I’m Carlos. When I was a teenager, my father, Gilberto, took me to work with him. It was a skyscraper in the heart of San Francisco looking out over the bay. The view was spectacular. The sky was clear as a bell. The light glistened on the water and sailboats and ferries off in the distance left trails vapor white in their wakes. I felt the warm breeze, took a deep breath, and watched specs of people and traffic negotiating their paths on the street below.
I wondered how many people could see it with such clarity. Suddenly, my heart started racing and I was dizzy and weak in the knees. It must have shown because my father looked over at me, put his arm around me, and laughed. ‘You’ll be fine,’ he said. ‘You’ll get used to it.’ You see, while other people’s offices were on the inside, our ‘office’ was on the outside, on a scaffold 20 stories high.
My father immigrated from Cuba to New York. Knowing little English at the time, he supported himself in window cleaner services. When he decided to move to the Bay Area, he packed up his car and worked his way across the country window cleaning in shops, restaurants, and even gas stations to keep a roof over his head, food in his belly, and gas in the tank. He received permanent job offers but always turned them down. He was going to California to live the American Dream.
After settling in the Bay Area, he worked as a union contractor in San Francisco, servicing prestigious accounts like the Bank of America building, Embarcadero Center, and the Mark Hopkins Hotel during the week, while maintaining local businesses, homes, and storefronts on the weekend. Life was good. He always came home happy telling us about his adventures, who he met, and the stories he heard. His philosophy was simple. Each day was an opportunity to work hard, feel good, and know that he’s brightened someone’s day.
He shared his perspective with me and my brother as we were growing up. From the age of 15, our weekends were spent working with Dad cleaning local storefront windows. He not only taught us the trade, but watching him and hearing him speak with his clients taught us that even though we got paid to provide a service, our true value was based on the relationships we made and the trust we built along the way.
Carlos' Education & Experience
After graduating from school, I apprenticed with the union, learned all the ‘ropes,’ and then some. I remained a contractor for 18 years, during which time I continued my education and became a member of the union’s executive board and negotiated contracts, but times were changing. I’ve cleaned windows in private homes, storefronts, restaurants, commercial buildings, and high-rise offices throughout the Bay Area.
The most valuable thing I ever learned was to listen well and be responsive to customers' wants and needs. I saw too that in many cases, needs were not being met and as a contractor, I couldn’t fix that.
I knew I could do better, so I formed Professional Window Cleaning Service Inc. in 1994 to provide personal service by listening, responding to needs and concerns, and by giving people the cleanest windows they’ve ever seen! We’re proud that so many of our clients have remained with us since our early days and that the bulk of our business has come through referrals from happy customers.
Personally, I’m a lucky man. I’m married to Tina (the light of my life), and my son Carlos has joined me in the business, making him the third generation of our family in the industry. Like my father, I think I have the best job in the world. I come home with a smile on my face every day. After all, who else can you think of who can actually make someone’s day sparkle with, literally, just a wave of his hand? At PWCBA, our mission is to put a brighter light in your world, one window at a time.