Senior business major starts cleaning company

Andrea Huete, Copy Editor

Last June, Eli Kirlin, a senior business economics major, decided to put his business degree and family experience with carpet cleaning to use and founded Kirlin’s Kleaners, a carpet cleaning company based in Brookings and Sioux Falls.  

Kirlin’s Kleaners offers tile grout cleaning, upholstery steaming, machine carpet cleaning, door-to-door and exterior window cleaning, as well as pet stain removal, tenant move-out cleaning, janitorial and event cleaning. After purchasing a Chevy Express 3500 box truck online, Kirlin got to work making a website, fliers, business cards and connections around the Eastern South Dakota area.

“Business has been great the last couple of weeks,” Kirlin said. “I’m trying  out some different marketing for my commercial janitorial section of my business and it’s been working well.” 

Kirlin said he will be looking to hire employees in the Sioux Falls area soon. 

Kirlin’s father, Brian Kirlin, commended his son for his current business venture as well as his use of a commercial truck to operate the business from.  

“His business can go wherever he goes,”  Brian Kerlin said. “The Sioux Falls and Brookings areas are the places where he has planted seeds and set roots in up to this point, but he would be able to quickly adapt and seize on other expansion as the opportunities might arise.” 

George Vandel, the owner of SLS Financial Services in Sioux Falls, has been a family friend of the Kirlin’s for years. Vandel said it’s been fun to see how Kirlin expanded his business from a simple commercial cleaning job to professional carpet cleaning and window washing services. 

“With Eli, the sky is truly the limit,” Vandel said. “People get more and more used to paying people for things they could easily do themselves – and Eli’s done a great job focusing on those things. I’d say the same thing to anyone who wants to start a business – find something you like to do … that you’re passionate about, and just know if you work hard and treat your customers with respect, you can do anything you’d like to.”

Before Kirlin started his company and switched his major to business, he was majoring at South Dakota State University in nursing. But after a chemistry test went wrong, Kirlin decided to pivot to more entrepreneurial pursuits. 

In high school, Kirlin always tried to get the jobs that paid the highest and thought it would be cool to start his own business one day. That idea came to fruition when he switched his major and started planning for his own business. 

“What better way is there then to major in Business Economics,” Kirlin said.

Kirlin’s parents said they are proud of him for what he’s been able to do with his business and have offered support along the way. 

“With experience as an entrepreneur and business owner through my history, I have tried to be there to support him by sharing knowledge and experience from my history and sharing opinions and advice with different ideas that he had for his business,” Brian Kirlin said. “While we have offered financial backing and support as well, he has been determined to do as much as possible on his own and has largely succeeded with that goal.”

Kirlin said he is thankful for his professors at SDSU for being good resources as he navigates the entrepreneurial world. He noted Craig Silvernagel, an associate professor of entrepreneurship & innovation management, Barb Heller, who’s a lecturer and entrepreneurship coordinator and Ryan McKnight, a lecturer in the Ness School of Management and Economics as some of his influences. 

“My entrepreneurial career has probably given me a lot more insight into my own life,” Kerlin said. “It’s probably what I’ll do forever. I enjoy learning more about it every day and just learning more about business.”