Cumberland man starts association for professionals that keep windows sparkling
By Mona Ridder, Times-News Staff Writer
Sunday, October 30, 2005 1:31 PM EST
Jack Nelson cleans a window at a home on Braddock Road.
(Photo credit: John A. Bone/Times-News)
Window cleaners are among those people the general public takes for granted, never
really seeing and only know they aren't there when the job isn't done.
Jack Nelson, a professional window cleaner for 25 years in the Cumberland area, thinks
it's about time window cleaners established their professionalism and he hopes to
share his knowledge and expertise, as well as that of others, with the upcoming in
the industry through a new association.
"When I started in the cleaning business in 1980 I had a partner and we never dreamed
it would grow big enough to support one or both of us," said Nelson. "It was just
a second job."
But over the last 25 years Nelson's company has grown to the point that he has more
than 400 regular residential customers and over the years has cleaned for more than
100 different businesses. "I have cleaned for two different mayors of Cumberland
and one former mayor in Frostburg," he said of his clientele.
"You won't find a single window cleaner in the local telephone book," Nelson said.
"But that's because I'm mobile and use a cell phone so when I get a call we can schedule
it right from the truck." He said he had requested that Verizon list his cell phone
in the yellow pages of the telephone directory. "They said they would but when it
came out it wasn't there," he said.
Nelson said the idea of the association was generated among four window cleaners
who corresponded via the Internet.
"None of them wanted to invest in it, so I did," he said. "I knew it was a good idea
and now less than two years later we have more than 90 members.
The Master Window Cleaners of America was formed in January 2004.
Nelson said that an article in the September-October issue of American Window Cleaner,
the independent window cleaners' professional magazine, explains what the association
does and how it differs from the International Window Cleaners Association.
Master Window Cleaners President B.A. Autery of Texas said that the difference lies
in the fact that the new organization specifically represents the residential and
route window cleaner.
"We want to specialize in this area of the industry," he said, explaining that his
associates usually work on buildings under three stories. "Working under three stories
accounts for the majority of all window cleaners everywhere."
The biggest difference Nelson said is that the IWCA focuses on larger companies and
their membership dues are $250 a year, while the MWCoA is $50 a year.
Nelson said the membership, just via Internet communication, has expanded to about
half of the United States and in seven different countries - Australia, Bahamas,
Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.
"Once the article in AWC, which has a circulation of 9,000, comes out I would expect
membership to double or triple," said Nelson.
He said that the goal of the organization is to improve the professionalism of the
"For example," I'll be at a seminar in California next week where the focus will
be on two problems we have as window cleaners, the first is fabricating debris on
glass and scratch glass repair," Nelson said. He said that fabricating debris from
the manufacture of glass is a problem for window cleaners because when the glass
is cleaned the debris material from its manufacture scratches the surface of the
Other issues that the new association will address are those relating to occupational
safety and standards, through education, training, communication and assistance,
"We had a member join the other day who has just gotten started, and I mean just
started, about two weeks into his new career," said Autery.
And that's one of the people Nelson said he hopes the association will be of most
assistance to. "We want to specialize in what we call "newbies," people with less
than two years' experience," he said. "The opposite side of the coin, we have another
member who has been in this business for more than 30 years," said Autery. "We have
everyone in between, all special and all willing to help each other. "
The association plans to recognize its members with a rewards program that honors
the Window Cleaner of the Month with a cash award as well as the Window Cleaner of
Nelson said the association has a Web site that was developed locally by Willetts
Enterprises and additional information may be found on the site at www.mwcoa.com.
"Also one of our sponsors is Unger - they manufacture professional window cleaning
equipment and six window cleaners in our association do the field testing for them,"
In addition to Autery and Nelson, who is director of the association, other officers
include Don Chute of Georgia, vice president, and Howard Connet of Arizona, secretary
Mona Ridder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.