Luxe Ducts is a professional air duct cleaning company owned and operated by Connie Luce. She started her company because she was laid off and had allergies, and was able to turn something ugly like dirty air ducts into something pretty and pink (including pink rubber duckies) and make a name for herself in the industry. She is a grant recipient of Elevate Together and her company was founded during COVID, which was not an easy feat.
How did you get started?
I was having trouble breathing, so I hired a company and they were there for less than an hour and they didn’t do a thorough job. I realized that most companies promise a low price and then when they show up at your home, they force customers to add on services, which to me that’s dishonest and unfair to the customer that is promised one price over the phone and then a different price when they’re in your home. That’s when I started doing some research and decided to go into business. I wanted to change the way air duct cleaning was done. I didn’t want others to go through what I did. During that time I was laid off, so it made sense to take my experience in disaster recovery restoration (fire, mold, and flood) and create a company that would treat its customers with honesty, integrity, and quality work.
Opened up prior to Covid
Since COVID, I think there has been a surge of women-owned businesses. It’s forcing people to reinvent themselves. We opened up on September 13th, 2019, and I started calling all of my old contacts in January. We were supposed to open in April because that’s when it’s warmer and a lot of property companies and apartment complexes do maintenance during those months, so we had several large contracts. Hundreds of apartments needed their vents cleaned. But when COVID hit, people weren’t paying rent and because people weren’t paying rent, they weren’t gonna spend money on maintenance. We had hurdles–a lot, but it was ok because we were able to position my knowledge of the restoration industry, while things picked up. We were able to pivot from duct cleaning, but this also helped me keep a couple of the guys busy rather than losing the entire staff.
Attention to detail
Our job is like a puzzle, you go in and you’re like, ok, this is the basic structure, but this house is different or this building is different and you’re always dealing with emotions and all that kind of stuff all wrapped up into one. You always have to be professional, we walk in with our red carpet, pink helmet, safety jacket, and boots. We pay special attention to the details. We communicate and over-communicate to our customers exactly what they are getting for that price. There is no, we get there and there’s a different price change or us telling you that you need this and you need that. There is no scare tactic. It’s the details in what we do, we pay special attention to the before and after. We have before and after videos with timestamps. We have runners, that we call the red carpet. So when we go into a house, we completely cover the house to protect their homes. I think people really appreciate the details in what we do and we put a lot of time and effort into it.
Where do you struggle?
Being a woman-owned business in the construction/trades industry, we are often looked down upon. I am discriminated against because I am a woman and I guess women aren’t supposed to use drills and tools. I feel like I get up and I already have my boxing gloves on. I feel that men will try to intimidate and judge before they even meet us. We’ll pay you tomorrow, they say. No–the mechanic you take your car to is not going to give you your car until you pay them, otherwise, they won’t give you your keys. You have to know your product front and back, sideways, and blindfolded. You have to be educated and confident about what you sell. Be confident and know what you sell because the minute you start doubting yourself, or can’t answer something confidently, you lose your customer.
Elevate Together Grant
We pride ourselves on educating the public on the importance of indoor air quality. The grant would allow me to use the money for payroll. I would have the ability to guarantee a steady paycheck instead of being as needed or on-call. The hiring and training process is an expense. The new employees would be sent to class and be educated to become National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA) certified. This would allow us to grow and market our company.
I’m looking forward to the mentoring IHCC is offering with this grant. I think about where I lack and it’s more about staying focused and on task. Whether it’s writing something down budget-wise, knowing where we are, how much we’ve invested, or how much we’ve made, we have a solid foundation, but that’s kind of where we lack.
Words of Advice: Be your own superwoman
Just be confident in who you are. Superman. I tell this to my daughter. Superman is not coming to save you. You have to be your own Superwoman. Believe in everything that you are capable of, believe in yourself. Hold your head up high, you’re gonna fall but get back up.
To learn more about Luxe Ducts, visit www.luxeducts.com.
Check out their application video here.