-  Family-owned and operated, All Clean Window Service celebrates 35 years of business

In 1978, Jim Vaughn traded a job printing phone books for a small window-cleaning business.

Sometimes, Vaughn struggled to make $800 a month washing windows during the winter, but he wasn’t deterred. Family members worked janitorial shifts at night until business built up.

“We weren’t trying to get rich,” Vaughn said. “We did enough to provide for the little family we had. I wanted to be a person of my word and provide the best service possible.”

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK -  Above, Jim Vaughn, foreground, and his son Brandon are the owners of All-Clean! Window Service.

Today, All Clean Window Service boasts a clientele of more than 4,000 customers in Gresham, Portland and Sandy and is celebrating its 35th anniversary.

Recently, Vaughn received a call from a woman who said she asked for a window washer recommendation at a get-together and had multiple unrelated people in the same room endorse All Clean.

“Customers are not just our customers,” Vaughn said. “Clean windows make you feel good and make you want to share that with other people. We’ll eventually do work for their relatives or friends. Some of our customers of 35 years we almost consider family.”

Vaughn, who just turned 64, is preparing to pass the helm of the family business to his son Brandon, 29, a business partner the past 18 months. Within the next two years, the business will transfer into the younger Vaughn’s hands.

Not only is Brandon in the window cleaning business with Vaughn, his other son tints windows and his daughter owns Allure Window Coverings, selling blinds, draperies and shades. His other two children grew up around the family business.

They have embraced their father’s mantra, “Clean windows are a good reflection on you,” a philosophy that has earned All Clean an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

The next generation

Brandon worked for his father from age 13 to 22 before he ventured into his own business. Growing weary of the corporate marketing realm, and with the elder Vaughn facing health issues, Brandon made a proposal.

Vaughn would do less of the physical work and eventually phase out of the business.

The plan resonated well with Vaughn.

“I’m just tickled pink I can pass my business onto my son,” Vaughn said. “He has made good on everything he set out to do. Our sales have gone up 30 percent the last year. I think Brandon will take it to the next level.”

Brandon has revamped and modernized the family business, incorporating iPhones and iPads, updating the website and company branding and adding carbon fiber window-washing poles and automatic water filtration systems.

Along with Brandon, Vaughn employs two other men from his faith community, the Gresham Jehovah’s Witnesses. The business now has three vehicles.

“The people we hire are friends of the family — people of faith — who we can trust to go into someone’s house,” Vaughn said. “They are honest, hardworking men with consciences. You can’t beat that.”

The art of cleaning

Rain or shine, All Clean beautifies and brightens residential and commercial windows year-round. Winter months can be the roughest, when water freezes on windows faster than the cleaners can get it off or the wind blows so strongly that it slows them down.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Some of the tools that Jim and Brandon Vaughn use for cleaning windows.

But the Vaughns are unfazed by these challenges.

“We say don’t let the rain hinder you,” Vaughn said. “People think that rain dirties windows, but often windows are dirty in the first place before the rain hits it.”

All Clean has a policy that if a customer finds windows are dirtied by the rain after a cleaning, they will come back for a touch-up. This hasn’t occurred in the business’ 35 years.

In fact, windows look so pristine after All Clean comes through that Vaughn has witnessed several comical moments when a homeowner or cleaner accidentally runs into a glass door.

Vaughn said many people have a mental block thinking about window washing. He hears numerous stories from customers who say they tried washing their own windows all day and when the sun came out and revealed streaks, they felt like they wasted their time.

Vaughn offers two simple tips: Don’t use Windex. Use a squeegee.

“Getting your windows cleaned is a no-brainer,” Vaughn said. “In two hours it’s done, and (customers) are as happy as can be. Window cleaning is all about technique.”

Besides window cleaning, the company’s services include gutter cleaning, roof treatment and pressure washing. For its 35th anniversary, All Clean is offering 35 percent off gutter cleaning deal.

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