By Terri Perrin / Published August 2018
John Morehart has followed a diverse career path over his lifetime, but his current position, as the owner of CTC Pressure Cleaning in the city of Punta Gorda in Charlotte County, FL, is proving to be the most personally gratifying. Morehart, who describes himself as a ‘serial entrepreneur,’ retired after serving nine years in the Navy. He then owned four funeral homes and a hospice in the state of Georgia. After selling those businesses in 1999, he invested in several financial services practices and an insurance agency. At one time, he says, he had 99 insurance agents in his company. All of these businesses were in unrelated fields, and none would have been considered to be ‘blue collar’; yet in 2016, at the age of 59, he decided to try something entirely new: to start a business that could help change lives.
“Sure, I enjoyed my work, but at the same time, I don’t have the drive that I did 20 years ago,” explains Morehart. “I feel more of a pull to help others. I find more satisfaction in that. My goal is not to get rich, but to run a small, well-respected business that helps people less fortunate than me.”
Over the years, while Morehart was laser-focused on his career, he was influenced by his mother Constantine, who has been diligently making an impact in her community by volunteering for more than 20 years at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which is a Catholic Charities organization. (See sidebar on page 25.)
“My mother inspired me to start volunteering with St. Vincent de Paul as well,” adds Morehart. “I volunteer in their warehouse, handing out food, clothing, furniture, and even financial help to the needy in our community. Through my work there, I came to realize that there were a lot of people who were trying to survive the best they could. I heard their stories and learned that because they didn’t have transportation, and some were coming out of the local jail or prison, it was especially hard for them to find work. So I started thinking about ways that I could help them—beyond handing out food and clothing.”
One day, Morehart hired a contractor to clean his roof, and as he watched the contractor pressure wash away the grime and mildew, he had an epiphany.
“I thought, ‘You know, there are a lot of dirty roofs in the world! Especially in Florida, where the combined effects of extreme sunshine, dew, and pollen are a constant battle, and roofs need to be regularly cleaned and waterproofed.’” recalls Morehart. “In 2016, I bought some pressure cleaning equipment and learned how to do the work myself. Then, I started a home-based business called Coast-to-Coast (CTC) Pressure Cleaning. We specialize in cleaning and sealing concrete roofs, driveways, pool decks, docks, and seawalls. And for every contract we complete, we donate to St. Vincent’s. The back of our business card has their logo and the text ‘We love referrals… and donations!’ Many of our customers readily add a donation to support the work of the Society when they pay their bill for services.”
What sets CTC Pressure Cleaning apart from other contractors is that Morehart hires all of his employees through the local Day Labor agency, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the probation office. These are men who are down on their luck for one reason or another. Some don’t have a place to live and have been forced to move from one menial job to another. He helps them get their driver’s licenses back and provides transportation and clothing, and it has worked out very well. The first man he hired has been with the company almost two years now.
Some of the men he hires have come out of the prison system. Many suffer Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyper-activity Disorder (ADHD); they are bipolar, and often their education level is low (or a combination thereof). This has compounded their life challenges in the past, but it doesn’t make them bad people. They are just individuals who are down on their luck. (He adds that he would hire women as well but has yet to find any who want to work on rooftops.)
Since 2016, having a steady income with CTC Pressure Cleaning has helped more than a dozen men feel a sense of self-worth and respect, something many of them have never felt before. Because this type of work is a repetitive process, where they can learn what to expect, they quickly gain confidence and skills.
Morehart stresses that he has a zero-tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use, remarking, “The worst thing I have had to deal with is the odd person who smokes cigarettes.”
Over time, he gives them more responsibility, but he doesn’t give this out carte blanche. They have to learn how to act responsibly, control their temper, and deal with customers. By being treated with respect, they learn how to treat others with respect. Several have moved on to higher paying jobs in other areas of employment or other parts of the country. In hiring more than a dozen men, there have only been two failures. Those are pretty good odds for any business!
“What I have learned is that given the proper management style, these individuals can flourish,” says Morehart with pride. “Unfortunately, in many industries, the management has not been trained to work with people with special needs. This is something I work hard at. I don’t talk down at them. I don’t curse and cuss. I don’t yell. I have learned that we become like the people who we hang with, and if you show professionalism, the people around learn to act with professionalism, too!”
Morehart usually employs about three people at a time. Right now, he says, business is so good that it is tempting to hire more people and expand, but he is restricted because appropriate warehouse space in his area is scarce. So for now, it is business as usual.
When asked how he feels about how his business enterprise is giving back to his community, Morehart is humble in his reply. “I think that, in a way, God just put the right ingredients in front of the right person at the right time,” he concludes. “It’s not about me.”
If you would like to meet Morehart in person, you will find him at the PWNA Convention October 19–21 in Orlando, FL. He will be assisting at the DECO Products Inc. booth in a product support capacity as most of the chemicals he uses in his day-to-day work are from this company, and the master distributorship owner is a close friend of his. Be sure to stop by and say ‘Hi’ to a local hero who is giving back and making an impact.