son, Anthony. I feel that if more people know more about the disorder it would easier to understand the struggle. Hopefully, this brings awareness and an understanding of what the struggles are of having an Autistic family member, or from my perspective.

Let me start with a little bit of background information on my family. My oldest is 14 years old, and his name is Angel, Anthony is 11 years old and is my second child of four. I also have a 3-year-old son, which can be a hassle sometimes, but I still love him, and a baby girl that is a year old. For the first five years of his life, I stayed home with Anthony, while my wife, Linda, worked the endlessly during the day. I would work the nights when she came home after her shift had ended, tired, exhausted, and overwhelmed. While watching Anthony, I noticed that he was not to verbal and that he wanted to be carried constantly, and initially, Linda thought I was treating him like a baby too often. He did not walk until he as two years old, and even then, he didn’t like being by himself for too long or eating certain types of foods, especially if the food had an odd texture to it. We also noticed he would be physically aggressive and hit us and get frustrated with other kids very easily.

My wife wanted to put him in preschool to help him with his delayed development of motor skills, like walking and talking. He was currently two and a half years old, and therefore the school wanted to have Anthony tested to see if he qualified for “developmental preschool.” At first, I was on the fence about this idea of “testing” him, but I reluctantly agreed to have him tested. When we got the results back from the school’s psychologist and the district liaison told us that Anthony “qualified for school.” They didn’t however, tell us what we could do about his behavior and how we could improve his motor skills. Eventually, he eventually developed motor skills and was able to walk and talk normally.and emotions. Sometimes though, he had issues expressing himself and still fought a lot with other kids. Most of our family members and friends typically saw Anthony as a trouble maker or a rebellious child. It was hard because we were lost on discipline, how to teach him lessons, or any other way to help Anthony. We tried changing his diet( no sugar),  getting him into sports, going to church. We have tried anything and everything, but nothing really changed. We just managed to get through with our low wages and hope that things will get better.

When Anthony was six years old, we started to see a dramatic change in his behavior and eventually change for the worst. Some of this trouble started to happen at school and my wife would come home frustrated because Anthony would get in trouble again. We would have the principal call us to congratulate us about our oldest child, but also to speak to us about Anthony and why he got sent to his office that day. I felt like I couldn’t get a break and that it was all my fault. One day my wife picked up my son from school and came home early. She was really frustrated and told me that if I don’t figure out what to do with Anthony, she was going to leaving me. I was shocked she would say that, but even more so worried about my son’s behavior.

I wanted to find out why our son kept getting into trouble, there is no real answer why, and took him to a psychiatrist to get questions asked. The psychiatrist then asked us questions and at the end of the questions, told us that the reason for his abnormal behavior was that he had Asperger’s disorder. She also went on to explain that his current condition (unexpressive, aggressive, weak motor skills, etc.) is part of the Autism spectrum and that we would have to work hard together in order for him to live a “normal” life. She said, “…because he is unable to express himself, he has speech and motor skills issues,” and, “…he should attend a special class or go to a school with other kids that are developmentally disabled.” She also said in a sincere way that we should not have high hopes or expectations for him. It was a day that changed our life’s forever and I became his advocate and found many ways to get him help. 

I would take him everywhere with me and show him how to interact with other people, to be more social and more courageous when talking to people. I would introduce him to different cultures, food, languages, and religion and encouraged him to be himself and told him that it was okay to be different. I also gave Anthony the choice of school to go to, whether it be a special school or ordinary. I would work part time in order to help him with his school work and found out that he loved working with cars, like fixing the engine, or replacing the tires. I would reward his good grades and behavior by working on cars with him. He has come a long way and hasn’t stopped surprising us. So now the awesome news is that this last year, Anthony got honor roll! Also he is in a “regular” class and does math at a 7th grade level. So for all of the friends and family that has helped me out with Anthony, Thank you! 

Our Lucky Miracle


Our Lucky Miracle In late September 2016, I started radiation treatment on a cancerous tumor on my the pituitary gland in my head. The brutal regime of radiation and medication took a toll on my body as well as my state of mind. I began to become depressed and withdrawn from my family which made facing the next round of radiation all the more daunting. Perhaps due to the misery, I was feeling, a small dog started greeting me at my car when I would get home. She was covered in trash, malnourished, her hair was matted, and she was terrified of humans. I gave her food and water and let her be, but she kept coming back. After my wife noticed her, we brought her in to see if we could find an owner. She had no collar or microchip but we took pictures nonetheless and put up fliers around town and online. After a couple of days, no calls, no messages. It didn’t seem anyone was looking for this dog. During this time, I began to get attached to her.

My son, Anthony, is autistic and when he had a bad day having the dog there seemed to help. She would follow me around and comfort me when I came back for radiation treatments. I began to realize how she cheered me up and asked my wife if we could keep her. My wife has never cared for dogs but felt I deserved a “pick me up” and relented under the one condition that we get her cleaned up. When I took her to the groomer, they told me that she had a lot of scars and was really lucky we found her. I repeated this later to my wife. She smiled and said I should name her “Lucky”. Lucky quickly became a member of our family. She’d go with me to appointments. I would walk her daily, and give her treats. I basically treated her like another kid and we all came to love her very much. Months later I finally got the news that my cancer was in remission. My wife surprised me with a celebratory trip to Texas to see my family. I wasn’t sure I was up for a big trip already but she had already packed the car and gotten everything ready so I caved, smiling and said, “Let’s do it.” We decided to bring Lucky because of how she can sense when Anthony in distress and help calm him down. We all jumped in the car and arrived at my Mom’s eight hours later in El Paso, Texas. My sister came over a short time later with her kids who were very excited to see us and meet our new dog. All the commotion and new people seemed to intimidate Lucky so I gave her a treat and laid her down on the couch.

My mother had an appointment at the salon she needed to be picked up from so I asked my sister to keep an eye on Lucky while we were gone. She seemed distracted with her phone and while this concerned me, my mom was waiting. When we returned, my concerns were realized— I couldn’t find Lucky anywhere. I asked my sister if she’d seen her and she said the last time was in the back yard when we were leaving. It was then I realized I forgot to close the gate. My heart sank and we all jumped in our vehicles and started searching for our lost little Lucky. After a couple hours of searching, a thunderstorm rolled in destroying any visibility that was left. The next day, after the storm cleared we went out again putting up fliers and calling shelters. We were scheduled to return the Arizona the next day but stayed an extra day just in case. No Lucky. On the day we had to drive home we were a somber, quiet bunch. None of us wanted to leave Lucky behind because she had already improved all our lives, but we had no choice. We were heartbroken.

A couple days after coming back, my mother-in-law wanted to cheer us up so she gave us a teacup chihuahua. While we liked the new dog enough, there was just no replacing Lucky. She was special. We continued to pray that she would be found but with less and less hope. Then, after being home for four days I received a call about Lucky. My heart was in my throat as I spoke to a man who said to have found her. He seemed hesitant and wanted to make sure I hadn’t intentionally abandoned her, but I assured him that couldn’t be more from the truth. I arranged for my mom and stepdad to pick Lucky up and broke the news to my family. Anthony was so overwhelmed he jumped out of bed crying with happiness. We had all missed Lucky so much we didn’t want to wait any longer to get her so we packed the car back up and headed straight back to El Paso. We could hear Luckily excitedly barking and crying for us from inside the house before we even got out of the car. We ran inside and were finally reunited with our little Lucky. Once we finally made it back home, I went straight to the vet to get Lucky microchipped. After finding her twice, I couldn’t imagine losing our little miracle again.