Christian and Linda Fletcher-Firks pride themselves on helping people see the world more clearly, one gleaming window at a time.
But their most recent project, this year's Westpac Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, has been about adding a shine to their own operation.
"It has helped us look at the business in a totally different way," Mrs Fletcher-Firks said.
Clearview Cleaning is Marlborough's largest window cleaning company, and employs six full-time permanent staff to tackle residential and commercial properties in Blenheim and Picton, as well as Ward, Waihopai, the Wairau Valley, Havelock, and the Marlborough Sounds.
The couple have owned the business since June 2010, when Mr Fletcher-Firks decided to leave his job as a firefighter at Base Woodbourne, after 15 years in the military. He had owned a small window-cleaning business for three years and, given its stellar growth, the couple leapt at the chance to reach new levels.
"We had always wanted to work together and have our own business," says Mrs Fletcher-Firks, who had also been working at Base Woodbourne.
Her experience in accounts and administration, teamed with her husband's knowledge of the operational side of the business, meant they were in an excellent position to grow Clearview, doubling their employees to four within a year, and adding another two, six months later.
"We completely revamped the business and updated all our equipment and vehicles, to ensure a much bigger presence in town. We wanted window cleaning to have a professional image, rather than someone just turning up with a bucket and a squeegee."
That revamp has seen them almost double their client base, which continues to grow, meaning eight staff are now required in the peak summer months. Fifty per cent of the company's business comes from word of mouth.
Because the company has a large team, they often get the region's bigger jobs, including the Clubs of Marlborough, the Post Office building and Springlands Lifestyle Village.
"It's less disruptive for businesses to have a large team come in, because we can do a big job in one day."
The cherry-pickers come out on the big jobs, but the residential work can be the most satisfying - "particularly if you turn up at a house and they haven't been cleaned for a while", she said.
Working together has surpassed their expectations.
"It's definitely the best thing we ever did. He's more hands-on, getting stuck in with cleaning windows, and the water stain side of our business, while I'm in the office every day, dealing with queries, accounts and sorting the daily schedules."
The company has already seen the benefits of entering the awards, she said, "and of course, if we win, it's a bonus".
The winners of the Westpac Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Business Awards will be announced at the Gala Dinner on November 16.
- The Marlborough Express