Mention dingy, discarded couches, end tables or dressers to Pat Heffron, and his ears will likely perk up. This Vancouver, Washington, owner of two Chem-Dry franchises found a use for those castoffs in his carpet- and upholstery-cleaning business--and a way to help the community.
Heffron's new technicians learn the Chem-Dry techniques by cleaning discarded furniture, which is then donated to local shelters for battered women and homeless people. The Safechoice Shelter Furniture Donation Program seems to particularly benefit women, who can select a few items to furnish their new homes.
"Many of these women bailed out of disastrous situations," says Heffron, 40, "and they probably didn't take the time to bring furniture with them. We provide them with good, clean furnishings so they can get started again."
Heffron, whose stores grossed $352,000 last year, doesn't keep track of tax advantages or of how many people he's helped. Nor does he like to take credit for inspiring a similar systemwide program, Care To Be Clean, launched a few months ago.
But he does enjoy the rewards. "I'm involved with most deliveries," says Heffron. "We get to see the people we're helping face-to-face."
Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.