Sam Cartwright’s first damper removal.
When I was in my early 20’s I got heavily into rock climbing. Every cent I earned from whatever job I had at the time went into climbing gear and I got very strong and agile. I loved climbing not because it was easy; it wasn’t easy. I loved it not because it was comfortable; it was far from comfortable. I loved it because it forced me to focus all my attention on what I was doing in the moment. Later, after reading a book called Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, I learned that the state of being I discovered rock climbing is known as the flow state.
When I got my first chimney service job, it reminded me of rock climbing. The physicality and challenging aspects of it, like climbing, allowed me to consistently get into that flow state. Hence, I always thought of chimney sweeping as a kind of sport.
Sports are designed to be portals into the flow state. The challenges presented, the rules to be followed, and the constant feedback athletes get while practicing and competing in their sport all facilitate the flow state. Elite athletes train and practice for years, and what separates them from the average and the mediocre is that they are consistently able to enter the flow state, a highly pleasurable sense of complete interconnectedness, which enables them to perform feats that defy any sense of logic, and to continue to improve and grow as practitioners of their sport. The result is beautiful. Watching a professional gymnast, or tennis player, or pole vaulter at the peak of her powers is a wonderful thing. Watching a team sport when the entire team is in the flow state, all working together seamlessly, is something people pay a lot of money to see, because it is truly amazing, and its so fun to watch that hundreds of billions of dollars flow into the teams of the NBA, NFL, NHL, Professional Baseball, and of course Soccer all over the world.
Chimney service, at the level we practice it, is like a sport. No, we don’t make millions of dollars like NFL athletes. But we earn a good living, enough so we don’t have to worry about coming up with money for diapers or food. We are the premium provider in our market, and our services are not cheap, because we pay our team really well, offer benefits, the opportunity for constant growth, and the chance to get into the flow state.
We work in small teams, so it is kind of like a team sport. But the small teams work together to coordinate and execute more complicated installations and projects. Is it easy carrying a ladder up a ladder, and then carrying another ladder up both those ladders? No. Is it comfortable squeezing behind a dryer to fix a dryer vent? No. Is it pleasurable climbing up in a fireplace to cut out a damper with a grinder while wearing a full face respirator, ear protection, leather gloves, and a thick hoody? No. But do those things launch us into the flow state? YES!
In our work physical challenges, technical challenges, constant feedback, dangers to be navigated and avoided, the need for constant improvement, and the rules of chimney safety all combine to facilitate access to the flow state.
I’m very proud to have created a company with a culture that encourages our workers to be in the flow state as much as possible. Chimney service is an adventure every day, whether we are delivering and installing a wood stove, restoring a hundred year old kiva fireplace, or cleaning dryer vents and chimneys. It’s like a sport, and we have a championship caliber team.
I’m grateful to lead the biggest, best chimney service team ever seen in the state of New Mexico. And I’m grateful that over a dozen people working here are able to provide for their families with dignity because they get paid enough, and they get to do work that is highly fulfilling not just because they are saving lives but also because, working at Bailey’s Chimney is a portal into the flow state every single day.
We’ve had many winning seasons but this year I would confidently put my team up against any chimney company in the country when it comes to safe, excellent, thorough, cheerful sales and service in the chimney industry.
We are about safety, and we are about performance. When you hire Bailey’s to take care of your wood heat needs, you get the best of both.
Did you know that fire extinguishers expire after 12 years? We carry fire extinguishers in our trucks and our shops because a lot of people do not have them, or the ones they have are expired. We sell them at our cost, as a service to the community. At Bailey’s, chimney cleanings/inspections come with a free fire extinguisher check.
Sam Cartwright is one of our sweeps in training to become a certified tech. He has a wealth of home improvement and building trades experience, starting with his first job at age 15 as a handyman’s helper. He also enjoys fixing cars. We are really excited to work with him because he focuses his attention like a laser and retains complex information and instructions, and has an outstanding work ethic. Our work days are often long, and the work can be hard and presents us with new challenges and opportunities to solve difficult problems on a daily basis. We love to work with people like Sam who relish the flow state that comes from doing challenging, meaningful work.
John Sauter is one of our certified techs. He enjoys gardening, working on vehicles, and spending time with his family of 5. He has been with Bailey’s since 2015, and has put his mechanical skills to good use as an installer of many dozens of chimneys and chimney liners. He is an important part of our team, and one of our most versatile, as he can do service calls and inspections in his capacity as lead tech, but he can also step up and install anything we throw his way.
Ben Nuhn brings a wealth of creative and technical knowledge and experience to Bailey’s. We like to hire creative people with technical expertise, because they tend to have lots of practice focussing their attention like a laser to accomplish a task, which enables them to easily enter the “flow” state. Another one of our outstanding new hires on track to become a certified tech, Ben hails from Austin, TX, and is fun to work with because while on the drive to the job he can tell stories about all kinds of great underground songwriters from Austin.
On his second or third day we stacked and assembled 6 sets of scaffolding in a single tower, which we ratcheted to the chimney to keep it (the scaffold) from falling over.
John Sauter (featured earlier in the thread of posts on this page) and I were in our harnesses with the fall protection gear all set up, attached to our ropes as John ferried stuff up to me on top. We all wore our climbing helmets. Lucas got right to it, bringing us whatever we needed before we knew we needed it. We were installing a giant chase cover on what surely must be the highest chimney in White Rock, NM.
We are proud that we attract accomplished, smart folks like Ben Nuhn to our business. Great people enjoy being a part of the winning team!
(And we now offer health care benefits, along with paid time off to our awesome staff.)
Chris Privette is one of the best technical/construction problem solvers I’ve had the chance to work with. I knew he was a keeper when he and Pat Rael (featured elsewhere in this thread) in a chimney restoration job, had to replace a portion of combustible wood-frame wall with metal studs for the fireplace to meet clearance requirements. Chris figured out a way to remove the wood frame wall without disturbing the exterior plaster–not a single crack. This saved his crew two entire days of labor that would have been needed to replace and match the exterior stucco if we had done it the old fashioned way. Meanwhile, the customer was beyond thrilled that her exterior plaster was unblemished. I stopped by and saw it myself. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it could be done.
This is Chris’ third year with Bailey’s, and his first season as leader of a dedicated installation crew. He installs chimney liners, does restorations, installs class A chimney and connectors for wood stoves, and even has prefab fireplace change-out on his upcoming schedule.
Chris is driving biggest, strongest truck in our fleet: a 4×4 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup with crew cab and 8 ft bed.