Messenger - Vol. 2, No. 1, Page 7
Fall 1992
HE doesn't do windows, but knows lots of people who do....

      When Herb Hirzel, Delaware '76, was a marketing major and member of
the University golf team, his dream was to run a beautiful resort with a
terrific 18-hole course.
      Today, the president of City Window Cleaning Inc. of Delaware
considers himself lucky if he's able to squeeze in a few hours on the green
during his worldwide travels as president of the International Window
Cleaning Association.
      The Wilmington entrepreneur, whose presidency runs through the end of
1992, got into window cleaning several years ago, and he admits he had
little idea then of the wide range of issues affecting the industry.
      At the time, he wasn't alone.
      In 1989, at a regional meeting in Texas, business owners from 16
states and Canada unanimously agreed they needed an organization to share
information on such issues as personnel safety, insurance coverage, product
development, the environment, federal legislation, municipal regulations
and architectural design.
      You couldn't talk to your competition in town to get answers or share
concerns, Hirzel explains, but you can talk now to fellow association
members in nearby states and others located around world.
      He says the organization's growth has been dramatic and satisfying.
Currently, it boasts 375 members from Australia, Italy, Pakistan, Japan,
Venezuela, South Africa and Japan, to name a few. The companies range in
size from mom-and-pop operations to corporations with as many as 500 on the
      Safety is a constant concern in window washing, Hirzel says, because
one accident or fatality can put a company out of business and have
tremendous psychological effects on everyone involved.
      Interestingly, he says, more accidents involve employees who work on
ladders than with those who use descent devices-such as single-person
chairs or multiple-person swing stages.
      One primary goal of the organization is to convince architects,
developers and builders of the need to acknowledge window washing as an
inherent part of a building's operation. The obvious next step would be to
convince architects to plan for the service when they are designing new
structures, thus improving accessibility and safety.
      During tight economic times, Hirzel says, the frequency of window
washing is reduced, the task becomes more arduous and the need for expert
window washing becomes more acute. For example, if the process normally
occurs between six-12 times a year, it may be reduced to once a year. Over
time, dirt and acid rain collected on the glass are more difficult to
remove. It becomes necessary to use chemicals in the cleaning process, and
these agents must be compatible with the type of glass or materials used in
the window.
      Three years ago, Hirzel says, he didn't realize that some of these
issues even existed. But now, he is a spokesperson for the industy,
testifying before the Department of Labor and dealing with lobbyists in
Washington, D.C., and traveling around the world, splitting his time
between the needs of his own business and those of the new international
      "I think we're helping the industry and making it a safer place to
work," he says.
      People who clean windows for a living and those who look out of them
benefit from the work done by the organization, Hirzel adds, and it's
something an individual, working alone, would not have been able to
                                   -Ed Okonowicz, Delaware '69, '84M