Thursday, March 31, 2011

20 Years working with Vacuums

“Huh? You’re only 22 years old. How could that be true?” Here’s the story of how I came to be in this business, starting with this photo, taken in April, 1990:

My passion (obsession?) for vacuums and central vacuum systems started when I was about two. Where it came from, I have no idea. Quickly, I became bored with the toy vacuum in the photo and began to acquire “real” ones, at one point having close to a hundred in my parents’ basement. Old ones, new ones, all kinds of them. While this stood in the way of playing games and having sleepovers in the basement like all the other kids did, and irritated my parents to no end, it did afford me a unique opportunity to acquire lots of knowledge about the different kinds of vacuums, their strengths and weaknesses, how to take them apart, repair them, and put them back together again.

From an early age, I knew about central vacuum systems, having seen them in several friends’ houses. At about eleven years old, I started to want one for myself – for no reason other than that I viewed them as the "ultimate vacuum cleaner.” I wrote away to different manufacturers, requesting literature, videos, installation manuals, price lists, everything I could get. I read it all over and over, and even figured out how I might install a system into my parents’ home in Naperville. My attempts to gain their permission failed, for reasons I didn’t yet understand (what parent wants their 12 year-old cutting holes in their walls and running pipes and wires through their attic?).

At that point though, I was working on the weekends helping the owner of a local vacuum store with odd jobs. Instead of working for cash, I asked to be paid in merchandise of my choosing. In this way, I was able to acquire the installation materials bit by bit. All I had to do then was wait until Mom left the house for a few hours, and work a little bit on the system. After a while, she started to notice the wall inlets, which I put in one by one. Every time Mom would find one, she would yell, “You do not have permission to install this!”

Not one to be discouraged, I continued until all seven inlets were in place, and the piping connected in the attic and basement. I saved up and bought a power unit and attachment set, the final components to my system. Finally, my project was complete! And how impressed I was the first time I used my system! As time went by I became more and more partial to central vacuums, and grew less and less interested in my collection of upright vacuums, eventually giving them away to other collectors.

Curiosity about the vast variety of central vacuum products available drove me to acquire many different power units, hoses, attachments, and other components, old and new. My parents’ home has had over a dozen different power units installed in it, and countless different hoses, power nozzles and attachments have been used. I learned the advantages and disadvantages of each product, and the different applications for which each system was best suited.

My growing passion for central vacuum systems slowly morphed into a business, and by fifteen years old I was installing and servicing systems in customers’ homes. I owe a big thank you to my early clients, for realizing that the little kid at their door was there to fix their central vacuum, not to sell them Cub Scout popcorn! My focus ever since then has been to expand my knowledge and deliver an ever higher level of service and expertise, while still maintaining my passion for this business. To all my customers, THANK YOU for your business, and happy vacuuming!