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We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

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Global contacts

We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

View contacts
Global contacts

We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

View contacts
Global contacts

We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

View contacts
Global contacts

We operate in more than 50 countries around the world. If your country is not on the list, please refer to our global contacts.

View contacts
Get to know ISS

History

ISS as we know it today was formed in 1934, but the origins of the company date back to 1901.While ISS started out as a company that offered watchmen to local businesses, all throughout its expansion and development, ISS has held onto the same values. People have always been at the core of our business - to manage reliable, competent, independent employees that take responsibility and pride in their work and in exchange expect respect and improved workplace conditions. 

The Beginning

ISS' story begins in 1901

It all began with the security firm Kjøbenhavn-Frederiksberg Nattevagt (Copenhagen-Frederiksberg Night Watch) founded by a drapery wholesaler, Marius Hogrefe. After a few years, the ambitious lawyer and industrious businessman, C L David bought a share in the small security firm. He would play a decisive role in the success of the security firm and thereby in the foundation of ISS, as it is known today.

The security company steadily grew, changed its name to De Forenede Vagtselskaber (DFVS – The United Security Companies) and hired Director Philip Sørensen, a genuine ‘man of ideas’.

The good idea

One day Director Sørensen had a good idea which led to the establishment of Det Danske Rengøringsselskab (DDRS – The Danish Cleaning Company) in 1934.

The night watchman’s shifts ended at four in the morning, but the building’s employees did not arrive for work until eight. If the security firm could fill in the gap by cleaning the building, which had to be done anyway, there would always be someone on the premises to keep an eye on the property.

The first idea concerning integrated facility services and keeping the customers’ best interests at heart was thus born.

Wellbeing of the people at heart

ISS has always had a strong and determined focus on the health and wellbeing of its employees – especially the service professionals. During World War II, the company hired one of the world’s first Human Resource Managers, Gerda Buhl.

Gerda Buhl was part of the company’s drive to professionalise the frontline jobs in terms of providing better working conditions, uniforms, new titles to employee categories and to train and educate all service professionals on a continuous basis. She also set up a “welfare department” and helped employees with loan schemes, finding housing and others.

New generation and new paradigm

In 1962, the 34-year old engineer, Poul Andreassen, took over the reins and remained at the helm for 33 years. He implemented a paradigm shift and set a new standard for the entrepreneurial spirit. 

Poul Andreasen was nicknamed PA. During his tenure, he focused on building a stronger entrepreneurial spirit and making ISS an international company. He introduced management education programmes and established the ISS Center for Service Management Development, which was later called the ISS University.
 

The ISS Group is born

Over the years, DDRS grew into a comprehensive international company with subsidiaries in more than 10 countries and formed the International Service System (ISS) Group. 

In 1973 - 11 years after Poul Andreassen took over - ISS consisted of 32 companies in 11 countries with a total of 35,000 employees and revenues of DKK 650 million.

All the subsidiaries around the world reported to Poul Andreassen who was the undisputable focal point of any development, dynamics and power in ISS.

ISS Goes Global

In the 80s, Poul Andreassen set a very ambitious goal for ISS - the group was to double its revenues and employees within the following four years. ISS also started operations on the American market.

In 1989, ISS reached employee number 100,000 and became one of the world's largest service companies.

In 1993, ISS bought National Cleaning Group in the US with 20,000, which doubled the ISS revenues and employees in the US.

In 1994, the ISS University was born, with the vision to create an 'international power centre for development within the ISS corporation.

On the 1st October 1995, ISS CEO Poul Andreassen was succeeded by Waldemar Schmidt who took over the position as group CEO of ISS.
 

Create2005

At the beginning of the new millennium, with employee number over 270 000, it was clear that ISS needed a new strategy, which was called create2005 - a 5 year strategy, launched in year 2000. 

The new group CEO, Eric Rylberg, was behind this strategy and the move to transform ISS from an international cleaning organisation into a global service group and an Integrated Facility Services provider.

Living 'The ISS Way'

In 2008, The ISS Way Strategy was launched, and has since stood the test of time. It laid the foundation for the successful IPO and subsequent listing of ISS at the Copenhagen Stock Exchange in 2014.

The ISS Way strategy has choice-making at its core; clarity on the customer targeted segments, the services provided and the places around the globe where ISS provide them. The scale benefits ISS strive to extract relate to leveraging the volume through aligning procurement, sharing the best practices the organisation develops and proactively managing the comprehensive talent pool.

GREAT - A new roadmap

A large part of the ISS WAY strategy has been implemented, but in order to further accelerate implementation, GREAT was introduced in 2014. Jeff Gravenhorst, who took over as the Group CEO in April 2010, has been at the helm of ISS since then, driving the strategy and taking ISS towards the  ambitious vision of becoming the world’s greatest service organisation. 

Continuing forward

In 2017, ISS continues working towards its ambitious vision - becoming the world's greatest service organisation. For the 5th year in a row, ISS has been recognised by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) with getting a full five stars rating.

In April, ISS acquired a leading food services company in the US - Guckenheimer. Furthermore, ISS acquired SIGNAL - a strategic workplace management and design company.

With a focus on innovation, ISS also launched Corporate Garage - an innovative and autonomous unit living outside of ISS aiming to unleash the innovation power of the company.

Read our White books

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Over the past few years, ISS has published a series of 5 white books on future perspectives on the FM industry - aiming to provide insights on different aspects of the industry.

Read the White books

Read our White Papers

ISS white papers
Read about trends and developments within the outsourcing and FM industries, and learn more about people, service and workplace management.

Read the White papers

Event calendar

ISS event calendar
Meet ISS at various industry events and exhibitions in all over the globe. Click below to see our event calendar or visit a country website for local representation.

See events