6 Questions with Jim Pemberton
1 | Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Jim Pemberton. I manage Pembertons Cleaning/Restoration Supply in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. What I do at Pembertons is work closely with my employees to make sure the products and services that we offer are provided in a way that reflects the values that my father, Lee Pemberton, had when he founded this business in 1972 (and still has). What I like to do the most is to provide training and consulting services. While I left the IICRC model of training over a decade ago, I enjoy sharing my experiences with upholstery cleaning and odor control with hands-on oriented workshops rather than a standard classroom environment.
2 | How did you first get started in the industry?
My father started in the dry-cleaning business around the time I was born in 1959 and rapidly entered the cleaning and restoration industry shortly afterward. As long as I can remember, I helped him around the dry-cleaning plant, the rug plant, and evenings and weekends on commercial cleaning jobs and disaster restoration jobs. I distinctly remember my father’s first portable hot water extractor and his first truck mount. It’s been over 50 years, and new innovations in our industry still fascinate me in the same way those two machines did back then.
3 | Who in your life impacts you the most?
My father, Lee Pemberton. From the way he raised me to the experience of working with him in this industry for my entire lifetime, he continues to be an example of vision, service to both society and the individual, independence of spirit, and in keeping perspective of how small we are in the world and the universe, and yet also the impact we can have if we simply do our best in every way, every day, for our fellow man.
4 | If you could have dinner with one person from history, who would it be, and why?
It would be my paternal grandfather. He passed away when I was in my early teens, so until then he had simply been a quiet and kindly man I barely knew. But looking back over the years, I’d like to talk to the younger man he was and understand what in his life’s experiences made him the man who raised my father to be the remarkable man that he remains today.
5 | What music, movies, or books have inspired you?
My musical taste is too eclectic to minimize into the space of a response. Movies are much the same to me, but books are much easier: “To Kill a Mockingbird” for its message of moral courage, personal decency, and the example of how a parent teaches more by example than by words. Another would be “Man’s Search for Meaning,” as it explains the fact that we can control our attitude and how we respond to the most difficult of events, and through that endure and grow. And finally, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People,” which helped me to better understand how to comfort others in times of unimaginable grief and to understand how to be a better person during the most difficult of losses.
6 | What personal philosophy of life motivates you the most?
That working for a worthy reason, whether it is in your own business, your personal responsibilities, or for your community, is its own reward. What we’re paid for it (if we’re paid for it) is simply part of the equation that gives us the means and energy to do it again another day. Retirement? To do nothing? I couldn’t imagine it. My father at the time of this interview is 91 and soon will be 92. He works every day and finds those same rewards. How could I do less?