Scott Koehn, owner of Crystal Clear Window Cleaning, preps a pane of glass at a local Columbus business. Photo by: John Dorroh
October 22, 2009 11:00:00 AM
I can''t count the number of people I know who, because of the economic downturn, have had to take desperate measures in order to be able to bring money into their households. Just three weeks ago I drove one of my neighbors to Tupelo to catch a Greyhound to attend truck-driving school in Texas.
This man will do fine; however, he is not a truck-driver by trade. He was relatively happy as a welder here in the Golden Triangle when his company, without much notice, told him that his services were no longer needed. Bam! Just like that. Happens every day.
Scott Koehn experienced a similar situation when unexpected state and federal regulations forced him out of his occupation.
Fortunately, he had a friend in Phoenix, Ariz., who hired him as an assistant in a commercial cleaning service.
"Before going into the window-cleaning business, I was brokering lime, a commercial by-product for farmers and ranchers," he said. "That was mainly in south Mississippi.
"About five months ago we encountered some setbacks with state licensing and EPA regulations in Alabama, where most of the lime originates," he said. "It crippled us and put me in a transitional situation."
That''s when Koehn contacted his friend in Phoenix, asking him for advice. His friend recommended that he come to Phoenix to check out his business. That''s what he did and ended up staying there and working with him for several months.
"As a matter of fact," said Koehn, "I was considering investing in his company but decided to go home and open my own business."
The frequency of families being torn apart is too high. The sad reality is that individuals often have to behave radically in order to pay their bills. This can cause all sorts of problems for the family.
After several months Koehn decided to move back home -- to Macon -- and open his own window cleaning business.
"I opened Crystal Clear Window Cleaning and so far, things are going fairly well," said Koehn.
"I have worked in Meridian and Starkville recently," he added. "I''m looking at a chain of convenience stores and for work in the Golden Triangle and Jackson."
There is no typical day for a window cleaner. Some days jobs lay back to back with little time for lunch or a break of any kind. Other days are slow with plenty of time to plan and search for new clients.
The process of cleaning windows is fairly clear cut.
"First," said Koehn, "I have to remove the film that often is found on windows that have not been cleaned in a long time. I use a soaper, which has wool fibers on the end. It''s sort of like a modified mop.
"To prevent streaking, I often have to climb a ladder and hand dry the crevices that line the tops of panes of glass."
The work is tedious and suits the needs of a perfectionist quite well.
Although there are no high-rise buildings in the area, Koehn wants to learn how to clean those as well. There are possibilities on the horizon for him in Jackson and New Orleans where taller buildings abound.
Finally, the windows need to be shined. Streaking is a no-no and glare can often mask their presence. The window cleaner has to look at the glass surface from several angles -- both from outside and inside the building -- to make sure that streaks are removed.
Economists are telling us that we are now on the up swing. Certain indicators point to a more positive environment, even though American workers are still being forced out of jobs.
Until this trend is reversed, millions like my neighbor and Koehn will find themselves in transition, behaving radically, having to step out of their comfort zones. Just as scary as a night at a haunted house, it can happen to anyone, in the blink of an eye.
Koehn and Crystal Clear Window Cleaning can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]; and by phone at 662-425-2084.
John Dorroh is a semi-retired high school science teacher, who writes a business column for The Dispatch.
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