Ginger Sloan's mom, while raising her and her older brother, worked as a janitor for Guthrie Public Schools where Sloan loathed her high school typing class. Sloan, who dreamed of being a broadcast journalist, vowed she would never type or clean.
Ironically, her businesses today are based on typing — medical transcription — and corporate housekeeping.
Sloan is the founding principal of GT Clean, which she started in 2004, and Encore professional medical services, which she established five years later. Each, she said, employs about 75 contract workers and has customers in greater Oklahoma City and across the nation.
Sloan, 40, recently sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about the ups and downs of her career path. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Tell us about your roots.
A: I grew up in Guthrie, where my dad owned a trucking company and my mom was primarily a homemaker. I have a brother, Mike, they adopted from birth, who is nine months older than I am. My mom learned she was expecting a few weeks after they brought him home. Sadly, I had another brother, Robert, who died at age 2 in an accident involving a parked truck that slid out of gear. Mike and I were so close. I wore his hand-me-down clothes, had a boy haircut like him and, like him, played soccer. I was a cheerleader, and competed in high school, finally making the squad at the end of eighth grade on my third time.
Q: Where'd you get your work ethic?
A: My dad. He taught me hard work, character and integrity. But I also tend to be a workaholic like he was. I frequently have to tell myself to rein in work and stop and be a mom.
Q: What was your first job?
A: My brother and I mowed lawns. I remember it was a big deal when we earned enough to pay cash for a riding mower, laying out $399 at the former Sears & Roebuck in Guthrie. The riding mower allowed us to double the number of yards we mowed, and mow them quicker. Soon I earned enough cash to buy a two-seater go-cart, which allowed me, at age 12, my own transportation and to run up and down the streets and alleyways in Guthrie.
On Saturday nights, Mike and I would help our dad deliver The Oklahoman newspapers in the Ponca City and Billings areas. When we made it to Billings, we were rewarded with a pastry and chocolate milk, and at 13 or 14 I got to drive the truck and empty horse trailer back home. Then we'd get up Sunday mornings and go to Bible Baptist.
We used that same rig to sell cut firewood door-to-door in the winters. And in high school, I also cleaned houses after school to earn extra cash for the clothes I wanted to wear.
Q: And after high school?
A: Upon graduation, I married my high school sweetheart. He was a year older and had served a year in the U.S. Air Force. I was 17. We lived six months in New Mexico and then his orders took us to Japan, where I learned the language and worked for a time as a Japanese translator for Hertz. Shortly after our first daughter was born, we were transferred back to Edmond, where I've lived ever since.
Q: Did you ever want to be a stay-at-home mom?
A: Yes. That's why I started my first medical transcription business, because you can work from home in your PJs. My mom and mother-in-law helped watch my infant daughter and I squeezed a yearlong medical transcription program at the Andrews School into two months, training for nine-hour days. My first assignment, I worked for a company that contracted with the VA Hospital. But then I started my own network with 20 or 30 MTs (medical transcriptionists), which grew to 250 nationwide when I sold the company in 2008. The sale went bad, and I wasn't paid. So I started my second medical transcription company in December 2009. It's become almost like a calling for me, as many of our MTs are single moms or widowers. I trained some myself.
Q: What led you to start your commercial cleaning business?
A: I learned some of the physicians I served were having trouble finding a good janitorial service. So I saw a need and thought I can do this. At first, it was a real family affair that involved all of us. My daughters learned to clean toilets so thoroughly that you could eat off them.
Q: What business advice would you give budding entrepreneurs?
A: You can't be afraid to fail. Plenty of times, I've had my nose shoved into the ground. And when I lost my first transcription business, I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. But at the end of the day, you get back up, get back out there and get to work.
Founding principal, GT Clean corporate housekeeping company and Encore medical transcription service
• Birth date: Oct. 25, 1972
• Ancestry: Part Choctaw, she and her biological daughters are on tribal rolls
• Family: Kevin Sloan, information technology professional and husband of four and half years; daughters Kiley Simco, 24; Larryn (“La-La”) Jenkins, 19; Kali Jenkins, 16; and Sophia Jenkins, 6 (abandoned at birth in China, she joined the family at 11 months old)
• Residence: Edmond
• Education: Graduate of the Andrews School for medical transcription and Guthrie High School
• Church home: Crossings Community Church
• Favorite charity: Oklahoma City-based Beautiful Dream Society, formed to end human trafficking here and in Africa
• Community involvement: American Heart Association (her daughter Kali has a heart condition), Oklahoma Venture Forum, Oklahoma Business Roundtable and three chambers of commerce
• Travel: Through the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce, she's visited Canada, Mexico and Spain; Jamaica is next