Jeremiah Hickey: A Portrait of the 2019 Window Cleaning World Champion
He is our industry's current world champion, having won this year's title with just 17.02 seconds. Jeremiah Hickey, 42, window cleaner in Grover Beach, California, USA since 1998, owner of On The Spot Window Cleaning (supersqueegee.com) and avowed UNGER fan.
We asked how Jeremiah prepared and what he thinks about speed and quality in window cleaning.
He started at the age of 20 when his previous job at a winery proved to offer no future prospects. He learned a few techniques from his father-in-law, who owns a glass-cleaning company in Arroyo Grande, California. Initially, he wanted to give it a try for a couple of weeks to see if window cleaning were a worthwhile business in his town. He landed up earning more in those first two weeks than in a full month at the winery. He now has four full-time and one part-time employees and works throughout sunny San Luis Obispo County, California. He uses both traditional window cleaning methods and also cleans glass using the pure water method.
He combined his participation in the Window Cleaning World Cup with a vacation with his wife Amanda. A native of the United States, he had never been to Europe before. "The age and history of places like London are so fascinating to me. I love the Tower of London. The details I learned on the tour have given me a whole new image of the royal family and how much they are part of the culture of the British people," Jeremiah told us enthusiastically. His customers love it. They share the story with their friends through social media. "It makes me feel that I can give them something else besides gleaming windows," he said happily in an interview.
Two weeks before the event, he competed for a few hours on a specially purchased window in competition size and tried to improve his skills specifically for the competition.
To train, he used an UNGER ErgoTec window squeegee and an UNGER Monsoon StripWasher. His secret: "You can train efficiency, but speed comes from within. By that I mean, once you figure out how to clean a window with as few movements as possible, you just have to tell yourself: keep doing it even faster. That is my secret: just tell yourself to do it faster."
Jeremiah is the fastest window cleaner in the United States. He has already won the title five times at IWCA events. He has competed against some of the best guys in the world. "Sometimes," he says, "they win, sometimes I win. But it's always fun."
At first he didn't think it was possible for him to win in London. There he also met Guinness Book record holder Terry Burrows. "That guy can move. He's the fastest and most accurate speed cleaner I've ever seen. I thought he was going to get the cup. I wanted to meet him and compete against him just so I could say that I did. The opportunity to take home $1,300 (£1,000) was another incentive."
The victory helps him market his business and keeps him engaged with the community of window cleaners. For Jeremiah, the competition and UNGER as a sponsor are helping the industry get more attention to inspire everyone to become more professional and move their business forward.
Speed is of absolute importance for the new world champion. As a window cleaner, you get paid by the job, and the more jobs you do in a day, the more you earn. The focus is on efficiency. Once employees are efficient in their processes, he encourages them to speed up.
High speed and high quality are not contradictory, as he sees it. In his opinion, however, one should never sacrifice quality or safety when working. His principle: learn how to do it safely, do good work, and then get faster.
Speed and quality are best combined with regularly maintained windows. His main business is residential and commercial facades as well as flat commercial buildings. For a typical storefront route, he uses the same techniques as the competition. However, his employees use larger washers and window squeegees.
Quality tools make the decisive difference. Jeremiah swears by UNGER tools: "Take a look at my website that we created a few years ago (supersqueegee.com). It is practically an advertisement for UNGER equipment. I love UNGER tools! 20 years ago, I got to know the Quick Release Pro handle. I liked the fact that you did not have to use clips to hold the rubber in the squeegee. I have since ordered other UNGER tools over the years to try them out. But when the ErgoTec window squeegee came out, it was the thrill of my life."
His team uses the following tools everyday: The ErgoTec Window Squeegee with long handle, the StripWasher Swivel handle, the ErgoTec SwivelLoc at a 0° angle (for him the best tool for his team to work with telescopic poles, the ErgoTec SwivelLoc handle at a 30° angle and VisaVersa, a 3-piece telescopic pole, and the ErgoTec Ninja Bucket-on-a-Belt.
"I love the way the UNGER tools feel and are managed. They last a long time and are easy to use," he explains. He was inspired by a how-to video by UNGER. His colleagues laughed at him because he spent $20 on the video. They couldn't understand why one would spend money to learn what they already knew. For Jeremiah, the video has completely changed the way he cleans windows. The video was basically a commercial for UNGER tools, but also showed the best ways to use them. He immediately ordered a Bucket-on-a-Belt, a longer telescopic pole, and a swivelling 0° angle window squeegee. "I used the video to teach me how to tackle a window. The video didn't show me the two-handed technique I used in the competition, but it did show me how to use the washer to catch the drips from the window wiper when cleaning the window on the inside. This was the beginning of my two-handed technique and I extended this basic concept to what I am doing today," he said, describing how he acquired his world champion-level skills.
If it were possible to use only pure water to clean, he would do that in a heartbeat. He uses only water-fed HiMod carbon poles, which he even makes to measure. His team uses these light and stable tools for hours each and every day. The results of cleaning with pure water in combination with the safety and ease of use of these tools are unbeatable for him.
Jeremiah’s favorite UNGER tools are the 18” ErgoTec long handle Squeegee and the 0 degree swivel Squeegee. The older 0 degree swivel squeegee from Unger (where the pivot point is closer to the channel) is the best auxiliary handle ever manufactured. That tool does almost anything on a pole.
I hear the Unger waterfed poles are fantastic. I have some older hi-mod poles still in use from other brands. When I’m ready to upgrade/ expand I will definitely be considering the nLite HiMod. He finds the older model with swivel function by UNGER (where the pivot point is closer to the rail) is the best auxiliary handle ever made.
His love for his window squeegees and traditional tools, however, is very strong, as he affirmed, so he won't ever make do without them in the future.
You can watch his winning performance here:
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