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Meet Marty Stevens-Heebner of Clear Home Solutions in San Fernando Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marty Stevens-Heebner.

Marty, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I learned most of what I know about business from my parents. Dad was a successful businessman during the 1970s and 1980s in my hometown of Buffalo, NY. He spent years teaching me about financials. Even though my mother wasn’t officially part of my father’s company, she had a lot of influence there because she, too, had a terrific head for business. Unfortunately, she passed away when she was only 58. I think losing her at such a young age made me realize how vital it is to chart your own course and not to wait for, or expect someone else, to do it for you.

Clear Home Solutions® is actually my fourth business. During my father’s final year – he made it to 90! – I reassessed my life and realized the handbag business I had wasn’t satisfying me, even though my clients included TJ Maxx and Whole Foods, and we were named California Small Business of the Year. I loved all that I was discovering about life’s third act, and recognized what a need there was to transform it from something that’s feared and dreaded into a time of life that can be embraced and enjoyed, a time when people once again feel respected and cared for.

Shifting from handbags to move management and organizing people’s lives might appear odd to some, but having managed a warehouse full of inventory, office moves and trade show travels with my handbag company, this work turned out to be a perfect fit – and that’s how Clear Home Solutions came to be.

Has it been a smooth road?
Starting up any company is always a challenge but this was a bit easier to launch than my previous ones, probably because I had the experience from my other businesses to bring to it, and because the market for what we do is large and growing rapidly. Now that I’m in my fourth year with Clear Home Solutions, the biggest challenge is finding and hiring the right people to serve our clients. It takes a rare combination of skills to excel at what we do, and it takes a lot of time and effort to find those people and train them. We need to be both efficient and compassionate, and they need to come from strong professional backgrounds because so many of our clients do, and we need to know how to work and speak with them on their level. They also need to show extraordinary empathy. We’re guiding people through a dreaded change in their lives, so in listening and responding to them, it’s just not about the issues they’re expressing verbally. We need to understand and connect with all the anxieties and emotions behind what the words they’re saying and shepherd them through that part of the experience as well as the tasks we’re doing.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We ease the chaos that ensues for seniors and their families when the older adult’s home becomes the enemy. If they need to move, we handle all the tasks and moving logistics, and set up their new home as a reflection of the former one. If they’d rather age in place, our CHS experts will re-organize their home for how they live now, and supervise any necessary modifications to make sure their home is safe and comfortable.

I’m proud of, and touched by, the dedication of my staff. We step into our clients’ lives when they’re completely overwhelmed, and my colleagues transform that situation into an experience that’s gratifying for all involved. They thoroughly enjoy what they do, are committed to our mission – and they all genuinely like one other. That last point is vital, given that the work we do is not only physically taxing but also intensely intimate and emotional. We work with people during one of life’s most significant and dreaded changes – and we’re in their homes, handling all their treasures. I’ve worked hard to put together a team that’s cohesive and collegial, and I’m honored to have such an extraordinary team of big-hearted professionals working with Clear Home Solutions.

I think another thing that sets us apart is how much we educate ourselves about the issues facing our clients and older adults in general. We’re the only senior move management company in the LA area that’s accredited by our industry, and we had to work hard to achieve that. I was the first Certified Senior Move Manager in the country, and I’m also a Certified Aging in Place Specialist as well as a Certified Professional Organizer. We often work with clients who have dementia, and I’m a Hoarding Specialist and AD/HD Specialist as well.

We’re also in constant communication about what’s going on with each client, and our team brings a variety of professional backgrounds and personal experiences to these discussions that’s tremendously useful. We also have an extensive library about different aspects of our work and the kinds of clients we encounter, so we’re always learning and the collective knowledge level we have is off the charts.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
The one big downside for our specific business is the traffic, because we often work in far-flung parts of the county. We have large work kits and supplies to bring to each job, so we can’t use mass transit. For clients that are farther away we strongly encourage carpooling because the traffic’s always easier when you have good company with you – and you can use the carpool lane!

In general, having a small business in California can be difficult in that our state isn’t known for being particularly business-friendly. That’s why it’s vital to set things up correctly and legally from the get-go. (I can thank my parents for instilling that in me.) You don’t want to be scrambling to play catch-up when you’re going through a growth spurt. A lot of business owners ignore certain regulations when they’re starting up, particularly when it comes to human resources. That’s a dangerous idea and I’ve seen it lead to lawsuits and hefty fines.

On the other hand, I think Los Angeles has one of the most supportive and open-minded entrepreneurial communities in the country. There are tremendous opportunities to share ideas and get support from people who’ve boot-strapped their businesses from start-up to great success. I have a community of people who understand the joys and woes of being a business owner, and that comes in especially handy on those days when entrepreneur just rhymes with manure. Fortunately, those days are few and far between with Clear Home Solutions, but with my previous businesses, having colleagues to commiserate with definitely saved my sanity – and that of those around me.

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Clear Home Solutions

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