Meet Tedd Cuttitta of NY Fireplace Designs Inc. in New City, NY. Like many of our members, Tedd got his start in the industry from a family member, and has since learned a thing or two about what it takes to be a successful chimney sweep.
What is a question you get asked most about being a chimney sweep/chimney sweeping/the industry?
Do you know Mary Poppins?
How did you get started in the industry?
My aunt sent my mother an ad for becoming a chimney sweep, which was meant for me as I was delivering, installing and selling wood stoves and fireplaces as a helper. However, my father was looking for something and HE decided to try his hand at chimney sweeping. When he got hurt falling off a ladder I was asked if I could do it, and as it turned out, I could. We became partners until he retired.
What advice do you wish you had received when you were getting started?
It’s hard to answer this question. My father and I had different dreams, different goals.... but if I had to pick one piece of advice it would be on how to manage finances.
What is the biggest challenge you face on the job? What are your best strategies for overcoming it?
One of the coolest things about this business is it is all about challenges. There is no part of the day and no part of the job that does not require your ability to problem solve. You must always thinking creatively, open to any and all possible solutions. The best strategy for overcoming any aspect of the business or the job at hand is to, 1. just relax and think you way through it, and 2. ALWAYS find educational and training classes. After 40 years in the business, I still think I have more to learn. Just like lawyers have a practice, I like to think of myself as a practicing chimney professional.
Who was your most famous customer?
I have many, but here’s a short list: Al Pacino, Ellen Burstyn, Bill Murray, Mike Nichols, Diane Sawyer, Jimmy Buffet, and many more. I did make Bill Murray laugh... that was fun.
Have you ever attended NCSG Annual Convention & Trade Show? If so, what was your favorite takeaway?
My first convention was in 1980 and I have been to most, but not all. I love that there is a brotherhood I belong to and their willingness to help each other both professionally and personally.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
In 1980, we were still deciding on what we should name this organization. I was one of the people who got to vote for the name “national chimney sweep guild” and I take a lot of pride in that. It is nice to know I had a small hand building this Guild at the beginning.
Have you ever had to make your own tool to solve a particular problem?
Sure, in the early days you had to cause they didn’t exist. I just made one this week (but I can’t tell you because it’s a secret).
Weirdest thing you have ever found in a chimney?
26 dead turkey vultures... all in one flue.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Ski, go to the shore and bodysurf, pretend I can play my guitar and sing, listen to music, but mostly look for a way to laugh.
What is, in your opinion, the most valuable part of being a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild?
The men and women who become your friends.
Thanks, Tedd! If you or someone you know would like to be the next Meet a Member, send Annemarie Stockton and email at email@example.com.
Meet our Members!
Get to know some of the fascinating people that make up our chimney community.