The entrepreneurial spirit runs thick in the American west, and Don Aslett is one of its poster children. While he was a student at Idaho State University, he founded the Varsity Cleaning Company to fund his schooling. Now a janitorial empire, the conglomerate has raked in a total revenue of over $190,000,000 — and that is just one of the many businesses Aslett owns.
I know all of this because he gave me a guided tour of his brainchild, the Museum of Clean, in Pocatello, Idaho. A collection of exhibits dedicated to every aspect of cleanliness (think beyond cleaning techniques to topics like air and water quality, food ingredients, recycling, repurposing, clear thinking, organization, polite language…) this shrine to the shiny is housed in anenormous, refurbished warehouse space on the edge of town.
Exhibit highlights include a shooting gallery with Windex bottle ‘guns’, a dozen self-propelled vacuum race cars, the world’s largest collection of antique toilets, and an all-you-can-squeegee window exhibit. The museum is more hands-on than any other I have experienced, and as one would hope, a speck of dust can not be found anywhere.
As our spirited tour concluded, I cornered the 70-something, lean, energetic curator in the gift shop and boldly asked for his best business advice. Delighted to share from his wealth of experience, I received several gems of guidance. Among my favorites:
1) Take things down before they fall down.
2) Know where you stand — with God, with your suppliers, with your workers, with your wife, with your family, and with your friends.
3) Nothing kills a business faster than making hires from your family and your friends.
Living by these principles, Aslett built a polished business empire and a spotless temple to his life’s passion. He signed three of his best-selling book titles and handed them to me for free. “I could charge people for my books, but they cost me about two bucks to print, and if I give them away, I know the recipients will bring me a dozen more museum visitors. Now that’s good business.”
A firm handshake later, we were back on the road, headed toward Idaho Falls. Enriched by the genius mind of Don Aslett, I walked out of his museum with a full quiver of business principles, a bushel of nifty cleaning tricks, and the sense that I had spent time talking with and learning from a genuine American treasure.
My family is currently traveling around the USA in a 10 foot Shasta Compact travel trailer from 1969. We are currently camped in Craig, Colorado and headed toward Denver. Keep it right here for tales from the journey, and please also join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Nothing keeps us motivated more than the encouragement of hearing from our readers, so please keep in touch by commenting below. Thanks!