Sunday 13 March 2011

Window Cleaning News In A Tough Economy

Bob Kerr: In a tough economy, they find a way to clean up - The work is hard and the work week is sometimes seven days. Starting a company from scratch means moving all the time - on the job, on the phone, at the door of potential customers. It was back in March of 2009 that Curtis Lambert got the bad news. He had been working for a Pawtucket cleaning company for two years. He says he had just gotten a promotion to operations manager and had been bringing in new business. But the boss called him in and told him things were changing and he was out. So he went home to Cranston and told his significant other, Sherry Martin, what had happened. “I think she was more devastated than I was,” says Lambert.
Martin joined him in unemployment just a few weeks later when she lost her job in a hospital gift shop.  So they became Lambert & Martin - in a commercial way. They had business cards printed that say “Sparkle Is Our Specialty.” They clean windows and do power washing. “I think it was survival mode,” says Lambert. “I had nothing really saved and I needed to make money.” He put together his business plan on the run. “I said to Sherry, ‘I know this business.’ I need to make some calls, let people know I’m going out on my own.”
They had no equipment and little money. They bought the basic tools of the trade - a squeegee and two extension poles and some cleaning products. That wiped out their meager savings. His parents bought them a power washer. Due to a non-compete clause in his agreement with his previous employer, Lambert couldn’t pursue commercial accounts in Rhode Island for a year. That left residential accounts. “We printed up some fliers,” says Martin. “We went door to door.”
They targeted areas where they thought people could afford professional cleaning - Providence’s East Side, Lincoln, East Greenwich, North Kingstown. They put out 5,000 fliers. “It took a couple of months before the phones started to ring,” says Martin. Lambert hired his mother, Marie, to handle the call-backs. She is an ideal employee. She doesn’t ask for a paycheck. I had coffee with Lambert and Martin and Lambert’s son, Kris, last week. Without his son on the job, says Lambert, they wouldn’t have been able to take on as much work as they have. Early on, Lambert’s other son, Curtis III, joined the crew before heading back to his pharmacy studies.
The pickup truck they were able to buy in October was parked outside with ladders on it. The truck replaced an ancient Jeep that was sinking fast. They have more than 400 accounts now in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts. Their first residential account was a woman in East Greenwich who saw their work and gave them a long list of friends they should call. Word of mouth became a big part of the promotion for a very small business. “Any place that’s got glass,” says Lambert in describing his potential customer base.
I learned about Lambert and Martin from my friend Carol Young, the retired deputy executive editor at The Journal, who hired them to do cleaning at her house in Lincoln. She heard their story and told me it was a good one. It works that way sometimes - people do things out of basic necessity with practiced skills and become a story of their time. 
Lambert and Martin saw little opportunity so they created their own. It has not been easy and by no means are they comfortable with the business they have. Lambert points out that sometimes he is in jeans and a company shirt, cleaning windows. Sometimes he is in coat and tie, making the pitch to potential customers. He knows glass. He knows what works and what doesn’t on certain surfaces. He knows when the weather means a day off. Martin needed some on-the-job-training. But this is a partnership born in a climate of uncertainty, when jobs can seem solid and then disappear. Letting your own hard work determine your future becomes more and more appealing.

Cadbury Spots v Stripes Race Season : World Record Setters: Terry Turbo Burrows has had great fun breaking even more records in the run up to the London 2012 Olympics. Terry says It's great to meet everyone, we have loads of laughs filming & it never changes - it's just funny!"

While on a two-week tour of New Zealand, Barry resident John Viney met former All Black front row forward John Ashworth, who was part of the Grand Slam winning team of 1978. Ashworth was involved in the notorious stamping incident during a match with Bridgend, which left JPR Williams needing 30 stitches. John Viney, a window cleaner and magistrate who lives in Cadoxton, said: "I was in the wine region of Hawkes Bay, to taste the region’s choice wines, when I chanced upon The Junction Vineyard, owned by John and his family. "His wife Jo greeted me and it was while tasting that I noticed several All Black pictures on the wall. "When she heard I was from Wales, Jo said ‘my husband was an All Black and played against Wales’." During the conversation, Jo mentioned the JPR incident and at this point, in walked the man himself.

Too Noisy, Santa Monica Place Neighbors Complain: Their biggest concern is a restaurant called Zengo, which is right across the street from their windows. Rhodes said, and “they say they can mitigate it [the noise], but they can't prevent it...We need our rest.” She also complained about the noise after everything at the mall had closed. Some mornings, buses and garbage trucks woke her up as early as 4:30 a.m. as did the window cleaning at Zengo. “Bells were beeping” as the window cleaners went “up and down, up and down,” Rhodes said.

The Sarasota Pro Wash Window Cleaning Company of Sarasota, Florida has announced the beginning of its online social networking campaign. The window washing company has gone online to continue the growth of its reputation for quality workmanship and extraordinary commitment to customer service and satisfaction. The company provides professional window cleaning services for homes and businesses, but specializes in residential window cleaning for condominium owners in Sarasota County Florida. The Sarasota Pro Wash Window Cleaning Company is offering a "$10 Spring Window Cleaning Deal" from now until March 30, 2011. The company will offer professional window washing services with a risk free offer. The price is only $10 if the client is not satisfied with the professionalism, workmanship or service provided. Any window washing job that is completed in Sarasota County before March 30, 2011, and the client mentions the "$10 Spring Window Cleaning Deal" gets this risk free offer. "It’s time for traditional small businesses to embrace social networking, just like the big boys, and grow an online presence that creates some ’buzz’ for their business. We are so confident that folks will be satisfied with our window cleaning services that we are willing to practically give it away for free" explains company owner Tim Wizba.

Gary Lydon (Actor) - Movie credits include 'Warhorse' by Steven Spielberg, 'Guard'  ‘Ordinary Decent Criminal’  ‘Nothing Personal’,  ‘The Last September’, ‘Boy Eats Girl’ and ‘Small Engine Repair’. What was your first job and salary? I think it was when our window cleaner offered me a summer job down in Wexford when I was about 14. He let me have one third of all takings, which worked out at about £20 a week. He was a good bloke.

Nanotech-enabled consumer products continue to rise: Nanotech consumer products continue to grow at a consistent pace. According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) over 1,300 manufacturer-identified, nanotechnology-enabled products have entered the commercial marketplace around the world. The most recent update to the group's five-year-old inventory reflects the continuing use of the tiny particles in everything from conventional products like non-stick cookware to more unique items such as self-cleaning window treatments. "The use of nanotechnology in consumer products continues to grow on a rapid and consistent basis," says PEN Director David Rejeski. "When we launched the inventory in March 2006 it contained 212 products. If the current trend continues, the number of products could reach 3,400 by 2020."

Meadowlands Racetrack employees are being sent formal notice that they may be laid off in 60 days, workers were told at a Monday meeting with New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority management. Dennis Shopp, the shop steward for the track's window cleaners, said the letter was a "formality" as negotiations continue for New York real estate executive Jeff Gural to take over operations of the track on April 1. Bob Liguori, business manager for Local 137 — which represents hundreds of tellers, admissions workers and the window washers — said the meeting, held at the track, was a good idea. "Still, when you get that notice in the mail, it is sobering," Ligouri said. "There's obviously concerns about what's going on, and this just heightens it. I told the members, 'Nothing is going to change today, or tomorrow, and it doesn't mean we're going to cease operations here.' "

Window cleaner Gary McPartland has dodged fuel price hikes by running his van on chip fat. Gary feared his profits would plummet because diesel prices are on the rise. So he converted his van to run on vegetable oil. Now he collects it from chip shops, restaurants and other businesses on his round. It costs just 17p per litre for the environmentally friendly option rather than the £1.38 that Gary had to fork out for diesel in the past. Gary, from Preston, Lancs, said: “I have to get around a bit in my job so it was costing a fortune. “Every time the price of diesel went up I was having to change my own prices just to cover my costs. “Doing it this way it is more environmentally friendly because the emissions are a lot lower than ordinary fuel. "The vegetable oil is getting properly used, and it is cheaper. I’m saving money and it’s much cleaner.’’ Vegetable oil is much cheaper than petrol because there is no tax payable on the first 2,500 litres. The duty was removed in 2007 as HM Revenue and Customs tried to encourage drivers to go green. Dave Derby, of Low Impact Living Initiative, which holds courses on converting cars to run on biofuel, said: “You cannot just pour vegetable oil into any car, you have to convert your motor. “A lot of the people looking at using biofuel are driven by the price of fuel. As that goes up I expect more people to come to us.’’

Clean With Vodka: Trade the Martini Glass for a Spray Bottle - the benefits of cleaning with vodka — and not much can stop her from using the alcohol to clean just about everything. You can freshen your laundry with vodka; simply spray it on your clothes and hang to dry; the vodka kills bacteria that cause bad smells. Vodka also shines bathroom/kitchen fixtures on your sink. A mixture of vodka and sugar will keep your bouquet beautiful for longer, or skip the sugar and spray it on your skin to repel bugs. You can add vodka to your shampoo for lush locks — and while you’re at it, you may as well spray it in your shower or tub to do away with mold and mildew. If you’re feeling a bit dentally dismal, swishing a shot of vodka in your mouth will aid with toothache relief.

Egypt’s Army Blurs Lines of Aid From U.S. - According to the State Department, the Egyptian government built the medical center with its own funds, while the American military aid program contributed $162.8 million for equipment, operations and maintenance. The former American military officials involved in Egypt said they believed that the financing was cut off five years ago. But the spigot, it turns out, has not been turned all the way off. Last summer, the Pentagon gave a sole-source, $4.6 million contract to a Florida company called TeKontrol to train hospital staff members for 13 months. Halting the financing, a contract document explained, “could potentially impact the desires of the Egyptian Ministry of Defense” to win international accreditation for the hospital.
The six-story hospital, on a desert road about 45 minutes east of Cairo, appears to be an oasis in a mostly barren landscape. Three wings jut out from the main building, all with white walls and green glass. The glass, including large bubbles framing the end of each wing, shimmers in the bright winter sunshine as window washers - a novelty in Egypt - inch down the walls.

A bug invasion on the New South Wales-Victoria border has claimed its biggest scalp with Albury's Myer forced to close to fumigate the feral foragers. Dean Street shop owners told The Border Mail the massive swarms of grasshoppers, crickets and locusts are adding time and money to their day. They say they are spending up to two hours a day sweeping footpaths or using blower vacuums to move the latest infestation of long-horn grasshoppers. The entry way to Myer in David Street and its David Street car park were yesterday centimetres thick in bugs. Inside, the grasshoppers and crickets were clearly visible in piles on the floor and around clothes racks. A team of cleaners had cleared the footpath and just after noon donned vacuum backpacks to enter the store, ultimately opening doors at 2.30pm. Shopping centres on both sides of the Border and in regional towns have reported the swarms. Car yards too have been plagued for the past two weeks. Amid the piles of rotting grasshoppers are field crickets, also in near plague proportions, and locusts. The insect feast has also brought with it scores of praying mantis and scavenger beetles.
Fonzies' Ben Sudano was sweeping the Dean Street footpath of his eatery yesterday morning. "I'm sick and tired of the clean-up, we sweep before we leave each night and first thing in the morning," he told The Border Mail . "It is never ending. "Last night was like that scene from the Bible with the great locust plague." On the opposite corner, La Porchetta worker Keryn Norman was busy cleaning bugs from the restaurant's windows. "This has become someone's job every day for the past two weeks. "It takes at least two hours to clean-up." The plague also spread across the region yesterday, Culcairn newsagency's Ken Scheuner having to battle through a green skin to his shop front door. "You could not see the front door for the grasshoppers this morning, they were caked on," he said. Locusts are also making a pest of themselves in Yarrawonga, swarms invading the town since last weekend.

Animal Tales: This is the tale of a dog with no tail. An Australian shepherd who was named Sydney by my daughter. Australian shepherds are herding dogs with no tails; they are bred that way. They are known to be very intelligent, easy to teach and train. My husband always said we should not have gotten a dog that was smarter than us, but Sydney had the sweetest disposition, she lived to please us. She was the perfect family pet. The day I learned exactly how smart Sydney was came as a shock to me, but it was a pleasant surprise. Sydney rarely barked. She never ever barked to go out, or be fed, or to get our attention. Sometimes she did bark if someone knocked at the front door, but this day, the window washers were visiting. Another thing you should know about Sydney is that she never ever chewed or ruined any personal property: not shoes, not toys strewn over the floor, nothing. Our children left their Legos and train sets set up for days, invading her territory, and she gingerly stepped over them, making sure not to disturb them in the least.
But on this particular afternoon, I was in the kitchen, and she appeared before me with a stuffed animal from my son's room in her mouth. This was very unusual, and I admonished her, and she followed me as I walked up the steps to return it to his bedroom. And what I saw when I entered his room, was a man on a ladder, wiping the outside of the window in my son's room. So instead of barking, which would have been an indistinct message, she knew that taking something from Tim's room would force me to go up the stairs and into his room and I would see that a strange man was at his window. Her goal was to alert me to a possible danger to Tim - a possible intruder in the house. She did it in the most direct, intelligent way she could.

Jail for Stockton burglar who preyed on elderly: A Sneak burglar who targeted vulnerable pensioners was behind bars today. Lee Anthony Dunn, 25, tricked his way into the home of a 75-year-old Stockton woman. He pretended to be from housing group Tristar Homes and claimed he had come to check her boiler, Teesside Crown Court was told. The trusting pensioner allowed him into her home in Stewart Road. He went into the front room and left just minutes later. She then found her purse was missing. Police were contacted after her care worker arrived and Dunn and another man were arrested a short time later. His victim picked Dunn out during an identification procedure. When interviewed, he admitted spending the money on drugs. The court heard how Dunn was at it again just three days later. He carried out a similar distraction burglary after pretending to be a window cleaner and gaining entry to a house in Queen’s Walk, Stockton. This week he was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

'Window cleaner' conman is jailed after blowing last chance: A conman who was given one last chance to mend his ways by a Crown Court judge in Bristol has been jailed after committing another distraction burglary. Jackson Bogart, 38, of Clayfield Road, Brislington, admitted the charge on the first day of his trial at Bristol Crown Court and was sentenced to three years in prison. He has also been issued with a restraining order, which will never expire, and prevents him from contacting the victims and orders him to stay away from their address. Bogart targeted elderly people when working as a bogus window cleaner. Octogenarians Robert and Margaret Peters suspected he had not even cleaned any of the windows at their Brislington home in April last year.
When Mr Peters paid him £20 just to get rid of him, Bogart entered their house claiming he wanted to use the toilet and pocketed £200 cash from a wallet. In October, Judge Michael Harington spared him an immediate term of imprisonment, giving him a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for a year, with supervision, 100 hours of unpaid work, a three-month curfew and £200 compensation. But after his latest offence he has been jailed. The prosecution was brought by the Bristol Doorstep Crime Team – a joint team made up of Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Bristol City Council's trading standards staff, whose aim is to tackle the problem of rogue traders and distraction burglars. The judge in the case commended both the witnesses for their actions in assisting their neighbour and helping police to arrest the offender. Both witnesses were awarded £50 from the High Sheriff Fund as thanks.

Three scrap metal thieves who took £100 of metal and copper cabling from near Tesco at Burnt Tree “didn’t know” that it would be classed as stealing, a court heard. The trio, all from Tipton, pleaded guilty to theft by finding at Dudley Magistrates Court yesterday. Window cleaner Alan Green, of Sycamore Road, Princess End, was handed an £80 fine and ordered to pay £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Unemployed man notches up 3,000 unsuccessful job applications: Alun Brown has averaged just over one job application every working day for the last 10 years – and has succeeded with NONE of them. The 27-year-old hit the unhappy milestone of 3,000 unsuccessful job applications this month after a decade of claiming benefits. He has applied to be a checkout operator, telesales assistant, waiter, window cleaner, receptionist, data inputter and a cleaner... yet not held paid employment since he was 17. The Ammanford man believes he is a victim of the nation’s economic problems. “I really want to get a job, to get up in the morning and to feel part of something. I am willing to do absolutely anything,” said Alun. “Ideally I’d like to work in admin or retail, but as my applications show, I am willing to turn my hand to anything. I’ve even tried to get a job as a window cleaner.“

Police see hotdog fly from man’s hand: An unusual case of immediate community service happened in the downtown business district Friday night as bar crowds walked the streets. Police say that a hotdog “flew” from a man’s hand causing mustard and ketchup to be smeared on the window of Crow Hill restaurant, 9 S. Front St. Because police saw the incident, they notified the restaurant which gave the man some window cleaner. After the man cleaned the window he was allowed to go.

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