Starting a Wood Floor Business from the Trunk of a Taxicab
Starting the wood flooring business in Washington was quite the adventure.
I offer it for those considering starting a business of their own and those who just like a good story.
We had moved to Washington D.C. (actually Arlington in Northern VA)
Being new to the area we lived in a poorer part of town in a one bedroom apartment.
We had twin 2 year old boys, a 5 year old daughter, and a small Pomeranian. (Is there any other kind?)
Our car had bit the dust on the move down from upstate New York so we were without a car.
Fortunately we were on the bus route so my wife could get on a bus to the Pentagon Subway station and take the subway into Washington to work as alegal secretary for a large Washington D.C. law firm. We walked to the storeor took a bus.
I was the househusband and diaper changer (amazing how fast I potty trained the twins)
After living like this for about a year something happened. I decided to start doing wood floors again.
The problem was I had no vehicle, and little money to work with. ( Does this sound familiar?)
I started by setting a goal (some people think that's a four letter word) .....Wait a minute it is a four letter word. ?:)
My goal was to get out the Yellow pages while the twins were napping and my daughter was in school and call 15 people who were already "in the door" and tell them what I do.
I met my goal everyday explaining that I had experience in wood floors and asking if they needed my services. I talked to carpet cleaners, painters, general contractors, interior designers.
I even went to returning calls that no one made. I had several Real Estate companies ask everyone in the office if they had called for someone to do some wood floors. Hey you can really get creative.
One day the phone rang and a general contractor called and he wanted me to look at a job in Silver Springs MD.
OK here I am in Arlington, VA with no car and I get a call for a job in Silver Springs,MD.
I found a sitter for the twins and got on the bus. The bus took me to the Pentagon where I got on the subway (Washington has a great subway system incidently) and went to Silver Springs MD.
After arriving at Silver Springs I realized I didn't have a map. I found the address on the map at the subway station. After walking 8 blocks, I did the estimate and got the job.
The very next day I woke up my neighbor who I knew was a taxicab driver and asked him if he wanted to make some money. I found out that my drum sander would fit in the trunk of a taxicab. (see the picture below) My drum sander weighs over 150 pounds.
He took me and my equipment all the way to the job in Silver Springs for $20.
The job was sanding and refinishing all the wood floors in the whole house.
This meant doing half of it at a time. We moved all the furniture into one half of the house and I started sanding half the house.
Before I was done with the first half her next door neighbor decided she wanted her whole house done too!!!
No problem!! I just carried the equipment next door.
Now at this time I only had a drum sander and paper but no edger. I solved this little problem by getting on the bus, getting off at the rental store, renting an edger, and getting back on the bus.
While the bus was taking me to the Pentagon subway station another passenger asked me if that was a floor edger I had there. I said," Yes".
He said," That's interesting. I'm thinking about doing wood floors at my house this weekend.
Without even thinking I responded," Really!!! need some help?"
After we talked about it for a bit we made arrangemnts for me to help him sand his wood floors in ....Alexandria, VA of all places (it's right next to Arlington, VA.)
He came and picked me up Saturday morning and took me to Silver Springs, MD.
At this point I had both halves of the houses sanded and was putting on finish.
He waited while I put a coat on both houses and then we loaded up everything and brought it back to Alexandria, VA.
He ran the edger and I ran the drum sander and we got his house done that weekend.
He then took me and my equipment all the way back to Silver Springs where I
finished the houses.
I did a couple more houses out of the trunk of a taxicab. I did it once too often and the customer asked, "Don't you have a vehicle?"
I said," No. I use a taxicab."
He said, " I have a car for sale. Would you consider doing my floors in exchange for the car?"
I ended up with a car and he ended up with refinished floors. I was in business.
My 220 Volt Clarke S8 Drum Sander
This is my 220 volt drum sander that I put in the trunk of a taxicab. It weighs about 150 pounds. I had to take the motor off to fit it in which required removing one bolt but I was determined to make it work. Since I was living in Northern Virginia, I decided to look up it's original Patent at the US Patent Office. What a facinating place that is. I took the number from the machine and was amazed how many patents there were for floor sanding machines. I did finally find it and discovered it was Patented in 1951. It had a low number stamped on it so I would think it was made in the first year of production. I was pleased with the thought that it was about as old as I was.