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Couple takes a shine to windows

Four years ago, Doug Gulbrandsen was sort of a fix-it man's Indiana Jones, clinging precariously to the sides of tall buildings and giving his girlfriend, Connie, maximum doses of anxiety.

Doug was away for weeks at a time, doing height work, repair jobs that required him to suspend himself as much as 150 feet above busy streets in Miami, St. Petersburg and other cities.

"Connie didn't like that too much," he says.

When it came time for marriage, Connie says she wanted Doug to give up height work. She wanted them to spend more time together.

So on a cold December night in 1988, the two Hudson High graduates sat down and hashed it out.

"What do people not like to do?" they wondered. "Windows, of course."

So they started their own business in Port Richey, doing what so many other people dread _ window cleaning.

There are a number of other similar businesses in Pasco County, but D & C Professional Window Washing features the only husband and wife team.

Sort of a window washer's Nick and Nora Charles.

"A lot of people think it's great," says Connie, 21.

"They prefer the husband-and-wife team because they see the same people again and again."

The couple is in what arguably is an enviable position.

They spend practically 24 hours a day together and usually only have to work a couple of days a week.

But during those two days, the couple's schedule is jam-packed, they say.

"We enjoy it. We like being able to work in this area and getting to know the people we work for," says Connie. "We make a good living, and we're happy with it."

They've already got a regular clientele including doughnut shops, motels and doctors' offices. They earn enough to get by, enough to survive and enough to stay happy.

"We're not worried about making a lot of money. We just want to make enough to pay the bills," says Doug, 24.

The usual day starts about 7 a.m. and sometimes doesn't end until 6 p.m. Armed with a ladder, squeegees, sponges and strip washers, the couple cleans windows inside and out.

There are a couple of drawbacks, depending on the time of year: biting cold and sweltering heat. But they've learned to deal with it.

Bill Mamalou, owner of a Dunkin' Donuts in Bayonet Point, was one of the Gulbrandsens' first clients. Several years ago, he gave the young couple a chance to clean his shop's windows and he has asked them to keep coming back despite lower bids from other cleaning services.

"They really do a nice, thorough job, and they're nice people," Mamalou said.