After retiring from the force in January, Mike Pavelka has dedicated his time to his pressure washing business and his family.
Mike Pavelka went from being a police officer to his own boss.
After 16 years with the Ormond Beach Police Department, Pavelka found himself wanting a career change. While in the force, he'd gotten his bachelor's in business management and in June 2019, decided it was time he put it to use. So, he started his own small business: Surf's Up Surface Cleaning.
Why the name? Having grown up in Ormond-by-the-Sea, Pavelka is an avid surfer. When he was younger, he competed and eventually nabbed the attention of a few sponsors.
“So surfing, I would say, is kind of in my blood,” Pavelka said.
Surf's Up Surface Cleaning specializes in pressure washing flat surfaces such as driveways, patios and decks, as well as house and fence washing, gutters and pool enclosures.
Pavelka's prior law enforcement career plays into how he handles his business. When he was a cop, he had to follow the set policies and procedures outlined by the department, regardless if someone was watching or not. He operates under that mindset with his company.
“So that’s what I brought to my business — to just do it like I’d want my house done,” Pavelka said.
Like many small business owners, Pavelka was impacted financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“March and April really hurt, really bad," Pavelka said.
There were less jobs available as homeowners decided to take on their own projects, but also, there were unlicensed people advertising power washings at cheap rates, he explained. Pavelka took on a few jobs where these unlicensed individuals either messed the project up, or left it unfinished.
That's why it's important homeowners contract licensed companies, whether it be Pavelka's or one of his local competitors.
A family-owned business
As a kid, he came from a low-income family. To support himself, he used to pull a lawnmower behind his bike looking for odd jobs. That's something he wishes to instill in his own sons. When possible, he brings his oldest son, Tyler, to help him with the jobs.
Since his dad retired from OBPD in January, Tyler said things have changed.
“It’s different because usually we’d only have like one project a week, and now we’re literally outside pretty much like six hours a day," Tyler said.
Pavelka has also able to make more time for his family. Before COVID-19 impacted schools, he was able to volunteer on a couple school field trips. Unlike in law enforcement, he's able to pick and choose the jobs he wants to do. It's a lot less stressful, he said.
Some habits are hard to break though, and Pavelka sometimes finds himself keeping an eye out for criminal violations or traffic offenses (Pavelka was a motorcycle officer for 12 years).
Still, his time in law enforcement shaped him into who he is today.
“I was a young immature Ormond-by-the-Sea punk surfer and I learned a lot — learned a lot of responsibility and it sticks with me in this instance,” Pavelka said.