Cleaning windows and hauling trash might not seem to be businesses that go hand in hand. For 33-year Homer resident Bev Vosburgh, Clear View Window Washing and RRR Trash & Recycling have both proven to be successful small businesses. This year, Clear View celebrates 30 years and RRR celebrates 20 years. Vosburgh has redone logos noting the anniversaries and even had T-shirts printed for her workers. Both provide basic services: keeping the windows of Homer’s homes and businesses clean and hauling away trash and recyclables.
“Here I have two businesses and I never had a business course,” Vosburgh said.
Vosburgh moved to Girdwood 37 years and has been in Homer almost a few years longer than her first business, Clear View. She started Clear View when her daughter, Fanya DeForrest, now 33, was in kindergarten and Vosburgh wanted a job that gave her the freedom to be with her daughter after school.
“I started Clear View so I could meet the school bus, so I could meet my daughter coming home from kindergarten,” Vosburgh said. “And then it just kept going.”
Clear View washes windows inside and out, no matter the height. Vosburgh came up with her first husband from Wyoming, where she’d learned to love climbing mountains. That’s a skill set essential for washing windows.
“I’m a mountaineer,” she said. “I absolutely love heights. I make the guys nervous.”
Vosburgh started out as Clear View’s sole worker, but now has three employees working for her. Clear View uses ladders and occasionally lifts to get up close to windows.
“You can’t wash a window properly unless you’re on top of it,” Vosburgh said.
Once or twice she has even used technical climbing skills.
“I’ve roped up and come off the roof,” she said.
Clear View has washed windows at South Peninsula Hospital, at the four-story Land’s End Lodges and Land’s End Resort, the Homer Public Library and the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center.
“We do all the hard stuff, but we also do right down to the little old lady who wants her three windows done,” Vosburgh said.
Some people just want upper story outside windows washed. Others want all the windows washed, inside and outside. Clear View gives free estimates — one of the secrets to its success, Vosburgh said — and offers a streak-free guarantee. Vosburgh has developed a technique that makes that a guarantee she can keep. She buys her cleaning supplies and equipment from Ulmer’s.
“When you’ve got an extension ladder in a third-story window on somebody’s white carpet, you don’t want to go back,” she said.
The window washing business picks up in the spring and then in the fall, Vosburgh said.
“We’re all about the view. Everyone wants them done in the spring. I make my living in May and June,” she said. “And then I come back in September. People want to have them as clean as possible going into a long and dark winter.”
Much of Clear View’s business is for construction projects, where newly installed windows with sticky logos and paint and drywall smears have to be scraped and washed. Vosburgh also has gotten boosts in business from events like the 1989-90 eruption of Redoubt Volcano.
“That’s what bought my property,” she said of Redoubt ashfalls. “I was washing windows out there 10 hours a day.”
Vosburgh now has a “farmette,” she calls it, on her Waterman Canyon property out Eastn End Road.
RRR Trash & Recycling came about when vandals kept torching the Dumpsters on East End Road and for a while the Kenai Peninsula Borough had closed them. People didn’t want to drive their trash all the way to the Baycrest Hill dump, now a trash transfer facility. Vosburgh also was looking for more regular, year-round work.
“RRR” stands for “rubbish removed and recycle.” For $8.50 a week, with discounts for seniors, RRR hauls away two bags of trash and takes separated recyclables for free. New customers get one month of free service. While other companies haul trash from Dumpsters or curbside trash cans, RRR picks up trash from cans in people’s front porches.
“We will go up on your deck. We will go into your garage,” she said.
RRR recently replaced its old Toyota pick up truck with a shiny white truck. A wire bin like a cage keeps bags of trash from blowing away, while garbage cans hanging on the side hold recyclables like paper, plastic and aluminum cans. For businesses who don’t need trash pickup, RRR also hauls just recyclable material like cardboard.
Vosburgh now spends part of her year in Portal, Ariz., but manages her businesses year round from the convenience of a cell phone. Calls to the local number of 235-4174 go direct to her.
Both businesses have grown as Homer has grown. Vosburgh said.
“It started very small and I let it be that way,” she said of Clear View. “It turned into a super little business. I have a very loyal clientele.”
It’s a business that suited her needs then as a mother and now as a grandmother and a farmer.
“I never really wanted to make money,” she said. “I wanted to be home, be a good mom.”
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clear View window washing service
RRR Trash & Recycling
Owned and founded
by Bev Vosburgh