What advice do you wish you had received when you were getting started?
If you don’t want a lifelong hobby, go to college and get a career that pays well and stays at the office. Self-employment has its benefits, but you must weigh them over the long term long before you paint yourself in a corner. Short answer is make a reasonable business plan 10 years out and if chimney sweeping makes you happy and provides well, go for it. Learn the business side, you won’t always be a whipper snapper.
Bill Miner of Mountain Home Chimney & Flame in Midway, Arkansas shares some advice from his 34 years of experience...
What is the biggest challenge you face on the job? What are your best strategies for overcoming it?
After 34 years, you have to start the day with positive reinforcement before arriving to the job. If you’re grateful and thankful, the rest can take care of itself – like the squeaky customer, or the finding excellent employee deficit, or the 10 other top challenges that any other sweep in the world will face every day. A good attitude overcomes burn out, and sometimes you have to reach deep and tap into a source bigger than you.
Who was your most famous customer?
We serviced a Senator’s chimney once, but personally installing and sweeping for my Mom and Pop back in the day rates as #1 celebrity status in my book.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Other than raising a most excellent daughter who has blessed me with grandkids, a few years back we took a couple first place BBQ competitions with Primo Grill. The combined $950 really helped that summer on our 7K round trip drive to Alaska via Canada and a few ferries.
Have you ever had to make your own tool to solve a particular problem?
Using blowers on top of chimneys to exhaust, although not that unique, works for some installations.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m turning 60 this year, so I do a lot of afternoon naps. Seriously though, we enjoy the local Ozarks Lakes and Rivers, and an occasional old Florida Beach on the Gulf side. We are doing a week on San Isabel next May with family and grandkids, and the Rockies around Silverton Co are hard to beat in the summer, Anything in the great outdoors: floating a river, camping, fishing, hunting, trying to knock my grandson off a tube, not necessarily in that order.
What is, in your opinion, the most valuable part of being a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild?
The educational benefits and the Sweeping magazine with great insights from industry leading experts.
Thanks, Bill! I think I speak for everyone when I say we'd love to come to your place for some barbecue! If you know someone who should be the next star of Meet a Member, send me an email at email@example.com to nominate them.
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