Sunday 31 January 2010

Winda's & How To Clean 'em

Alan Pencavel's new book was all inspired by backing into a swimming pool on a New Zealands cold winter morning in June. Being a one man band, this started Alan on thinking about how to compile all his experiences into a book. It's a humorous account of all the up's & down's & window cleaners exploits he has encountered. Alan from Cambridge, on the North Island of New Zealand wrote this book which also includes a beginner's guide to how to clean glass panes. An expatriate Englishman, Alan has been window cleaning for some 16 years & business is booming to a point he has to turn down work!

The unfortunate on-the-job incident that spawned the idea for "Winda's & how to clean them" was when Alan actually fell into a customer's swimming pool – not intentionally, and it was mid-June, so it was freezing." "I'd finished the job, and I was doing a final `lap of honour' to check for smears. I was looking up at the high windows and forgot there was a little kidney-shaped pool. He fell in, "and the blue cover over the pool didn't support my weight and that of my bucket". "I was absolutely freezing. I said to my customer: `If I do too many more things like this, I'll have to write a book about it'."

The book - his first published writing - contains small sketches of the happenings on the job & small poetry offerings. The film "Confessions of a Window Cleaner" inspired some of his work with mishaps & notes of his tales. Although the 1974 has sexual annotations, Alan admits he's happily married & never followed the exploits shown in the film. "Once or twice I have inadvertently caught people naked, and that certainly gets a mention in the book." "In all honesty, I have to pretend I haven't seen them, and just move on to the next window." "I only look at the glass, not through it".

Initially, Alan ran his own local campaign, which started the publicity to advertise the book, which is full of anecdotes of (and admissions to) things that have occurred over the last sixteen years of him being a full time 'TEF' (Transparency Enhancement Facilitator'). His book covers such topics as awkward clients & a general guide to window cleaning. The characters in the book are real people however their names have been changed, although he reckons that local people would be able to guess who was who. You can contact Alan to get a copy of the book "Windas ... and how to clean 'em" by sending an email to:

Saturday 30 January 2010

Window Cleaning News

Dragon’s cash leading to national success: A cleaning firm boss who won backing from celebrity entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne on television’s Dragon’s Den plans to launch a national franchise network to help grow his firm’s annual sales from £370,000 to £2.5m by 2011. Tony Earnshaw entered the Dragon’s Den with his Newcastle-Based Uk Commercial Cleaning Services Company last year and got £100,000 investment from Darlington leisure tycoon Mr Bannatyne in exchange for a 35% stake in the business.
Mr Earnshaw is now planning to use the cash to set up offices in London to complement his site in Leeds, and wants to franchise the business to prepare for large national contracts that are in the pipeline. He said: “This is a massive step for us as it allows us to not only expand nationally but to service large contracts which are in the pipeline for this year.
“This opportunity is fantastic for anyone looking to start their own business, as it removes the risk of them starting from scratch because they have the advantage of our brand, materials, and current workload. The cleaning industry is worth an estimated £10bn in the UK and we are giving people the opportunity to get a slice of the cake by starting their own franchise.”
The firm, which will employ 40 staff once its London operation opens for business, expects to employ 60 staff by 2011 to help with its growing portfolio of contracts, which includes window cleaning for Ladbrokes, Sunderland City Council and the Bannatyne’s Health Club chain. Mr Earnshaw has also set up a crime-scene cleaning division.
Duncan Bannatyne said: “Franchising is an excellent option for anyone looking to expand their business and UKCC has a sound business and profit model, which gives people the opportunity to invest in a solid franchise option.
The company’s humble origins make its future aspirations all the more impressive, with Mr Earnshaw starting out in 2004 after buying a window cleaning round for £300. As a 19-year-old, he quit his role at waste management company Biffa and proceeded to transform the window cleaning round from a handful of houses into a £6,000-a-month business in just six months. Expanding his cleaning enterprise nationally is something which Mr Earnshaw has been working towards since 2004 when he bought a window cleaning round for only £300.

Cleaning business launches franchise: A young entrepreneur who won the backing of Duncan Bannatyne on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, is to franchise his industrial cleaning business. UK Commercial Cleaning Services (UKCC), which founder Tony Earnshaw grew from a window cleaning round in Washington, Wearside, to a £1.5m turnover business, is to be franchised across the UK. UKCC, which Mr Earnshaw established in 2004 with £300, when he was 19, is making the move in order to increase its workforce and prepare for large national contracts that are in the pipeline. Mr Earnshaw operates from depots in Leeds and Washington, and is using franchising as a way to expand the business, with ambitions to deliver services to Scotland, Wales, the South of England, and Ireland. North-East based entrepreneur Mr Bannatyne, who backed the company with a £100,000 investment in the last series of Dragons’ Den, has backed the move, saying: “Franchising is an excellent option for anyone looking to expand their business.” Mr Earnshaw said: “This is a massive step for us as it allows us to not only expand nationally but to service large contracts which are in the pipeline for this year. “This opportunity is fantastic for anyone looking to start their own business, as it removes the risk of them starting from scratch because they have the advantage of our brand, materials, and current workload.”
Mr Earnshaw is working with franchise experts to firm-up plans for the venture, which is due to launch next month. Estimates suggest that it would cost an individual around £30,000 to take on a franchise. Franchisees will be given machinery, a branded vehicle, a depot, and key contacts in which to generate business. They will also be given work from national contracts which have been secured by UKCC. Anyone interested in starting a franchise can call Mr Earnshaw on 0191-415-5610 Previous Blogs: Here & video here.

Villages want ban on cold calling: Work is under way to get villages around Corby designated as 'no cold calling zones' following the arrest of a bogus salesman. The group of doorstep salesmen – known as the Nottingham Knockers – were stopped recently in Weldon and one man was arrested. A spokesman for the Corby Rural Safer Community Team said: "One of the group was wanted by two other police forces. The team has been giving presentations to various locals to raise awareness about doorstep crime and PCSOs have visited vulnerable residents in the parishes. "We are also consulting with all parish councils to try to agree to a 'no cold calling zone' being established in the parishes." The safer community team trialled the scheme in October last year in Gretton, Cottingham, Middleton and Weldon in a bid to protect the most vulnerable and elderly residents from scam-artists and distraction burglars. It is hoped other villages will soon follow their lead and adopt the ban.
Corby rural councillor Stan Heggs said: "The police have been really on the ball with this one. We have worked hard in the villages around Corby and why should people come from Nottingham and fraudulently take things from us? It is concerning, particularly for elderly residents." Joy Smith from Stanion said: "I think there should be a total ban. There was an old lady in the village who had someone who said he was a window cleaner and then took £120 from her and another claimed to be from the water company and took £100 from her bag. "I think these people can tell if people are living on their own and target them."

MELBOURNE, Victoria (Australia): Madewell Enterprises has introduced BillsTrust, an innovative and secure online bill payment web service. Uniquely BillsTrust requires no data entry and can pay any bill, whether handwritten or printed – meaning more obscure bills can be easily paid without any chasing around like fines, plumbing, garden maintenance, school fees, suppliers or window cleaning. The service is suited to businesses and busy individuals that receive large numbers of bills and who find it a pain to remember and shuffle upcoming bills in order to pay them manually closer to the due date.
BillsTrust has been running in Australia since September 2009, and has been developed by former MYOB employees including Craig Winkler, co-founder and former CEO of MYOB who understand the financial and lifestyle challenges faced by businesses and busy individuals. “BillsTrust is like having a virtual cash flow assistant working for you, as bills will only be paid at the last possible moment by the due date, or you can delay payments to your own payment terms,” said Craig Winkler, Managing Director of Madewell Enterprises. “We provide clients with personalised barcoded stickers that they stick onto the front of their bills as they receive them. They simply fax or scan & email their bills to us and that's all there is to it...send and forget. When a bill is paid, our client receives an SMS and email notification of what bills have been paid and how much.”
BillsTrust aids clients to avoid late payment fees while saving them time, yet without sacrificing control of their bills. When they sign into their BillsTrust account clients can see their bills all queued up ready for payment, view a timeline of upcoming bills to be paid, and view historical payment information and digital copies of bills in an archive. As such BillsTrust provides visibility of clients bills all in one place, rather than individually.

More States Require 'Green' Cleaning Products: More states are requiring schools and government buildings to use environmentally friendly cleaning products, raising debate about their costs and benefits. After a burst of legislation last year, 10 states including Connecticut, Illinois and New York require or encourage "green" floor waxes, window cleaners and other products in schools, according to Green Seal Inc., a nonprofit that certifies the products. Similar bills are expected to be debated this year in at least five states.
Critics say that while the measures are laudable, states should not mandate which products schools and agencies must buy, especially if they increase costs for governments that are struggling financially. But supporters say the laws protect the environment and reduce the use of harsh chemicals that can harm workers' and children's health. "The goal of the bill is to make schools and other public space less toxic and healthier for kids and the general public," said Democratic Rep. Cory Mason, sponsor of a bill in Wisconsin.
Nevada lawmakers watered down a bill last year that would have required green cleaning products in schools after school officials raised concerns about the cost and their lack of expertise in such cleaning. The bill signed by Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons only requires schools to use environmentally sensitive floor cleaners.
In Hawaii, Republican Gov. Linda Lingle last year vetoed a bill that would have required the Department of Education to give preference to products approved by Green Seal. She said it was inappropriate for the state to rely on certifications from "a single private organization." The Democratic-controlled Legislature overrode the veto.
Mason's plan, like those in other states, would require public buildings in Wisconsin to use cleaning and paper products certified as environmentally sensitive by the federal government or several private groups. But it also would encourage agencies to apply the products in ways that reduce water use and the amount of chemicals released into the air.

Local gov't cancels open bid after embarrassing e-mail blunder ICHIKAWA, Chiba: A local government here announced Tuesday it has canceled an open bid for its school cleaning contracts after mistakenly sending Cc (carbon copy) e-mails to participating bidders. According to the Ichikawa Municipal Government's educational facilities division, the bidding was for contracts for window cleaning at 63 elementary and junior high schools in the city. The bidding was to be held without designated bidding companies and without prior notification of planned prices and the lowest bids. Last Friday, however, when sending a question-and-answer form to 17 participating bidders, a person who was in charge of the bidding process accidentally sent e-mails to all of them via Cc instead of Bcc (blind carbon copy). The mistake was revealed on Saturday night when one of the bidders contacted the municipal government. In an attempt to prevent collusive bidding, the municipal government canceled the bidding that was scheduled for this coming Friday.

A body builder who battered a teenage reveller to death has been jailed for at least 14 years after “trying to get away with murder”. He confronted Mr Lund, a window cleaner of York Road, Eastbourne, in the basement of the venue, in Pevensey Road, which has since closed down, on the night of July 11 last year. Nicholas Sitko (pictured), 24, was convicted last week of killing Ben Lund at the Funktion Rooms nightclub in Eastbourne, because he suspected the 19-year-old was chatting up his girlfriend. Appearing at Lewes Crown Court Judge Richard Brown sentenced the burly digger driver to life imprisonment and told him he would serve a minimum of 14 years behind bars before he is considered for release. The judge told Sitko he had tried to get away with murder by lying to police that Mr Lund had started the fatal fight. Judge Brown said: "No sentence this court can impose can ever start to reflect the value of a life lost or bring comfort to family and friends devastated by the loss of a loved one. "In a moment of alcohol-fuelled jealous rage you attacked a respectable, bright, intelligent man. He had done nothing to justify any physical response from you. "Ben lost his life as a result of your totally inexcusable, uncontrolled violence.

About CleanPower, LLC: Clients include corporate headquarters, multi-tenant buildings, medical clinics and offices, schools, financial institutions and industrial facilities. CleanPower, has offices in Milwaukee, Madison, Eau Claire, Stevens Point, Wausau, Racine, Sheboygan, Appleton and Green Bay and serves clients at over 700 locations statewide, cleaning over 38 million square feet of workspace for more than 100,000 individuals. CleanPower, LLC is a member of Marsden Holding, which provides contract-cleaning services in Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Utah, California and Arizona. With the recent acquisition of Al’s Window Cleaning, CleanPower, LLC.’s annual revenues will exceed $40 million.

Ten candidates qualify for two city races: A crowded field of candidates will vie for the two Gainesville city offices up for grabs in the March 16 election. One of the candidates is Don Marsh: Owner of Marsh Window Cleaning; Republican candidate for Alachua County Commission in 2002. Campaign Web site here.

A Fair Trade: Bartering gains momentum as economy sags and businesses seek ways to retain cash. An age-old practice spanning centuries and continents, bartering, the simple swapping of one service or product for another, is enjoying a contemporary resurgence spurred by the economy’s tumult. As restaurants struggle with declining customer counts and seek ways to stir traffic and boost revenue amid fixed costs, bartering is gaining increased appeal and acceptance.
Though traditional bartering takes place between two parties, third-party bartering companies witnessed growing membership numbers in recent years and spearheaded a barter renaissance. Unlike one-on-one bartering, members of exchanges are not obligated to barter directly with a seller. Rather, members can have their account credited with fair market value for a sale and then use those credits for future purchases. In effect, the exchange creates a savings account based on trade dollars versus traditional currency.
John Kubisiak, owner of three Toppers Pizza locations in Wisconsin, did not know such exchanges existed when he opened his first Toppers location in 2005. Two years later Kubisiak joined the bartering service International Monetary Systems (ims), a publicly traded, Wisconsin-based barter company serving 50 U.S. markets. Barter dollars started coming into Toppers immediately and Kubisiak has since used his credits for equipment maintenance, window cleaning, and employee incentives, including spa and restaurant gift certificates. He enjoyed a pair of Caribbean vacations on barter as well.

Sell your home RIGHT NOW: Prepare for viewing daily, especially if your agent has keys. Wash up after every meal, keep bins empty, and put away laundry. Above all else keep your place spotless. Running the vacuum cleaner around is one thing, but dusting and keeping windows gleaming will make a difference. Viewers really will be scrutinising every inch.

Art Gallery abuzz sorting out plethora of pre-opening bugs (Alberta, Canada): In the front entrance, they were repairing a drip in the ceiling. (Don't worry, you won't get wet.) In another room, they were creating a drip in the ceiling. (Don't worry, it's part of an art installation.) Last-minute preparations at the Art Gallery of Alberta had the newly renovated gallery abuzz Thursday with activity and noise. Dave Perrott, a window cleaner, admitted his job has gotten tedious. No wonder -- he's been at it since October so that the building would look nice during construction, too. "It's been, 'Do it, gets dirty, do it again,' " said Perrott. At this point "we get kinda ticked if someone else messes it up." The big challenge, he added, was cleaning the borealis, the metallic swirling accent piece on the front of the building. "No one really knew how to clean it properly. Every time something touches it, it changes colour." The solution was handwashing the borealis with a rag and CLR to get rid of grease and "make everything blend."

Friday 29 January 2010

DeathWish: HomeOwners Clean Their Own Windows

Martin Lewis (pictured) aka the "Money Saving Expert" from British T.V. & his popular web-site made news after it was rumoured to get people to save money on window cleaning? He also took a pounding on his facebook account over the last day from window cleaners for suggesting to save money & householders to clean their own windows.
Martin issued an update "It was, I think, making a general point about the impact of businesses of saving money, which then talked about how it'd impact window cleaners. The Chinese whisper effect wrongly turned that into me having said - cancel your window cleaner - All cleaned up now."


Another case of businesses saving money can be found in the bottom story along with the following story about a Sutton Coldfield woman who narrowly escaped death.

Sutton woman falls 15ft in 'cleaning accident': An air ambulance was sent to Sutton for the second time in a fortnight when a woman fell from a window while reportedly cleaning. The woman plunged 15ft onto concrete at an address in Morningside. She suffered a head injury and two broken legs. The air crew, despatched from Cosford, joined a regular ambulance at the scene, with medics stabilising the 35-year-old victim before airlifting her to Selly Oak Hospital.
A spokesperson for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: "Crews arrived to find a 35 year old woman lying on a concrete driveway with a head injury and two fractured legs. "The woman was reportedly cleaning her windows when the incident happened. "Crews immediately commenced emergency treatment at the scene, administering pain relief to the woman and immobilising her with a neck collar, spinal boards and leg splints. "The woman was then airlifted to Selly Oak Hospital for further assessment and treatment."
She fell at around 9.30am on Sunday. Last week the Observer reported that a man was airlifted to hospital after impaling himself on ladders. The 43-year-old was also transferred to Selly Oak, with the apparatus still sticking out of him. He spent one night on a ward before making his way to Good Hope Hospital, in Sutton, to see the birth of his third child.

Four Oaks dad airlifted to hospital after ladder injury: A Four Oaks businessman was airlifted to hospital after he was impaled on a ladder – just two days before his wife was due to give birth.
Hairdresser, Simon Matthews, 43, of Little Sutton Lane, slipped and fell from a set of ladders at his home on Monday, puncturing his chest in two places on the supporting bracket. "I know I was lucky," said the dad of three. "The metal went straight through the muscle, but it was inches away from being fatal." A 999 call was made and emergency services, including a land ambulance, fire crew and air ambulance arrived on the scene. "The fire crew were great, they had to cut me free of the ladder before I was taken to hospital," he said. The air ambulance landed on nearby St Joseph's School's playing fields and transferred Mr Matthews to Selly Oak Hospital for emergency treatment.
He praised the crew for their professionalism. "They were incredible," he said, "In a situation like that you just want to know what is happening and they were so reassuring and told me what I wanted to know, they were just brilliant." He added: "Near to where I was being treated in the hospital were British soldiers who had been injured in Afghanistan. "To see those young soldiers was an extremely humbling experience."

BRISTOL — City Building Official Guy Morin learned too late to take a ladder seriously. Morin, who recently came back to his City Hall office after seven weeks recuperating from a bad fall, said he made the mistake of not paying attention while standing on a 27-foot ladder at his house.
“I was cleaning the gutters out,” said Morin. “I was almost done.” But the ladder slipped out of his reach, slid along the fascia board of his house and he fell 14 feet, landing on mulch and ground cover. “You don’t have to be up that high to get hurt,” said Morin.
He dislocated the bones in his foot and his tendons became entangled, requiring surgery. “I was just hanging in midair. I came down on my left foot,” said Morin. “It was like Chevy Chase in ‘Christmas Vacation,’ without the lights.” Morin, who said he was right in front of his picture window when he fell, said his wife was inside at the time. “She heard the ladder slide. She looked up and I was dropping,” he said. “We laugh about it now. At the time, she was upset.”
His injury kept him in the hospital for three days, said Morin, in bed for two weeks and out of work for almost two months. He’s got three screws in his bones and now wears a walking boot for support, but hopes to get out of it soon. “It’s still a little swollen,” said Morin. “I’m just happy that I’ll be able to walk again. I was pretty lucky.”
He said he’s acquired a couple unwanted nicknames: “Gimpy” and “Hopalong.” “I’m ready to get rid of those,” said Morin. After becoming chief building official three years ago, Morin said he stopped the common practice of Bristol’s inspectors climbing up on ladders to check out a roof.
“We do that on a very limited basis now,” said Morin. “Most of the time, the ladders weren’t that safe. I didn’t want anybody hurt.” Most residential roofs can be inspected from the ground because nearly all are slanted and visible. Commercial roofs are more often flat, and accessible from a door, he said. When inspectors do have to go up on a ladder, said Morin, they make sure the ladder can carry their weight and that someone below is holding the ladder steady.
Morin sees the irony in his own mishap. “I grew up on ladders. I just got too complacent,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t up there securely, but I went up there anyway.” The accident left Morin with one more household task to finish: selling that ladder.

LADDER FALL DEATH AND PROSECUTION: DC Kennedy Homes Ltd has been ordered to pay £15k in fines and prosecution costs following the death of construction worker Ian Smith, 64, who fell from an unstable ladder. Manchester Crown Court heard that Mr Smith was working on a project to build six new semi-detached houses on 19 December 2007 when he fell 5m to the ground. Investigation found that work was carried out on the first and second floors of the house, before the stairs had been fitted. The ladder used to access the second floor was not secured and rubber feet were missing from the ladder. Polly Tomlinson HSE Principal Inspector said: “This was a tragic incident that could easily have been prevented if DC Kennedy Homes had put more thought into the safety of its employees. The ladder Ian Smith used was dangerous as the rubber feet were missing and it wasn’t tied to the wall to stop it slipping. “But more importantly, Mr Smith should never have been expected to use a ladder in the first place. If the work had been planned properly, the stairs would have been fitted before work was carried out on the first and second floors of the house. Instead Mr Smith had to use a ladder to access the second floor, putting his life at risk. Other employees were also put in danger by the unprotected open edges.
“I hope this case will act as a warning to other house building companies to improve their safety standards, to prevent more people dying at work in the future.”

Thursday 28 January 2010

Window Cleaner On A Bicycle

Window washer cleans up pedaling around Downtown: Phillip Prado is building a window-washing empire one storefront at a time. A gregarious businessman with a bucket of soapy water dangling from his handlebars, Prado washes the windows of more than 100 shops a week, many of them Downtown. Beside the clear benefits of the job — no boss, no overhead — there’s another boon that some people don’t realize: the money. “You wouldn’t think a guy like me with a bucket on his bike has a boat and antique cars, but it’s a good business,” Prado said as he swabbed the windows of the Reade St. Animal Hospital on a recent morning. “Window-washing does OK for itself.”
Prado, 45, started Squeaky Clean Windows five years ago, after selling a similar business in Staten Island. Since then, his electric bike has become a familiar sight on Lower Manhattan’s streets, even on the coldest days of winter. While many window-washers take the winter off, glass accumulates grime year-round, so Prado works year-round, too. He wears waterproof gloves from Alaska and a battery-operated heated suit that keeps him at a toasty 78 degrees. “Even when it’s snowing, I’ll go out with antifreeze to wash the windows,” Prado said.
It was unseasonably warm one morning last week and Prado didn’t need any gloves at all as he washed windows up and down the streets of Tribeca. Prado worked quickly, splashing suds on the glass with a feathery wand, and then using one of his three squeegees to wipe the windows dry. After cleaning up any drips with a rag, he tossed his tools in his bucket and kicked off to the next location.
Tribeca’s narrow storefronts took Prado only a few minutes to clean, and he does them weekly for $40 to several hundred dollars a month. He charges more money for larger stores like ABC Carpet or places with lots of windows like Buckle My Shoe nursery school. Prado also washes windows for chains like CVS and Le Pain Quotidien, along with the Yankees’ and Mets’ retail stores. Prado drums up business the old-fashioned way: by going door-to-door, looking for dirty windows and offering his services. That’s how Prado met Bruce Martin, who opened the Reade St. Animal Hospital with his wife last fall and quickly realized that he couldn’t clean the tall panes by himself. “I knew I needed a real window-washer, but I didn’t know where to find one,” Martin said. When Prado introduced himself, Martin was impressed by his friendliness and his willingness to work through the winter, so he hired him on the spot.
Many small business owners try to clean their windows themselves, but without the right supplies the task isn’t as simple as it sounds. “He makes it look easy, but it’s not that easy when you try to do it yourself,” said Dr. William Han, owner of Tribeca Dental Design on Chambers St. Before Prado stopped by, Han was using Windex and paper towels to attack the smudges on his windows. And how did he reach the top part of the windows, a dozen feet off the ground? “I really didn’t,” Han said, shrugging and laughing. “People don’t look up, right?”
Prado was born in New Jersey and took business classes at City College after high school but never got a degree. He started washing windows when he was 17, first for a union at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and then for a business in Brooklyn. Prado started his own window-washing business in Staten Island, where he lives, but he sold it when he realized he could make more money in Manhattan. Window washing is a territorial enterprise, and Prado found plenty of competition when he broke into Manhattan’s market five years ago. But he undercut competitors’ prices and won clients over by chatting with them and proving his reliability. “There’s nobody I can’t talk to,” Prado said. “I could go into the White House and talk to the president or go into the ’hood and talk to the ’hood rats.”
Tall and lanky, Prado speaks quickly and smiles easily, enthusiastically describing everything from his window-washing methodology to his private flying lessons. He wears Bluetooth-equipped sunglasses so he can answer calls from clients while cleaning windows or riding his bike.
The electric bike is essential to his business, Prado added — he used to have a regular one but the extra power boost helps when he’s putting in 12 miles a day. Although the bike cost $1,800, Prado doesn’t lock it when he’s in Tribeca. “That’s the good thing about washing windows: I can see everything behind me,” Prado said, laughing. A bike is also better than a car, he noted, before taking off the wrong way up Greenwich St. and then turning the wrong way down Reade — a 30-second maneuver that a car would have been hard-pressed to handle.
As Prado squeegeed his way through Tribeca last week, many proprietors came out to greet him. A mother sitting near the window at Yuya Nail Salon on Church St. propped her baby up to watch Prado work. The baby stared wide-eyed, with rapt attention. Prado said that when he cleans the windows of Buckle My Shoe, all the children race over to look.
Prado does not disclose exact sales figures, but he said he brings in more than a comfortable living just by working two days a week. Those two days are long, often starting before 7 a.m., because Prado does all the windows himself. “I figured the only way to do it right is to do it myself,” Prado said. “I don’t miss days. I don’t get sick. I don’t B.S. anybody.” The recession recently cut into Prado’s business, as stores close and owners have less money to spare. But Prado makes up for the losses by pulling in new clients, and he may soon expand into Brooklyn.

“I love it,” Prado said, “and I wouldn’t do anything else.”

Window Cleaning Robot, Green Cleaning + Other News

Robots to replace window cleaners on skyscrapers: Dubai: Dubai's skyline will see significant changes when Gekko III and CleanAnt get to work on the city's high-rise buildings. The two are cleaning robots, specialised in cleaning windows and building facades using the latest technologies developed in Switzerland by Serbot AG. "We are bringing this new technology to the UAE where we've seen a lot of potential, especially with the skyscrapers and various architectural designs which are very hard to clean using conventional methods," Bas Schmit Phiferons, Serbot's Business Development Manager, said. Gekko, a disk-shaped robot, has a cleaning capacity of up to 400 square metres/hour, which is fifteen times faster than manual cleaning. It uses vacuum power to attach itself to the surface to be cleaned whether vertical, horizontal or slanted. The robot then uses a windshield-wiper type of brush to blast away any kind of dirt, be it dust, mud or even oils, a residue of fuel burning from cars and jets.
"No detergent is needed for cleaning, which is an added environmental advantage. The robots can use dry ice, demineralised water or water with enzymes to eat away the oils. They also can filter and recycle the used material to minimise waste," Schmit Phiferons said. However, other building shapes require a different method, and this is where CleanAnt is used. Facade cleaning is difficult, expensive and dangerous. The CleanAnt does this work safe and reliable automatically or radio guided, vertical or overhanging areas are not a problem for both robot systems. CleanAnt also overcomes concave and convex areas and obstacles and can work in heavy traffic areas. Although cleaning of skyscrapers is the main field of application of CleanAnt, it can be used as inspection or repair tool for dams and bridges as well.

More states requiring 'green' cleaning products: More states are requiring schools and governments to use environmentally friendly cleaning products, raising debate about their costs and benefits. Ten states including Illinois and New York require or encourage use of "green" floor waxes, window cleaners and other products in schools. Similar bills are expected to be debated this year in at least five states. A plan advancing in the Wisconsin Legislature would require schools and state agencies to use cleaning and paper products certified as environmentally sound by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or one of several groups.
Supporters say such laws protect the environment and reduce the use of harsh chemicals that can hurt the health of workers and children. Critics worry about the cost.

Rockline’s regenerated cotton wipe wins award: Rockline Industries environmentally friendly Regenerated Cotton Wipe has been named the recipient of the prestigious 2010 Visionary Award presented recently at the VISION 2010 Consumer Products Conference in New Orleans. The Regenerated Cotton Wipe was selected over four other finalists by attendees at the ninth annual VISION Conference, which was held from January 20-22 at the Sheraton New Orleans Canal Street. The annual VISION Conference is organized by INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. The substrate for the Regenerated Cotton Wipe is made from 100% biodegradable materials. The blend is 25% Lenzing Tencel and 75% cotton. The cotton is produced from the post-industrial waste from the manufacturing of T-shirts, and the recovery process to regenerate the cotton is energy and water friendly. One of the other four finalists were: The Ultimate Cloth, Advanced Cleaning Technologies ... The Ultimate Cloth is a streak-free window cleaner that cleans and polishes windows, mirrors, windshields and glass as well as many soft surfaces such as leather and vinyl.

Cleaning Corporation - keeping homes and businesses in pristine condition: The Halls are something of a unique feature in Mayo — a husband and wife team running a thriving family cleaning business since 1995, and mopping up a bucketful of accreditations along the way. This husband and wife team have no problem working together, as each has his/her own work remit. Both devise strategy, Lorraine deals with finance, accounts, and HR, and John devises contracts and quotations, ensures standards are upheld, meets clients, and carries out work when required. The company’s window cleaning division includes a number of Mayo hotels. The Halls invested around €20,000 in a top quality ‘reach and wash multi-filter reverse osmosis’ system that allows its workers to clean windows from ground level up to 65 feet high. In our ecologically conscious age, the Halls have been doing their bit for the planet by harvesting rainwater for its window cleaning, office, and domestic operations.

Budding entrepreneurs set to spring-clean Plett (South Africa): KWANOKUTHULA residents Welile ‘Weza’ Nqolo and Melikhaya ‘Elvis’ Jacobs had a dream… and then set out to make it happen! They sought advice, did their own market research, prepared a business plan and registered a close corporation. And last week, the joint owners of Nqolo Jacobs Trading Enterprise CC, or NJ for short, signed their first contract in Plett. They are confident that their cleaning service, which specialises in window cleaning and the clearing of refuse bins and surrounds, will provide Plett with a much needed professional service. As both partners have worked in the cleaning industry and share a combined experience of six years in this field, they are able to offer a range of other cleaning services if required. These two enterprising youngsters also have their own transport and start-up tools of the trade. Their vision is to provide a consistent, reliable and high quality service that will satisfy Plett residents, businesses, local government and homeowners. Currently the partners are the only active team members but they hope, as their business expands, to provide work opportunities to others. Their rates are very affordable and their enthusiasm infectious, so please give them the support they need as a new entrepreneurial enterprise. Phone Weza on 083 749 3507 or Elvis on 083 773 3439.

A Yorkshire firm has set up a new website to gather claims from former coal miners who believe that solicitors undersettled their original government compensation claims. Text on the website reads: ‘Calling all miners suffering from Vibration White Finger? Did you receive an award under the Vibration White Finger Compensation Scheme? Did your claim include damages for services – everyday tasks such as DIY, gardening, window cleaning, decorating or car maintenance? IF NOT you may be entitled to additional damages.’ Jordans offers a ‘no win, no fee’ service for potential claimants.

A man has been struck by lightning in Sydney's outer west and two people have been hospitalised as thunderstorms sweep across NSW. The Ambulance Service of NSW said a 37-year-old man was hit by lightning while doing the washing up near a window at a YMCA camp in Yarramundi at about 7.30pm (AEDT) tonight. Paramedics were treating the man, who was suffering neck and shoulder pain, and planned to take him to hospital. Emergency services were also called to a house in Springwood, in the NSW Blue Mountains, after it was struck by lightning at about 5pm. "It's come through the window, it hit the curtains and ignited them,'' a firefighter at the scene told media at the scene. Two people, including a man suffering smoke inhalation, were taken to Blue Mountains Hospital.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Kicking it For Jason Thompson

On Tuesday, June 2, 2009, Jason was told that he had cancer. It was near the end of March 2009 that 28 year old Jason Thompson, a self-employed window washer and post construction clean up provider in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, landed a job that required an extra person and some rented equipment. He called his father, Tony Thompson, who has a similar business in Bozeman, Montana, to come and help him. When Tony arrived toward the end of March, Jason was experiencing pain in his back. Assuming he had hurt it hauling large ladders around, he went first to his chiropractor and then to his doctor. He and his father had more than several false starts after Jason was unable to stand for more than a few minutes. The doctor treated him for sciatic nerve inflammation. Finally, after weeks of pain, a family friend was called to come and complete the job without him. It was during this time that he started waking up in the night soaked with sweat. Since Jason has just had a complete physical in December, his mother assumed he must have an infection somewhere.
On May 27 they went to the emergency room, Jason had lost over 20 pounds and was in constant pain. He was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics, having tested positive for strep throat. The same day his desperate mother called Dr. Johann Coetzee, a local MD and naturopathic practitioner. Dr Coetzee, suspicious after seeing Jason's appearance and hearing the symptoms, gave him a physical, ordered blood work and an ultrasound. On June 2, he gave Jason the terrible news.

Rare form of cancer has local man fighting for his life: Kim Helder knows the odds aren’t good that her son will survive. “I can’t go by what the protocol says,” the Santa Rosa Beach resident said. “I know logically human-wise what the outlook may look like, but I trust that it is going to be different. I don’t want to even give it the vocal power and say anything.” As of Jan. 14, Jason Thompson was in intensive care and in critical condition at the Mayo Clinic.
The self-employed window washer and post construction clean-up provider began having nagging pains in his back and legs in March of 2009. Many doctors' visits later, the 28-year-old discovered that the pain was actually the tumors in his back pressing against his spine. “Jason was so close to passing away before we even got admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville,” Helder said.
Even before Thompson was diagnosed with the very rare form of cancer called Histiocytic Sarcoma/Acute Myloid Leukemia M5, doctors knew something was wrong and started chemotherapy immediately. “His whole body was full of cancer,” Helder said. “He had tumors in his lymph nodes, sinuses, bone marrow, spine and blood.” Two weeks after being admitted to the Mayo Clinic, the tumors in Thompson’s body had doubled in size. “There is nothing on file, nothing to compare it to,” Helder said. “The doctors can’t get over it. They have never seen a case like this before.”
For the past seven months Thompson has had to undergo numerous spinal taps, blood transfusions, and surgeries. On Dec. 16, Thompson had a bone marrow transplant to hopefully rid his body of the cancer. “It has been very difficult since the transplant,” Helder said. “His blood counts had dropped to 0, and he is trying to recover.” Visitors have been sparse since he is very weak and any little germ can make him very ill. “When you have a bone marrow transplant it is considered your new birthday,” Helder said. “Everything is 0 plus however many days it has been since the procedure.”
While Thompson’s whole life may have come to a stop, everything around him hasn’t. Bills, taxes, and banking issues haven’t stopped. Helder has been taking care of all Thompson’s personal matters for him. “I’m trying to get all his stuff together,” she said. “I want him to have a life to come home to.” Helder said “Thompson has only been home twice since May and she has maybe been home three or four times.” “Even if we were to leave, we have to be at the Mayo Clinic 4-5 times a week for testing,” she said. “So we can’t really go anywhere.” “The past seven months have been a whirlwind,” Helder said. “It’s like one day you are getting up and going to work, then the next day you are over in Jacksonville and you are not going home.”

Christian Franek's voice cracks as he begins to describe his friend. "He just gives and gives. He's just 28 years old and he doesn't have any children ... " Franek, the co-founder and president of US98 Soccer, suddenly struggles up from the picnic table outside Jam Bone restaurant and wanders several feet away, his hands held to his face to stem the flow of tears. Seated around the picnic table are about two dozen others - toddlers and teenagers, young adults and mothers and fathers - who have come together to support their friend and coach, Jason Thompson. After struggling through more than two months of pain, the 28-year-old was diagnosed with cancer June 2.

To read and follow Jason’s story, or to make a donation in his name you can go to

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Window Cleaning News

Tomorrow the IWCA opens it's doors in Reno for another convention. If you want to play to win, put your money on the International Window Cleaning Association. This year, the IWCA Annual Convention is headed back to Reno, NV and when the stakes are high, Reno is where YOU and your products or services need to be! The last time the IWCA convention was held in Reno, it was one of the highest attended events we’ve had in the past 20 years!. And, this year should be no exception. Window cleaners from across the nation are already generating a lot of excitement for this event and they will be looking for you while they are there, Jan. 27– 30 for the 2010 IWCA Annual Convention &Trade Show.

Window Cleaning at Height Weather Monitoring: Many high-rise buildings monitor local meteorological conditions as an aid to determine whether conditions are safe to use cradles while cleaning windows and other working at height applications. To help provide accurate local weather information, Health and Safety managers from a prestigious company in Canary Wharf have recently invested in and installed two automatic weather stations at two different roof levels. Prior to installing the weather stations, the decision on whether or not to use external cradles relied solely on hand held Anemometers which did not provide sufficiently accurate results. Readings tended to rely too much on where the reading was taken from which did not take into consideration how weather circulated around the building. The hand-held equipment also only took a snapshot recording of the moment it was used and did not take into consideration actual weather patterns or trends.

Small-businessman John Browne says a near-fatal bout with cancer five years ago was probably the best thing that could have happened to him. During months of chemotherapy following successful surgery to remove aggressive cancer that threatened his liver, Browne researched his dream of starting his own business. Now, Prestige Unlimited Services, a full-service residential and commercial cleaning service that Browne operates from his home, employs half a dozen people. He doesn't disclose sales but says his business has more than doubled every year. Last year Prestige was recognized by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber as one of its "10 under 10" small businesses. All the honorees were less than 10 years old and employed fewer than 10 workers. "I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I am thankful to have had cancer, and also thankful to have been cured," says Browne, 41, a native of Colerain Township.
Browne was 10 years into a high-pressure middle-management job in facilities management at AK Steel in Middletown when he was stunned to learn he had cancer. Diagnosed with testicular cancer during a routine examination, his physician was so concerned about the disease's spread that he scheduled surgery that night. Because of his background in facilities maintenance, Browne looked at options including a cleaning franchise, but rejected it. "I wanted to say I legitimately built the business on my own, and wasn't living off somebody else's idea," he says. Starting with one carpet cleaning machine in 2004 after leaving AK Steel, Browne began marketing his cleaning business by word of mouth to friends and family. The company's motto is: "If you dirty it, we clean it."
A military veteran, Browne says, "One thing you learn in the Navy is how to strip and wax floors." So Prestige began adding commercial as well as residential accounts. Browne added air duct and chimney cleaning, window cleaning, tile and grout cleaning and emergency water removal. Costs vary depending on the square footage and service involved; residential carpet cleaning starts at $150. Early on Browne joined the regional chamber, which led to membership on the CEO Roundtable, an informal forum where executives can share and critique ideas. Prestige is one of the smallest companies in the CEO Roundtable. "I'm the CEO and janitor at my company and everything in between," Browne says. He adds that the insights and friendships he's developed in the monthly meetings have been invaluable. The janitorial business is crowded with large national chains and fly-by-night operators, but Browne says the business boils down to delivering on commitments. "We have to deliver a clean product. If we don't, we won't eat tomorrow," he says. Browne says he wants to continue to grow Prestige Unlimited, but doesn't have a complex business plan. "I just try to use common sense," he says.

ROCKFORD — When city leaders huddle Saturday for a marathon budget session at City Hall, the topic of outsourcing — the practice of hiring private businesses to provide city services at a lower cost — is expected to dominate the conversation. The city outsources work in nearly 30 categories from snowplowing and garbage collection to information technology and window washing. In some cases, entire services are contracted out. In others, it’s a portion of the work.

Mum's shock over thieves at cemetery: A grieving mum has slammed thieves who stole flowers from her son's grave as "sick". Elaine Clark was left horrified when she visited Harton Cemetery in South Shields to find a floral tribute left for her son Graham had disappeared. It had been placed at the grave by his older brother Christopher, 26, over Christmas. Mr Clark died on June 4, 2008, days after accidentally falling from a ladder as he was window cleaning in the Laygate area of South Shields. For almost a week the 21-year-old devoted father-of-two from Tyne Dock fought for life in hospital, but his family eventually had to make the painful decision to switch off his life support machine, after he failed to respond to medical tests. This is the third time since Mr Clark was laid to rest that his grave has been hit by thieves who have stolen tributes left in his memory.

The weather has been brutal, an endless stretch of days with temperatures in the teens. But this day couldn't be better with sunshine and a thermometer's red dot reaching 38. A father's passion hooked a son. Kevin Kram is a third-generation window cleaner specializing in high-rise buildings like Bausch & Lomb. It is stressful work. Dangerous. That makes the cost of fly fishing tackle, like the fine $1,350 Sage rod and reel combo in his hands, affordable therapy. Fishing has been his window into nature. Thanks to great form honed over many years, the 5-foot 2½-inch Kram is a giant among fly rodders, able to apply the muscle memory training he used as a champion skeet shooter at RIT into each cast.

A security worker in downtown Minneapolis, Bullard has been an active member of SEIU Local 26 for six years, president of the local’s Black caucus for two years, and a member of the Local 26 executive board for five years. The union represents over 5,000 janitors, security officers and window cleaners in the Twin Cities; Bullard believes over two-thirds of these workers are Black. “We also just picked up laundry workers,” he adds. Janitors' union sets strike authorization vote: SEIU Local 26 — Minnesota’s Property Services Union, which represents security officers and window cleaners in addition to janitors — had arranged for two additional weeks of negotiations at the end of last year, pushing the final deadline for a new contract to Jan. 8. That deadline came and went, with both sides no closer to an agreement.

Local small business owner and former County Commission candidate Don Marsh has filed to run for mayor of Gainesville. Marsh, who was not available for an interview on Thursday or Friday, was a Republican candidate for County Commission in 2002. He gained 34 percent of the votes cast in a race won by Cynthia Chestnut. In that election, Marsh took aim at the county's Comprehensive Plan, saying it hindered development and was restrictive on property owners. Marsh also runs the Web site, which tracks local elections and the political landscape and allows candidates a firsthand forum to voice opinions on the issues. In a message posted on his Web site, Marsh stated that he has wavered on whether or not to run since last fall, when he said he would not seek the office of mayor. He said those who might think he is the Brett Favre of local politics - a reference to the National Football League quarterback who has retired and returned to play multiple times - should remember how well Favre is doing now. Favre led the Minnesota Vikings into the National Football Conference championship game on Sunday. Marsh also indicated on his Web site that he supports another Wal-Mart Supercenter in Gainesville and opposes a new GRU biomass powerplant due to his skepticism of the science behind global warming. Marsh is a longtime local small business owner. He owns and operates Marsh Window Cleaning.

OAP says cheques should not be phased out: An avenues pensioner who says the phasing out of cheques will disproportionately hit the elderly and the handicapped, is urging people to join her and petition East Devon MP Hugo Swire and the treasury. Yvonne Wardrop, of Douglas Avenue, says she can fully 'understand the economic argument' for stopping the use of cheques as payment. But she added, like the closing of smaller Post offices, it was yet another example of banks, institutions, businesses and the Government failing to consider the knock-on effects of policy decisions. She said: "They affect the elderly and the handicapped. This section of society is dependent upon people coming to their homes to provide service or to deliver at the door and the choice of payment is either cash or cheque. "I am thinking of the home cleaner, the gardener and the window cleaner. All of who are usually small business people."She said there were already problems for the housebound in getting cash to pay for services while some elderly or vulnerable people do not like keeping cash in their homes. She added: "The drive towards a total cash-less society using electronic money transfers excludes a substantial and vulnerable section of society.

Cleaning the gutters and windows can be a tricky and dangerous task best left to professionals. However, clearing debris from gutters is mandatory to prevent water from leaking onto the roof and into one's home, causing major damage to walls and ceilings or rotting the roof and eaves. Randy Mills owns and operates Pioneer Services in Sunnyvale and offers professional window, gutter and skylight cleaning to homeowners in Silicon Valley. Mills suggests cleaning the gutters once a year if trees or other greenery are present near one's house. Citing that approximately half a million homeowners are hurt on ladders each year, Mills advises using a ladder stand-off to lean the ladder against the roof without touching the gutters or creating a precarious situation where the ladder can slide off. Two smart investments are screens to place in the gutter downspouts to prevent them from clogging, Mills said, and gutter covers, which go over the top of or inside gutters to prevent leaves from falling in them. "If homeowners determine they want gutter covers, they need to make sure they get the right cover for the job," he said. "A professional should determine the gutter cover type a home requires." An expert at double-pane window cleaning and repair, Mills said a leading mistake homeowners make with windows is failing to paint and caulk them properly, reducing the windows' ability to properly insulate. Mills suggests inspecting windows, doors with windows, and window and door screens each year, looking for holes in the screen and rotting or poor caulking. While cleaning windows is not a necessity but more of a luxury, he said, it does add to the appearance of one's home.

Government data on where our money goes? The founder of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, is today unveiling a new website,, which promises to get more public sector data into the public domain. For Boris Johnson the transparency has brought some problems - one of his Deputy Mayors had to resign over expenses claims. Last week it was queried why City Hall spends £13,314.11 in a single month on window cleaning.

FORTUNA - Reaching for Independence, a locally operated, customized employment service for adults with developmental disabilities, has launched a new errand service called Errands Unlimited. This service provides “time-challenged” individuals and businesses with services such as pickup or delivery of packages, documents, groceries, gifts, prescriptions, medical supplies, floral arrangements, animal medicines and supplies, movie and video game rentals and more for a nominal fee. Additional work services provided by Reaching for Independence include power washing, commercial vehicle and window washing.

Don't give up the day job - how artists make a living: Right now, the economic climate for artists in this country looks particularly bleak. There's the innate financial instability of most artistic careers (low earnings, and sometimes none at all; little job security; no pension or other benefits), together with the recession. Then there's the fact that – unlike some European and Scandinavian countries – the British government makes no specific social provision for artists, unless through the publicly funded regional arts councils. But in this country, for artists without a lucky early break, rich parents or ­benefactors, a day job is often the only way to survive. It needn't mean that fame and fortune aren't just around the corner. Van Morrison immortalised his old job as a window cleaner in the 1982 song Cleaning Windows.

Spirit of 1970 can bring Iron cup glory: Don Welbourne, now 60, was part of the Iron team that dumped First Division Sheffield Wednesday out of the competition at Hillsborough, in January 1970. A young, Fourth Division United side upset the odds that day to record a 2-1 win over their top flight opponents. Welbourne, who now earns a living as a window cleaner, was just 20 years old when he played at Hillsborough in what was the big shock of round four, 40 years ago. "Nobody really expected us to go there and win," Welbourne confessed.

Australian Open 2010: Hewitt was never a contender here, however much that pains a home nation still looking for the first men's singles champion since Mark Edmondson, who was then a part-time window cleaner, put down his bucket and sponge and won the 1976 tournament.

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