Why I love the IWCA Convention

By Butch Chapman

My love for the annual IWCA convention was sparked by the growth it was able to provide me at a pivotal point in my career. I had begun to wonder if pursuing a career in window cleaning was no longer a good idea and maybe I should attempt to focus on a more stable career opportunity. I had just started with my 3rd window cleaning company and had no way of knowing if it would be any different than the previous two going out of business. At the time, I hadn’t received any formal safety training nor was I aware certifications for window cleaning were possible. The only training I knew of or had received was through, what was known as the “buddy system.” The buddy system was training you received from a co-worker while working in the field.

The IWCA unquestionably helped to open my eyes at my first convention in 2000. After attending my first Safety Class given by IWCA Safety Director, Stefan Bright, I was amazed by how much I didn’t know. With the formal Safety training, there was finally a sense of professionalism that had been missing within the Window Cleaning industry. The safety training and certifications showed the severity of this profession, a highly skilled profession, and a profession to be proud of.

During the following years, I made my climb into management and began to attend a vast variety of classes the conventions offered. I attended classes and seminars for, estimating, managing people, creating cultures, employee retention, Glass education, computers in tomorrow’s market, (yes, the IWCA could foresee the future ☺) and many, many more. Not only did the IWCA provide safety training, they worked hard to provide seminar classes for everyone from the technician to the owner for company growth. The more knowledge I obtained, the more certainty I felt in becoming more than a window cleaning technician. You know what they say, “Knowledge is power!”

Our company, Jenkintown Building Services, has been taking our technicians to the Annual Convention for the past 20 years. Every year, we try to select our up and coming technicians, managers and leaders to attend. Besides the education, knowledge, safety training and certifications, it is a great time to get together, spend time on team building and brainstorm how to make our organization better as well as bringing the entire knowledge home with us. This has always been very helpful on keeping our technicians and managers engaged, as well as giving them a platform to be heard. It’s truly amazing how hard someone will work to show their idea was a good one.

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It is vital for employees to believe the company values their growth, future and education from day one and the IWCA Campus helps facilitate this. The moment a new employee walks into the doors at Jenkintown Building Services they are set up to take the Foundations and OSHA 10 course through the IWCA Campus. The Foundations course is a valuable training resource, especially for employees just entering into the window cleaning industry. The course consists of seven learning modules including glass types and cleaning products, tools and equipment, ladder safety, hazard assessment, PPE, and fall protection. Not only does this satisfy safety regulations, it helps with morale and culture within the company.

“You can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow,” and the IWCA trade show helps to keep businesses and their methods relevant with today’s times. Who doesn’t like a new toy? Some of our employee’s favorite time is walking the trade show floor testing the newest tools on the market. We all walk the trade show together, asking questions, looking at new window cleaning equipment and supplies and shamelessly gathering freebies and trinkets from all the booths!

Equally important, competitive streaks run deep within the Window Cleaning Industry and the IWCA provides a stage for its members to compete with the hopes of returning home with bragging rights. I have to admit, I am extremely competitive and the contests are the high-light of the convention for me. We all like to think we are the fastest and best window cleaners. I look forward to participating in the Speed and Medley Contests every year. I have been 2nd in both speed and medley in the past, but never 1st, hopefully 2020 will be my year. And this coming year, the winner of the Speed Contest will not only get a Championship Belt, but they will also win the World Cup!

Lastly, the IWCA convention provides an opportunity to network with like-minded individuals within such a unique industry. According to the Greek philosopher Epictetus, “the key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best” and where else would one find this than a convention built around the needs of those in the industry? The convention networking allows everyone access to support, guidance, resources, and growth with the added benefit of one day being able to provide the same to someone else and truly living up to “The Givers are the Receivers” saying, often heard at the convention.

The 2020 IWCA Convention can’t come soon enough! I hope to see you all in Savannah!
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Craig Hendzel
This issue we interviewed Craig Hendzel for Lakewood OH. He’s a cool dude and been in the business along time. Enjoy his story.