Meet Gary Yates. He and his wife Janna run their company, Chimney Sweep, together in Saint Joseph, Missouri. Gary shares with us how he got started in the industry and some of his favorite parts of being a part of this community.
What is a question you get asked most about being a chimney sweep/chimney sweeping/the industry?
So, what made you decide to want to become a chimney sweep?
How did you get started in the industry?
I worked in insurance and was getting tired of working tirelessly from paycheck to paycheck to earn a living for my family, never seeming to get ahead. A good friend convinced me to start a business. I started my chimney service business from scratch after his recommendation and convincing part time on the weekends until I felt confident enough to leave my full time job in the insurance business.
What advice do you wish you had received when you were getting started?
Get the proper education! Reach out to other chimney service professionals and learn as much as you can from them. In the beginning, I had no clue that chimney service was an actual profession! After joining NCSG and getting the Sweeping magazine, I found a local service company that was featured in the magazine and reached out to them to set up a time to meet. I've never looked back. Best decision ever! My mind has been opened to the possibilities this industry has to offer.
What is the biggest challenge you face on the job? What are your best strategies for overcoming it?
Encountering an issue that I've never experienced before. Every chimney restoration job brings along its challenges. I've been able to meet and network with some fantastic professionals in this industry that are extremely helpful in these situations. I've got certain guys on speed dial. Their willingness to offer us guidance has helped us excel in our business and continued education.
Who was your most famous customer?
David Sandy, a magician! Believe it or not. He's a world-renowned magician that lives right here in our community. He's the past president of the international brotherhood of magicians.
Have you ever attended NCSG Annual Convention & Trade Show? If so, what was your favorite takeaway?
Absolutely! We started going two years ago. Network, Network, Network! I try to meet new people each year. Everybody has a story and experiences we can all learn from. I love meeting new people and picking their brains. So much great knowledge!
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Making the decision to take my business full time and getting married to my wife Janna, of course! The two go hand in hand. Without her and our children, I'd probably not be as motivated as I am to build our business and life like we have and plan to do.
Have you ever had to make your own tool to solve a particular problem?
Yes! Before I knew suppliers existed for this industry we started making our own deglazing equipment. After deciding to go full time in business, an entire new realm opened its doors to us!
Weirdest thing you have ever found in a chimney?
A duck! It had fallen through the chimney flue in behind a wood stove insert (slammer). It was still preserved, colorful blue feathers and all. The customer was saddened and in disbelief.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I spend time with my wife and kids. Why work so hard if we can't spend time with those we love?
What is, in your opinion, the most valuable part of being a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild?
Networking, training opportunities, company involvement, etc. This is our trade, our life, our family. I believe whole-heartedly in being as involved as possible with our trade organizations. They support us behind the scenes. Let's be proud of it! And of course our clients love to hear that we belong to the National Chimney Sweep Guild!
Thanks Gary! It’s always great to hear about the awesome things our members are doing and what they enjoy most about this wonderful industry. If you’d like to be the next featured Meet a Member, send an email to Annemarie Stockton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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