SUWANEE -- When Scott and Cyndi Auer opened the only Molly Maid franchise in Gwinnett County two years ago, Scott wanted to own a business that connected with the community, and allowed him to be involved.
After 23 years in corporate America, Auer became frustrated that ideas from employees to help a local food bank, for example, with a team building exercise, were quashed by the Human Resources department.
"I remember thinking to myself, 'If I ever have a chance to do my own business, it's going to be different," Auer said.
So the couple opened Molly Maids of Northwest Gwinnett in 2010, and have grown to seven teams of cars that have clients in their original area, but have branched out to places like Lawrenceville, Loganville and Snellville.
Since opening, Auer said he's become involved in the city's 20/20 vision plan, and met the City Council, among other city-oriented activities.
That was something he outlined with a business consultant when he looked to start a business.
"We like people, I like meeting people, I want to get really engaged," he said. "I live in Suwanee, I really love it, but my corporate life has never let me spend much time in it. We value companies that want to give something back to the people that help them."
One of the ways the Auers contribute back to the community is through the Miss Molly Foundation, which raises money and awareness to prevent domestic violence.
The Auers' Molly Maid franchise partners each October with the Gwinnett chapter of the Partnership Against Domestic Violence. The franchise collects care packages in reverse for customers, toiletries and school supplies for the shelter. It also donates 10 cents from every clean to the local shelter.
The domestic violence prevention support came after the founder of the company, David McKinnon, watched the O.J. Simpson trial and wondered what he could do to support domestic violence victims. McKinnon also wanted to help a cause that didn't get as much attention, Auer said.
"We felt like they had a value system where it wasn't about how much money you could make, or how long it takes before you break even," Auer said.
Auer said domestic violence is a crime nobody talks about, despite statistics that one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
"Our workforce, by definition, is probably more a victim of that crime than other work forces might be," Auer said. "Every franchise owner who you talk to who's done this for a while will find the day where the employee called out sick the day before, and the next day comes in with a black eye. I'd be lying if I said that hasn't happened (here)."
Because the franchise has grown in two years, Auer said even the busy fall season is a time to step back.
"Remember all the reasons we did this," he said. "It means a lot to our employees to say we care, we recognize it, we don't tolerate it. We're going to do something about it. Now we're fulfilling the dream we originally set out to do, so let's get busy."