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Angie Wieck, Published July 15 2013

It's My Job: Fargo business owner has a clear vision for 'Brite' idea

FARGO – Brite-Way Window Cleaning owner Duane Keller’s business philosophy centers around concentrating efforts on customers, not competitors. He doesn’t worry about being the cheapest in town. He wants to be the best.

It’s just one of many ideas he picked up from the Brite-Way representative who trained him 40 years ago. Keller recently talked about his trade and the uniqueness of the Brite-Way business model.

Q. Is Brite-Way a franchise?

Brite-Way started more than 40 years ago in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Since its beginning, there have been more than 600 window-cleaning companies that have started. … The various companies are totally independent of each other. Other than initial training and consulting, we have no ties to each other. There has never been a dime of franchise fees paid.

How did you get into the business?

A friend of mine was doing this, and I thought it was kind of interesting. I went to Cedar Rapids and trained for a week. He taught me pricing structure, sales tips, techniques, supplies to use, and how to do it efficiently. … It was a one-bucket operation to begin with.

Do you clean both commercial and residential windows?

We’re 70 percent commercial and 30 percent residential.

What is the tallest building you’ve cleaned?

We never were high-rise window cleaning. Through the years, we’ve been route and residential window cleaning. A route would be places like car dealers, grocery stores and those types. We also have more than 1,000 homes that we clean each spring and fall. We do a lot of lake homes.

What do you do on rainy days?

There are always some insides to do or windows under canopies. We’ve had a real rainy season, and if it’s not windy, we’ll do windows right in the rain. Rainwater is clean and will not spot the windows. We always have a guarantee for the customer that if they can see a spot to give us a call, and we never get calls.

What are some challenges?

The weather would certainly be a challenge. We get absolutely bombarded as soon as spring comes because you have spring cleanup. Then you have graduations, which also are very big. It’s kind of nice when mother-in-laws come to town, as well. Every once in a while we get a call saying ‘My mother-in-law is coming to town. Can you come and clean them this week?’

What do you like about your job?

It’s fun. It’s the challenge of picking up new customers and working with my employees. I always tell the employees, we do more than clean windows, we serve people. That philosophy and culture has to start with me. If I don’t treat my employees that way, how do I expect them to carry that on?

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501