As a young boy from the small town of Holly Hill, SC I moved to the big city of Seattle, WA – filled with skyscrapers in 1999. My mother would play a game where she had me stand very close to the tallest building she could find and tell me look straight up to the top of it, this created the illusion of the building leaning towards me as if it were falling down! At the tender age of 10 years old I’d never been exposed to exterior building maintenance, especially at such great heights. I noticed a man waayyyyyy up maybe at the 70th floor of the Columbia Tower, the tallest structure in Seattle, he was suspended by a rope. It almost looked like Spider-Man the way he was coming down. I said to my mom, “What’s he doing?” to which she replied, “he’s cleaning windows.” “Wow,” I thought. That must be the ulitimate sense of freedom.
Fast forward to the year 2013, I’m now 26 and I’ve exhausted all expectations of what other people wanted for me out of life. It was time for me to make a change, to do something I’ve always wanted to do in life. I never let that dream go of seeing that guy suspended on the side of that building and I wanted to give it a shot because I’ve always been a thrill seeker. At this point I’d already been skateboarding for close to 20 years, so why not! I set out to find a job cleaning windows, no use of getting up that high if I don’t know how to actually clean a window. The first job I found on Craigslist was through a small time residential window cleaning company based out of Issaquah, WA. I went for an interview and the guy liked what I had to say and actually gave me a job! Taught me how to clean windows and the rest is history. When I told him my aspirations of hi-rise window cleaning he was supportive but just didn’t have any experience with that himself. He’d started his company to service the properties he owned, all houses, no buildings. Worked there for 3 years before deciding, “Ok, i’ve got the technique now, I’ll have to get my high-rise experience elsewhere.”
Through a networking event at the local window cleaning supply shop, I met the boss from a company that serviced the majority of the buildings on the Amazon campus and convinced them that I was ready to join their team. My goal was to finally get out there and hang with the big dogs. The hi-rise guys were really “kicking glass” as we say in the industry and didn’t have time to train a new guy like me. So I stayed on the ground for a few months with them learning how to work as a team. We did our thing for a while, but I just wasn’t progressing fast enough. I’d picked up my own clients along the way with the previous residential company and was getting pretty tired from working my own jobs after being out all day in this big commercial gig. We had to work before and after office hours to stay out of the way of the campus workers, so we’d get started at 4 am sometimes, or even at night for interior office work. Eventually I had a conversation with the boss and he asked me what I really wanted from Window cleaning. I told him, ” I want to do some big buildings but not as big as you! This is too big for me man, you’re at the top of the food chain.” To which he replied, “You’re right. I’ll introduce you to a guy who works on his own throughout the summer here in Seattle, and spends his winters surfing in Mexico. He’s 65 years old and in excellent physical shape. He has his own company and sets his own hours. Is that something you’re interested in?” I said “Heck yeah! Sign me up!” I already had my Sparkler Brand Windows logo because this was something I had been planning. I showed it to him and he gave me a checklist of tasks to get the business started, and it was off to the races. Never had such a great experience with being let go from a job before.
Now it was time to meet the hi-rise guru. He was just as my former boss explained. A hard worker with a great can-do attitude and the experience to instill a greater respect for gravity in any new-comer who’s interested in the trade. I was all ears. I picked up as much as I could in the time we spent together. Worked with him and his crew and got a real feel for tying my own knots and swinging from buildings. My dream was finally realized.
The highest building we service now is 10 stories and that’s as much as our insurance will cover, but honestly I’m fine with that. Hi-rise window cleaning is a lot scarier than it looks when you are 10 years old, especially with a child of your own. 😀 #splash — Ben Randolph