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Success Story: Bailey’s Chimney Cleaning & Repair

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After nearly two decades as a home-based business, Bailey’s Chimney, LLC is moving into new digs — and expanding the services it offers.

Walk into the company’s new headquarters in the former Metta Theater thrift store, and you’ll quickly realize that one of Taos’ fastest-growing businesses isn’t sitting on its laurels. The space has undergone a facelift to give a permanent home for the operations and sales at Bailey’s Chimney, LLC — including a showroom for wood stoves and fireplaces.

“We had a business-in-the-kitchen for eight years, then another three years in a bedroom,” said owner Justin Bailey, recalling the early days of his business. “Next thing I knew, there was a desk in the living room. It was time to get a separate space.”

At 1407B Paseo del Pueblo Norte, next to Metta Theatre, there’s plenty of parking for service trucks and customers. Longtime General Manager Doreenda Martinez has her own office with two large computer monitors on her desk that allow her to handle the schedule, payroll and administration.

A showroom has been set in the front room to display Napoleon wood stoves and Ventis wood fireplaces.

“We’ve been selling chimney pipe to people who need it,” Bailey said. “People always asked if we sold wood stoves, and I always said no. But once we were in the new space, I started saying yes.”

Bailey created prototypes for three “floating” wood stove displays. A single chimney goes out the roof, but different models can be attached to the chimney for a customer to see exactly how the stove works when you light a fire in it. The “floating” hearth pads are a new item that Bailey invented, and he plans on selling them to interested folks. It appears as if the metal-clad hearth pad perpetually levitates a couple inches off the floor — with a 400-pound wood stove sitting on it. Each hearth pad can be moved around the room on hidden Caster wheels.

Bailey has also branched into construction of masonry heaters, the most efficient way to heat with wood. He has studied masonry design and construction with some of the most renowned masons in the world. He is New Mexico’s representative of Tulikivi, a masonry heater company out of Finland.

“We built a custom heater for a rocket scientist in his getaway cabin in the mountains outside Las Vegas (New Mexico) last winter. I camped at the jobsite in my 1989 RV for two weeks. I’ve learned more about combustion efficiency and thermodynamics in the last two years of studying and building these heaters than I did in 18 years before that in this trade.”

With the work on masonry heaters, Bailey has expanded into building brand new fire chambers for fireplaces and he’s always eager to tackle bricklaying tasks.

Meanwhile, the chimneys all over the region need to cleaned and serviced. All four of Bailey’s CSIA-certified field techs now work off of iPads. They record the results of inspections, write reports, develop job bids and communicate with customers. “We video-scan every fireplace chimney we clean, to make sure the chimney isn’t a fire hazard,” said Bailey.  “The iPad is the monitor for the wireless camera system, and our paperless invoices come with photo documentation of our findings.”

“A lot of the chimneys we clean and inspect are in great shape, but when the scan shows a cracked chimney liner or a dangerous breach, our tech can quickly create a proposal to do the repairs, using his iPad and a CRM app tailored to the chimney service profession. All invoices and proposals are emailed to the customer immediately.

“Our techs are awesome, we’re so lucky to have them. We send them to seminars and educational classes at least once a year, so they can learn personally from the leaders in the industry. They write their own proposals, order their own materials and follow up with their customers.”

Despite this independence, everyone must be on the same page, Bailey said, so he runs a weekly conference call with all his employees with regular topics of safety, technology and sales — and the latest news from the company and the industry.

Bailey has a GB-98 commercial general contractor’s license that allows him to pull permits for residential or commercial projects to insure customers that the job will be done to the highest industry standards.

Bailey’s has had an operation in Santa Fe for more than five years, and business has grown quickly there, too. Two crews live and work in the capital city, and Bailey’s has a 2,000-square-foot warehouse for stock, equipment and trucks. The crews find plenty of work in the older homes in Santa Fe.

“We’re growing fast, and with that comes change,” said Bailey. “It seems like every year we revamp our operations, our procedures and our policies to meet the demands of our marketplace.

“One of my business mentors says that during a big storm, a herd of buffalo will run straight towards the storm, whereas a herd of cows runs away from the storm. The buffalo get through it much faster. That’s how I try to approach the challenges we face from growing so fast. Face the issues, confront them directly and fix them systematically so we can move on to the next thing and be the best team we can be.”

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