- THE MAGAZINE
Since 1975, Linda and Otto Schmidtke have been professionally cleaning carpets and furniture, repairing fire and water damage and helping their customers get rid of gunk and grime in any way the can.
The Rozellville couple now operates Schmidtke's furnace duct cleaning and Fresh Air by Schmidtkes, providing thorough duct work and sales of air purifiers.
Kevin Schmidtke, their son, took over the carpet cleaning and restoration in 1991, and has continued to provide the service throughout central Wisconsin.
It all started when Otto saw an advertisement for a carpet-cleaning franchise in the back of a magazine. After getting some information, the young couple went from rookies to cleaning aficionados and entrepreneurs in a matter of years, buying their own equipment and learning the trade.
Kevin has expanded the cleaning service and does snow plowing and tree removal -- or anything else, if he thinks he can handle it and his customers want it.
But it always comes back to the carpet cleaning -- the core of the family business.
"I always wanted it since I was a freshman in high school," Kevin said. "I knew I wanted the business. I like cleaning. If you talk to my wife at home, you might get a different story."
Having carpets professionally done provides a deeper, more thorough cleaning, Kevin said, helping to keep them looking new for longer.
For the furnace duct cleaning, there's one good reason to call for service, Linda said. There's a bunch of stuff that can get trapped in the airways, and when it blows out, it's tough on people with allergies.
"We tell people to look down there (in the ducts), and if that doesn't gross you out enough to want to get them cleaned, then I don't know what to tell you," Linda said.
Even with the economy moving at a turtle's pace, Linda said the family businesses have continued to do well, largely because of loyal and repeat customers for carpet and duct cleaning.
With both services being a choice most of the time, to get work when people are counting their pennies is an undeniable perk.
"We think our lucky stars every day that we're pretty busy right now, and we thank our customers for that," Linda said. "I think it's awesome that we can say we're hanging in there, OK."