Andy Gatley: Sweeping Up the Town
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter
SANTA ROSA — When asked about their motivations for entering a particular trade, most professionals cite an auspicious opportunity, the influence of a family member or a specific attribute that drew them to the industry. When asked how he got started sweeping chimneys, Andy Gatley blames it on the decline of a foreign economy. “I used to be a diamond cutter, but when the Japanese economy took a dive in the late ’90s, I found myself out of work,” he recounts. “I started working for a friend who cleaned chimneys and later partnered with another guy who ended up selling me his business. Since I went from cutting diamonds to sweeping chimneys, I guess I’m technically still in the carbon business…just the dirtier end.”
Today, as owner of Best Chimney Sweep, Andy says that while his job is dirty, there’s also a lot to appreciate about it. “I enjoy meeting new people and having conversations with them. I also like being my own boss, as well as getting to travel all over the place and not be stuck in an office. I could probably do without the part where I come home each day covered in soot and smelling to high heaven, but hey, what are you gonna do?”
A long-time resident of the North Bay, Andy says he enjoys the region’s scenic diversity above all. “There are so many different things to see here—one day I’m working in the city, the next day I’m out at the coast and the following day I’m driving through Wine Country. It’s really nice to have that kind of variety.”
Outside of work, Andy stays occupied with a number of hobbies and pastimes, including martial arts, music and skateboarding. “I’ve been skateboarding since I was five years old,” he says. “Now I’m old enough to know better, but I still do it anyway. I also like playing keyboards in my home music studio, and just for fun, sometimes I help out at a local TV station where some of my friends work.”
In regard to a professional philosophy, Andy says his mother taught him everything he knows about customer service. “My mom had her own interior decorating business, and she really emphasized the importance of customer service, which has stuck with me throughout the years. Computers and technology are wonderful, but at the end of the day, it’s the element of personal touch that really counts.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Andy gives a classic response. “I would go to Disneyland, and then I’d come back and figure out what to do next. I’d probably donate a lot of my time to Big Brothers Big Sisters and other charitable organizations, which is something I’d love to do now, but I don’t really have the time.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s the most death-defying feat you’ve ever attempted?
A: I used to compete in street luge, which basically consists of rolling downhill while lying on an 8-foot-long skateboard. One time, at Dinosaur Point in Gilroy, I clocked in at 74 miles per hour!
Q: If you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The piano.
Q: Who makes you laugh?
A: I’m really into British comedy, so definitely Monty Python.
Q: What’s your favorite band?
A: Pink Floyd.
Q: What was your first concert?
A: Rush in Sacramento, 1986.