Working for a Living for Sept. 6, 2012

For Weekly SurgeSeptember 5, 2012 

Kim Starcher admits she is a workaholic. Originally from Cottageville, W.V., this coal miner’s daughter used to come to Myrtle Beach with her cousin specifically for country line dancing at the now-defunct Beach Wagon. But in the back of her mind was the possibility of living and working here.

A dozen years ago, she made the move. “I came down here because back home in West Virginia there were no jobs for a woman my age to make decent money,” she says. “I realized I could make more money down here in a few months than I could back there all year.”

A random opportunity came along one night at the Beach Wagon.” I met a person who had a business, and as I got to know the business, I was like, ‘Oh my God – how do you put a can of tomato soup on the table.’” The intrinsic simplicity of the concept hit home, and the business was a pressure washing outfit called Prowash. Starcher became a partner in the enterprise – helping to build it up to the point where she says the business did work on more than 200 buildings a year.

Along the way, Starcher says many clients began to take notice of her attention to detail and began to request her specifically for jobs. “Everybody wanted me, because I am committed to excellence when it comes to cleaning – and customers were telling me that there is no clean like a Kim’s clean.”

She took this to heart and set out on her own in July with her own power washing business called Kim’s Extreme Clean, which handles commercial and residential properties. But she is quick to point out that there is no job too big or too small. “I also scrub down RVs and detail campers – and I do everything from top to bottom and get into the nitty-gritty of details. People love that when they know you did the best job that you could possibly do.”

Starcher has two pressure washing units on her truck, and it’s no surprise that the process is labor intensive. “I love that people think you just get out there and spray, because that’s not it. It’s typical to spend hours on a site. I spent 13 hours recently, doing sidewalks at Birch-N-Coppice [Estates in Surfside Beach].” As owner and operator, she emphasizes the latter. “I have people get behind me as I spray, to keep me filled up. It’s not easy, especially during this heat. I have to wear rubber boots. When I do my buildings, I wear a Columbia rain suit – but it keeps me thin,” she laughs. Starcher also uses a scrubber specifically designed for power washing concrete.

Because Starcher [now 48] has been in this line of work for so long, word-of-mouth is a powerful tool for her. “I felt there was a need for what I call Kim’s Extreme,” she says, adding that customers coined the phrase. “I can’t do a job without it being perfect, and I know how to work. Nobody ever gave me anything.”

Starcher has done work on such properties as Southbridge Condos in Myrtle Beach, Marcliffe at Blackmoor, and the former Dixie Stampede [now Pirates Voyage]. “I worked up to 21 hours at the Dixie Stampede when Dolly [Parton] was coming in,” she says.

She says she was disappointed when the Beach Wagon closed, but admits that she stopped going years ago. “I gave up on line dancing because my heart and soul were in this business.” But she rekindled her interest in this pursuit in March. “I started going to Daisy Duke’s [Country Saloon in Myrtle Beach] to two-step and country dance.”

“That’s basically what I do for fun – but I always worked all of the time and never knew what fun was. I was always just business. When the phone rang, I’d go. It didn’t matter if I had plans to do something. Work is work, and at my age you’ve got to get it when you can.”

As for her work ethic, Starcher says she is a fanatic. “I see every detail and double-check everything. I am a fanatic – trust me.”

Know of a local with an interesting job or career that should be given the Working 4 A Living treatment? Contact Roger Yale at rgyale@gmail.com.

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