Meet Vince and Yvette Aube from AIM Chimney Sweep in Midland, Ontario. They’ve been long-time NCSG members, and have been championing our Guild in Canada for many years. Let’s take a look to see how they got started in the industry and what some of their great accomplishments are.
What is a question you get asked most about being a chimney sweep/chimney sweeping/the industry?
After asking what is a Chimney Sweep? Well the next question is why are there not more sweeps out there? It is a difficult question to answer for most people. We just tell them that it is a long, hard and dirty job and not everyone has the stamina to do this type of work.
How did you get started in the industry?
Back in the late 70s, we were approached by a family member who read Mother Earth News and thought this would be a great job to do. He never once swept a chimney but has the smarts to hire Vince as his sweep; I followed along later into the office. In 1983, we left that company and started on our own, as we wanted to learn from other sweeps and go to training classes to better our knowledge.
What advice do you wish you had received when you were getting started?
Oh so many options! I wish that we had of know about savings accounts for retirement – no pensions in our trade. We started small and built this business from the ground up and are happy in it, we built it ourselves with help of good employees and family members. We have been multiple trucks in the past and single trucks. We like to be small and under our own control with a good core group of people working WITH us not FOR us.
What is the biggest challenge you face on the job? What are your best strategies for overcoming it?
For Yvette, it is being a woman in a male dominated trade. For Vince, it is the daily work when you are getting to that age! LOL. In all seriousness, the biggest challenges are attempting to get the client to understand that we are not just soot sweepers, we are not out to steal their money. We are trained and knowledgeable tradesmen and women, we know our stuff and are doing our best, each and every day, to make them as safe as possible with guidance and care.
Who was your most famous customer?
Oh, we have had many famous clients in the past: John Candy, The Bacardi Rum family, McCain’s (food), and a few hockey players of note. We don't like to brag about our clients, but it is really nice when we get to the job site and realize exactly WHOM we are serving that day! But all our clients are important to us, no matter who you are and what you make.
Have you ever attended NCSG Annual Convention & Trade Show? If so, what was your favorite takeaway?
We attempt to go each and every year. The best thing that we take away is friendship and comradery. We love to meet new friends, new sweeps and share our knowledge with them. Each year we gain new friends, new product knowledge and new family (because that is what you all are to us).
What is your proudest accomplishment?
For Yvette, it has to be being the Past President of the Chimney Sweep Association of Canada. For Vince, it is probably that he has shared his brain with some of the finest sweeps in our area.
As a result, our son Martin is a Trainer all over North America, our daughter-in-law Shannah is invested in helping to run our offices and our grandson Jared is thoroughly embedded into our trade now – all as Certified Chimney Sweeps and Technicians. Proud to say that we are the first three generation sweep family in Canada!
Have you ever had to make your own tool to solve a particular problem?
A few eons ago, we ran into a special problem with our torches. There were no 45-degree nozzles on the market so we had one custom made for us. Now they are on the open market!
We once had a 36" breech that we had to deal with. No one had arms long enough to get to the tee screws to connect the liner, so off to our friend, the welder. He quickly made us a 48" screwdriver. Problem solved, but every week we find something we have to “MacGyver" to make it work.
What is the weirdest thing you have ever found in a chimney?
In 42 years of doing this, we have found so many things in chimneys it is hard to figure out which item was the weirdest. We have found dope, photos, carcasses, tools, eyeglasses, money. But the best was a LIVE 4 FOOT BLACK RAT SNAKE! Just what you need to get your heart pumping again!
What do you like to do outside of work?
We both own vintage Corvettes, and we love to take them out on the road and cruise.
What is, in your opinion, the most valuable part of being a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild?
The vast amount of knowledge we can glean from others. We always have a pool of friends that we can dive into when we need advice or help. And we are there for others as well. What a wealth of Brothers and Sisters in Soot we have! The best family in the entire world!
Thanks, you two! Who should be featured next? Send an email to Annemarie Stockton at firstname.lastname@example.org with your nominations.
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