How a father and son’s side-gig turned into a successful local enterprise
Chris didn’t start his professional life thinking he’d become a professional window washer. His journey toward that career started much earlier, and it’s entirely thanks to his dad.
His father was a teacher in Cumberland County. Looking for ways to supplement his income, he started washing windows for local businesses. And when possible, he brought along his 12-year-old son Chris to help him, and not just for the extra help.
Chris’ dad wanted his son to learn a trade, understand the value of every dollar, and earn something he wanted to buy as opposed to just asking his parents to buy it for him.
“My first Nintendo, I had to work 10 Saturdays to save up and buy it,” Chris says.
As he got older, Chris pursued other avenues for education and work training. He first went to East Carolina University, then he returned home and drove a forklift at a factory. On his days off, Chris would do what his father did before: clean windows on the side.
Eventually, the window-washing business earned more money than his factory job did. In 2003, Chris stepped into his father’s shoes and founded NC Window Cleaning. This second-generation window washer had grown up in Fayetteville helping his dad, and now he was fulfilling the same service for commercial clients.
“There’s a lot of storefronts in Fayetteville I’ve cleaned continually through the years,” he said. “There are storefronts that I clean now that I’ve been cleaning since they were Blockbusters!”
Chris’s business has changed, too. It has expanded to include residential customers. (Chris has been around long enough, he’s cleaned the same homes for multiple tenants who owned it at different times.) The company has added additional cleaning services for gutters, roofs, siding, and walkways such as driveways, sidewalks, and patios.
Chris has also invested in the company itself, ensuring it has the latest technology and knowledge to do the best job possible. That’s why NC Window Cleaning now has three trailers, two of which are for hot, power-washing jobs and the third for soft washing services.
What’s the difference? Soft washing is a low-pressure, high-water-volume service perfect for cleaning roofs because it won’t damage the shingles in the process. NC Window Cleaning’s trailer for this job uses as much as 11 gallons per minute. (When they say “high volume,” they mean it.)
The company also invested in equipment to help them correctly combine chemicals for particular jobs. For customers, they can rest assured that the best chemicals are being applied and don’t pose a danger to either their buildings or to the nearby vegetation. For Chris’s team, they don’t have to calculate the number of gallons to use per job as they’re on the site.
These investments have also provided the company another advantage: it provides added value to clients who at first are skeptical about why they couldn’t just do the job themselves, either by renting a pressure-washer or by buying a bottle of household cleaner.
Chris’s team has equipment that most people don’t have access to (or the will to pay for). The company understands how various chemicals and water pressures interact with particular surfaces. And professional cleaning jobs are simply a more convenient option for people who could devote that time to something else.
“When I go in [to a business] and I get a manager in front of me, they say ‘I can get my employees to clean their windows,’” says Chris. “I tell them, ‘Yes, but you can hire me to do it in half the time, leaving them to deal with customers.”
Chris’ team has been providing that convenience to their customers for the better part of two decades. It also incorporates the value of hard work he learned from his dad during all those weekends cleaning windows at the local Chick-fil-A, Blockbuster, and other businesses.
Chris may have learned the value of a dollar, but there was another reason window washing became a lifelong pursuit.
“It was a way for me and my dad to spend time together,” he says. “It was something special.”
It still is.