|Andre Hiett launched his business, Andre's Window Cleaning, in the early 1990s and has been up and down ladders ever since. The 64-year-old estimates that he has cleaned more than 80,000 windows across Crawley in his time.|
Window cleaner who has cleaned 80,000 Crawley windows hanging up his squeegee: A Southgate window cleaner is preparing to wring out his squeegee for the last time after keeping the town's windows sparkling for more than 25 years. Andre Hiett launched his business, Andre's Window Cleaning, in the early 1990s and has been up and down ladders ever since.
The 64-year-old estimates that he has cleaned more than 80,000 windows across Crawley in his time.
Mr Hiett, from Fletcher Close, credits the secret of his business's success to word of mouth. He said: "When I started I would get new clients through people telling their friends and family about me. "I have liked cleaning windows as it meant I could be my own boss. "Although sometimes when I have been out in bad weather I would think, 'why am I doing this?'"
The grandfather of two got into window cleaning after being made redundant from the former Duracell factory on Gatwick Road, in Manor Royal, where he worked as a tool maker. Mr Hiett was among 350 people who lost their jobs when operations at the factory were moved to Europe. He said: "There were 39 of us trying to go for a handful of other tool-making jobs so I decided to go in a different direction and started window cleaning full time."
Although he has vowed to stay tight-lipped about any embarrassing instances of cleaning a window and people inside not realising he was there, he did talk about some of the more unusual jobs he has faced. He said: "I had one customer who had secondary glazing on their windows (a second piece of glass fitted inside a single glazed window for soundproofing and insulation). "Inside the glass was a layer of mould so thick you couldn't see out of it but they would still get me to come and clean the outside."
After cleaning his last pane Mr Hiett is looking forward to spending more time with his wife of 41 years Patricia, along with his two children, two grandchildren and 92-year-old mother. He has a new window cleaner lined up to take over the business when he retires next month. Not one to sit around Mr Hiett has said he doesn't plan to stop working completely once retired. He said: "I am going to enjoy having the next few months off and then maybe get a one or two-day warehouse-type job in the new year to keep busy."