After serving in the US Coast Guard, my first business venture was to start a coffee/espresso bar. An engagement with the VA Hospital in Albuquerque NM provided a valuable lesson when after three years my contract was terminated. I found myself on the street with no job and some now useless equipment. That day I swore I would never again be in a position where one canceled contract would mean The End. 

Finding A quick job cleaning windows at $9 an hour was enough to help me move out of Albuquerque. Seeing the company make $600 in one day with 3 employees brought on another epiphany: “Holy Smokes! There’s good money in the window cleaning business, I’m going to start my own!” Back then the $600 seemed like a lot but I know better now with three people we make 2x to 3x that now. 

I was soon able to fulfill my goal of moving back to WA State and with my family. In order to fine-tune my window cleaning skills, I worked for another company that first year with plans of breaking off on my own the following. The owner had most of the high-rise contracts in Spokane WA but it was underbid. Pricing was stuck in the 1980s at $30 per man-hour. I did take advantage of the opportunity to sharpen my skills at $10 per hour, both hanging off buildings and some residential. I worked there the entire summer and marketed my own jobs off-hours and on weekends. Winter brought layoffs but by then I had enough storefront to pay my bills and gas as well as increase my market efforts. 

By Spring I had enough Monthly Residual Storefront to focus 100% on my own new business and declined the job when they called. Thus A Pane in the Glass was born!

Ten years or so passed and I was comfortable with just one employee and a modest $150 – $200K per year relying solely on word of mouth for marketing. Discovering the Internet around 2014/2014 increased my leads from a couple per month to 10 or 20 per day. Fast forward to the present, that one employee business has grown to 12 employees. A General Manager runs the day-to-day operations for Pane in the Glass while I focus on growing my marketing agency. Many people sell their business and that can be a good choice. For me, I can’t ever see selling.  I’d rather pay a General Manager an attractive salary and continue to draw from the business into and through retirement.  That’s part of my retirement plan!!

Like most companies, even after growing to a large number we’ve had our struggles. Decisions have been made that didn’t turn out so well for our company while others worked out great. Our 2019 was a tough year with a lot of changes, possibly the worst we’d had in five years. Even with Corona complications, our 2020 beat that year. Live and learn!

My advice to all: Mistakes will be made, learn from them. Be open to new ideas but don’t go all on something that someone else is doing. If mistakes aren’t made, you may be playing it too safe and won’t grow as fast as you could.



-Justin Monk