• Billy Forsyth

How did Spit Shine start?

When I first started Spit Shine, I was working for Alaska Custom Gutters. Jonathan and Shanna Springer were such great mentors in my life and actually were the ones that had the idea of starting Spit Shine in the first place. I honestly cannot remember how I came up with the name. When the business started, I was driving a Saturn car and actually mounted a ladder on top of my car, (not a good idea) and quickly realized I would need a truck. Not having much startup money, I talked to a buddy of mine who owned a car dealership whose name was Jon Beier (who has passed since). I told him what I needed, and he stopped what he was doing immediately to help me. I ended up trading my car and $500 and we put a truck together from all the good parts from the junk trucks on the lot. When I say “put together”, I mean literally. I helped put the window in the back, fenders on and I helped mount the bed. The result was a red and green Ford Ranger, and I was so excited I had a truck. Now what I needed was a ladder rack; I found one in eagle river for $200. It was very loud and squeaky, and you could hear me coming from a half mile away! I had what I needed though. Eventually, I upgraded to a Chevy Silverado, which I still have to this day. So, having no experience in anything resembling marketing or advertising, I passed out tons of fliers. Jonathan and Shanna also gave me tons of referrals. I wasn’t very serious at first about Spit Shine, so I worked another job and did Spit Shine on the side. This all started when I was about 19-20 years old. I did this for a few years, on top of doing different retail and constructions jobs and also some restaurant jobs. I eventually met a girl named Molly Nokelby, who I would later marry. When I met her, I decided I needed to do something a little more reliable. My dream was to be in construction but, I could not find anyone to really take time teaching me the skills. I learned as much as I could from each construction job before being let go due to not being skilled enough. I was even turned down by the Carpenter’s union for not having previous experience. I did, however get into the Laborer’s union, which was good for a while. When Molly and I eventually got engaged, I was still in the laborers union and was having to work in Valdez a lot. I was not a fan on leaving my fiancé to go work away from home. When Molly and I eventually got married, I was also really getting into fitness and decided I could probably become a personal trainer, so I left the laborer’s union and got my PT certification at the Alaska club, landed a job there, and started training. I never realized how unprofitable training was, ha-ha. We were going broke fast and we had our first child on the way. We prayed for a while about what we should do, and we decided to open Spit Shine back up. Now, I had not been doing this for about 2 years while I had to work out of town, so I was really nervous; but I was highly motivated, so we got to work. I was training 2 times a week and doing Spit Shine 3 times a week. We were starting to do much better and actually build our savings. Spit Shine started growing very quickly, and by the end of the year we decided we could do this full-time next summer. I will tell you, winters are long in this trade. I decided we needed a new look, a more professional look; so we hired Right Brain Business to come up with a graphic. Alyssa (the owner of Right Brain) came up with some great ideas, but one really stood out to me and this is the one we currently have. We even considered changing our colors to brown and green, but decided against it. It was a long winter and I was training at a different place during the winter, but they didn’t have a lot of clients for me. Before the season started again, we had about $100 left in our savings, so we were getting a bit worried. We wondered if Spit Shine would do well or it would tank, and we would have to go live with our parents. We were blessed tremendously though and when the season started, I sprang into action doing everything I could think of to market and advertise. I read tons of information on growing a business and educated myself. Spit Shine was successful. Not only successful, but doing amazing. I was so grateful I could work for myself and support my family and not have to leave town. We were doing so good we decided to hire an employee, which took us down the long road of growing and sustaining it. Having people work for me was, and still is the hardest thing about running a business. We grew out of our little apartment very quickly and did well enough to buy a house. This house luckily had tons of space and a huge driveway, little did we know Spit Shine was about to grow like crazy and we would need every inch of that driveway to park 5 vehicles on it. Since then we have been serving Anchorage and we have 3 sons and 6 employees. I love what I do, and I love being able to do it.

"Make your gutters great!"

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