Our Story

The Story of American Empire Building Services

For four decades, American Empire Building Services has cleaned and maintained San Francisco buildings. With an emphasis on efficiency and green cleaning, we have come this far due to the hard work of our team and the collaborative spirit of our clients. Over time we expanded to include a suite of specialty services. American Empire is also one of the few women-owned building service contractors in the Bay Area.


The story of American Empire Building Services starts with the story of Lewis & Taylor. In 1945, America was striving towards a new era of post-war prosperity. As veterans returned home to former careers or to seek new job opportunities, two men named Ed Lewis & George Taylor saw the potential in the newly organized janitorial cleaning industry. The years that followed saw a boom of commercial building construction, and Lewis & Taylor seized the opportunity to grow.


In 1961, Lewis & Taylor took a chance on a promising young student from the University of San Francisco, Michael Milstein. Mike learned every aspect of the business from the ground up while selling accounts by day and attending classes by night. Upon graduation from USF in 1963, Mike joined the company full time as Vice President of Sales. In 1971, Mike purchased Lewis & Taylor. He has been its sole owner and president ever since.


Mike was delighted to see his daughter, Larklyn Milstein, join the family business. She had spent the first 15 years of her career working in some of America’s first tech companies. Applying her extensive experience in sales to Lewis & Taylor, she worked her way up in the company until she reached the position of Vice President in 2003.


In 2014, Larklyn and Mike purchased American Empire Building Services. Today, Larklyn is the President and majority owner, and Michael serves as the Chairman of the Board. Now these two generations of family are leading the industry with sustainable commercial cleaning operations focused on supporting science-based green cleaning methods for clients throughout the greater Bay Area.

A message from Larklyn Milstein, President and CEO:

“Throughout my childhood, I watched my father work his way up at Lewis & Taylor and learn every facet of the business. Then, when I was in high school and college, I worked a couple of summers as a Union Station janitor and window cleaner. After spending 15 years at tech companies like Pitney Bowes, IBM, and Sun Microsystems, I returned to the family business and found my career home. I am honored to continue my fathers legacy and help blaze a trail for other female CEOs in this industry.”

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