National Small Business Week Spotlight: Labor Panes

Daniel James (’10, ’12) owns and operates Durham/Chapel Hill’s Labor Panes, an exterior cleaning service that provides residential and commercial window cleaning, pressure washing, gutter cleaning and gutter guards.

Why did you decide to become a small business owner?

Truth be told, I never wanted to be a business owner. Entrepreneurship sounded like I had to be creative by developing a new product, service, or process and that isn’t necessarily me. I decided to start a window cleaning franchise after spending a summer working for the company before they became a franchise. As I dabbled in the financial/investment industry after college, I realized that wasn’t the career path I was interested in. I reached out to my summer employer at Labor Panes about what it was like starting a window cleaning business and he helped me start the first Labor Panes franchise. I valued getting to be outside and always seeing new people and places. Every customer/job was slightly different from the one before and hearing other people’s stories has always been intriguing.

How did your Campbell degree prepare you to start your own business?

My time at Lundy Fetterman formed my mind around many aspects of business thinking. In the home service industry, many business owners don’t come from a business background. I believe my background at Campbell helps me to have a leg up on marketing strategy and analysis, business development, standard accounting abilities, and the ability to professionally communicate verbally and through email. I am also confident that my BBA/MBA at Campbell gave the franchise faith in me to be chosen as a franchisee.

What is your favorite part of owning your own business?

By far, having the freedom and flexibility to choose my responsibilities and workload. It wasn’t like that at the beginning, but as I grew and brought on more people, I have been able to give roles and responsibilities to people that have different skill sets than me and it allows me to focus on things that I enjoy and care about.

Why is it important for people to shop local and shop small?

Local and small businesses are run by people in the same community as the customers. Many times, these companies don’t have giant profit margins and all the employees and owners depend on the business for their livelihood.

What advice do you have for alumni and students who are interested in starting their own business?

Consider a franchise. When I went through school, starting a business was only portrayed as creating something new (new idea, new process, new service, new product). A franchise is a proven business model that just needs hard work and investment to create a successful business.

Orange Owned connects Campbell alumni with businesses owned and operated by fellow alumni. Visit our web page to learn more about Orange Owned, find local businesses near you, or register your business.