Originally from Cherryville, NC, Rick Stevens, Owner of Clean Green Pressure Washing, has lived a life full of many experiences and entrepreneurial endeavors. As a young kid, he sold various items, including puppies, and also started a lawn service business. At the age of 18, he joined the United States Army and served from 1987 to 1994. After the Army, he worked on and off as a butcher for 25 years and also as a substance abuse counselor for 12 years. When Stevens moved to Nevada – for family reasons – and eventually New Mexico, he found a new opportunity in pressure washing.
“I worked as an Assistant Manager at a Wal-Mart and also as a Deputy Sherriff, but I still maintained my own pressure washing business on the side,” he said. “Around 2016, work was pretty slow and a friend of mine, who lived in Brooksville, kept encouraging me to move to Florida. She offered to allow my wife and I and our kids to use her house for five months while she was away – in order to give us time to look for our own place. We took her up on the offer and moved in July of that year. We eventually ended up in Citrus County because of the school we wanted to send our kids to.”
Stevens continued, “I was able to transfer with Wal-Mart to Florida, but six days later I got into a bad car accident. I wasn’t able to continue working, so, in October 2016, I decided it was time to focus 100% of my attention on revitalizing my pressure washing business. With the insurance check from my vehicle being totaled, I bought a pressure washer and got to work. I didn’t have the money to put a big trailer together, but I had 10 years’ experience and I was determined to make it work.”
While in Nevada and New Mexico, Stevens operated the business under the name Monster H20. He initially focused on residential before going after mostly commercial work. In Florida, for the sake of growing the business and getting to more potential customers, he reverted back to a focus on residential. From marketing and advertising to knocking on doors and selling his services to churches, Stevens did everything possible to grow his business – including giving away free cleanings.
“When I started the business back up in Florida, I didn’t know anyone here,” he said. “I ended up giving away a lot of free house cleanings. I would find the dirtiest house on the block and offer to clean it for free if they would let me put up a yard sign to advertise my business. That strategy worked. In one neighborhood, I got nine customers by doing that. I also went to a church and met with the Pastor. I offered to clean the church and he told the entire congregation about me. That led to a lot of new business.”
Stevens added, “Another time, I was cleaning a house and the painter from across the street came over and asked if I could do ‘big stuff’. I said that I could and he asked me to meet him the next morning in Tampa for a big job – a 22 unit apartment complex. It took me six days to complete the job, but I earned $17,000 – from which I spent $12,000 on the trailer I have now.”
Stevens also joined BNI and networked as much as possible. His efforts paid off as the company, between 2016 and early 2020, experienced tremendous year to year growth. The only thing holding him back from taking the business to even greater heights has been the lack of labor willing to show up and work hard. For Stevens, this has been one of his biggest challenges.
When it comes to what he enjoys most about owning and running his own business, Stevens is quick to point out qualities that most entrepreneurs appreciate. “To be honest, I’m not the best employee,” he said. “I have opinions and a creative mind. I’m always thinking and that usually doesn’t fit well with Corporate America. In most cases, they want you to be a robot. That’s not me. I enjoy the freedom to try new things. If it fails, I’ll try something else. I’ve never been scared of failure. I like to try new things and I don’t want to have any regrets on my death bed.”
Looking ahead, Stevens would like to eventually get back to doing more commercial work such as restaurants, gas stations and other brick-and-mortar businesses. He also stresses the importance of safety when reaching out to prospective businesses. “Slipping on mold is a real concern,” he said. “By cleaning these properties and removing the mold, we’re improving the health and safety of the property and reducing the liability of the business.”
What advice does Stevens have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Don’t let fear run your life,” he said. “Also, let a pro handle your taxes and financials. I’ve done things in the past on my own and I’ve been burned. I now have someone handle my Google account, Facebook page, website, taxes and accounting. It’s important to let go of the control to allow the pros to handle it.”