Tehd Okun will paint your house, hose out your gutters, scrub your windows, and perform practically any other task you need accomplished. The handyman-for-hire is new to the entrepreneurial scene in the Berkshires, but he’s been an understudy to the vibrant small business community for a while. With a passion for baking, Tehd came to the region to apprentice with sourdough master Richard Bourdon at Berkshire Mountain Bakery. His intrigue for fermented goods led him to work alongside Maddie Elling and Abe Hunrichs at Hosta Hill, the local fermented vegetable business. After many years in food production, the doldrums of monotony set in and Tehd longed for the freedom offered by self-employment.
Like many young people locally, Tehd is no stranger to the “Berkshire Hustle” - the piecing together of multiple jobs. In fact, he prefers the flexibility of a dynamic and always-changing schedule. Through his new business OKUN, he’s structured his services to keep him busy and stave off boredom throughout the year - exterior painting in the summer, gutter cleaning in the fall, interior painting in the winter, more gutter cleaning and window washing in the spring.
His entrée into business was a bit of a leap of faith. Tehd explains that he didn’t pursue any formal training like most painters; he simply picked up a paint brush and watched a few YouTube videos. He admits that he still has a lot to learn about client relations and organization, but he’s engaging business advisors to develop a plan and work through the details. One aspect of business that comes naturally to him is marketing. He’s had great success conducting market research via social media to identify the needs of the community and any additional services he could offer. He’s promoted his business by sending out brightly colored mailers across the region that scream OKUN. He’s even offered a free cake to customers that reference his advertising schemes.
There’s no shortage of humor in Tehd’s approach to business. He promotes himself with catchy tag lines like “Declutter your gutter” and “Your dirty gutter is our bread and butter.” It’s a good sense of humor that makes for light work when you’re high up on a ladder. But not to worry – he’s fully insured!
Despite his casual attitude and desire to have fun on the job, he conducts himself in a professional manner and understands that his reputation is everything. Tehd plans to expand his business in the next few years and seeks to hire employees who are not only reliable, hardworking, and fun, but respectful of the clientele and surroundings. That mindset extends to the local economy, too. Tehd understands that building relationships with local contractors helps to establish credibility. He recognizes that same mutuality of respect in BerkShares’ advocacy for the small business community. For Tehd, BerkShares are another way to market his business, but they also symbolize the unique qualities of the area. Where else can you have your cake and get your gutters cleaned too?