Clayton Hensley wasn’t planning on starting a lifetime career when he first got into the gutter business. But that’s exactly what he found.
Hensley was one of many out of work when General Electric went on strike in 1969, and was looking for a way to subsidize his income until things returned to normal. He got a part-time job hanging gutters, beginning a career that has spanned five decades in the home improvement industry.
“When you’re 25 years old and have a house payment, car payment and married, you need to make money,” Hensley says. “I was just looking for a job in anything – not necessarily gutters, just something to work on while they were on strike. By time the strike was over with, I was making more money hanging gutters than I was making at GE so I stuck with it.”
After the owner of the company he was working for retired, Hensley decided to branch out on his own, and started Hensley Guttering and Home Improvement in 1973. He has been in business ever since, offering Louisville homeowners an affordable option for gutters, gutter covers, roofing, siding, windows and doors.
Hensley says it wasn’t his intent to stay in the guttering business this long, but he’s enjoyed it.
“I liked the work,” Hensley says. “You’re not in one place all the time. You’re moving around and meeting a lot of different people every day in different locations.”
Hensley has about 10 people working for him and mainly supports the Louisville area, but will venture to neighboring cities to provide services. Much of his client base comes from referrals or repeat business. Hensley says his honesty has kept him in business so long.
“We sell what people need, not what we make the most money for,” Hensley says. “There’s nothing we sell or do that I couldn’t do myself if need be.”
Education has also been an important aspect to Hensley as he has grown his business. He regularly attends seminars to learn about new techniques or machinery, and completes 30 hours of continuing education in order to stay certified each year.
“Any business you’re in, you have to stay up on the education of the new material,” Hensley says. “The more knowledge you can have about the product, the easier it is to sell the job.”
Hensley encourages homeowners to look up at their gutters to see if they are behaving differently, including issues like flooding and leaking. Hensley Guttering manufactures their own gutter covers – something Hensley himself is very proud of.
“For over 20 years we have made and sold our own gutter covers,” Hensley says. “That’s a big majority of the business right now.”
Area residents should expect to see Hensley around for a lot longer, as he has no plans to retire any time soon.
“I plan to keep going as long as health will allow me,” Hensley says. “I’m 79. I’m not old enough to retire yet. As long as my health is good and I still enjoy what I’m doing, I’ll keep at it.”