A Tale of two Entrepreneurs

March 7, 2017

About the Duo

Ken and Anthony have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Even as teenagers, they went door to door during the summer months painting addresses on street curbs. Not sure about address painting? Just think of those white boxes with addresses painted on the raised curbs that make it easier to get a pizza or ambulance to your home. They would start each evening with hardly any money in their pockets, but would end it with $100 to $200. They would often compete to see who could get more customers. Ken even printed up t-shirts with a funny company name on them; he still has those Uncle Curbys T-shirts. The drive to work for themselves, and have fun while doing it, was a deep conviction even during these early years. Some of their friends would jokingly call them bums. But, hey, it’s hard to understand an entrepreneur. Almost 20 years have passed and the two are still working together, with a continual aim to provide a better service experience. Ken and Anthony have come a long way from the address painting days, and have literally built two very successful brands in the Cleveland area from the ground up. They received no seed money from their parents. The Gutter Boys and Pristine Clean (now referred to as TGB & PC) brands service thousands of homes and employ many great team members. It hasn’t been easy though, there surely have been some hurdles to overcome. The two have paired well and have demonstrated great perseverance and discipline.  For example, Ken’s prior business experience drives the two owners to run the company using as little credit as possible. The two dug deep and have funded the growth of both brands with their own cash. This has been a big risk though. While others invest in their 401Ks and/or IRAs, the duo have invested in themselves, and so far, the risk has been paid dividends.

Type of Business

Ken and Anthony got their start gutter cleaning in 2001. A friend showed them how to make some extra money, but the two knew this could translate into more than just “side cash.” TGB was incorporated in 2008 with PC following not too far behind. The two make great business partners because they both understand their respective strengths and weaknesses. Anthony has guided TGB & PC using sound, and yet self-taught business principles. He realizes the power of cash flow and often delays gratification so the necessary resources can be devoted to the growing brands. Where Anthony brings structure to the accounting, human resources, and operations of TGB and PC, Ken brings a passion for sales, customer service, and marketing. He loves the endless potential of owning a business and works hard to bring excitement and honesty to the customer experience. When it comes to checks and balances, the two pair well. Sure, there are times when the two disagree, but they both quickly realize that they want the same things and work to that end. It’s also important to note that the business partners look to further professionalize both the gutter and pressure washing industries in Cleveland. You would be hard-pressed to find more than a handful—and that’s generous—of professional companies providing either service. The two make it their expressed goal to continue to progress TGB & PC, which surely benefits the consumer.

Innovative Approaches

William Pollard once said, “Without change, there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.” Ken and Anthony believe this to the core. They know that being proactive always wins against being reactive. They allow for creative ideas and innovative approaches. For example, they listen to the ideas of their employees and often implement them. Mike Westerfield, their operations manager, is constantly looking for ways to improve the quality of their washing processes. Whether it’s utilizing new machines or ongoing training on in-field techniques, Mike feels released and mandated to innovate. Another example is Craig Tumino, an inside-salesmen with Pristine Clean. While his day-to-day job is sales and customer relations, he also is involved with creative brainstorming. Recently he wrote, produced the music, and recorded the jingle for a PC T.V. Commercial. Now, the crew can’t get that song, “Treat your home to a Pristine Clean” out of their heads. The plan for future growth is simple: Change is inevitable. The two are very comfortable with that idea, and use it to their advantage. They know that consumers want great products and services, and they are willing to create an innovative environment to deliver. A few years back, the two noticed an industry trend where inferior sealants were being applied to seal concrete driveways, all to cut costs. The two knew this was wrong and stood their ground, even though they paid 6 times as much for a silane-siloxane sealant. Ken & Anthony knew the customer deserved better. Eventually, the industry adjusted, and silane-siloxane became the standard for concrete sealant, at least in the Cleveland area.

Company Culture

Neither Ken nor Anthony have major philanthropic accolades to boast of. Perhaps their time hasn’t come for this yet, but the two are deeply committed to providing their employees with opportunities and great company culture. Although they are not required, the business partners provide many of their employees with retirement and health benefits, along with year-round employment. They love to see their salesmen and technicians thrive. Simply put, the TGB & PC brands can provide a high continuity of service because of this philosophy, which truly benefits everyone. The two enjoy seeing their employees working in professions they love while being able to provide well for their loved ones. You could say that providing high-quality, high-paying jobs is a passion of Ken and Anthony’s. The company culture is one of their greatest assets. They, along with all their workers, absolutely love working together. Their team is productive, and they have fun doing it. Boy, it sounds like some things never change…and, as far as Ken and Anthony are concerned, that’s just fine.