Martin Jongejan had spent 25 years working as a photographer and graphic designer.
But a motorcycle accident eight years ago changed all that.
It took the Langley man a full year to recover from a serious head injury but in that time, he lost his client base from his business.
Jongejan began searching for ideas of what he could do and made a list of criteria he wanted in his new profession.
He was broke and living in a rooming house with the majority of his belongings in his car.
Despite no experience — except for cleaning his own place — Jongejan settled on starting his own cleaning business.
“It just checked all the right boxes,” he explained.
“I was down on my luck, living in a rooming house, and borrowed some money to buy a vacuum and a mop and a bucket and a few supplies.”
“I needed something that didn’t have a large capital start-up, doesn’t cost a whole lot to start, was local, no geographical boundaries,” he added.
“I guess I have an eye for detail as well. I enjoy cleaning but that is not the primary reason I pursued the business.”
Jongejan began attending business network meetings in Langley and landed his first gig.
In the initial days, he would show up to a prospective clients’ home in his shirt and tie, do a walk-through and give an estimate. He would then come back the next day and do the cleaning himself.
Five and a half years later, the 52-year-old now employs about a dozen workers at Zoom! The Home Cleaning Experts.
While some businesses may be focused on expanding their reach and market, Jongejan prefers to focus on their existing market in Langley.
“We don’t want to lose what has got us here so far,” he said.
And that is being a recognizable face.
“When you are going into people’s homes, you are really being invited into their private space,” Jongejan said.
“We are slow to hire but we have low turnover. I have some staff who have been with me for years,” he said.
“And that benefits our customers as well; they like having a familiar face at their door every couple of weeks.”