For Meg Walker of Aladdin Cleaning & Restoration, her career path was never a mystery. Choosing to commit to being a “big fish in a small pond” when she accepted her first job with the family-owned company straight out of college, Walker’s path has been set in stone as she has risen over the years to become Vice President of one of South Texas’ largest rug cleaning operations, a trade that is dominated by men. Raised by a resilient mother who has remained Walker’s leading example of strength and professionalism in the face of life’s challenges, her grit and dedication has poised Aladdin for continued successes well into the future.

On her business background:

My background is somewhat rare in that Aladdin has really been my first and only career.  I started working for Aladdin a few weeks after graduating from college.  I earned my degree in business from TCU and moved home to be close to family.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and Aladdin was one of my mom’s clients. The owner needed an office manager and I needed a job. When I interviewed with Bob, I’ll never forget, he asked me, “do you want to be a little fish in a big pond, or a big fish in a little pond?” (referring to corporate vs. small business opportunities). Thirteen years later, I’m still here and loving every minute.  The cleaning industry is predominately male and most rug cleaners are third  or  fourth generation family businesses.  For a 36 year-old, woman to be Vice President of one of South Texas’ largest rug cleaning operations is an accomplishment I am proud of.  This year I also took over as President of our industry’s trade organization, The Association of Rug Care Specialists.  It is an amazing opportunity that I don’t take lightly. The past presidents have also predominately been male, and third or fourth generation rug cleaners, so I have big shoes to fill…but for my presidential term, they’re heels.

On what makes Aladdin unique:

Our customer service and satisfaction guarantee really set us apart. Aladdin is the only company in South Texas with an automated rug washing facility and over 60 years of experience washing rugs.  We also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, because we believe if we can’t make it right the customer shouldn’t have to pay for a cleaning.  

On family and community impact:

Before I had children, I was very involved with the Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas. If I ever can find time to volunteer again, it will be there.  My dad passed away unexpectedly in 1999, when I was only 16 years old. It was before the Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas (CBCST) existed.  When I graduated from college I began looking into charities to get involved with and found the CBCST.  My volunteering began simply, by bringing dinners to families before their group therapy sessions.  Part of the grief therapy is sharing a meal with families going through similar circumstances, sitting around a large table talking about the difficulties of grief and comforting one another.  For several years I was on the CBCST Friends Board and helped with fundraising, including the capital campaign that funded the move to the Olmos location, and I also helped with event planning.  

My dear friend, Patty Vela, that I met volunteering at the CBCST is now the Assistant Director at Autism Community Network and she asked that I help with their annual fundraiser, Les Brunch Des Chapeaux, last year.  I am on the committee again this year and look forward to spreading the word about the wonderful work that Autism Community Network does in San Antonio and surrounding areas. 

On her personal female hero:

My mom, Diane Hanrahan, is my hero.  She was adopted, and grew up in a blue collar household with two adopted brothers in Iowa.  After graduating from University of Iowa, she moved to New York City to become a flight attendant.  She flew all over the world with United Airlines, eventually settling down in Houston, TX with my dad.  They were married, had two children and moved to San Antonio when my dad became a partner in a local law firm.  Shortly before the move, my mom was hit by a drunk driver over Memorial Day Weekend. The driver was killed instantly, but mom was in a coma for about a month.

She was a stay-at-home mom but always loved sports, so when the opportunity to go to Sports Caster Camp in California came up she took it, which led to a part-time career with John Crowe Productions, the producer of the San Antonio Spurs Games.  She was the woman behind the camera at every home Spurs game for as long as I can remember, telling the talent what was happening, the game highlights, commercial brakes, etc.  In 1999, after my dad passed away unexpectedly, it was time for my mom to go back to work full-time.

Through her production connections she found a job at Clear Channel in radio ad sales for WOAI 1200.  She worked at Clear Channel and John Crowe Productions for the next ten years.  She retired in 2009 after she reconnected with an old college flame at the 2006 Alamo Bowl.

Mom has lived a crazy, wonderful life, she has worked hard and has always taught me to do the same.  She has been the best mom and is the best role model and grandmother, she is also my best friend.  She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease last year and is maintaining a positive diagnosis through exercise and Pilates.  Her doctors remain positive, which keep our spirits hopeful.  She is resilient and strong, and an inspiration.

 

Connect with Meg Walker and Aladdin Cleaning & Restoration on Facebook and on Instagram @aladdinrugs. 

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Edited from an interview by Eleanora Morrison.