Saturday, December 22, 2012

Do You Have a MSDS Binder?

            Imagine the scene – red flashing lights on the car behind you make you pull over. Why? You weren't speeding. What’s the problem? At closer inspection you realize it’s not the police, sheriff, or even a state trooper. It’s the DOT (Department of Transportation). What do they want? They may be double checking your ladders, seeing if interior loads are properly secured, and not obscuring the driver’s vision. Certainly they will be checking on the chemicals you have in your vehicle and at this point four letters will be vital - MSDS.

            Material data safety sheets are a system for cataloging information like reactivity with fire, water, other chemicals, chemical compounds, or chemical mixtures. They also provide information on the products safe use and potential health hazards associated with the product you are using. Proper clean up procedures in case of spills are also part of these sheets. They should be present wherever these chemicals are being used. OSHA requires MSDS sheets be made available to employees for potentially harmful substances handled on the job.

Are You Ready?
            As professional window cleaners we deal with a wide variety of chemicals. For instance, besides whatever soaps we use for cleaning windows we may have various acidic cleaners for hard water stains; glide additives for our cleaning solution; and agents for removing cement, sealers, or heavy grease deposits. Maybe we offer other services like gutter whitening, roof cleaning or power washing. Now there are chemicals like bleach, gutter whitening cleaners, muriatic acid, and a plethora of other agents too numerous to list. If we use them or carry them on our work vehicles by law we need to have a MSDS for each product. So depending on the services we offer there could be a small novel in MSDS sheets we need to keep track of. How do we do it efficiently?

The MSDS Binder
            The most efficient way to keep track of our MSDS sheets is to organize them into a binder and have a binder for each work vehicle and one for the shop where we store extra chemicals. So once we know how many binders we need the next step is to make them.
Let’s take some time now and go through the steps needed to make your own MSDS binder –
Step 1 – to get a MSDS sheet we have a couple options. If we are purchasing our chemical from Window Cleaning Resource they have a downloadable MSDS on the product page of their online store. Otherwise a simple Google search under the heading “MSDS for “and then the name of the product we are using. Once you’ve downloaded the MSDS for each product I recommend making a folder on your computer to hold them all. Then it’s simply a matter of printing out a copy of each product’s MSDS for each work vehicle and one for the shop.
Step 2 – You’ll need a 3 ring binder and 3 ring sheet protectors (we use Avery #75530). Put each products MSDS in a sheet protector and then put that in the 3 ring binder. We label the binder MSDS on its spine and then Material Safety Data Sheets on the front cover.
Step 3 – Repeat step 2 until you have a filled binder for each work vehicle and shop area where products are stored.

Better Safe Than Sorry
            Once we have our binders made and in place make sure we and all employees understand how to use them and where they are located. Granted some of the products we use are fairly common and safe to use. However, there are some that if used improperly can be deadly. That’s why you should include a discussion of MSDS part of your company’s safety meeting schedule. While we hope we never have to need the information in a MSDS it’s simply a case of “better safe than sorry”.

For more educational topics go to Window Cleaning Institute

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I've started a window cleaning school

I really appreciated the education and help I received when I started in this industry and have always tried to give back whenever I could. Recently I was encouraged to start a school to help cleaners with the basics of window cleaning. After going over the inevitable questions like - who am I to teach a school, will anyone need this, and should I charge others to learn? - I decided to go ahead and start a school.
To be fair though I will answer the questions that I had to begin with.

Who am I to teach a school? I've been cleaning windows for almost 9 years as A New View and for 3 years I ran a janitorial company where we did some window cleaning (albeit with difficulty). I've spent the last several years doing educational videos for window cleaning and helping several local cleaners with everything from tool selection to technique issues.

Will anyone need this? Thankfully I'm a visual learner and have been able to pick up window cleaning through watching videos and reading on the various forums. I realized however that there are many who need hands on education to develop their skill set. Thus the need for a school where they can do just that. Added to that is the fear some have of "training their own competition". That fear can make a cleaner leery of offering any help to people in their area trying to learn how to clean windows.

Should I charge others to learn? While it would be great if I had the extra time to take off from my business and teach this class I don't have that option. So I have to charge for the time I take away from my business. That being said I have tried to keep the fee as reasonable as possible.
I have started a new blog that provides instruction on this new school at

For more educational topics go to Window Cleaning Institute

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why bother?

I hear that at times form homeowners and builders alike when it comes to cleaning windows, siding, and gutters. The reality is that if neglected you are actually loosing money. You just don't know it yet.
For instance gutters that are filled with debris can lead to several damaging conditions. In our area they lead to ice dams in the winter and in the wet spring they become so heavy they pull the fascia boards off the house leading to rot and eventual structural damage costing thousands.
Think too about siding. Many homes here have vinyl siding. Left uncleaned it becomes a breeding ground for mold and other allergens that can cause illness. Also vinyl siding will break down over time in sunlight. Regular cleaning can reduce this and extend the life of your siding.
Last but not least your windows. Improperly maintained windows eventually become horribly stained which leaves you three choices - 1) heavy chemical restoration, 2) mechanical grinding restoration, or 3) replacement. Again costing many times more that the cost of proper maintenance cleanings.
So it's up to you - how much is peace of mind and a properly maintained structure worth?

For more educational topics go to A New View Exterior Cleaning

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Why use a water fed pole?

If you've been cleaning for a while and have developed the needed skills you no doubt wonder - "why should I use a water fed pole"? I mean if you are at that level where cleaning a pane of glass is approaching an art form there is a lot of satisfaction in your work already so why change?
While a water fed pole will never replace the traditional tools completely it is an invaluable asset in any companies arsenal. Besides the time saving factor (most users report time savings of up to half over traditional methods), there is the safety factor. The less time you spend on a ladder the safer you become. Add to those that as an employer it's quicker to train new employees to become proficient w/ the water fed pole than with traditional methods. This means they are making you more money quicker. Who wouldn't want a tool that could do that for their business?!

For more educational topics go to A New View Exterior Cleaning

Saturday, March 24, 2012

New Pure Water System

Yesterday I got to use our new Sim440 RO/DI system and was impressed. I'm used to using a system that has a dedicated pump and this one is pumpless (although you can add any number of pump options on your own). But with the advent of many pumpless system in the last year or two I figured it was time to see if it would work for us. I shot a short video of my results -

I also like the toolbox concept. The slide out handle is sturdy and the wheels roll well. Plus at only $2475 and loaded with unique features this is a great system.
If you'd like to know more feel free to contact me at

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Midwest Window Cleaning Conference update

We now have the itinerary for our 2012 MWCC -

9am – 3:30pm NOLA pressure washing, soft washing, and roof washing class w/ Thad Eckhoff, Micah Kommers, and Bob Williamson
4pm -5pm Filling Your Funnel and Repeating Your Repeats w/ Curt Kempton

9am – 11am Harnessing Your Company Culture w/ Curt Kempton
11am – 11:30am How to Turn Your Customers Into Your Salesforce w/ Al D’Andrea
11:30am – 12:15pm Residential Panel with Alex Lambrinides, Josh Cronin, and Thad Eckhoff
12:15pm – 12:45pm The Art of Consultative Selling with Thad Eckhoff

Lunch    Catered by Bandanas BBQ

1:30pm – 5pm Demos (outside networking and tool testing)
                             Glass Renu with Alex Lambrinides
                                    Live Edition of Waterfed Class with John Kieser

Friday, February 24, 2012

What is networking?

We here the term networking used a lot in the window cleaning business but what do we mean when we use that term? For me and many others networking is all about learning from others. It's a proactive way for us to learn our craft and avoid mistakes by hearing how others have dealt with the speed bumps of business.
Some may view networking suspiciously thinking we are trying to gain an unfair advantage over others by forming some secret group but nothing could be further from the truth.
If you have the opportunity to attend a networking event in your area I strongly suggest you do so. You will gain new colleagues and just maybe get a better understanding of how to run a successful business.
In fact if you are anywhere near Coralville, Iowa on July 20th or 21st think about attending the MWCC.
More information on it can be found here -

Monday, February 20, 2012

Midwest Window Cleaning Conference 2012

On July 20th and 21st in Coralville, Iowa we will host the 4th annual MWCC. This year's focus will be on helping you build systems to increase and manage your business. We are expecting some great speakers and demonstrations will also be a big part of the conference. I will be adding an itinerary once we have times set but for a start check out some of what you can expect -
Glass Renu demonstration by Alex Lambrinides
Live edition of Waterfed Class with John Kieser
Two presentations by Curt Kempton (one on Friday and the Keynote address on Saturday morning)
We will also be providing a catered BBQ lunch by Bandana's BBQ for all registered attendees on Saturday.
If you don't want to miss out you can register with the PayPal button on the side of this blog.
You can also go here - for more details and hotel reservations.
Sign up today as we are limiting this event to the first 50 registered attendees.