There was a time before gofundme.com existed when kids would march house to house in their neighborhood, lawnmower in tow, looking to earn a little extra spending money.
Such was the case during the 1990s in Granite Falls, a city north of Seattle about the size of La Center. But was while other kids were hunting down yards in need of a trim, a young man by the name of Taylor Grant decided to tap into a different market.
Instead of a lawnmower, Grant fashioned himself with a borrowed pressure washer and hit the pavement looking for customers who needed something around their house sprayed off. He found plenty who did and kept up the gig into high school; it was around this time he also learned how to roof.
After high school, Grant headed to Central Washington University in Ellensburg to study actuarial mathematics. A bachelor’s degree later he was a cog of corporate America.
Grant kept at the grind for the next decade and was successful, but something didn’t feel right. He said he was shutting down and needed out.
“I was kinda missing something,” he explained last week from his Battle Ground home that doubles as an office. He moved to Battle Ground in 2013 with his wife. They now have two kids together.
Grant began to reflect back to his pressure-washing days as he considered a career change. After seeking counsel from a family member who has worked in roofing for over two decades, he cut ties with his desk and necktie and jumped in head first.
Roughly three years later it seems betting on himself has paid off.
He’s hired seven employees onto “Grant Roofing & Pressure Washing” and more are planned; they service homes from Longview to Washougal and sometimes into Oregon out of eight company trucks; in the next couple years they plan to transition out of his garage to a brick and mortar shop; this year they hope to replace a roof for free for a family in need.
While much of Grant’s work is now reserved to estimates (logging anywhere from eight to 12 a day), managing the company’s overall direction and an emergency leak repair once in a while, when he first kicked off the business it was back to his roots — one man and a pressure washer.
But the need was quickly apparent and it didn’t take him long to get the wheels up; around two months later he was working 45 to 60 hours a week.
He built from there in phases: roofing on residential homes came next, then, last year, they began undertaking commercial projects which Grant says will lead to them to hire around 10 more employees this year.
Grant doesn’t suggest any magic formula is behind his success. He attributes it to long hours of hard work and being upfront and honest with his customers.
“We have a group of very honest people,” he said.
The company’s online reviews — a perfect five-star rating on Google — and breakneck growth backup Grant’s testimony that their customers are treated well.
Aside from quality work, according to Grant, it’s also the little things that have made their customers keep coming back and recommending them to others. His employees walk back through projects with the homeowner after a job to make sure it’s satisfactory; the few times they’ve accidently broken a gardening pot with a pressure washer hose they’ve replaced it.
“We just go the extra mile,” Grant said. “We treat every property like it’s our own.”
Grant said his company also makes an effort to treat the people doing the work with respect and honesty as well, explaining that his own negative experiences in the past with superiors has made that a priority for him.
“Everyone works hard and everyone is paid extremely well,” he said.
So, what does Grant tell others who are thinking about abandoning their careers to start a business in a separate field? It’s not easy and they should prepare for some long hours.
“The time to start a small business and grow to a small/medium-sized business is 10 times more than you think,” he said.
Grant went on to say that aspiring business owners should be prepared to do a lot of problem-solving for a variety of things. And when there’s a mistake, be completely honest with the customer.
Despite the long hours and juggling all the moving parts, the Granite Falls native is now exactly where he wants to be.
“It’s full steam ahead,” he said. “I won’t do anything else.”