Meet Tim Smith of Certified Chimney Care in Greencastle, IN. Tim tells us about his start in the industry, some challenges he faces, and why he has remained involved with NCSG.
What is a question you get asked most about being a chimney sweep/chimney sweeping/the industry?
“You’re really a chimney sweep?”
How did you get started in the industry?
After graduating high school in 1983, I messed around for a year and had a few odd jobs. One day my parents told me that I needed to find a full time job. My sister told me a chimney sweep was in the restaurant where she worked and mentioned needing a helper. (Many of the old timers will remember Joe Tremblay). Anyway, I called him up that evening and started the next day. The rest is history. So basically, I got started just as a way of getting my mom and dad off my back.
What advice do you wish you had received when you were getting started?
I can’t pick just one so I would say, take some business management courses, learn how to properly inspect, get a camera system, and hire an office person ASAP.
What is the biggest challenge you face on the job? What are your best strategies for overcoming it?
One of the great things about being a sweep are the challenges that occur almost daily. Whether it’s figuring out how to access a chimney on a difficult roof, a tricky installation or dealing with a difficult customer, I consider myself a pretty good problem solver, so I welcome the challenges.
Who was your most famous customer?
I’ve had the pleasure of working for a few sports, radio and local TV personalities. Bob Kevoian of the Bob & Tom Show was probably my favorite; he was just a really nice guy. But I guess the most famous would be the current VP of the United States of America.
Have you ever attended NCSG Annual Convention & Trade Show? If so, what was your favorite takeaway?
I try to go to as many as I can. I learn so much, even after all these years. I take away at least a few things at each convention that either make me more money, make my job easier or make my job safer. However, my favorite takeaway is the family of sweeps I get to reunite with and new sweeps that I meet.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Marrying my beautiful wife and raising my great kids.
Have you ever had to make your own tool to solve a particular problem?
Several times. Sweeps today are lucky, we didn’t have all these nice tools back when I started. We had to improvise and make our own crude tools. Some worked better than others did but they usually got the job done.
Weirdest thing you have ever found in a chimney?
A pickup truck bed full of dead birds out of one chimney! Ducks, snakes and coffee can full of money. The latter was a hidden stash of the homeowner’s grandfather, who had passed away. (Yes, I gave it to them and no they didn’t give me any reward or even a tip.)
What do you like to do outside of work?
Boating, fishing, hunting, and playing pool.
What is, in your opinion, the most valuable part of being a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild?
All the sweeps and staff that have become lifelong friends, who I met over the years through the NCSG. Having access to the manual library is also very valuable. The technical advisory group was very helpful in my early years as a business owner.
Thanks, Tim! Do you know who should be the next featured member? Send your nominations to Annemarie Stockton at email@example.com.
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