Meet Steven Scally of Fireside Sweeps LLC in Fremont, New Hampshire. Steven is a long time member of NCSG, serves as the TAC committee chair, and currently sits on the board as an At-Large Director. He shares with us some of his biggest challenges and how he works to overcome them.
What is a question you get asked most about being a chimney sweep/chimney sweeping/the industry?
How did you get into chimney sweeping?
How did you get started in the industry?
In 1978, my uncle Bill Vandusen started a chimney sweep company and it went gangbusters right away. I was 15 at the time and of course was looking to make money doing something as I was looking to get my license. I started that summer and then Saturday’s when I went back to school, working with my uncle. It blossomed from there. He hired a mason and I went to work with him, tending and learning a lot about masonry. After that mason quit, I took over the masonry work.
What advice do you wish you had received when you were getting started?
When I started my business 21 years ago, one of the things I wished I had was a good accountant and an office manager. It took me a few years to hire an accountant and too many more years to hire an office manager.
What is the biggest challenge you face on the job? What are your best strategies for overcoming it?
Finding the right employees for me and my company. I stand fast to hire to my core values, and I have found some great employees that way. During this COVID pandemic, I have zoomed in on all but one of the meetings offered by NCSG and CSIA. The way to hire was in one of those zoom meetings, which I know will make it a lot easier than I have been doing in the past. For anyone looking for information, those joint meetings are full of great information.
Who was your most famous customer?
Bill Belichick was probably one of the most famous customer we had. Also, Malcolm Forbes out on the Nashaun Island, J. Geils (musician), Rico Petrocelli and Jerry Remy, who played for the Red Sox, and Johnny Bucyk, Tiger Williams and Rick Middleton, who all played for the Boston Bruins.
Have you ever attended NCSG Annual Convention & Trade Show? If so, what was your favorite takeaway?
I have been to many conventions and trade shows over the years. What really stands out to me was the year we were in Hershey, Pennsylvania – when the blizzard hit. I went down early, as I saw it coming and did not want to get stuck like a lot of folks did. Ken Robinson was doing a Rumfordize hands-on class, and his helpers did not make it there on time to help him. So I jumped in and volunteered. Because of my work there, Kevin Delucenay offered for me to come help build the twisted chimney project at the Tech Center. That convention was also memorable because of the 5 folks that sat outside in the 4 feet of snow in their bathing suits, smoking cigars to raise money. And when the police showed up, Ashley Eldridge in his mom and baby costume were discussing this with the police.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
I will give you this quote by Albert Einstein as an answer, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” I’ve use this for most of my life because I felt I had to continually prove myself to others. When I realized I do not need to, that is where I really started to grow as a human being.
Have you ever had to make your own tool to solve a particular problem?
Have we met? I started back in the 𝐒𝐭𝐨𝐧𝐞 ages. Been making or modifying tools most of my life. I did on a job just the other day. I needed heat shield in one specific place about 4 feet down from the top. I modified my rod and a trowel to work perfectly in getting what I needed done. I believe that most chimney sweeps are this way. We find ways to get stuff done.
Weirdest thing you have ever found in a chimney?
I have found so many things over the years… all the different animals you can think of. But the weirdest: panties.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Playing poker and smoking cigars are a couple of them. I have played golf, which I like but it doesn’t like me. I like to go fishing, though not often enough. I like to help people. I do a lot of that in so many different ways.
What is, in your opinion, the most valuable part of being a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild?
There are just so many things here. One of the most valuable to me is the great people in our industry who will help you out. I can call just about any one of them and I get the help I need. The friendships I have gathered over the years are immeasurable. This is one of the reasons I wanted to be on the TAC committee, which now I am the chair. I want to give back to any one in our industry who needs it.
Thank you, Steven! Make sure to check out his article on how technology within the industry has evolved in the Tech Q & A in the October 2020 edition of Sweeping magazine.
As always, make sure to submit your nominations for the next Meet a Member to Annemarie Stockton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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