Ken Johnson and Fred Lerma have a knack
for making lived-in spaces feel brand new. Quickly expanding from Ken’s one-man
operation, he and his business partner Fred have been cleaning homes and
businesses in Pacific County since 2019.
Named for their street in Raymond, WA, Barnhart Home Cleaning was born when Ken was chatting with friends who needed houses cleaned before putting them on the market. He seized the opportunity and four years later Ken’s enterprise has grown to include many more properties–and employees, trained to the gleaming Barnhart standard.
We asked Ken about his and Fred’s experience growing a business in Pacific County. Here’s what he
shared with us:
Why did you choose to start a business in Pacific County?
We moved to Raymond in 2019 and set up this business because we fell in love with
the people and the area.
What products or services do you offer?
We clean vacation homes, private homes, municipalities, and offices. We are
environmentally conscious, so we make our own vinegar-based products, infusing
the vinegar with locally-sourced plants.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Our friends, the Seilers, and I got to talking about how they needed someone to
clean houses for them before they put them on the market. We did one house for
them, then another, and another until I was doing it a lot. Fred quit his job
and started working with the company full-time, the demand was so high.
What was your mission when you started your business?
I’m a triple-bottom-line company, which means all decisions must pass all three
areas of my mission:
1. People. We are here for the people we serve, the people with whom we deal, and
the people who work for us. We are active in our community and give back what
2. Planet. All products and decisions must be good for the planet. Our cleaning
products are homemade from locally grown ingredients when possible, and free
from harmful, harsh chemicals.
3. Profits. The company must turn a profit so we can stay in business and keep
providing jobs to those who seek employment and services to those in need.
What made you choose your industry?
We saw a need and coupled that with something we
feel we’re good at doing. Fred is a neat freak, and I love things that are
organized. We make a good team.
What is unique about your business?
We are gay-founded and run. And we are a triple-bottom-line company.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I’d grow more slowly and take my time to savor each step.
Watching it grow from being just me to seven employees. I love how we are giving
something to our community, clients get to enjoy a clean environment, and staff
members get jobs they can be proud of.
How do you define success?
Being able to serve people–both our clients and our employees– with quality, all
while maintaining our mission to People, Planet, and Profit. And a balanced
How do you view your role in the community?
I believe we are here as a service to others. We look for ways to help in our
community through our positions on local boards, community events, and
involvement with the local chamber of commerce.
If you had a piece of advice to offer someone starting a business in Pacific County,
what would it be?
Do your homework, get your business plan
airtight, and launch away. People here are supportive and helpful.
For any aspiring business owner in Pacific County, here are a few key takeaways from Ken’s experience:
● Consider your values, and build your plan around them
● Make that plan airtight
● Treat your people well–clients and employees alike
● Use your community as a resource
● Become a resource in your community
● Don’t rush, and appreciate the process