Lindemann Chimney Company Still Cleaning After More Than 40 Years
An interview with Owner Rob Lindemann
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
A: Lindemann Chimney Co. specializes in chimney and fireplace inspection, cleaning, repair, installation and supply. Our core competency is that we do difficult, dirty and often dangerous jobs that nobody likes doing. My role in the company is to attract and empower great people and then get out of their way. For consumers, Lindemann Chimney Service is among the oldest, largest and highest-credentialed chimney and fireplace service organizations in Chicagoland. Our technicians (known as chimney sweeps) provide cleaning, inspections, high-tech video scans, relining, caps/dampers/fans, fireplace inserts, gas line/gas log installations, waterproofing/sealing and troubleshooting.
Q: What other services does your company provide?
A: Technicians remove creosote, which is a major fire hazard, and assure top performance from the chimney and fireplace system. They also clean air ducts, dryer vents and gutters. For the trade, Lindemann Chimney Supply is a national wholesale distributor of chimney supplies, fireplace and hearth products, masonry tools and more. We’re an industry resource and technical expert with warehouses in Lake Bluff, Albany, N.Y., and Marietta, Ga.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: My father started the business in 1969 as a side job while he was a Winnetka fireman. I had grown up, laboring for my father. While in college at the University of Iowa, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in business. It just made sense to join the family business. When I graduated, I became the fourth employee. My father and I were partners for 12 years and he has been fully retired for 5 years.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: Navigating the transition of the business from my father to myself was the most difficult obstacle. Partnerships in general can be tough, when you add the element of family to the mix it can be extremely challenging. If I had to do it all over again I would have discussed all the “what if” scenarios around the partnership before they happened. It is much easier to agree on a hypothetical situation beforehand then when you are in the middle of one.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
A: Providing a place for personal and professional growth is the most enjoyable part for me. Being able to have a positive impact on peoples lives is what gets me out of bed every morning. The business is just a vehicle for a much larger purpose. The beauty is that when you have people aligned with the same purpose you end up with an extraordinary high-performing team.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I always have been interested in entrepreneurship. When I was young, I shoveled snow, mowed lawns and sold and traded things. My mother always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. I believe her. I have always had a desire to change the world, make a difference or have a lasting impact. Where and how I may do that, who knows? Maybe when I grow up I’ll find out.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Nothing. My last sleepless night was the night before I decided to stop trying to control the future and left that up to somebody greater than myself.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: Peer-to-peer learning. Surrounding yourself with successful people that are doing what you do has been the biggest game changer for me. Whether you are a doctor, stay-at-home mom, entrepreneur, student or any other vocation, surrounding yourself with like-minded people can have a tremendous impact. There are hundreds of organizations that provide these opportunities. I joined “Entrepreneurs Organization” in Chicago and it was the best business decision I’ve ever made.