Women in the Window World

Amy LavinIndustry, Window Cleaning

If you’ve never spoken with Sheila Smeltzer, owner of A+ Pro Services, Inc., you’ve done yourself a disservice. We had the pleasure of connecting with her concerning collaborating on a blog post about women leaders in the window cleaning industry. Immediately, we were blown away by her presence, her enthusiasm, and her commitment to us and this post. At abc, we think it’s essential to shed light on positive things happening around us and our communities and realized that discussing women in a male-dominated industry had relevance for everyone in it. We could not have picked a better person with whom to collaborate.

  • Sheila Window Selfie!
  • Sheila back in the day washing those windows
  • Sheila with her A+ Pro Windows Sign!

A little background :

Sheila owns and operates the successful window cleaning company A+ Pro Services, Inc, and is a leader in the window-cleaning world. She served as board director for the Window Cleaning Association (IWCA) from 2010-2012. She’s an IWCA Residential Council Member and a committed IWCA Glass Education committee member since 2007. Her company currently holds membership with Pressure Washing Resource Association (PWRA) and has been a member of the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce since 2007. To say Sheila loves the window cleaning industry is an understatement; she is the window cleaning industry.
But despite her long list of achievements, both for herself and her business, it is her character that cannot be overlooked. She represents not only a strong, focused woman but also any person – male or female – committed and determined to succeed. She, like so many others, had humble beginnings. She grew up along the Mississippi River at her parent’s bed and breakfast. When she graduated high school, she moved west to attend Colorado State University, and from there, she lived in the backcountry mountains. She and her husband began their window cleaning business in 1999 after moving to North Carolina. When they eventually separated, she decided to take the business on herself. “When I took on the company, everything in my life was a struggle. Those were hard times. Learning and doing the work itself was hard. Rebuilding a reputation was harder! I wasn’t the mother who picked up her kids in the Yukon wearing sundresses and flip flops. I was the mom who pulled up in the Tacoma loaded with ladders, a passenger employee, while sweaty and late from a hard day’s work.” But she prevailed.
This got us thinking, it’s hard enough to start a business, but is it even harder to do so being female in a male-dominated industry? So we asked her.
Do you think that the window cleaning industry is male-dominated?
Without a doubt, but women don’t struggle to make their mark in this industry. There are some real women icons involved historically and emerging anew. I have never been debunked or ever felt less respect from anyone in this industry, either from being a woman or from specializing in Residential. In some ways, I feel being a woman has helped.
What are some of the characteristics that allow you to succeed as a woman in this industry?
I am psychically capable of doing the work, but that’s just labor. I have been scheduling jobs and communicating with customers since day one, and that’s operations. I inherited my father’s friendly sales techniques and love to engage in conversation. Other than those three pillars that comprise what it takes to operate any company, I happen to be stubborn, passionate, progressive, engaged, and objective on issues in our industry! And did I say hard-working?
Have you changed any minds of your male peers about women in the window cleaning industry?
I think just like my male competitors. Men in this industry are more willing to open up to unguarded discussions with a woman about industry issues. I have had nothing but great experience of being accepted and embraced as a woman in the industry.

More Perspective

We asked Pam Cox, owner of Virginia Window Cleaners Inc., to give us her input. She described to us how the window cleaning industry was indeed male-dominated. Pamela is another example of a strong, determined woman making things happen for herself. She told us her attention to detail has helped her grow and thrive in her business. She also described how she prioritizes so that her customers come first, citing the example of how she is always available to speak to clients directly when requested. This gives them peace of mind if a concern has arisen while simultaneously creating a relationship between her and the client. We asked her if she thinks she had changed any minds of male peers that may have had a stereotype of a woman worker set in their minds. She replied with this, “I’d like to think so.” Atta girl.

All in All

Although the window cleaning industry is male dominated, it has not stopped many strong women from rising to the top. It seems as though it comes down to a few things, determination, persistence, and opportunity. The women that we talked to are just two examples of what women are doing all around the world, taking a chance and trying to carve out a spot for themselves. It is impressive to watch anyone rise, women or otherwise. The window cleaning industry, from all accounts, seems to be a unique industry with opportunity for anyone, male or female, who is willing to put everything on the line to reach it.
We want to thank Sheila from A+ Pro Services, Inc. and Pamela Cox from Virginia Window Cleaners Inc for participating in this blog post. You are both wonderful role models for both women and any persons who strive to succeed.

What Do You Think?

So now it’s your turn. Are you a woman in the window cleaning industry? Tell us what you think. And gentlemen, we can’t forget about you! We believe it’s important that all people, regardless of gender, have available the same opportunities. What has your experience been working with a woman on the job? Leave your comment down below.