eClean Issue 22

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35 eClean Magazine made back into the business." In 1973, Unger built its first factory and put an Unger squeegee in the capstone. "I remember the feeling of accomplishment seeing the Unger neon sign lit up on the factory when we drove by it on the Autobahn," Barbara recalled. "The factory was our second home." Sons Jan and Mark grew up watching the Unger products being made, and became proud themselves of being part of the story. "I remember the boys taking part in a flea market in Solingen, demonstrating our squeegees on a shop window and telling passers-by that they had to buy these squeegees that were made by their own father and were the best in the world." Expanding Globally As the business grew, Henry began taking trips to the Far East where he developed customers in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. "He would fly into a foreign capital, open the Yellow Pages, and contact the maintenance supply companies. "His drive and tenacity with a bag full of samples got him a new customer wherever he went." Eventually Unger was selling its products in over 80 countries. "It was a great way to travel the world, and to this day is one of my fondest memories of our work. It compensated me for the endless hours I had spent in the office. Our foreign customers were often smaller family businesses just like ours, and many of our customers became good friends, who visited us in return." In 1978, the couple decided to return to the U.S. "Everybody thought we were crazy to leave our very viable business in the hands of a manager, but it turned out to be a good decision." The Unger family packed their belongings in a container and left for Connecticut, where Henry's brother was building houses. "We founded the sister company, Unger Enterprises, and initially started in Mount Vernon, outside of New York City." The company's first U.S. customer was J. Racenstein. "Over the years, we became very good friends with the Urtels and the Racensteins." In 1989, the couple bought their factory in Bridgeport, CT. "Henry continued to use the same type of innovations and quality to build the business in the U.S." With the help of Dane Unger, who joined he company in 1985, Henry conquered the American market and the business continued to grow around the world. In spite of the company's success as a manufacturing company, Henry never lost his love and enthusiasm for the man using his tools to make a living. He chose "Mr. Window Cleaner" for his business card, and continued to be a spokesman for the professionalism and betterment of the window cleaning industry. He became involved in the IWCA and developed a window cleaning contest as part of the convention, bringing together window cleaners around the world competing in a fun way with each other. In 1996, Henry was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and passed away on a cruise ship off the coast of Egypt in November of that year. His three sons – Dane, Jan, and Mark – took over and have grown the global companies to new dimensions. "I am so happy to celebrate the Unger company's 50th anniversary," Barbara concluded. "I only wish Henry could have been here to celebrate it with us." Barbara Unger Wales shares the Unger story at the J. Racenstein 50th Anniversary Celebration.

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