Parsons and his brother Ryan Parsons are looking ahead. While the
thirty-something co-owners of "The Brothers that just do Gutters"
business in LaGrange enjoy installing gutters, neither wants to be doing
it 30 years from now.
In business? Absolutely. Outside installing gutters themselves? Not so much.
a lot of people in this business, and in many businesses, that they hit
their 60s and if they don't go to work, they don't get paid," Ryan
Parsons said. "We didn't want to go down that path, even though you can
make more money if you do it yourself. We really wanted to have a
company and something that we could build that had employees."
U.S. Department of Labor reports that construction was one of the
largest industries in the nation in 2008, including 7.2 million wage and
salary jobs and 1.8 million self-employed and unpaid family workers. Of
the total, about 64 percent of wage and salary jobs were in the
specialty trade contractors sector.
brother Ken Parsons started his gutter company in 1999 after having
helped a friend install gutters the previous summer. Parsons, who had
been working as a middle-grade history teacher, liked teaching kids, but
not being confined to a classroom or tied to a repetitive schedule.
Surprisingly, he found that gutter work appealed to him.
out and about meeting different people, doing different houses and
different jobs each and every day," Ken Parsons said of gutter work. "It
just mixed it up a lot for me, which I think was good for my type of
so the 24-year-old left his teaching job to start his own gutter
business. He bought equipment, tools and a truck he had detailed with
his phone number. Then he took out an ad in the Yellow Pages and, before
long, pinned his schedule to a corkboard, and labeled a shoebox with
paid accounts on one side and unpaid ones on the other. Waterfall
Seamless Gutters was in business.
called and Parsons worked. He looked for help, asking his brother,
Ryan, to join him. But Ryan Parsons, who had studied graphic design in
college, was working with a start-up graphic design/Internet design
company in Kingston. Then the company folded, and 22-year-old Ryan
Parsons was out of work.
"I said, all right, I'll work on the (gutter) truck till I find a job," Ryan Parsons said.
Turns out he already had.
"I didn't realize how much I loved business," Ryan Parsons said.
computerized the company's accounts, created job forms, set up a
website and designed business cards. The brothers split the workload,
with Ken Parsons installing gutters with a crew and Ryan Parsons doing
sales and administrative work. They also sought advice from a business
consultant, but suffered losses under the consultant's lead.
They turned to others in the know. One of them was Brian Altmann, president of Dutchess Building Specialists of Poughkeepsie.
philosophy is very similar to mine," said Altmann, who has been in
business for 25 years. "We're never quite satisfied and we're always
looking to try to do things better."
During their meetings, Altmann and the Parsonses share things that have and haven't worked for both companies.
beyond their years in terms of where their experience and where they
are with their company," Altmann said. "That's impressive to me."
brothers now have enough crew men for both of them to focus on running
the business. They changed the company name to "The Brothers that just
do Gutters" — their previous tagline and one, they found, the public
most identified with. After becoming a partial owner, Ryan Parsons
became a full co-owner with his brother.
too, they're branching out with franchise locations, and to date have
two "adopted brothers" heading up sites in New Jersey and Virginia.
"We're tying to do something awesome," Ryan Parsons said.
Karen Maserjian Shan is a freelance writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.