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NCSG Innovation 2012 Buena Vista Palace • Orlando • February 15-18

Orlando is the place to be for NCSG Innovation 2012! Plan NOW to be there February 15-18 for another great year of national-caliber chimney education and professional networking.

RESERVATIONS ARE NOW OPEN AT THE BUENA VISTA PALACE! Call (866) 397-6516 and mention that you’re with NCSG or visit to lock in rates starting at $139/night. Note: There is an additional $10.95 daily resort fee which includes free wi-fi access and parking during your stay. If your family perked up a little when they heard the word “Orlando”, we’ve got you covered. Our group rate runs February 9-22, so you can sneak in a few days before or after the convention for some time with the world’s most famous mouse or exploring any number of Orlando’s exciting destinations. All eyes (and ears) on chimneys for Innovation 2012 in Orlando, February 15-18!

August 2011 Volume 35 #7

Table of Contents Features 7 Key Qualifies of a Successful Entrepreneur


16 Three Steps to Better PC Maintenance 19 Avoiding the “Always Available” Trap 20 Meet a Member: Jake Cromwell 22 Fixing Missed Opportunities 24 Seven Ways to Improve Your Web Presence P.24

Departments 3 Moving Forward 6 Editor’s Letter 8 Industry Watch 10 Technical Q&A 12 Chimney Sense P.29

23 Progressive Perks 26 New NCSG Members

Sweeping: The Journal of Chimney and Venting Technology (ISSN# 10416692) is published 11 times annually, by the National Chimney Sweep Guild, 2155 Commercial Drive, Plainfield, IN 46168. Annual dues to the National Chimney Sweep Guild are $459 for Voting Member Companies and $689 for Supplier Member Companies, of which $80 goes toward a subscription to Sweeping: The Journal of Chimney and Venting Technology. Additional annual subscriptions are available for $80 by contacting the National Chimney Sweep Guild at the office of publication (NCSG, 2155 Commercial Drive, Plainfield, IN 46168). POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Sweeping: The Journal of Chimney and Venting Technology National Chimney Sweep Guild 2155 Commercial Drive Plainfield, IN 46168

28 Dates & Events 29 Perspective 31 Darwin Awards 31 Display Ad Index 32 Classifieds




COMMITTEE CHAIRS AND TASK FORCES FOR 2011-2012 Bylaws Diane Pilger (631) 863-2460

Governance Randy Brooks (805) 646-8961

NFPA 211 Representative Randy Brooks (805) 646-8961

Convention Site Selection Diane Pilger (631) 863-2460

Government Affairs Phil Mitchell (603) 659-7776

NFPA 31 Representative John Pilger (631) 863-2460

Discussion List Marge Padgitt (816) 461-3665

International Relations Victor Imgarten (636) 477-9966

NFPA 54 Representative Jim Brewer (757) 523-2400

Ethics Mark Stoner (615) 459-2546

Long Range Planning Diane Pilger (631) 863-2460

Public Awareness Task Force Marge Padgitt (816) 461-3665

Finance Mark Maynard (920) 830-1920

Membership Jeremy Biswell (913) 236-7141

Technical Advisory Council Dennis Dobbs (256) 845-9814

TECHNICAL ADVISORY COUNCIL To contact any member of the Technical Advisory Council, please call (317) 203-0088 and select the extension for the person who is best qualified to answer your question: Dennis Dobbs Technical Advisory Council Chair Installation or Service of Direct Vent Gas Appliances 317-203-0088 x: 1 Chris Prior Masonry Construction and Restoration and Priorfire Fireboxes 317-203-0088 x: 2 Jim Brewer Gas Venting and NFPA 54 317-203-0088 x: 3 John Pilger Oil Flue Sizing, Relining or NFPA 31 317-203-0088 x: 4

Fred Joy Installation and Venting of Pellet Stoves 317-203-0088 x: 7

President, Region 3 Jay Walker (850) 562-4692 • Vice President, At-Large Diane Pilger (631) 863-2460 • Treasurer, Region 5 Mark Maynard (920) 830-1920 • Secretary, Region 1 Phil Mitchell (603) 659-7776 • Region 2 Bob Fleer (410) 544-7600 • Region 4 Marge Padgitt (816) 461-3665 • Region 6 OPEN SEAT FMI: Randy Brooks NCSG Governance Chair (805) 646-8961 • At-Large Directors Jeremy Biswell (913) 236-7141 •

Jay Walker Dryer Vents 317-203-0088 x: 8

Dennis Dobbs (256) 845-9814 •

John LaBrosse International Residential Codes 317-203-0088 x: 9

Fred Joy (785) 986-6432 •

Randy Brooks NFPA 211 and Customer Communications 317-203-0088 x: 5 Bart Ogden Stainless Steel Lining, Video Scanning and Narrative Report Writing 317-203-0088 x: 6

Rich Martinez Dryer Vents or Masonry 317-203-0088 x: 10 Rich Rua General Sweeping or Relining 317-203-0088 x: 11

Be advised that advice given by NCSG’s Technical Advisory Council (TAC) reflects best practices of the chimney sweeping industry. However, we are unable to account for any particular type of situation since regional variations in construction practices and additional environmental, physical and geographical factors necessarily vary the level of service appropriate for a particular fireplace and/or chimney. Additionally, local laws and ordinances may govern and/or supersede the information and any recommendations provided. Final determinations are the responsibility of a local professional with first-hand knowledge of the situation, and the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Neither NCSG nor any member of TAC will be held liable for any damages whatsoever resulting from the use of or reliance on information provided by anyone associated with TAC. By your use of this member benefit you acknowledge acceptance of these terms.

ADVERTISING RATES for Sweeping: The Journal of Chimney & Venting Technology may be obtained by contacting Malisa Minetree at (317) 815-4688 or Design by Laura Houser Design • • (317) 213-7497 NCSG encourages industry partners to submit press release and articles to Melissa Heeke, Sweeping Editor at Submissions should contain items of interest or importance to the chimney and venting industry. Submissions should not contain direct solicitations, prices, or a call to action on the part of our readers. Submissions may contain images or artwork attached in a .jpg format. In all cases, NCSG reserves the right to edit submissions to fit space limitations, keep the release and publish at a later date, or refuse to publish the release for any reason. Neither publishing, nor refusing to publish the submission should be considered a statement of NCSG’s opinion regarding the release. NCSG further reserves the right to reject at any time any advertising determined not to be in keeping with the publications’ standards. Acceptance of advertising by Sweeping magazine does not necessarily constitute endorsement of products or services advertised. NCSG does not make any effort to review or substantiate claims made by advertisers. © 2011 National Chimney Sweep Guild, 2155 Commercial Drive, Plainfield, IN 46168 (317) 837-1500



Supplier Representative Edmund Poplawski (570) 504-7107 •

STAFF 2155 Commercial Drive Plainfield, IN 46168 (317) 837-1500 Fax: (317) 837-5365 Mark McSweeney, CAE Executive Director

Megan McMahon Office Manager

Melissa Heeke, CAE Director of Communications & Marketing

Sara Sichting Certification Coordinator (CSIA)

Ashley Eldridge, COI, CPP Director of Education

Debbie Cornelius Membership Development Coordinator

Candice Bradbury Director of Finance

Donna Lee Kasmer Program Coordinator



he month of August for us is the reminder autumn is coming soon. Phones will start ringing a little more for anticipation of another cold winter to come. Don’t let the “season” slip up on you – as the Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared”.

Being prepared is probably the best advice for any company. It involves multiple aspects like training, marketing, inventory and much more. Keeping involved with industry events within your area or region is a very valuable tool as well.

Moving Forward

there was soon to arrive a big envelope in my mailbox. It was from my new buddy Blume. I found mailing labels with about 60 sweep companies in Florida. I produced a letter of invitation to all the companies about joining our state guild. In return for Blume sending me those labels, I packed up a bottle of special adult elixir and packed it with real dry roasted peanuts into an old flue cap box and mailed it to Blume with a big “thank you” attached. Blume is just one of the buddies I had become to know by interaction with a common mission. I had met sweeps from each state in the South East and it was a cool feeling to have that type of bond with men and women in the same trade and experiencing the same type of business struggles I was occurring. The networking and volunteering helped my business grow.

I can remember back to the first South East Regional convention I attended. As a new member of my state guild (recruited by the founder of the Florida Guild and President Mark Hudson), I had been invited to attend the convention in Myrtle Beach. The invitation came by phone from “Lucky” Dale Meisinger (a charter member of NCSG). Lucky was on the SE convention committee and had called to confirm that I was a Florida Guild representative (the other two were Mark Hudson and Dave Galucci), and invited me to attend a day early to help set up. Looking back, I now realize that day is when many of my colleagues began to become friends for life. There’s something about having a common purpose or mission that creates that unity and common bond. I remember after that day of work I was invited back to the hospitality room for snacks and an adult beverage. There, I met my close friend J. Blume from South Carolina. We both enjoyed a liquid refreshment and ™ conversed about chimney sweeping and the stories went on and on. I told him about the challenges about growing the The most reliable solution for chimney restoration and chimney repair. Florida Guild and that as a new member, and as the Secretary, I wanted to invite In honor of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a portion of all sales of Thermocrete Ceramic Flue Sealant many to share in the experience and during the months of August & September will be donated to the NYFD Scholarship Fund. journey that I had just begun. After back home from the Southeast Convention, (866) 439-0069


My first NCSG convention and trade show was in Atlanta, Georgia. Many of those who attended that year probably most vividly remember the illnesses, and yes, I do too. I also remember the variety of educational seminars and being blown away when I walked into the trade show. I felt like I was in a candy store and wanted one of everything. I ask you to take notice of your industry events like the NCSG annual convention and trade show, but don’t forget the regional and state events as well. These events are where you can make the connections and begin building friendships that will carry you and your business through the most challenging of times. My lifelong friends had now expanded on a national scale. Recently, our Discussion List Committee, proposed a change to the rules to help promote non-profit state and regional events. The new policy has been implemented with specific rules, so I ask everyone to keep these in mind before posting. (A link to the discussion list guidelines are listed at the bottom of each email on the discussion list and are also online at the NCSG web site). If you are not on the NCSG Discussion List, I suggest you call headquarters at (317) 837-1500 ASAP and get set up. It has proven to be a very valuable tool over the years. I have the honor of representing our organization at the ESCHFOE annual technical meeting in Indianapolis, IN this month. I will meet chimney sweep leaders from many European

countries and will extend them the utmost courtesy on your behalf, as they visit our great country and our industry’s headquarters. I look forward to now the beginning of those friendships that will extend to the international level. Networking and volunteering your time to the industry will help you succeed. As Jack Pixley always said at the end of each post you must be “Always Learning”. I ask you to take a challenge and dedicate some time to give back to the industry. Think about all the networking opportunities: • Sign up for the NCSG Discussion List. • Join your State and/or Regional Guild and become active and volunteer to help. • Volunteer to help at the NCSG Convention and Trade Show. • Dedicate some time and run for a seat on the NCSG Board. Please don’t hesitate to contact me, and as always, sweeps luck to you and your family and God Bless. Sincerely, Jay K. Walker President@NCSG.ORG

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Editor’s Letter



n this month’s Chimney Sense, Dennis Dobbs encourages you to take a moment to look at your business from an outside perspective. Knowing that the phone is going to start ringing like made in just a couple of weeks (if it hasn’t already), what can you do to make your autumn a little more sane? What would your company look like today if you were to start again from the very beginning? Would you hire someone for the office? Would you outsource your accounting? How about your truck? Tools? If you were to remove yourself from the

everyday routine and really take a good look, what would you change today about the way you’re doing business? Can you find an hour today to navel gaze? Of course you can’t. But you can take an hour to revolutionize the way you’re doing business by looking in on your daily tasks and recommending some improvements. Not sure where to start? Try by reading Dennis Dobbs’ article on page 12.


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Industry Watch June Existing-Home Sales Slip on Contract Cancellations, but Prices Stabilize Washington, DC, July 20, 2011 - Existing-home sales eased in June as contract cancellations spiked unexpectedly, although prices were up slightly, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sales gains in the Midwest and South were offset by declines in the Northeast and West. Single-family home sales were stable while the condo sector weakened. Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, declined 0.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.77 million in June from 4.81 million in May, and remain 8.8 percent below the 5.23 million unit level in June 2010, which was the scheduled closing deadline for the home buyer tax credit. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said this is an uneven recovery. “Home sales had been trending up without a tax stimulus, but a variety of issues are weighing on the market including an unusual spike in contract cancellations in the past month,” he said. Yun cited other factors in the sales performance. “Pending home sales were down in April but up in May, so we may be seeing some of that mix in closed sales for June. However, economic uncertainty and the federal budget debacle may be causing hesitation among some consumers or lenders.”

NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., said home sales should be higher. “With record high housing affordability conditions thus far in 2011, we’d normally expect to see stronger home sales,” he said. Total housing inventory at the end of June rose 3.3 percent to 3.77 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.5-month supply4 at the current sales pace, up from a 9.1-month supply in May. First-time buyers purchased 31 percent of homes in June, down from 36 percent in May; they were 43 percent in June 2010 when the tax credit was in place. Investors accounted for 19 percent of purchase activity in June, unchanged from May; they were 13 percent in June 2010. The balance of sales was to repeat buyers, which were a 50 percent market share in June, up from 45 percent in May, which appears to be a normal seasonal gain. The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Industry Watch Policy NCSG encourages industry partners to submit press releases to Melissa Heeke, Sweeping: The Journal of Chimney & Venting Technology editor, via email at mheeke@ Submissions should contain items of interest or importance to the chimney and venting industry. Submissions should not contain direct solicitations, prices, or a call to action on the part of our readers. Submissions may contain images or artwork attached in a .jpg format. In all cases, NCSG reserves the right to edit submissions to fit space limitations, keep the release and publish at a later date, or refuse to publish the release for any reason. Neither publishing nor refusing to publish the submission should be considered a statement of NCSG’s opinion regarding the release.

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Technical Q&A



My customer has a prefabricated fireplace with glass doors and what appears to be a built in log set; can they pull the logs out and use this fireplace to burn wood?


Identification is the key here. Before direct vent gas fireplaces became popular, some manufacturers created hybrid fireplace systems which look like standard woodburning prefabricated fireplaces. These gas units are designed to be used with a type B venting system that is aluminum-lined, and is not intended for solid fuel. The controls for these appliances are normally hidden in the firebox beneath the logs; the hidden access also contains the identification for the product.

Homeowners and home inspectors frequently make mistakes when identifying these units. In the past, I have seen several occasions where well-intentioned homeowners and professionals have used type B venting systems for appliances they were not designed for. I have seen it used as reline pipe and chimney for wood stoves. Another common mistake is type B vent intended for gas being used in the place of type L vent for pellet and fuel oil appliances. When used in this fashion the aluminum lining inside the type B vent will break down and the exterior pipe temperature can be excessively high and potentially hazardous. When inspecting a pellet or fuel oil appliance, be sure to take the time to identify the venting type.

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Chimney Sense


From the Outside Looking In


y wife and I were recently dining at a small town restaurant and the owner was making rounds to make sure everyone was happy with their food. When he approached our table, I asked him how everything was going for him and his new business. His answer to me was that business was very slow. As he walked away, we began discussing why we thought his business could be lacking. It wasn’t the food (for it was exceptional), the location was good and there was no question that the owner was committed to his clientele. But by being on the outside and looking in some faults were evident to us. The owner was the chef and had to spend the majority of the time in the kitchen which limited his time overseeing the staff who obviously did not share his passion for customer service. The staff was not trained well. The prices on the menu were too low for the quality and quantity that we had received. Although the place appeared very clean and eloquently decorated, it felt cold because of the bright lighting and absence of background music. His only advertisement was the sign on the building. This article is not a restaurant review. No matter what type of

business you run, it’s not easy to achieve greatness in every aspect and sometimes we are so consumed with the interworking of business that we become unaware of the faults that can be easily seen by the general public and especially by our competitors. Even the emotions emitted by a business owner or staff person can attribute to the business’ success or failure. No patron wants to interact with someone who seems emotionally distraught. Take a moment and a piece of paper and write down everything you see about your competitors, good or bad. Now, from the outside looking in, do the same exercise using your own business. Look at all aspects from advertising and pricing to customer service. Be as honest and as harsh about your business as you have been about your competition. You may find many vulnerable areas that you haven’t noticed before. A “How did we do?” card would have been a good way for our restaurateur to see his business from the patron’s view. This also works well in the sweeping industry because for us, like a restaurant, nothing is better than repeat business.

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7 Key Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur


eing an entrepreneur is about more than Inner Drive to Succeed just starting a business or two, it is about Entrepreneurs are driven to succeed and expand their business. having attitude and the drive to succeed in They see the bigger picture and are often very ambitious. business. All successful Entrepreneurs set massive goals for entrepreneurs have themselves and stay committed to achieving a similar way of them regardless of the obstacles that get in thinking and posses the way. several key personal qualities that make them so successful in business. Successful Strong Belief in themselves entrepreneurs like the ambitious Richard Successful entrepreneurs have a healthy Branson have an inner drive to succeed opinion of themselves and often have a and grow their business, rather than having strong and assertive personality. They are a Harvard Business degree or technical focused and determined to achieve their knowledge in a particular field. goals and believe completely in their ability All successful entrepreneurs have the to achieve them. Their self optimism can following NO-01 qualities: Z-Flex Liners Smoothcore_2011_v1 - 7.35" x 4.875"-PRINT.pdf 1 11-06-26 10:14often PM been seen by others as flamboyance

“All successful entrepreneurs have a similar way of thinking and posses several key personal qualities that make them so successful in business.”

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or arrogance but entrepreneurs are just too focused to spend too much time thinking about un-constructive criticism. Search for New Ideas and Innovation All entrepreneurs have a passionate desire to do things better and to improve their products or service. They are constantly looking for ways to improve. They’re creative, innovative and resourceful.

Openness to Change If something is not working for them they simply change. Entrepreneurs know the importance of keeping on top of their industry and the only way to being number one is to evolve and change with the times. They’re up to date with the latest technology or service techniques and are always ready to change if they see a new opportunity arise.

Competitive by Nature Successful entrepreneurs thrive on competition. The only way to reach their goals and live up to their self imposed high standards is to compete with other successful businesses.

Highly Motivated and Energetic Entrepreneurs are always on the move, full of energy and highly motivated. They are driven to succeed and have an abundance of self motivation. The high standards and ambition of many entrepreneurs demand that they have to be motivated!

Accepting of Constructive Criticism and Rejection Innovative entrepreneurs are often at the forefront of their industry so they hear the words “it can’t be done” quite a bit. They readjust their path if the criticism is constructive and useful to their overall plan, otherwise they will simply disregard the comments as pessimism. Also, the best entrepreneurs know that rejection and obstacles are a part of any leading business and they deal with them appropriately. True entrepreneurs are resourceful, passionate and driven to succeed and improve. They’re pioneers and are comfortable fighting on the frontline The great ones are ready to be laughed at and criticized in the beginning because they can see their path ahead and are too busy working towards their dream. Kristine Geimure is the author and editor of several successful online businesses. She also writes business articles for the Woopidoo! business success portal.


Three Steps to Better PC Maintenance Have you tested your IT IQ lately? While technology is a critical part of your daily life, many people think they know more than they actually do when it comes to performing routine maintenance on high-tech devices such as computers, laptops and tablets. Most people claim to be comfortable with performing their own maintenance on computers, but the reality is that they fail to effectively perform or even have the knowledge to perform routine maintenance, according to the Staples IT IQ Survey conducted by Zogby International. For many, computer maintenance is just too scary, confusing or not a priority, but here are a few guidelines to keep your computer up and running. 1. Back up your data - More than 60 percent of respondents backed up their computers less than once a week and a third did it once a year or never. If you’re not backing up and protecting your important files and applications, you may consider using a USB flash drive or external hard drive to back up your materials. 2. Run spyware scans and virus checks regularly - One common misconception is that people falsely presume their computers are well-protected from the viruses, spyware,


and other malware that put personal information at risk and decrease performance. Eighty-three percent of the survey respondents stated they are somewhat or very confident their computer is free of malware, but that is not necessarily the case. To protect your computer, run virus checks regularly to keep your antivirus software up-to-date or for more assistance talk to a certified Staples EasyTech associate. 3. Remove unnecessary programs from your start-up routine - When you turn on your computer, does it take awhile before you can actually do anything? That’s because you have a number of programs that are automatically loaded every time you start up. This slows your computer’s response time and takes up a lot of memory. Fewer than 10 percent of respondents knew the best fix for a slow computer is to stop programs from running during the computer’s start-up. If you don’t have the time or patience to perform these routine checks, consider having an expert do it for you. For example, Staples EasyTech associates are highly trained and able to assist customers with a wide range of technology services that include basic setups of new PC’s, software and hardware installations, as well as more advanced PC diagnostics and repair. To learn more, visit a Staples store or


CSIA Update


Congratulations to Our New CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps ARKANSAS Michael Green • Mountain Home Chimney & Flame • Midway ALASKA Drew Henley • Firesafe Chimney Service • North Pole CALIFORNIA Daniel Carbone • Wilshire Fireplace Shop Inc. • San Diego DELAWARE Michael Salemi • Swift Services, Inc. • New Castle John Zeron • Swift Services, Inc. • New Castle

MARYLAND Hind Donamowski • Priddy Clean Chimney Sweeps, Inc. • Hyattsville Christina El-Hage • Priddy Clean Chimney Sweeps, Inc. • Silver Spring Nick Fitzgerald • Clean Sweep of A.A. Co., Inc. • Millersville Brad Herndon • Mark & Buttons Chimney Sweeps Inc. • Owings Mills James Horne • Old Line Chimney Sweeps • Pasadena Matthew Keith • Complete Chimneys Inc.• Severna Park Brandon Mazur • Clean Sweep of A.A. Co., Inc. • Millersville Thomas Michel • Flue Masters, Inc.• Catonsville Brian R. Sanders • American Professional Chimney, Masonry & Home Repair • Hyattsville

MICHIGAN Ross E. Ott • Fire Findings LLC • Benton Harbor Jason Martin • Candlewyck Apartments, LLC • Kalamazoo MINNESOTA Robb Bennett • Lakeside Fireplace & Stove, LLC • Longville NEW JERSEY Christopher Long • Bridgewater Chimney Sweeps, LLC • Bridgewater Henry Kuchinski • Freehold, NJ Edgar G. Luna • Luna Chimney Sweeps & Hearth Products • Andover Hunter Yannotti • Luna Chimney Sweeps & Hearth Products • Andover NEW MEXICO Justin Bailey • Bailey’s Chimney Cleaning & Repair • El Prado

OHIO Derek Smith • The Chimney Smith • Columbus PENNSYLVIA Thomas Cartwright • Chester County Hearth & Home • Elverson TEXAS Matthew Young • Cheroo Certified Chimney Service • San Sngelo

ILLINOIS Larry D. Loy • Douglas Chimney Service • Grayslake Joel Storm • Lindemann Chimney • Lake Bluff Ryan Hicks • Hicksys Chimney Sweeping • Spring Valley

MASSACHUSETTES Bryan LeBlanc • On Duty Chimney Sweep • Ashburnham

NEW YORK Randy Rhoads • A&M Fireplace Dba Countryside Stove & Chimney • Holland

VERMONT Kyle Fischer • Stowe Lori Tourville • National Chimney Supply, Inc. • South Burlington VIRGINIA Tony Monstrose • Mitchel’s Chimney & Masonry Specialists, Inc. • Woodbridge Tyler Kelley • American Chimney • Purcellville Dan Fitzpatrick • Elite Chimney Services Dba Cougot’s Chimney Service • Richmond James Marsh • Marsh Chimney • Petersburg

Please visit to verify that your contact information is correct.

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Avoiding the ‘Always Available’ Trap Well don’t we just have it all at our fingertips these days? Mobile telephony, satellite monitoring, wireless go anywhere internet connection, SMS and ‘always on’ email straight to our palm devices. As soloists, there’s no excuse for failing to stay in touch with our work (and our clients) regardless of where we are or when. The marketers of course, would have us believe this is all good.

Remember the good old days when you took a day or two off and were pleasantly surprised when everything ran smoothly in your absence? The times when your clients and associates rose to the challenge of management and decision-making and showed themselves much more capable than you had given credit? Why would anyone risk making a decision about anything now, when you’re just a moment away?

I disagree. Sure, some of it can be good and at times it is very convenient, but the worrying trend is that always available may become the workplace norm.

On the other hand, if you want to make every micro decision (er, control freak!) then carry on, you’re doing just fine.

A quick glance at how these new services are being marketed and you’ll see imagery depicting young, happy executives tapping away at the keyboard while at the beach or in the garden. In the distance we see friends and family supposedly playing and communing happily.

While some soloists may quite rightly say that being always available and in-touch is wonderful for their business, a survey on our site suggested over 72% of you would be more than happy if a surprise law banned mobile phones. Chances are partners and friends are sure to agree!

Everyone is doing what they love. How nice.

The answer to this is not that complex. Being available can most certainly be good, but we have to establish boundaries with our colleagues and clients.

Let’s now consider the reverse scenario: Friends and family playing happily in the office while you work. Do you reckon you’ll get much done? Nope. Me neither. You’ll be distracted and certainly won’t be concentrating on your work. Relaxing with friends and family isn’t a totally passive past time. You need to participate if you are to give and receive. It’s called ‘being present’. If you’re not joining in, all you’re really doing is moving the office to a new location…and one where nothing terribly meaningful is achieved. Let’s look at other implications of the always available trap.

If you don’t stay in control of your involvement in your business, you’ll forever be its prisoner. That doesn’t sound like a good recipe for loving your work does it? About the Author: Robert Gerrish has owned businesses in London and Sydney. He is currently working as a business coach helping fellow entrepreneurs to succeed in their business. Robert has a background in Marketing and Business development. He has columns regularly published in several newspapers and business magazines.





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Meet a Member Jacob D. Cromwell of Top Hat Services in Springdale, AR My name is Jake Cromwell. I own and operate Top Hat Services in Northwest Arkansas. We provide full service for residential, commercial and industrial chimneys and roofing. We also provide HVAC services, and have a sister company in commercial landscaping. Our technicians have a combined experience in chimney sweeping totaling over 40 years. This business has operated successfully since 1983, hiring me in 1998, and changing ownership to me in 2010.

1. How did you get into the business? I was invited to apprentice by a friend. 2. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started out? I wish I would have known that resources for starting or expanding a business are everywhere and often with people you’ve known for years. 3. What do you like most about the business? I truly enjoy meeting a new person and visiting their home as a trusted professional. The least? My greatest pet peeve in the industry is in having to overcome the general lack of trust the public has for contractors and workmen when my company strives so hard to represent the highest standards of customer service and integrity. 4. “I still can’t quite get the hang of. . .” Cold call marketing. All of the data suggests that it’s effective. I don’t see it… At least not in this industry or market.


5. Who/what is your major influence? My father taught me about integrity and responsibility. The gentleman I bought my company from after having worked with/for him for 11 years taught me this business. I also seek advice from a few local entrepreneurs and attorneys. Those relationships have made all of the difference for me and my company. 6. How do you recharge after a long day/week/ month? My family and I love the outdoors, sports, and travel. 7. What is your favorite quote, if you have one? “Take ownership or take orders.” 8. If you could invite three people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why? My grandfathers, Harold Dean Cromwell, Alonzo Burks and Carl Chitwood. They were all diligent tradesmen who should have been able to take part in the successes they enabled by being such great fathers.

9. The only thing you know for sure about this business is? It has been consistently profitable. 10. What one question would you like us to ask an NCSG member? How can we raise the awareness of the public to regard chimney professionals as elite fire protection specialists instead of Dick Van Dyke?

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Fixing Missed Opportunities

promptly ignoring it. The sooner Mr Gates invents something like a hand that can reach out of my monitor and slap me round the chops the better.

Let’s name a day once every three months as “Solo Entrepreneur Day for Fixing Missed Opportunities!” It is important to set aside time to look back on the past few months and question the things we’ve let slip by. Once we highlight stuff we can get on and fix it. Like you didn’t know that.

Regularly clearing your email in-tray is a hugely liberating experience. Action what’s needed, ditch the rest. Monthly Actions 4. Clean out your files Boring, boring, boring. Necessary, necessary, necessary. Often amongst the junk is some stuff we kept deservedly. Find it, unfile it, action it.

Here are my Top 5 Actions for fixing missed opportunities: Monthly Actions 1. Go back through your diary Spend a few minutes looking back over the past three months (or past year if you haven’t done this for some time!). Look at where you spent your time, what appointments you had that have not led to anything. Remember the people you met and the conversations you had. Did you follow up as effectively as you might? Did you explore all the possibilities?

Monthly Actions 5. Make an announcement Invite your clients, customers and staff to point out missed opportunities. A few months back a delightful man pointed out that one my new projects was so exciting it was as if ‘I had a lion by the tail’. Did I? Yikes!

Monthly Actions 2. Clear out your Rolodex/card file/wallet/ briefcase/palm pilot/car/handbag Look particularly for people who’ve slipped off your radar. Consider relationships that may benefit from some rekindling. It’s funny how often we leave a networking event with a swagger of cards and a great sense of achievement only to leave the cards in a little pile to gather dust and coffee stains. Take a fresh look. What was it that was so interesting back then?

Yes I did. Yes I DO! So often others see things in us that we cannot see ourselves. What tail do you have hold of? Are you going to grab the lion while you have the chance? I know I am, starting next Wednesday. About the author: Robert Gerrish has owned businesses in London and Sydney. He is currently working as a business coach helping fellow entrepreneurs to succeed in their business. Robert has a background in Marketing and Business development. He has columns regularly published in several newspapers and business magazines.

Monthly Actions 3. Check through your emails I don’t know about you, but I have developed this very unhelpful behaviour of marking an incoming email as ‘urgent’ and then

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Re-Evaluate In our ever-changing world, things that have worked in the past for business owners and their staff many times may no longer work! Economics and the customer have all changed. Jerry Isenhour, Sr. has formed Chimney & Venting Consultants for this very reason to provide the industry with a consultant/coach who understands the industry and the consumer. Based on the individual goals of a company, Jerry will help you develop a plan for your business to progress in a manner that is a plus – NOT a minus. One thing is for certain, change is inevitable. It is up to the way change is handled to be able to say Change Is Good!

value of the handouts I received alone was worth the cost of travel and attendance. Jerry has been there and done that. The best of the best attend his training!” Whether you are new to the business, planning to go to the next level or looking to sell your business in the future, Chimney & Venting Consultants will design a program that meets your needs to accomplish your goals. NCSG members save 10%! Call Debbie at (317) 837-1500 or visit to learn more about how to put Jerry and his staff on your team and other great NCSG member benefits.

These are just a few of the services available: • A  nalysis of market areas and new services that can be provided. • Determination of a 1, 5, 10, or 20 year plan. • Phases of expansion and/or diversification for consideration. • An analysis of what is profitable and what is not. All too often the business owner is simply too close to identify their own problems. • Tips on how to identify the danger signs of a failing business. • Development and implementation of SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). • Training for service managers and technicians, sales staff and administrative staff to become competent, friendly and effective that will make the difference of getting by or getting wealthy. Jerry has a unique ability to get the employee to buy into the program. • And more. . . . One business owner stated the following after using Jerry’s services, “Jerry is a leading force in the education aspect of the industry. His training seminars are informative and the

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Seven Ways to Improve Your Web Presence


mage is everything on the Web. Big companies can look small and small companies can look big. What follows are my seven tips for 2011 to help you build and maintain a successful lead-generating “web presence” for your chimney sweep business.

1. Shorten Your Home Page Content – Website visitors are overwhelmed with long paragraphs of essay-style text on home pages and service description pages. If overloaded, your visitors will either leave or won’t get a strong impression about why they should call you. Write with concise clarity and describe your services in short sentences, or simply use bullet points. Look at your home page. In a 15-second scan does it clearly say who you are, what makes you different, and what geographic areas you serve? 2. Add Video and More Photos – Photos of you at work, completed jobs, or staff pictures all help personalize your web presence, distinguishing your company from others. Video of you or customers talking about your quality work is an excellent way to engage with potential customers and keep their attention long enough for your message to get through. With video, use any digital video camera, talk into the camera for 30 seconds to a minute, upload to and link to it from your site. 3. “Convert. Don’t Divert.” – Focus your brain on converting site visitors into leads. Many business owners focus too much attention on design details instead of the basic task of


generating business. Look at your home page. Do you see your phone number and service area at first glance? If not, you are missing the most critical website elements when it comes to converting leads. If you need the phone to ring, an easy-tospot phone number is your web page’s best salesperson. 4. Google Maps – Go to Google Maps, find, claim, and then fully complete your profile listing. These profile listings are free and a key to getting noticed when people search for local chimney sweeps. When complete, these profile pages will give you an edge when it comes to getting found on Google. The way these profiles are organized and displayed makes it really easy for searchers to hop from one to another. Make your business look better than your competitors’ by having a full profile that lists all the neighborhoods or towns you serve, descriptions of services that match those on your website, and pictures of you or your staff. There are services that will do this work for you at a nominal fee, around $250. 5. Mobile Internet – Do yourself a big favor right now. Using a web-enabled mobile phone, pull up your own site. Is it painfully slow to load? Is it hard to view? Tiny text, tiny photos, and worst of all, tiny phone number? Maybe it’s just plain broken? The fix is easy – get a Mobile Website. They are inexpensive (usually under $300) and fix all the previously mentioned problems. You need to pay attention to the ‘mobile revolution’ because 45 million people use Smartphones today. Blackberry, iPhone, Android, whatever. Everybody’s got one or is getting one in the very near future. Don’t get left behind

with a website that doesn’t work on Smartphones. 6. Social Media – You can’t ignore Facebook and Twitter any longer. Consider this: over 150 million people in the U.S. have a Social Media account - that’s almost 50% of the population (source: Experian Hitwise). And 69% of consumers say they’re more likely to use a local business if they can find it on a social networking site (source: ComScore). Social media helps you: 1.) Increase your Search Engine exposure & rank. 2.) Improve your word-of-mouth and turn more referrals into sales. 3.) Share specials, coupons, photos, videos and your best testimonials - spread them to your entire network. 4.) Receive instant feedback from your happy clients. 5.) Create relationships with your clients that go beyond basic transactions. 7. Bold Design Change – Change is good. If you are building or overhauling your website in 2011, consider using a bold element that appears on your home page. Maybe a textured background or consistent “wow factor” photo that appears on every page. What you are getting here is my sole opinion, backed by a gut feeling, not a Harvard study. And the smart choice when it came to web design for newbies was to be conservative. But if your business has evolved or

grown, and your image has become more distinct, it’s time to consider a design element that really pops off the page. Here are a few quick ideas: a large scale stunning photo of a sweep high up on an upscale home, a single bold color that ties into your logo, a landing page with simply a company name and elegant tagline and phone number. Or, keep the “wow” more simple by adding a Web Video to your homepage. These are just a few ideas that can help attract the attention of a potential new client. I urge you to be bold but also careful. If you are a high-end provider or the leader in your market, work with your web designer to make one bold web design move. Your customer’s eyes will appreciate a single bold element, but be distracted if you go overboard. Griffin Davis is VP of Marketing for Market Hardware, Inc. ( and contributed this article. Griffin has worked in Internet Marketing and Small Business marketing since 1993. Market Hardware helps Chimney Sweeps compete on the Web and offers special discounts for NCSG members. Ask Griffin any Website or Internet Marketing question by emailing or calling 888-381-6925.


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NewNCSG Members


REGION 1 NEW YORK Gerd Alfred Otto Lieske • Advanced Chimney Cleaning Service • Buchanan

REGION 3 NORTH CAROLINA Jerry Isenhour • Chimney & Venting Consultants • Concord

REGION 6 CALIFORNIA Eron Armour • Armour Chimney Service • Lakeside WASHINGTON Jon Roswall • Capitol Duct Cleaning, Inc. • Olympia

REGION 1 Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire

REGION 2 Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania

REGION 3 Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia

REGION 4 Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio


NCSG Charter Members Paul Bourque Huntsville, AL

John Cline, Menlo Park, CA

Don Leavitt San Diego, CA

Dale Meisinger, N. Augusta, SC

David Harris Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

Eva B. Horton, Greenwich, CT

Dan Wheeler Santa Rosa, CA


Alan Hisey, St. Louis, MO

Harry Richart, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin

REGION 6 Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

Dates & Events August 20, 2011 Sponsored by A.W. Perkins & NYSCSG Rutland, NY Chimney Fire & Chimney Reline Workshop For more information call (800) 698- 7412 or email Vicki Matteson at or Ingrid Prior at August 22-26, 2011 CSIA (Online) Lining Masonry Chimneys with Stainless Steel For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit August 22-26, 2011 Online CSIA eLearning For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit August 26, 2011 Nashville, TN CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Review & Exam For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit September 6, 7, & 8, 2011 Online Codes & Standards Quizzes Available For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit quiz September 8, 2011 CSIA Technology Center CSIA Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician Review & Exam For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit

Health & Safety Week For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit www.CSIA. org/safetyweek September 26-30, 2011 Online CSIA eLearning For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit September 26-30, 2011 CSIA (Online) Lining Masonry Chimneys with Stainless Steel For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit October 3, 4, 5, & 6, 2011 Online Codes & Standards Quizzes Available For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit www.CSIA. org/quiz October 10-16, 2011 Online CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Review & Exam For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit October 10-16, 2011 Online CSIA Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician Review & Exam For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit October 14, 2011 SaverSystems- Richmond, IN HeatShield Installer Factory Training For more information call (800) 860-6327 x105 or email stuartk@

September 9, 2011 CSIA Technology Center CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Review & Exam For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit

October 17-21, 2011 Online Health & Safety Week For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit www.CSIA. org/safetyweek

September 9, 2011 Atlantic City, NJ CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Review & Exam For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit

October 21, 2011 Albany, NY CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Review & Exam For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit

September 12-18, 2011 Online CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Review & Exam For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit

October 24-28, 2011 Online CSIA eLearning For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit

September 12-18, 2011 Online CSIA Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician Review & Exam For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit

October 24-28, 2011 CSIA (Online) Lining Masonry Chimneys with Stainless Steel For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit

September 16, 2011 SaverSystems- Richmond, IN HeatShield Installer Factory Training For more information call (800) 860-6327 x105 or email stuartk@

November 1, 2, & 3, 2011 Online Codes & Standards Quizzes Available For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit www.CSIA. org/quiz

September 16-17, 2011 SCCSG- The GATHERING Lake Murray- Boy Scout Island For more information, please contact Renee Brigman at (864) 682-5422

November 4, 2011 CSIA Technology Center CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep Review & Exam For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit

September 19-24, 2011 CSIA Technology Center National Chimney Sweep Training School For more information, please call (317) 837-5362 or visit NCSTS September 19-23, 2011 Online


Please send notice of your events for NCSG Dates & Events listings at for inclusion here, in weekly posts to the discussion list and online at The event must be considered educational or informative for the industry (sales events and open houses will not be listed).



Be a Disruptor “Any occurrence requiring undivided attention will be accompanied by compelling distraction.” -Robert Bloch


recently had the opportunity to attend a conference at which one of the presenters discussed the future of associations in the 21st century. He referenced that all of us, despite our best laid plans, are constantly bombarded with disruptions; and it’s not as if the world is going to provide us with improved focus as we head into the future. Think about it. Can you think of any industry out there that is not being disrupted by technological drive and public demand to be better and faster. I find myself avoiding a certain gas station chain because the computers in their pumps always seem to be slower than the competition’s. A friend of mine published a book earlier this summer and the market demanded it be released digitally on the Kindle platform (via before it be printed hard copy and sold in bookstores. This past year, more than 30% of all education received by chimney sweeps from CSIA was delivered online and it is anticipated that the demand

for that e-experience will increase significantly every year for the foreseeable future. I have heard reference to a study in which futurists estimate that during the last century the world experienced approximately 20 years of exponential technological change, the vast majority of which happened during the last 30 years. By comparison, those same futurists predict that with the rate of change we are now experiencing, during the 21st century we will witness the equivalent of 20,000 years of technological growth. Similar research indicates that for the average student entering into their freshman year of college this fall, half of the technology they will learn and use this year will be obsolete by the time they reach their senior year. In other words, change is plowing through our lives like a bulldozer whether we want it (and are ready for it) or not. The days of developing a five year plan and rigidly sticking to it are long gone. Despite our best AUGUST 11 SWEEPING 29

of intentions, our paths will be disrupted and we need to be prepared to not allow those disruptions to bring us down. More importantly, relative to your own specific industry, would you rather be a disruptor or be disrupted? What are you doing in your business that you are willing to disrupt? And if you don’t disrupt it yourself, will someone else? Do you have opportunities to be proactive rather than reactive? I’ve said before that running and managing a business is full of tough choices, profound decisions and a never ending cycle of awakenings. As we find ourselves moving ever closer to 2012, with continued debate about our rate of economic recovery and fiscal forecast our respective futures are not looking any clearer. Whether you are a staff of one or are one of a staff of twentyfive, don’t forget to take some time away from the daily grind and assess where you are in your business. Are you on track? How has your course changed and does it need to change some more? Where are you going from here? What’s working for you? What’s not working for you? If you were to change one thing about your business, what change would make the greatest impact on your business if you could do it in the next year?

improvement, and it doesn’t typically happen by accident or happenstance. It takes work, but it’s well worth it. Take the time to determine how you can improve, and then take the first critical step to begin doing so. For many of you, the coming months are your busiest of the year. Regardless of the method of continuous improvement you choose, now is the time to do it. As we live in an economy that continues to take its toll on small businesses, it is those who continue to challenge themselves and freshen their perspectives that will thrive on the other side. It will be those who are not only able to adapt to the inevitable disruptions but also invest in themselves and cause a few of the disruptions themselves that will be setting the bar for others to follow in the years to come. NCSG is looking at its future in the same way. It is no longer enough as an association to merely be relevant, we have to be meaningful to the variety of types of sweeps and industry suppliers that we serve. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube, Sweeping, NewsLink, phone calls, letters, email, discussion lists, web pages, conventions, and on and on. What’s the right balance of communication mediums today and what will be the right balance six months or a year from now? How do we handle and manage technology’s influence to ensure we are in the best position possible to serve our members’ needs and provide meaningful value? Who adopts technology first, the association or our members?

Maintaining a competitive edge demands a focus on continuous

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We are constantly needing to rigorously define our member market to consider how our membership, and association membership in general, is changing over the years. Just like you, our members, need to ensure that products and services you are providing are meeting customer expectations, the Guild continuously reviews our services and our membership model to see if they are meaningful to emerging markets or are if they are still catering to the markets as defined 20 or 30 years ago. It is a fascinating time we live in. No one in business should be able to say they are bored, that is for sure. As John Henry Newman wrote over 150 years ago, “Growth is the only evidence of life” and growth is all around us. Here’s to taking chances and being part of the disruption around you. Until next time I wish you every success!

Darwin Awards Have you snapped a photo of a peculiar chimney in your area that made you shake your head in disbelief? Send it to Melissa Heeke at for publication in Sweeping. Or, mail it to NCSG, 2155 Commercial Drive, Plainfield, IN 46168.

Submitted by Christopher McKinney of Chesapeake Chimney & Co. in Prince Frederick, MD

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CLASSIFIED ADS FREE FOR NCSG MEMBERS Members can run one 35 word classified free each year! Regularly classified ads are $2/word or $1/word for NCSG members. Classified ads are non-commissionable and must be pre-paid. To place a classified ad, please contact Megan McMahon at or (317) 837-1500.

“I learned so much about an industry that I was supposed to be an expert in.” You feel like you already know everything. And, in reality, you probably do know more than most. But new opportunities exist: Now csia’s education can make you even more profitable!


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i wanted to thank everyone at the csia for the help you gave me to become certified. i learned so much about an industry that i was supposed to be an expert in. There was plenty i did not know or had been misinformed about. i am very grateful that the csia exists and am proud to be a csia certified chimney sweep. in short, the whole experience has made a more responsible and better informed chimney professional. Mark Loukedis aaa superior construction in Elmwood Park, NJ

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Health & safety week

c&s Quizzes You can earn csia cEUs by taking these codes & standards quizzes. Two quizzes are available to be challenged during a 24-hour period of your choice during the first week of each month.

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National Chimney Sweep Guild 2155 Commercial Drive Plainfield, IN 46168

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August 2011  

Sweeping: The Journal of Chimney & Venting Technology

August 2011  

Sweeping: The Journal of Chimney & Venting Technology