THE WAY OF THE WINDOW CLEANER (EPISODE 1)
T.J. (A.K.A) T-Squeegee is one of the fastest rising names in today’s window cleaning community. He is a window cleaner, vlogger, pod caster, social media influencer, t-shirt designer, jokester, creative force, and defender of the little guy. That is a mouthful.
I’ve been following his channel (Squeegee Life) for a while now. Disclaimer, if you are easily offended, do not like to hear the F-bomb dropped and crude joking, than his podcast is not for you. I must admit, sometimes it’s too much and I stop listening. But, I always come back... Maybe it’s the comradery amongst window cleaners that brings me back, or the industry knowledge he and his co hosts bring to the show, or maybe I just need to laugh about some stupid stuff. Anyway you look at it, T-Squeegee is a force to be reckoned with and not easily ignored. Some guys love him and others... well, you get it. But that’s part of what makes T-Squeegee special and why I wanted to interview him for this blog. So here we go....
Aeria Pro — I was hoping we’d start off talking a little about your area of the country, then I’d like to ask a few coronavirus related questions. So tell us about your area first.
TJ — I am located between Toledo and Cleveland, Ohio in a small town named Sandusky, Ohio. Best known for the amusement park Cedar Point and the area known as “Vacationland”. About 8 months out of the year, everything is booming. But it becomes a little more difficult to operate in the colder months due to its proximity to Lake Erie. Also, most homeowners live in Florida during the winter months. So, it’s important to establish work that I can do year round. Although it’s not a very large market, it’s saturated with both window cleaners and pressure washers.
Aeria Pro —How is this crisis affecting your business?
T.J. — Well, the virus has stopped most commercial window cleaning and has put a strain on things. Thankfully, I’ve been in business as long as I have. My company has a lot of long time residential customers and they, thus far, have filled that void. There is no question that my bottom line has been affected and my monthly revenue has changed. But, I have restart dates for most of my commercial accounts, which is a bright spot. I’m trying to stay positive and motivated through this and I’m still optimistic about our growth. Interesting times.
Aeria Pro — Are you doing anything new during this shutdown to sell more jobs or improve your business practices?
Aeria Pro — So how long have you been window cleaning and how did you get started?
TJ — I’ve been cleaning windows full time since 2006, I did it part-time for a few years before then. I actually got into the industry by accident. I was in school and working as a carpenter in 1996 and a friend of mine’s brother owned a window cleaning company. They needed help on a really big job at a water park. So, I worked a week with them. Then I had a maintenance job where I was taking care of rental properties and apartments. I eventually left that to be a window cleaner. At first, I was a shamed to tell people I cleaned windows, but, window cleaning changed my life. I was the fastest window cleaner on the crew, and, I was in charge after 9 months. I was running the routes and bidding jobs not long after I started. After 5 years of that, I offered to buy the owner out and I haven’t looked back. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself and family. Not to mention the great friends I’ve made within the industry...people I’ll most likely know the rest of my life. Some of them have traveled all the way across the country to celebrate my birthday. It’s truly changed my life. And I’m thankful.
Aeria Pro —Let’s talk about the community becuase you are a big part of that. Your channel and podcast has a growing audience and you are very active in the Facebook groups. It’s pretty cool that window cleaners can connect through these mediums and be good friends from thousands of miles away. You and your partner in crime, Marc Tanner (co host on the podcast), are great examples of that.
TJ — Yea it’s something we both really enjoy doing. It’s not your standard industry related podcast or vlog. But we both have a lot of experience in the trade and we both have a funny outlook on life. We take our business seriously, but, we also have some fun. We are like two guys out on the glass having fun and we’re sharing it with everyone. You’ll hear a story from Marc about cleaning glass in the 80s, then, you may hear about the time I couldn’t make it to the restroom in time and soiled myself. A lot of people have reached out to us and thanked us for the help or advice they’ve gotten from listening. Or thanked us for the laughs. It helps them to get through their day and that means the world to us and keeps us wanting to do more. We both feel that helping people within the industry and in life is rewarding, and, we love being a part of it all.
Aeria Pro — Sometimes window cleaning podcasts can be dry and boring. You guys are not that. In fact, you guys are a bit controversial in the industry. Some people love you and others not so much.
TJ — I personally don’t see what we do on the podcast as controversial. What we have done and said on the podcast in my opinion are things that need to be said. If someone is operating within our tiny industry at a level that isn’t above board and is taking advantage of other window cleaners or inventors, I think it’s our duty to bring that person to light. We would be doing our counterparts and listeners a disservice by not being open with our opinions and knowledge of bad goings-on within our industry. I think it bothers some people for two reasons: one being, our show is unfiltered. We’re who we are. On the show we don’t sugar coat things, and, we give our genuine opinions on things. The second reason is our industry is small and I think it’s been par for the course for window cleaners to not voice their opinions. Because manufacturers and distributors have run the way they want; unchecked with absolute impunity with no consequences. We see wrong, we point it out. But when we see good, we also point that out. It’s not for everyone, but, everyone can find something useful either on a business level or on an entertainment level. We don’t go out of our way to cause controversy, but we don’t shy away from it. And honestly, I feel we’ve changed a few things along the way for the better. We hold people accountable.
Aeria Pro — Do you mean people like Perry? Do you think you take the Perry bashing too far? What do you say to your critics that feel this way?
TJ — Some may think I take it too far and that’s ok-everyone is entitled to their opinions. Just like I am entitled to mine. His track record speaks for itself. He’s left a big wake of unsatisfied customers and defunct business relationships. I’ve only made a third of what I know public about him. I dealt with him on a daily basis for a year and a half-he’s far from above criticism. If people don’t like what we have to say about him, they can tune out, that’s their right. I could understand if it was something we did constantly to multiple people, but, he’s the only business person I’ve run across in this industry that is, in my eyes, not on the level.
Aeria Pro — How did you get into vlogging and podcasting?
TJ — I started vlogging and podcasting after entering a partnership with Tim Huber and Joshua Shoaff. I started a YouTube channel after they insisted I would be good at it. After a few months, I told them I’ve always wanted to do a podcast and asked them if they’d like to be my co-hosts on the podcast. After a while, they bowed out and Marc Tanner and I started doing the show together and it really took off. It’s been all downhill from there. I really enjoy doing the podcasts and making videos for YouTube. It’s an interesting hobby and we’re able to give back to the industry that’s helped our lives so much.
Aeria Pro — How did you and Marc get connected?
TJ, Marc, and I met on Facebook in the “Pro Window Cleaning” group. We were always clowning on the same posts and have a similar sense of humor. One thing led to another and a phone call that lasted over an hour. We talked about BBQ and other interests we have in common and we became fast friends. We even met up and spent some time together. He and Richie Blue flew in from Florida and California to surprise me for my 40th Birthday and smoked all the meat for my party. They are great friends.
Aeria Pro — Are there YouTubers that inspire or influence your channel?
TJ- Yes. Mike The Glass Guy has an awesome style. I love his videos and editing style. SteveO, Luke The Window Cleaner, and Outlaw Window Cleaner Vlogs are some of my favorite channels to keep up with. Someone outside the industry I enjoy is David Dobrik. The guy has an awesome following and has made millions from YouTube... pretty inspirational.
Can you tell use about a few of your favorite tools?
TJ — My favorite tools are the Unger 0° handle, The Xero Silencer, the Xero Trad 12, and the Simpole Sim 22-very reliable, durable tools. That’s what I look for in equipment. I know my Sorbo Cobra 22” channel will always perform when I need it to. Reliability is the thing I look for most in equipment. Case in point, my IPC Hydrocart-I’ve had it since 2006 and it still keeps making me money.
Aeria Pro — Do you have long term goals- maybe a five year plan? If so, what would TJ’s business and life look like then?
My long term goals are to continue to get better every day whether that be in the industry, the podcasts, as a father, a husband, a friend, or a brother and son. Always keep pushing for better and always keep moving forward. None of what I’ve done in life would have been possible without the support of my lady - Jenifer Ann.
That sounds like a great place to end this interview. Thank you TJ for your time.
Please visit The Squeegee Life, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3rP4NgQhctYLgcgsIFDS4A