In 2014, Sandy Springs resident Wesley Bloeme didn’t know much about pressure washing. But he knew a lot about the student debt facing him as he attended Maryville College in Tennessee.
Now the young entrepreneur has turned a summer job into College Student Pressure Washing, a business that employs two other students and has him on track to graduate next year debt-free.
“I always wanted to have my own business since I was a small boy,” said Bloeme, a graduate of Buckhead’s Christ the King School and Sandy Springs’ Riverwood high school. In part, that was because of his parents’ entrepreneurship: Father Peter Bloeme is co-founder of the Atlanta Rocks! indoor climbing gym, and mother Lynn Duran is an independent public relations specialist.
In the summer of 2014, a friend suggested to Bloeme that they mow lawns to make some cash. Bloeme figured that most local homeowners already have mowing contracts, and he wanted a longer-term money-making opportunity. He saw a market for pressure washing, even though he knew nothing about the machines, which use pressurized water to clean outdoor surfaces.
Bloeme said that summer, he got a small pressure-washer from a friend’s aunt and found a first customer. “I didn’t even know how to turn it on until I got to the job,” he said.
Since then, Bloeme has learned a lot more about the business and has been successful enough to invest $20,000 in equipment. Meanwhile, he’s made college loans part of his sales pitch. The company’s logo is a man using a pressure-washer to free his ankle from a ball and chain labeled “student debt.”
During the summer, his business operates in Buckhead, Brookhaven and Sandy Springs. The company has cleaned entire neighborhoods in Brookhaven and Sandy Springs for homeowners associations, he said.
During the school year, Bloeme doesn’t stop working; he just shifts business to the area of his college, which is near Knoxville, Tenn. He cut a deal with a local storage unit company to let him keep his washing rig there in exchange for cleaning the facility. Describing his workload from earlier this year, Bloeme made it clear a big work ethic is required.
“I play on the college tennis team. I had my full course load of classes and was working 40 hours a week,” he said.
Even so, something had to give. It was Bloeme’s position as placekicker on the school’s football team. “It’s more important for me to graduate debt-free than to be an all-conference player,” he said.
The booming business was one influence on Bloeme’s choice of a major in finance and accounting. He intends to put those skills to use continuing the business after graduation next spring.
“I see myself continuing it on,” he said. “I plan on coming back to Sandy Springs, coming home, just growing the business down there.”
But will it still be called “College Student Pressure Washing” when Bloeme is no longer a student?
“I’ve thought about it. I want to keep it,” he said of the name. “I want to continue the mission of [hiring] guys who can graduate without, or minimize, student debt.”
For more information about Bloeme’s business, see collegestudentpressurewashing.com.