I Can See Clearly Now: The Journey of a Window Cleaner

Story by Forest Smith

Birds are chirping and people are buzzing about the streets around McGillis elementary school as the sun shines down and reflects off its sparkling, freshly cleaned windows. I’m here to meet the man who cleaned them. Infinitely polite and always calculated David Dunn, father of seven and owner of 20/20 Window Cleaning explains how he got into the window cleaning business. It all began seven years ago when his father in law, a plumber, stopped by the house to visit Dunn’s wife. He had just come from a job and the house owner was looking to get her windows cleaned as soon as possible. After being laid off from two jobs in the financial services business within a year, Dunn said “Well, why not?”

Dunn buckled down, hopped on YouTube, and learned how to wash. He bought some supplies. Then he and his youngest son, Luke, who was 12 at the time and headed to his first window cleaning job ever. It took the father-son team three hours to complete the house and they got paid $110. David had been thinking about starting an entrepreneurial venture after his bad luck with his previous few jobs and there were plenty of mouths to feed at home. So he said “You know I think I’m gonna give this thing a crack”.

Initially he was wary, since he never had done manual labor prior it would be a change from the life of a salesman. As an exercise and sports science major, he says, “I never thought in a million years I would have a window cleaning business.” He persisted though and continuing to work with his son, left the cubicle and hasn’t looked back since. While cleaning someone’s home may seem like a dreadful task, Dunn has a long list of good things to say.

The best part of a job is when you get an instant reaction from your work, he says. Comments like “Wow, I can see again!” and “The windows look great!” make it all worth it. Dunn believes this goes for any kind of cleaning work and it’s amazing how you can truly brighten someone’s day by helping them improve their home. People are truly grateful for your work and it makes it enjoyable. Beyond that it’s fun and exciting to check out people’s homes, he adds. You get to see really nice properties and can get ideas on how to design your own home. You also get a peek into the life of the person’s house you are washing and it is very interesting to see what people have done with their lives, their style, culture, and beliefs. It makes it so at the end of every day you feel like you have learned something new and helped someone. Finally Dunn really enjoys being his own boss, instead of deadlines and profit margins you get to run on your own time and find a way to best suit yourself and your customers.

There’s a surprising amount variety that comes with window washing, and it is apparent in the wide array of window cleaning tools that he has at his disposal. There are so many things to do when you are washing windows, it makes for exciting work and there is no time to get bored. David uses the most recent advancements in window washing technology, such as water fed poles. Using deionized water as a squeegee these extendable poles range from five to fifty feet and allow you to clean second story windows without ever touching a ladder. This has allowed him to keep his team small but tackle very large jobs in a timely matter. This also maximizes profits by allowing him to fit more jobs in a day while still providing an amazing clean. After seven and a half years of experience it is clear to see that David has a system down and the results are great, but he is looking to expand.

“I never planned to do the work forever” he says. As a 48 year old window washing is becoming harder but his only complaint is a sore back or feeling extra tired. Dunn hopes to hire more workers and focus his efforts on sales, business and family. It hasn’t been easy to do, however. “I’m a little disappointed that it’s taken me this long,” he says. Dunn has high hopes though and doing very well with his two man team. He speaks highly of his time in college and how it made him a professional and allowed him to get to where he is now, even though he is not working in his field. “It’ll get there” he says optimistically. One of the nicest and most honest people I have ever met, David Dunn deserves all the luck in the world in his business venture.