Mark & Buttons Chimney Sweeps had its beginning in late 1979 after both Mark and Buttons read an article in the magazine “Mother Earth News.” The article talked about the ongoing oil crisis and the ensuing wood stove and wood heating craze, along with the need to have all those chimneys made clean and safe. (Buttons’ own grandparents’ home burned to the ground due to a chimney fire in the 1960’s.) The article also suggested that the next up and coming “bootstrap business” would be chimney sweeping. The same magazine had an advertisement for “August West’s” complete setup to start your own chimney sweeping business. So… along with our desire to “be our own boss” and to do something more of value, we took most of our meager savings and sent away for the equipment.
Soon after the setup arrived, we set off to clean the chimneys of all our friends and neighbors to get our feet wet (or should I say, our hands and faces dirty!) Now Mark did have experience cleaning boilers on a Navy destroyer which had a lot of similarities to cleaning chimneys. Over the next few months and years, we took advantage of any training that was available to us during that time by August West and the Wood Heating Alliance, along with various other organizations in the industry to expand our knowledge of all things “Chimney.” After about a year and a half (and one baby girl later), we were busy enough that Mark had to quit his full time job as a labor foreman for an Annapolis concrete company and we were officially on our own. Our marketing technique was to wear our top hats and tails everywhere we went, pass out business cards, take out a few cheap or free ads, and do our best to please each customer.
The 80’s “Evening Magazine” television program featured us in a spot on its show, and a year later the Sun Paper did an article in the “Home” section featuring Mark in an article on keeping your chimney clean and safe. In the meantime we added a baby boy to the family!
Years passed and we soon realized we would need to expand beyond chimney cleaning in order to continue to make a living. With Mark’s past experience in concrete and brick, it seemed natural for us to expand into the restoration area. As the company has continued to grow we have added relining, wood stove installation, tile and marble work, dampers, caps, etc. We have been known to clean gutters and put in a few sidewalks and steps, although this is not our main business.
We believe that we have been truly blessed by God. Our work load is always more than we can handle. Our techs and office staff are the best, and we would not be the company we are without them. Our children are now grown and have worked in the business off and on since they were small.
Sometimes we miss the early days when it was a much slower pace, just the two of us together, riding around, cleaning chimneys and enjoying our work. Since then we have come a long way and learned a lot, and it’s only gotten better! We are thankful for all the blessings we have and with the Lord’s help we will continue to grow and thrive.
Our thanks go out to you, our customers, for 38 years of business!!