January 15, 2009
It is a common notion in the business world that in order to find some degree of success, one has to take risks. That''s a given.
We''ve all heard the clics: "No pain, no gain," and "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." You get the drift.
Over 25 years ago Joe Roseburgh, a high school administrator and coach at Caldwell High School (now Columbus High), took a risk when he picked up a hitchhiker. As it turned out, this man, Willie Nickson, of Aberdeen, showed Roseburgh how to make money by servicing vent hoods in commercial kitchens. Apparently it was a valuable skill in the restaurant world.
The two rogue entrepreneurs solicited business at the Holiday Inn (now Master Hosts Inn). Roseburgh rented the equipment and Nickson did the physical work.
That vent hood cleaning service included pressure washing when Roseburgh and his wife, Dorothy, started Rose Cleaning Service Inc. in 1982.
Roseburgh''s son, Craig, who lived in Holly Springs, spent his summers in Columbus and was trained by Nickson on the ins and outs of vent hood cleaning.
Next, Craig''s brother, Viera, and a cousin, Ray Bailey, joined the cleaning team. The business was a family affair. With little change, except for utilizing more sophisticated machines, the small business still thrives.
Craig Roseburgh, 47, of Columbus, has helped more people than he can count by restoring carpets and flooring and making their homes and furniture look fresh and new.
"Often some serious pressure-washing can resurrect a house," he said.
Roseburgh has not always been in the cleaning business. He worked as a newspaper reporter in Cleveland, Ohio, for a while. After moving back to the Columbus area, he worked at Kerr-McGee in Hamilton for 12 years.
"I worked with the cleaning service while I was in college," Roseburgh said. The family-owned business has been there for him whenever he needed a place to work.
"Actually, each of my past jobs has made me better at this job," he added. "Working as a newspaper reporter made me more at ease with people in general. And working at Kerr-McGee helped me to understand the science of cleaning."
"Just the other day," Roseburgh said, "I was at a local business and cleaned the carpets in several rooms. The owners were on the verge of purchasing brand new carpet but asked me to see what I could do for them first.
"When the job was complete, they told me that I had saved them hundreds of dollars that they would have spent needlessly. The lady told her husband that even if I had charged double, it would have still been a bargain for what they got," he said.
America''s new attitude
In the past several months I have seen several news blurbs and stories relating how Americans are beginning to change their toss-it-away-and-get-something-new habits. Our Katrina-sized financial mess has made frugality in vogue once again.
Many of our parents and grandparents did the same thing after their experiences with the Great Depression. National financial disasters have a way of making people re-evaluate what''s important and put off buying big-ticket items.
"I''m seeing that on the job," said Roseburgh. "Where people used to pull out their stained carpet and buy brand new, many are letting us steam clean it and are surprised that it usually looks new."
So much of what Roseburgh knows about people and running a business comes from lessons he learned form his mom and dad as a kid.
"Dad instilled in us certain values, such as always being courteous to people, having a smile on your face. He also told me that in order to be successful, you need to humble yourself," he said. "Try to be relaxed but businesslike at all times.
"Mom insisted that we always pay attention to details."
There is really no typical day for Roseburgh.
"I never know what to expect," he explained. "Yes, I often have a schedule for the week and appointments made ahead of time, but I never know how those appointments will play out."
One day he was asked to come by a private residence to clean some furniture. When he arrived, he could not believe the amount of mold that was embedded in the upholstery. Both the homeowner and Roseburgh felt certain it was beyond restoration, but he insisted on trying to clean it.
"I learned that day that I was pretty good at mold removal," he said. "It was almost like new when I finished. ... Always give it a try, even when you may have some doubt."
He and his three fellow workers also work on drains in residential and commercial swimming pools.
"Lawn maintenance? You bet. We do that, too." That is, when the ground is not covered in water ... or frozen.
Pam Painter of Cypress Park Apartments in Columbus said, "We call Craig when tenants vacate their apartments. He steam cleans the carpets for us, and we have found him to be reliable and have reasonable rates."
I talked to several hotel managers in the Golden Triangle who gave a similar report.
"I want to give thanks to God for giving me this opportunity," said Roseburgh. "And my parents who taught me the lessons that have made me a success."
Roseburgh stays busy with his family and writes poetry, which he shares occasionally at local open mic nights.
Roseburgh said he charges by the job and not by the hour. Ballpark estimates for his cleaning services are $30 for one bedroom or $150 for an entire four-bedroom house. Call Roseburgh at 662-327-9499 or 662-251-7940 for quotes and more information.
John Dorroh is a semi-retired high school science teacher, who writes a business column for The Dispatch.
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