ICS Magazine

Steam washers cleaning up

July 6, 2009

MONTREAL – Near the bustling intersection of St-Catherine and St-Denis, friends and business partners Brent Gray, 21, and Sébastien Dupéré, 23, supervise as jets of steam from their steam cleaner vaporize the fossilized wads of chewing gum littering the ground at their feet.

Neither young entrepreneur realized steam-cleaning gum could be such good business when they were thinking about starting their own company a little more than a year ago. But after watching a profile of New York City's Gum Busters on an episode of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs, they had an inkling.

North Americans chew roughly 50 million pieces of gum a day, and as anyone who lives in a big city knows, you can find the sticky goo everywhere; on sidewalks in front of busy storefronts, on escalators in malls and, frequently, on the soles of our shoes.

"We'd been leaning toward cleaning up graffiti, but there's so much competition," says Gray. "With a little more research we realized no one in Quebec was cleaning up gum like this." Want the whole story?