As the operator of his own carpet cleaning company, Jim Graham said, “I work hard but I enjoy what I do.”

Graham said he considers a job well done when he can satisfy his customers, many of whom are longtime clients.

“As long as they are happy I’m happy,” said Graham. “I do my best to go the extra mile,” he said. Some operators are about “one-time” customers. “I want customers for life,” said Graham.

1. How did you get into this business?

I owned a janitorial business and a friend with a carpet cleaning invited me to spend a day with him. I liked interacting with the customers and seeing how happy they were to have a clean carpet. It was more rewarding so I decided to make a change.

2. What’s a common question or misconception you get about your business or work?

A lot of people think that by cleaning their rugs that it wears out the carpet or takes the stain protection off, which is false. It’s sort of an old wives' tale.

3. Do you have any tips or tricks of the trade to share?

If you have a pet stain, take half a cup of white vinegar and water, put it in a spray bottle, (spray) and then rinse it well. It will work miracles.

Stay away from Resolve. It’s too foamy. It leaves residue in your carpet.

4. What is the hardest stain to get out?

Cat urine. It’s difficult. And toner ink. It’s very difficult.

5. What was your biggest cleaning job ever?

I cleaned an electronics company in Redwood Shores that was 46,000 square feet. It was like acres and acres. My buddy and I did it together. It took seven days. It was crazy.

6. What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?

Definitely the price of gas. Although the bulk of my business (is) in Napa, I also have customers as far away as San Jose. I also have to run my van to power the cleaning equipment. That adds up to a lot of gas

7. What’s on your to-do list?

I would love to take my wife to Paris.

8. If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?

I would have two trucks and a couple of employees so I could serve more people.

9. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

People are often surprised how old I am. I am 61. I guess that's a compliment. They are also surprised that I do all the work myself. I think it puts them at ease because they are concerned about having a stranger in their home. I guess they feel more comfortable having a grandpa like me, especially when helping their senior parents.

10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

Disneyland. It's one of our favorite places to go.

Bonus questions for the Web:

What was your childhood ambition?

I wanted to be a pilot.

Who do you most admire in the business world ?

My dad. He was a successful businessman. He was a manufacturer’s rep for electrical products.

What job would you like to try/not try?

Try: I'd like to try being a pilot

Not try: I don't like any job in an office working at a desk

What was your first job?

Paper route in Saratoga.

What’s the worst job you ever had?

I worked for an electrical distributor and I was doing inside sales at a desk. I was so restless it was hard not to watch the clock. I couldn't wait for the day to end.

What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?

I would like to climb Mount Whitney.

Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?

Sandy Koufax

Warren Buffett

Dr. Albert Schweitzer

For more from Graham visit Reach Graham at 224-6741 or at



Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.

Load comments