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Meet George F. Czyzewski of Air Fresh Cleaning Systems

Today we’d like to introduce you to George F. Czyzewski.

George F. Czyzewski, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
The idea for my business started when I was working for a large carpet company over 30 years ago. As a credit manager I was involved in any problems or issues with the carpet or installation. If someone wasn’t happy it was partly my responsibility to rectify the problem. I learned carpet from the manufacturing and dying process to the installation and cleaning process. When I finally decided to start a business it just seemed natural to look for areas where I could build on my experience.

As I researched various options I saw cleaning and maintenance as a way to do that. I had a deeper perspective of carpets and also saw that most carpet cleaners were one size fits all. Meaning once they decided on a method of cleaning they stuck to that method. This isn’t a knock on any one method or cleaner. They all work exceptionally well at what they do best. What I learned in my years in the carpet industry was there are different strengths and weaknesses of each one. If there was one absolute best method that everyone agreed on there would be no need for any other right? Each situation, each carpet installation has different circumstances.

Different circumstances require different solutions. There is no one size fits all solutions in any business or profession. There certainly isn’t in carpet and upholstery cleaning. I saw an opportunity to be different and offer the right solution to customers problems. Rather than fit their problems into one cleaning method I could tailor my method to fit their needs. And Air Fresh Cleaning Systems was born. It’s not carpet cleaning it’s cleaning systems.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As most entrepreneurs would attest starting a business from scratch can be difficult. I tell people I started with zero. Zero money, zero equipment, zero customers and zero sales. It’s not like buying an existing business. So to go from a salaried position to the total uncertainty of a new enterprise was not an easy road to start. You really have no life for a while. You’re always working, marketing, sales, bookkeeping, maintenance etc. The ups and downs of cash flow can cause some anxiety. Once established your highs and lows smooth out.

The most recent economic slowdown was another struggle. Carpet and upholstery cleaning is discretionary. People in a recession can choose to do less or even try to do it themselves instead of hire out. I’d been in other recessions in the past 28 years. I even started my business in a recession year. I’ve often joked that it doesn’t matter the economy things will always get dirty and need cleaning. Past recessions didn’t affect me much at all. But this one was deeper and longer. It had a major effect. I even considered selling out and taking a job. For maybe a millisecond.

Thankfully I have a very long list of loyal customers. While they may have cut back on the quantity they sustained me through a very difficult time. I’ve seen a definite trend recently of customers who may have cut back to one or two rooms now asking for the whole house and all their furniture. That’s a good sign for the economy going forward.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Air Fresh Cleaning Systems – what should we know?
I made a decision when I first opened to specialize in only carpet and upholstery cleaning. I understand the idea of adding products and services and at times I’ve questioned myself when the economy slowed. But at the same time, I’ve been free to become the best that I can be in what I do. Without stretching myself too thin. The old adage about being a jack of all trades but master of none may be a bit cliche but there is a truth there.

Having worked in the carpet industry in one form or another for well over 30 years I can offer advice and solutions to my customers on a variety of carpet related topics and problems they may have. And it’s sustained me through the years. One of the things I’m most proud of is the fact I’ve outlasted all but a handful of my competitors in my years in this business. There were over 180 in Springfield alone back then. That tells me I’ve been doing things right and making happy customers to still be here when so many are not. I think our commitment to quality and customer service has been a big part of our survival all these years. It’s a focus and commitment to the little things. I’ve tried to impress on employees over the years that it’s not necessarily the big things that set you apart it’s more the little things that a customer may not see.

I think the difference between a very good cleaner and an exceptional one is very small. Small as in the small details of what you do. The little extra effort to get a stain from 90% clean to 100%. Dusting off cobwebs on the baseboards behind a sofa before you put it back. That one extra cleaning pass on a carpet or sofa. Those are easy to overlook but in the long run, make a difference.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
A persistent pursuit of the highest quality possible. I can’t make carpet or upholstery brand new again but that’s the goal every time.

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