Chemical engineer finds new calling in carpet cleaning franchise

Posted: Sep 28, 2012 4:36 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 29, 2012 8:45 AM EDT

By Elizabeth Gaucher

For The State Journal

What do you do when your career moves out of state, but your heart stays home?

If you’re Jeff Pickering, you take your future into your hands and start your own business.

A chemical engineer with a degree from West Virginia University, Pickering was a Monsanto employee who joined the company in 1980. When the plant closed in 2004, Monsanto offered Pickering work in a satellite office overseeing six different facilities in the U.S. and Mexico.

In 2010 that office closed, and Pickering had to make a decision. With children in high school and college he did not want to pick up the family and move.

Instead, he says he “went on a franchise hunt.”

And what a hunt it was. Frozen yogurt, fitness gyms, cleaning companies and even restaurants made his review list.

“I had some good savings to invest, but I didn’t want a lot of overhead cost,” says Pickering.

Assuming a restaurant franchise required a $2 million infusion, so those were off the list.

“I started thinking about service, and I looked closely at companies that clearly demonstrated how the right number of customers over the right period of time would allow an investor to break even quickly,” he said. Pickering also knew he needed to believe in what he was selling. When he found Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning, he started to sense he was onto something that would be the right fit.

Oxi Fresh is the nation’s fastest-growing environmentally friendly carpet cleaner franchise. Working with a team of chemists, its founder, Jonathan Barnett, was able to create a green carpet cleaning technology that has become what Pickering described as the highest level available on the market. That led to the demand for Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning services throughout the country and fueled its growth in the $5.3 billion U.S. carpet and upholstery cleaning services sector.

Fascinated by the technology and attracted to the non-toxic, all natural nature of the cleaning agents, Pickering went to Charlotte, N.C., for a demonstration.

“I was really impressed, and I came back to West Virginia with confidence that this was going to be my new business,” he says.

It’s all in the family now, as Pickering hired his son, nephew and son-in-law as technicians. He says good, dependable technicians are absolutely crucial to his business’s success.

Earlier this year, Pickering had a booth at the West Virginia Home Show, and signed up more than 40 customers on the spot. Revenues have been well beyond his expectations.

Getting a business started can be challenging, with various levels of documentation and legal paperwork for both state and federal agencies, but he said it has all been worth the effort.

“Every day when I go to do a job, I am marketing my business,” he said. “Now it is actually fun.”

To schedule a carpet or upholstery cleaning with Pickering, contact the call center at 304-345-7000. To speak to him directly, call his mobile at 304-610-6397 or go to


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