Jeff Beigel, James Brady
This edition of the A Most Interesting Person focuses on the jobs people were doing before they got into window cleaning. My first story I hooked up with Jeff Beigel in Northbrook Illinois. Before he became one of the top Fish Franchisees in the country he had a successful life doing other things. I also caught up with NYC Fireman James Brady. He has been on the force for 15 plus years and was looking for a second job and he came by it kind of unexpectedly. Enjoy reading their inetrviews!
AWC- Jeff you told me you sold hot dogs for a living how’s that story go?
Jeff- I started my Vienna fast food restaurant in 1977 in Niles Illinois. My best friend’s father in law opened the original Irving’s for Red Hot Lovers in Wilmette, and when they expanded a year later to a 2nd store, I became the working partner at age 23. The chain eventually grew to 14 stores. I sold out my 50% to my partner after 9 years in the business. We sold hot dogs, burger, beefs and so on. Lots of mustard under my finger nails!! A few years after I sold out, Irving’s was going down, and only have the original store open down to this day. I guess you can say I got out at the right time!
AWC- Ok so your 32 with some cash in your pocket now what?
Jeff- My last year of hot dogs I started going down to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange for a few hours in the morning to learn a bit about the foreign currency market. Why foreign currencies? Because my brother and some friends were trading currencies, and it helps to go into a pit where you actually know some people. I just sold out Irving’s, rented a seat needed to trade in the pits, and I just jumped in. Went to the Deutschmark pit only because I had some friends who were order fillers there, I slowly progressed and began to make a great living. Stayed in that pit until it got too tough to make a living in there, and I reluctantly changed over to the S & P 500 pit.
AWC-WOW! Hot Dog Restaurants to Day Trading but that’s not enough you still have to become a window cleaner.
Jeff- After 17 years, the computers were taking over the industry, and pit trading was becoming obsolete. As my income began to decrease, I thought it was time for a change. I was 50 years old, and needed to move my cheese again. So the reason I once again changed my business was basically out of necessity . I began working with franchise brokers, and I basically had 5 criteria for buying a business. 1) location 2) amount of investment 3) using my natural skills 4) good life style 5) no cap – no need to keep investing in order to grow. Fish met all 5, and the rest is history. After nearly 13 years, we have one of the top franchises in the Fish System.
AWC- Awesome Story Jeff! Thanks for your time and the interview.
AWC -What is your background?
I am 39 years old, I am married to my wife Colleen, we have three children Fiona 7, Donovan 3 and Raelyn 2. We Live in Rockaway Beach, Queens NY.
Currently I am a NYC Firefighter in Rescue Co. 2 in Brooklyn NY. We are 1 of 5 Rescue companies in NYC. There is one for each Borough. We are the Rescue company for Brooklyn. Rescue companies in the FDNY were formed to save trapped and missing firefighters. Over time our responsibilities and capabilities have expanded. We respond to every fire, every major emergency in Brooklyn or throughout the city if needed, which include building collapses, high angle rope rescues (window washers!), subway emergencies, car accidents, confined space incidents, scuba diving and any other crazy predicaments people get themselves into every day in NYC.
A big part of my job is staying fit and in shape. I got into racing triathlons about 5 years ago and began racing competitively in Ironman Triathlons. A Ironman is a triathlon consisting of 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a full marathon 26.2 miles all in one day, right after each other. Usually its about a year and half of training to prepare. I completed my first Ironman in 2013 in 9hours 27 minutes. This past July I raced my second Ironman in Lake Placid NY. For the past three years I have been sponsored from a team on Long Island and a few other companies in the nutrition, cycling, endurance sports world.
Prior to becoming a firefighter I was playing rugby in Wellington, New Zealand. I played semi-professional here in the US, lived on both coasts playing. My father played rugby, founded the local rugby team in the 70’s. I started playing in grade school and then in high school, went on from there. During my travels playing rugby, I often worked in different trades like construction, carpentry, masonry, and plumbing. I learned to do a lot with a lot of different tools.
AWC-How long have you been at the NYC Fire Department?
I joined the FDNY when I was 24, so 15 years. I have been assigned to Rescue 2 for 7 years. 15 years seems like a long time but it’s not, I am still learning every day at every fire, in fire department time, it’s nothing, I work with guys who have 25, 30+ years as a firefighter. Those guys are legends to me. Time and experience in the fire department is the greatest asset anyone can have.
What made you want to do something different?
Most people know having kids isn’t cheap. I am neck deep in diapers, wipes and ointment! Just trying to make ends meet and living in NYC isn’t the easiest, having a second or third job is just the reality. I also wanted to build a company and business that I can leave to my kids. A company they can be proud of where them and their friends can learn to work and learn about responsibility. I can’t wait for the day I can work alongside them.
Why choose window cleaning?
Well the story goes, window cleaning chose me! Right Mike! Only by accident am I cleaning windows. One day my buddy tells me about the three day classes J Racenstein has at its warehouse in NJ. So i sign up online, not for the window cleaning day but the pressure washing day. I guess the dates got mixed up on website and I showed up for the window cleaning day accidently. Mike Draper, the best guy in the business!, is running the class. He sees that it is a mistake, and says I can stay for the class and come the next day for pressure washing no problem. I reluctantly stay, I thought I knew how to wash a window, I thought everyone knew, its washing windows...right...wrong..about 20 mins into class, after the introductions, Mike walks over to the training window, grabs a mop and a squeegee and cleans the window in about 3 seconds, throws a couple swirls in there for good measure too. I thought to myself, holy cow, that’s how you clean a window! He went on to describe how he had built a very successful business from route work and high rise work, and how time is money and how effeciency is the name of the game. The rest of day he went through window cleaning from A-Z, all the tools, techniques, chemicals, glass surfaces etc..I left that day, a window cleaner! I started looking at glass everywhere, thinking about cleaning glass, I was brainwashed! I now find myself on YouTube watching Luke the Window Cleaner videos for hours on end! Have to give him a shout out, Luke and Reanna those videos are sick, love them! You guys are awesome!!
How did you get your training?
Before I walked into the J Racenstein class, I worked on and off with another firefighter friend who owns a window cleaning company in Staten Island. He cleaned glass the old fashion way, by hand. A little foaming glass spray, a little scrape, a little wipe and a buff. Every window every time painstakingly by hand to perfection. His customers loved him for his attention to detail. I thought that was the only way. It is definitely a way, a good way but not the only way as I later found out from Mike. Mike’s class teaches the things every window professional should know, and honestly, I bet most don’t, and from the people in attendance, who have varying degrees of experience, 90% didn’t know.
What services are you offering?
My company offers total exterior cleaning, from house washing to windows and glass restoration. The town I live in is surrounded by water, the ocean on one side and the bay on the other. Salt water wreaks havoc on everything. A big part of my business is knowing how to help customers deal with the salt water deposits left on every surface. I have my full array of squeegees, handles, mops, and poles, hard-water kit as well as a pure-water system from Tucker.
How do you hope to expand your business?
I am really hoping to grow the residential side of things. The #1 thing is just to make sure we do the right thing for the customer always as a company. I believe if that comes first everything else will fall into place.