This month, I'd like you all to meet Russell Gardner of Fiddler On The Roof in Van Nuys, California. He's been in the industry for a long time and has met some pretty famous people along the way...
What is a question you get asked most about being a chimney sweep/chimney sweeping/the industry?
You can make a living in Los Angeles at that?!?!?!
What advice do you wish you had received when you were getting started?
First become a CPA, a lawyer, and a psychologist before becoming a chimney sweep!
What is the biggest challenge you face on the job? What are your best strategies for overcoming it?
Currently, the biggest challenge is finding new employees. We all keep an eye out for someone who would fit in, but it is difficult.
Who was your most famous customer?
LOL!!!! 20 years ago I could give you a long list! Now we often sign NDA (non-disclosure agreements) So I won't mention names. Our main service areas include Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Santa Monica, Brentwood, Malibu and on. My guess is that we average about 2 big name people/stars a month. One of the biggest action stars around has been one of my best customers for 25 years.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Hmmmm..... Besides being the father of two amazing boys? I climbed Mt. Whitney, up and down in one day!
Have you ever had to make your own tool to solve a particular problem?
A couple of years ago I built an artificial pancreas for my son who has Type 1 diabetes. As far as for work..... does duct tape on the end of a rod to get a screw driver out of a chase count? If so, I have built hundreds!
Weirdest thing you have ever found in a chimney?
A 1936 L.A. Times classified section. There was 5 bedroom house for sale, in Beverly Hills, for $5500!
What do you like to do outside of work?
I am an outdoors guy. I like to golf, fish, hike, ride dirt bikes with my boys, ski, wake board, anything outdoors.
What is, in your opinion, the most valuable part of being a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild?
I don't love the "most valuable part" part of the question. The NCSG is an organization who's members have transformed an industry. When I started I wore a top hat and tails and the biggest extra I sold was a $39 spark arrestor. Now my guys all have video cameras and drones! The NCSG has helped me become more professional and more profitable. I love learning what works and doesn't for others and without the NCSG that wouldn't be possible!
Thanks, Russell! Know of someone who should be the next featured member? Submit your nominations to Annemarie Stockton at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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