Valparaiso teen gets ‘best day ever’ with Make-A-Wish visit to vacuum cleaner company

Valparaiso teen gets 'best day ever' with Make-A-Wish visit to vacuum cleaner company

Originally published on by Giles Bruce on May 31, 2018

VALPARAISO — Nick Wachsmann was showing off his household appliances the other day.

He unfolded his vacuum cleaner. He demonstrated how it can bend and go under furniture. He took it apart, turning it into a handheld vacuum. He took out a little brush on the bottom, showing how it removes hair and string from the roller.

He then stood by his new food processor. He pointed to the area that makes salsa, the one that swirls ice cream. “This! This is a spiralizer. You can make spaghetti,” he said.

“You know what this is for?” he said, taking out a plastic piece from one of the compartments. “This is to push your vegetables down.”

Nick’s enthusiasm was undeniable. He loves cleaning and kitchen equipment. He likes to clean.

He’s 15 years old.

So when Nick got a chance to have a “wish” recently from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

The teen chose to visit SharkNinja, his favorite maker of cleaning and cooking gear.

“I just had that in my mind,” said Nick, who has cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition that causes mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system. “All my neighbors said Disney World.”

“It was our first,” Stacey Nee, of Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island, said of the visit to SharkNinja. “That is always a ton of fun: to get creative and think about what the wish might look like.

Nick’s wish came true on May 9, when he was greeted at the entrance to SharkNinja’s headquarters in Needham, Massachusetts, by the company’s employees, including the CEO.

He then got the experience how his favorite vacuum cleaner gets made, visiting the industrial design, engineering and quality control departments. He deconstructed a vacuum and then put it back together. SharkNinja gave him a lab coat with his name on it.

He made an infomercial with the company’s CEO, Mark Rosenzweig. Nick even got to customize his own vacuum (he picked red, green, blue and black).

“They had a big cake for me,” he said. “It was really good.”

“They were really detailed and generous,” said his mom, Jayne Wachsmann. “I’m so impressed with that company. They were so respectful. I was just amazed. What a day it was.”

Nick called it the “best day ever.”

“It’s external validation that you work so hard every day on these minute details, thousands of pieces that go into a vacuum, and to have that kind of love reinforced … it was so validating and it gave everybody definitely an extra jump in their step and we’re still feeling that now,” said Suzanne Ayoub, brand manager at SharkNinja.

A couple of weeks after Nick got back from Massachusetts, seven large packages arrived in the mail. “I was so excited,” he said. They contained two vacuums, a steam cleaner and the food processor.

Nick, who is homeschooled and going into the ninth grade, first became interested in SharkNinja after seeing one of its 30-minute infomercials on TV a couple of years back.

“It was so easy,” he said of the Shark vacuum. “It’s not complicated. And I liked how it moved and stuff.”

From the age of 6, Nick would help his family fold the laundry. He did it “better than anyone in the house,” his mom said. Then he got into outside chores. Now he has his own business, landscaping and snow-shoveling for nine houses in the neighborhood. Jayne said her son is outside “from dawn to dusk and just comes in to eat.”

He reinvests the money he makes back into his operation, buying new tools. He quoted the price of a power washer he has his eye on: $119. He likes planting gardens, cleaning deck chairs, building sheds.

His mom said he appreciates tools that “work really well.” That’s why, he said, he is a fan of Shark vacuums. He’s especially fond of their DuoClean technology that cleans carpets and kitchen floors without having to change settings.

SharkNinja might want to think about hiring Nick as a pitchman. He has not only made his mom a SharkNinja loyalist, but he has inspired his grandma and several neighbors to buy the vacuums as well.

“I just love everything about this thing,” Jayne Wachsmann said. “I’ve never gotten attached to a vacuum before. It doesn’t spit stuff out the back end when I’m in the kitchen on the tile.”

“It picks up more,” Nick said, wearing a SharkNinja T-shirt. “It’s not noisy. I can vacuum in the morning and not wake anybody up.”