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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Window Washing CATEGORY

Jose Barajas is owner of Maintenance Agents, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (510) 228-4569 or by email.

Jose Barajas

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Jose Barajas: Working His Way Up

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

TRACY — As the head of a one-man window washing operation, Jose Barajas says his main focus is working his way up (in some ways literally) to the top of his industry. “For about nine years, I inspected powered platforms—the kind that window washers use to wash high-rise buildings,” he explains. “I got to know the owners of a couple of window washing companies and learned it was a very lucrative business. After a while, I decided to get into window washing myself, as well as power washing. So far, things have been going very well. Currently, I’m only servicing buildings up to three stories high, but I’m planning to work my way up from here.”

Today, as owner of Maintenance Agents, Jose enjoys the daily challenges his livelihood presents. “My job is definitely challenging, but then again, I’ve always done challenging things,” he says. “My favorite challenge of all is pushing the limits of the types of jobs I can handle. Recently, I serviced a three-story, 30,000-square-foot apartment complex, which is the biggest job I’ve done so far. I’m looking forward to topping that in the future.”

A lifetime Bay Area resident, Jose lives in Tracy with his wife, Carina, and their daughter, Olivia. When asked his favorite part about living and working in the Bay Area, he says it’s the many different metropolitan areas. “In my line of work, I spend a lot of time in big cities. Whether I’m working in San Jose, San Francisco or Oakland, I really enjoy being amid the hustle and bustle of city life.”

Outside of work, Jose likes to stay active with hobbies like fitness and hiking. “While I like spending time in the city, I also really enjoy the outdoors,” he affirms. “In particular, I like going on hikes with my family and lifting weights. Whether it’s outdoors or at the gym, exercise is an important part of my life.”

In his life and career, Jose espouses the value of pursuing your goals. “I often remind my daughter that nothing worth having comes easy,” he explains. “The more difficult the challenge, the more likely something good is going to come out of it. Whatever your goals are, if you work hard, you’re going to be rewarded in the end—if not financially, then internally.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Jose says he would travel the world. “I’ve been to Hawaii, and that’s about the furthest I’ve traveled, so I obviously still have a lot to see. I think if I retired tomorrow, I’d plan a trip across Europe. That seems like a good place to start.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: Buffalo Wild Wings.

Q: Music or talk radio?
A: Talk radio, especially The Armstrong & Getty Show.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: Definitely the future, because I’m interested to see how far technology goes.

Q: What kinds of movies do you like?
A: Sci-fi and action.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Supreme Cheddar Doritos.

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The Truth about Power Washing

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TRACY — When it comes to maintaining residential and commercial properties, one worthwhile measure is power washing, which offers a low-cost way to keep a building’s exterior looking fresh and clean. Unfortunately, power washing tends to get a lot of bad… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Power Washing: Is it a Good Idea?

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TRACY – Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’ve been told that power washing will damage your home’s exterior, you’ve only heard half of the story. Today we’re in… Read more

Eric Kennedy is a veteran of the window cleaning industry and co-owner of Smart Window Cleaning, a Diamond Certified company since 2011. He can be reached at (415) 938-6902 or by email.

Eric Kennedy

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Eric Kennedy: A Clear Career

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

NOVATO — When Eric Kennedy started cleaning windows for additional income during college, he never thought it would lead to a lifelong livelihood. “My roommate and I were looking for a way to make some extra money, so we decided to try window cleaning,” he recounts. “We bought some tools, went out and did a couple of stores at the Northgate Mall. We did OK, but it didn’t really go anywhere, so I got a job working for a local window cleaning company where I could get formally trained. It turned out to be a natural fit—I enjoyed the physical work, as well as getting to work in and around beautiful homes all day. Almost 30 years later, I’m now co-owner of the same company I first started working for, along with my business partner, Damon Turner.”

As co-owner of Smart Window Cleaning, Eric says he appreciates the balance his position affords. “I’m not out cleaning windows anymore—I work in the office now—but I enjoy training our employees and passing on my knowledge of the trade. I also go out and do estimates for homeowners around the Bay Area, which gives me a nice balance between working in the office and being out in the field.”

A resident of Petaluma (where he lives with his wife, Suk Yen, and stepson, Aiden), Eric expresses his appreciation for its mellow pace of life. “It’s hard to beat North Bay living, especially here in Petaluma. In particular, my family and I love the Petaluma downtown area—besides having a historic aesthetic, it just has a good vibe.”

Outside of work, Eric can often be found riding bicycles with his family. “We like to put our bikes on the car and go riding in different spots around the Bay Area, like Tiburon or along the San Francisco Marina,” he says. “We also like eating out and going to the movies.”

In regard to his professional career, Eric acknowledges the contributions his employees have made to his company’s ongoing success. “The fact that what we do is seasonal can make it hard to retain employees, so we’ve been very fortunate that they keep coming back,” he explains. “If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be successful, so we really appreciate them and make an effort to maintain those relationships. It gives us a lot of pride that they continue to be a part of our team.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Eric he’d spend more time abroad. “My wife and I have a dream of buying a second home in Indonesia, which is where she’s from, and living abroad part-time. We’d continue to maintain a home here, so we could just go back and forth as we pleased. Hopefully that’s something we can afford to do one day.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: For Mexican food, it’s Mi Pueblo; for Vietnamese, we go to Thang Long; and for Italian, we like Sugo Trattoria.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: My skateboard.

Q: If you could immediate master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The piano.

Q: Would you rather live in the city or the country?
A: Probably the country. Fortunately, Petaluma has a nice mix of both, so I appreciate that.

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How to Clean a Window

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NOVATO — If you want to maintain your windows in between professional cleanings, you’ll need to have the right cleaning tools and techniques at your disposal. Start with the tools: Go to your local hardware store and pick up a strip… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: How To Clean a Window

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NOVATO — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you want to maintain your windows between professional cleanings, you’ll need to know the proper technique. Today we’re in Novato… Read more

David Hurwitz is owner of Glass With Class, a Diamond Certified company since 2007. David has more than three decades of experience in the window cleaning industry. He can be reached at (707) 901-7956or by email.

David Hurwitz

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David Hurwitz: Dressed for Success

By Matt Solis, Editor

ROHNERT PARK – When David Hurwitz established Glass With Class nearly three decades ago, he knew he needed a hook—something that made him stand out from other window washers and gave clients a sense of his personality at the same time. But it wasn’t until he received a random package in the mail that he knew he had something truly special. “One day, my mom found three really cheap tuxedos in a store and decided to buy them for me,” he remembers. “They were horrible—lime green and powder blue with ruffled shirts and the whole bit. I started going storefront to storefront asking if they needed their windows cleaned, and since I was wearing this weird tuxedo, people started responding really positively. It wasn’t long before I had a good storefront route going.”

David’s attention-grabbing tactics took on so much steam that several Bay Area newspapers wrote feature articles about him. “The Cotati Clarion saw me cleaning windows right near their office and said, ‘Wait, don’t move!’ They ran back to get a photographer, took a picture of me and gave me some good local exposure. After that, I had a contest to rename the business, and Glass With Class was the winner. I’ve taken off the tuxedo since then, but the name has stuck.”

Window cleaning has been a connecting thread throughout David’s life—he had his first experience with the business when he was 14 years old, and when he moved from Boston to California five years later, that was the first profession he turned to. “I came to California in 1984 because I didn’t want to work in the Boston weather anymore—there was one winter where the water was literally freezing on the glass before I could squeegee it,” he says. “After spending a couple days in Los Angeles, which wasn’t at all like I expected, I drove to Santa Rosa to visit two of my cousins. As soon as I arrived, I said to myself, ‘I’m home.’ I couldn’t have imagined a better place to live and work, so I decided to stay.”

Once he established a loyal clientele base by using his tuxedo gimmick, David gradually grew his business with strategic marketing and referrals from satisfied customers, which required him to expand his services. “Things really picked up when I started doing window tracks,” he remembers. “At first, I was just cleaning glass, and I eventually added screens at the request of my clients. Then I found out another local window cleaner was scrubbing and vacuuming tracks and getting a lot of referrals, so I added that to my repertoire. Being able to clean the whole window has been huge for us—our customers call us back year after year because they’re so happy with that service.”

When he’s not keeping up with the busy schedule of a Northern California window cleaner, David enjoys spending time with his wife, Janine, and their 10-year-old son, Josh. “He’s a baseball star and at the top of his class in school every year,” he beams. “This type of work is very seasonal, so I don’t get to spend a lot of time at home during the spring and summer, but during winter I get to be with my family a lot. We’ll go on ski trips and drive all over the country, which is fun.”

David started his window washing career with the goal of being the best, and after almost 30 years in the business, he continues to strive for perfection with each successive job. “My dad once told me, ‘You can do whatever you want and make as much money as you want, but make sure you’re the best at what you do.’ That really stuck with me, and it’s what I try to do every day. I’ve invested a lot of money in new equipment, I go to conventions and tradeshows all the time…basically, I’m always trying to learn how to be a better window cleaner. And trust me, there’s a lot to learn in this business. Every day I learn something new, and I always make sure my customers are the first to benefit from it.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: I’m a big fan of the San Francisco Giants, but since I grew up in Boston, I also like the Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins. This year’s Stanley Cup was exciting for me.

Q: What’s your favorite movie genre?
A: I like mysteries and thrillers, but since I’ve had my son, I go to a lot of kids’ movies as well, and I really enjoy them!

Q: If you could immediately master an instrument, which would you choose?
A: Guitar. It would probably be the easiest to move around, unlike a piano. My whole family is musical except for me…I tried to learn but I just never had the discipline to force myself to keep at it.

Q: What was the name of your first pet?
A: Smoky. He was a little mutt who barked at everything and wasn’t very nice. My favorite pet was a Golden Retriever named Sammy, but Smoky was the first.

Q: Do you have any superstitions?
A: I try not to, but every time I walk under a ladder I think twice before doing it. I guess I have the classic superstitions—I’ll throw spilled salt over my shoulder, and if a mirror breaks, I’ll yell, “That’s seven years!” But I try not to take too much stock in all that because I don’t want it ruling my life.

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The Best Time to Clean Your Windows

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ROHNERT PARK — Many people wonder if there’s an ideal time of year to thoroughly clean the windows on their houses, and they’re often surprised that the answer is December or January (after the first big rain of the year). The… Read more

How to Safely Use a Ladder When Cleaning Windows

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ROHNERT PARK — Any time you’re working with a ladder to clean your windows, it’s important to know some basic safety tips. There are more than 60,000 ladder accidents every year in the United States alone, and most of those could… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: The Advantage of Rainwater

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ROHNERT PARK — Host Sarah Rutan: If you’re going to clean your windows, you’ll want to know the best time of year to do it. So, we're… Read more

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