Jan and Don Lockett wash the windows of Medford City Hall Saturday. - Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch

Beautifying the valley for 27 years

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? (Don Lockett:) We do window cleaning and curb appeal work and we've been doing this for 27 years.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? I've been here 40 years and (Jan) is a native.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? I worked at Med-Ply, SWL and Roseburg Lumber Co., and my brother-in-law had started a window cleaning business; I was looking to do something other than work in a plywood mill forever.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? I would probably build the business faster. We didn't advertise in the Yellow Pages for about 10 years and we could have taken on employees from the beginning. We choose a different route for expansion rather than employees. We have expanded by starting a franchise system. By doing that, we've enabled to let a lot of people build their own business and do a quality job with our name.

What's the toughest business decision you've made? Probably the toughest one was when I went back to college 10 years ago and got a bachelor's in psychology and then worked on a master's in education. It was a one-year, August-to-August program and I stepped out of it in April. It was hard to step out of it, but I looked a lot of things going on in education and the attitudes I saw toward the teaching profession and the amount of time teachers put in for what they get paid led me away from it. A lot of teachers pour more time into their work than they're supposed to and their own money into projects. I enjoy working with kids, but just don't do it as a profession.

Who are your competitors? Long-time competitors would be like Mountain View in Ashland and Daley's Window Cleaning. Sometimes we are our own biggest competitor because of our franchising system. We showed up to bid a job once in Grants Pass and pulled up along side one of our franchisees who was making a bid at the same time; usually we don't directly compete.

What are your goals? I'd liked to expand in the valley and a little farther up north. Our farthest work is at a bank in Drain. We do a lot of work for janitorial companies and we have some big customers out there. I'd like to have a little more free time. I do some work for Child Evangelism and Campus Crusade for Christ, but I'd like to get my student loans repaid. There are around eight of people franchised. You always hear you don't want employees, but this enables people to make more money than if they were an employee. It gives them more motivation and pride if their name is on the job and they're more likely to do a good job. We've been low-key about the franchises. It was the way to handle our expansion. For us, it was the way to keep our prices lower; we're usually right in the middle of the pack when it comes to pricing. We've had a lot of request to do gutter cleaning and stuff. A lot of times, I notice that a house has cobwebs while I'm doing windows. We're not just talking about window cleaning, but the way the house looks.

What training or education did you need? My brother-in-law taught me and we're always looking for ways to improve by looking at magazines that talk about facilities. I've always been entrepreneurial minded and considered going into a janitorial service four or five years before my brother-in-law started the window cleaning business. Some people say it's more of an art than anything else.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Keep your overhead low and be confident. Lots of times you second-guess yourself and a lot of times you don't take the opportunity to grow. Whenever you come back to the customer for a second time ,you've got to look at them in the eye and know you did a good job the first time.

Share This Story