Julie Zuercher is the owner of Sparkle Janitorial Supply, located in Morgantown, West Virginia. Zuercher, a graduate of Shepherd College, served as the executive assistant for Senator Jay Rockefeller in Washington D.C. and owned a residential and commercial fuel business before opening Sparkle Janitorial Supply.
Zuercher talked with Jim Matuga, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about how she got started in the business, her worst business experience so far and her advice to young entrepreneurs.
How did you get started in the business world?
“When I was working in foster care, it was an emotionally tough job. I knew I needed to work. I went to a temp agency in town and told them that I needed a job, here were my parameters, and I eventually landed at a construction company. Down the road, that construction company actually purchased a heating oil company and I worked for that heating oil company for a little bit and eventually became one of the owners,” said Zuercher. “I never dreamed I would be a business owner, but here I am.I learned the ropes on the job. It’s just about asking questions and figuring it out as we go””
What got you into the janitorial supply business?
“One of my clients, when I had the heating oil company, installed a bus washing station, and the customer said to me, ‘hey, we like the service you’re providing, could you get us some cleaning materials for a bus washing station.’ I had just been at a trade show and met an individual from Weirton, West Virginia, and he manufactures chemicals. I thought I should call him and see if this is a vet for him and it was. He and I developed a lovely relationship, and I started to think, as we were winding down the oil company, that this is a no brainer. Folks need these products and I think I can deliver them in ways that other businesses in West Virginia aren’t,” said Zuercher.
What has been your worst business experience so far?
“I had been in the business for a couple of months, and I was beating the pavement trying to get sales. I had a large order come in from a car wash, and they wanted 55-gallon drums of product. Fifty-five-gallon drums weigh about 500 pounds apiece. My inclination is to say yes and figure it out as I go along. I reserved a vehicle from U-Haul and it was a little transport van, and that was fine. However, when I got there, what they had was their standard box trucks. I’m standing there trying to figure out how am I going to get this product into the truck,” said Zuercher.
“It was an absolute nightmare. I got the product delivered, by the grace of God. Getting it into the truck was hard enough, and then I was like how am I going to get these 500 pound drums out of the truck.”
“I am terrible at asking for help. I didn’t want to ask my client for help because I didn’t want to appear like I was figuring it out as I went along. Since then I have figured out there are much better ways to do it.”
What is one piece of advice you would give a young business owner?
“Keep at it. If you have a goal and a vision, keep at it. Do something every day to get you closer to that goal,” advised Zuercher.
“Also, find resources in your community. There are amazing resources for business owners like the Small Business Development Center,” said Zuercher. “Find networking groups in your community that can help you grow as a business leader and find new clients.”
Listen to the podcast right here.
PWV QUICK BITS
● RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: The Client Development Wizard at GoDaddy
● RECOMMENDED BOOK: Living Your Best Year Ever (Journal) by Darren Hardy
● PIECE OF ADVICE: “Keep at it. If you have a goal and a vision, keep at it. Do something every day to get you closer to that goal,” advised Zuercher.