From Army man to businessman

Military training lends to local veteran’s business acumen in carpet cleaning business.

Justin Willard joined the Army in 1999 and served in the Special Operations Branch.

Now, he’s a businessman.

“The structure that you learn in the military is priceless when it comes to running and organizing a business, especially just organizing your own day,” said Willard of how the Army has helped him in his business career. “And then the discipline you get from the military is key. You don’t wake up motivated everyday and if you’re not motivated to go to work when you’re working for yourself, you better be disciplined enough to still get after it. I would say those things are the biggest factors and I think they’re a huge, huge help.”

When Willard was in the Army, he was stationed at Fort Lewis in the Second Ranger Battalion for about five years. From there, he moved about the United States and took a couple of tours overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan. He finished his time in the Army in Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 2010.

He explained transitioning to civilian life wasn’t as much of a struggle as it could have been.

“I did all right for myself as far as what other people struggle with and I think it was because I went into a business in my family, and I was at an ownership level so I kind of got to ease my way back into things if you will,” Willard said.

The family business he went into was a construction company that they ended up selling, but now Willard and his family own an auto body shop in Burien.

One of the reasons why Willard wanted to get out of the construction industry is because he wanted to focus more on customer service.

“I find customer service to be one of the most satisfying things you can do. It’s great that you can make money in business and that you can make somebody else’s day better at the same time,” he said.

But Willard wanted to do more in the business world and with customer service.

That’s when he purchased a couple of locations of Oxi Fresh in December 2018.

Oxi Fresh is a carpet cleaning company that, according to Willard, is recognized as the greenest cleaning company.

“That’s due to our low water consumption when we clean a house. Typically a Stanley Steamer or whatever, they’re going to use 40 to 50 gallons of water to clean your house and it’s going to take 24-36 hours for it to dry,” he explained. “We use two to three gallons of water because of the Oxi Fresh cleaning package that we have. We only need to use two to three gallons of water and your carpet will be dry within two hours.”

One of the locations of Oxi Fresh that Willard owns is in the southern Kent, Covington, Maple Valley region and the other one is in the Bellevue, Mercer Island area, which covers a slice of Seattle as well.

Willard took over those two branches officially in January and so far he said he has received great responses to what he is doing.

With success comes patience – something that’s been really hard for Willard with this business. But that doesn’t get in the Army veteran’s way.

“Waiting for everything to get going. I was fortunate in my previous business experiences to be involved in larger companies, this is more of a startup. So I have a lot of energy, I have a lot of ‘I’m ready to go and tackle this.’”

More in Business

Oil companies betting on electric technology

Across the pond, London-based BP and Netherlands-headquartered Shell are looking to invest… Continue reading

Microsoft has expanded their AccountGuard service to 12 new European Countries. Yellow: European countries already protected. Blue: European countries now protected. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Microsoft warns of hacking ahead of elections

Launching defense services in Europe.

Praerit Garg joins Smartsheet as CTO

Bellevue-based company employs 760 people

OfferUp founder Nick Huzar makes customer safety a core pillar

Bellevue-based CEO wanted a simpler solution to his own problems

Student debt draining retired income

Lots is written about students exiting college saddled with hefty student loans;… Continue reading

Photo by Tiffany Von Arnim/Flickr
Puget Sound companies join to create middle-income housing

Several are the same companies that opposed Seattle’s head tax last year.

Christmas wreaths help ease pain

Christmas is a difficult time for anyone grieving the death of a… Continue reading

The Dick’s sign along Pacific Highway South. STEVE HUNTER,Kent Reporter
Dick’s Drive-In celebrates grand opening in Kent

On West Hill along Pacific Highway South | Photos

Small Business Saturday

Your vote may already be cast and counted in this year’s election.… Continue reading

Costs matter in hiring | Brunell

While both sides argue the merits of Seattle’s escalating minimum wage, there… Continue reading

Revenue offers free webinar about business taxes

The following is a press release from the Washington State Department of… Continue reading

County’s new solid waste disposal rate to support facility upgrades, service improvements

A small increase in King County’s solid waste disposal rates takes effect… Continue reading