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Growing up in Freehold, Fred Hodge Jr. knew he was destined to be an entrepreneur. It was just a matter of finding his niche. 

“Entrepreneurship ran in our family, and I always knew I wanted to own my own business,” shared Hodge, 35, now a resident of Little Silver and president and founder of Clearview Washing in Howell.

Studying entrepreneurship at Rowan University helped him focus his interests, but even he couldn’t have imagined the twist of fate that would set him on his professional path when he was just 19 years old.

“It all started in 2004, when the contractor who was supposed to come and clean the windows at my parents’ house for $350 never showed up,” Hodge recalled. “My father and I couldn’t believe how much he charged for the service or his lack of courtesy.”

His father, Fred Hodge Sr., who’d long worked in finance in New York City, had an entrepreneurial streak as well and decided to get into the window-washing business himself.

“He contacted a professional window cleaner to show us how to do it and then put an ad in the paper to launch our business, Clearview Washing,” said Hodge, who was a college sophomore at the time and helped run the business on weekends, between weekday classes, and during the summers. “Our first customers spread the word and it grew from there.”

Starting out with basic equipment and a 1995 Ford Taurus outfitted with a ladder rack, “we soon bought a window cleaning business from an owner who wanted to sell because he was ill and acquired his customers,” Hodge said. “We kept reinvesting in the company, bought a work truck, a power washer, etc., and kept evolving.”

Full-service exterior cleaning

Nearly 16 years later, “Clearview Washing is a complete exterior cleaning company that provides everything from power and window washing to gutter cleaning, roof cleaning, and more,” said Hodge. “We have six new and fully-wrapped vehicles, 23 employees, and it’s a total family affair — my dad ended up joining us as director of sales/founder, my wife Christine joined us five years ago to support our operations/human resources/marketing needs and was recently promoted to the position of CEO, my mother Maria is our office manager, and my brother Steven is head of field operations.”

Serving residential customers in Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer counties and commercial clients statewide, Hodge said that their fees depend on variables such as the type of windows, their accessibility, the number of dividers they have, how dirty they are, etc., but that window washing for a standard four-bedroom colonial house typically ranges from $300 to $600 and around $1,000 for a complete job that includes window washing, power washing and roof cleaning.

Among his company’s unique approaches, “we use a high-tech water-fed pole with purified water to clean exterior windows and a ‘soft wash’ process that avoids the abrasive ‘blasting away’ that’s associated with pressure washing,” said Hodge of services designed to  increase curb appeal. “We can prolong the life of a home’s exterior or roof and make them look like new, often avoiding the high-cost need for replacement.”

Among trends, Hodge said that traditional squeegees for window cleaning are giving way to more pole-fed systems and abrasive power washing has evolved into soft washing, a technique that delivers better outcomes without damaging surfaces.

“Over the past 10 years, roof cleaning has become more popular in response to the limestone that manufacturers are increasingly using to fill shingles, which breeds mold, and gutter vacuum systems are becoming popular tools as well,” he said.

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He also noted that demand for exterior cleaning services has grown.

“Thanks to houses being built with more, bigger and harder-to-access windows designed to promote more light, fewer people want to do it themselves anymore, and we understand,” he said. “We’re very respectful of our homeowners/business owners and their property and pride ourselves on the professional way in which we conduct ourselves at the job site.”