We know there are little places all over our website where you can learn more about who we are, but we thought it was high time we told our story and dove a little bit deeper into what makes Clean Sweep AA what it is.
When & Why Was Clean Sweep Of Anne Arundel County Founded?
First things first, when did Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County first come onto the scene and what brought it about?
Clean Sweep AA was founded back in 1978 by Chuck Roydhouse, who at the time, was a career firefighter in the area. As a firefighter, he witnessed many chimney fires in the mid-70s to 80s, and saw the devastation that these fires caused to his community. It made sense to Chuck that the best way to reduce the number of chimney fires was to educate homeowners on how to better care for their chimneys. But at the time, there weren’t a lot of chimney sweeps doing that.
He thought more could be done to prevent the loss of property and life in his community, and he realized he could fulfill the needs of his community if he started his own chimney sweeping company that focused on educating homeowner’s about chimney safety, need for regular maintenance and proper usage of their home’s chimney and home heating appliance. And that is how Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel was born.
Was Clean Sweep AA Always The Purple Chimney Sweep?
It’s true, our purple trucks definitely make us stand out. But we weren’t always the purple chimney sweep. When we first started, we had white Ford vans with red and blue lettering — just like everyone else. When you saw us coming down the street or pulling up to your house, you had to really look to see who it was. Was it an HVAC company? An electrician?
Knowing we weren’t just like everyone else, that branding didn’t seem to fit. So, taking inspiration from a franchise with electric green trucks you could see from a mile away, we decided to rebrand.
Company founder, Chuck Roydhouse, had always gravitated towards blue and purple hues. And of course, being in the Baltimore area, purple is a special color tied to the Baltimore Ravens. We take great pride in the community we serve, so choosing purple as our main company color just made sense. No one else had purple trucks, so doing this one thing really made us stand out. Now, when you see us coming, you know exactly who it is!
Were There Struggles In The Early Days?
As you can imagine, starting a company from scratch isn’t really an easy thing to do. We went through some of the standard hard times that new businesses go through, but our biggest struggle was learning how to grow the business and listening to to our customers. We never wanted to be the biggest company in the area, in terms of number of trucks and number of employees. What we wanted was to create a company that was focused on what was important to the customers and that was safety.
To quote company founder, Chuck Roydhouse:
“My view is, I want to provide the best possible service and exceed the customers’ expectations with our level of service, the knowledge from our technicians and the proper repair with the proper materials to ensure a healthy chimney. So I never had an illusion of needing to have a company that had dozens and dozens of trucks. That is not what motivates me. What motivates me is to have a core group, whatever that number is, of highly skilled, very knowledgeable and caring technicians who can solve our customers’ problems and having them tell their neighbors about the best service they had at their home was us!
The Real Differentiators
Aside from our branding, our start, and our excellent and efficient service, what is it that makes us who we are?
Our Culture & Focus
We’re proud to have created a company culture where everyone actually loves their jobs and cares about what they’re doing. Everyone who works here at Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County knows that our clients’ safety comes first. We focus on educating our clients in the safety and efficiency of their chimney,listening to their concerns, solving problems they may have, coming up with solution or offering different alternatives. That’s one of the biggest differences between Clean Sweep AA and other companies.
Our Certifications & Training
Another big difference is our certifications and commitment to training. Every one of our technicians is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), which is the leading chimney training organization here in the United States. Founder, Chuck Roydhouse, is a Master Certified Chimney Technician in the state of Maryland, and we also have technicians on staff who are certified by the National Fireplace Institute (NFI).
In addition to the certifications that our technicians have, we’re all constantly learning through in-house training, remote training and off-site training, as well as through our membership with the National Chimney Sweep Guild (NCSG). We’re committed to keeping our technicians engaged and fresh all the time, for their own personal growth and for the benefit of our clients.
Real Concern For Our Communities
Through our work as chimney sweeps, we’re able to directly impact the lives of those in our community in so many ways. But we’re especially proud of the work we do through community involvement.
One local thing we participate in every year is Shop Local in Severna Park. We’re sponsors and we set up a table as sort of a meet and greet to introduce ourselves to our neighbors and let them know what we do and how we can help.
Of course we love meeting our neighbors at each festival, but one of the greatest things about Shop Local is that half of the sponsorship fee we pay as a prime sponsor goes to the charity of our choice: The Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters Burn Foundation.
The Anne Arundel Professional Firefighters Burn Foundation is a non-profit that was started by Anne Arundel County career firefighters for one purpose: to raise money to bring severely burned and disfigured children and young adults to summer camps.
Like any other summer camp, these camps feature crafting, canoeing, and other fun activities. The counselors are professional firefighters who have volunteered their time to work with these kids and young adults, and provide them with a normal experience they might not otherwise have.
Chuck, Clean Sweep AA’s founder says of these camps.
“It’s a mental thing and a physical thing designed to lift the spirits of people who may have lost family members or may be severely disfigured. These are people who are often very self-conscious about things, and maybe because of the way they were burned, they can’t walk, run, lift, or carry things like other people do. So these firefighters — who are just so gracious with their time and really want to help — work with these kids in these camps, to allow them to try sports and engage in normal activities that every kid should get a chance to enjoy.”
As a retired firefighter, having seen first-hand what it looks like to lose property, people, and normalcy to devastating fires and accidents, Chuck truly understands the importance of organizations like The Anne Arundel Professional Firefighters Burn Association. That’s why, in addition to our support through Shop Local, we also make donations to the association throughout the year.
If you’d like to get involved, reach out to your local IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) union and ask how you can help.
On a national level, we also sponsor Sweep Away Cancer, a foundation that raises money to help people in the chimney industry — be they a chimney technician, an office staff member, a vendor, or someone else in the industry — who are suffering from cancer or have close family members battling the disease. The goal of the foundation is to provide support and to relieve some of the financial burden through donations. Funds may be used to offset medical bills, pay for prescriptions, buy groceries, pay mortgages, or help with any other costs that may need to be covered during difficult times.
As the treasurer of the organization, Clean Sweep AA’s founder, Chuck, knows that just about everyone has been impacted by cancer in some way, and that having to consider finances on top of everything else can be overwhelming, to say the least. Sweep Away Cancer is designed to alleviate some of the burden and to provide support for those in the industry who need it most. Want to help? Head to sweepawaycancer.com and shop for a cure.
Why Do We Love What We Do?
So what is it that keeps us going here at Clean Sweep AA, day in and day out? We love what we do for many reasons, but one of the best things about our work is that we get to solve people’s problems and that makes them happy.
When we’re called out to a home for a chimney inspection and chimney water leak , we get to inspect, investigate, and identify if there’s some kind of deviation or something that needs to be corrected. And because of our training and certification, we’re then able to supply a solution that will keep your chimney healthy, your home and family safer.
Even if you’re not using a wood burning appliance like a wood stove or a fireplace, you can’t live without heat, and safety is essential. We service a lot of gas and oil furnaces as well, and make sure people aren’t breathing toxic vapors or being exposed to carbon monoxide. But we’re also able to help homeowners save money and enjoy more efficient heating, by replacing old open fireplaces with wood stoves or gas inserts.
We have so many arrows in our quiver and are able to guide clients in the right direction to meet their needs, even if that means advising them to do something we don’t do.
For example, we don’t do factory-built fireplace swap-outs. But we can tell somebody when it needs to be done, how to do it, and who has a good track record and can be trusted to get the job done right. So even if there’s some niche service we don’t offer, we’re still able to identify the problem and point you to a competent person who can take care of it for you.
It all comes back to our company culture, our commitment to putting our clients first, and to our reason for being in the first place: to reduce chimney fires in our area. For those of us here at Clean Sweep of Anne Arundel County, that will always be what gets us up in the morning and drives us to continue offering the high level of service we have offered from the start. Because for us, it’s just so much bigger than our company.