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Cleaning in the USA

A Russian Connection
This month I’m in Russia conducting a Cleaning Business Operations Seminar for The Training & Resource Bureau, which is operated by RONOVA Cleaning Company in Moscow.

Fifty people attended the two-day seminar program, which included contractors, in-house custodial managers and building owners from Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as several regions of Russia (Siberia, Far East and the Urals) and other countries including Kazakhstan and Belorussia.

The program covered such subjects as Successful Business Strategies, Licenses and Legal Issues, Marketing and Selling Cleaning Services, Training and Motivation of Employees, Services that are in Demand, Bidding and Estimating, Conducting a Building Survey, Workloading and Submitting a Proposal, as well as other subjects. (more…)

Cleaning in the USA

International Custodial Advisors Network (ICAN)
A new association has been born. ICAN is for cleaning related consultants, advisors and educators. The goal of the group is to promote it’s members to prospective customers, to improve the cleaning industry and to let others know that professional consultants are available to assist a manager, owner, company or association in solving a cleaning related challenge or problem.

The group has a website with a directory of it’s members and offers an “Ask the Experts” service via Cleaning Management Magazine where anyone can post a question for ICAN members to answer. So far, roughly two or three questions are being posted and answered each day. The group has membership categories for those actively involved as advisors (primary) and others in the industry that support the group’s efforts (associates) such as manufacturers, associations, individuals and publishers. (more…)

Cleaning In the USA

Tomorrow We Chose a President
By the time you read this, it will all be over. Here’s my prediction. Bush by as much as 10%, but more than likely by 5 to 7%. I just don’t see the country electing a peace nic while we are at war. Beyond that, Kerry is too liberal for my liking. I think people should work for what they get, not have it handed to them as the Democratic Party is known for doing.

I find it interesting how divided the country is on this election. Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, most people tend to be more emotional than logical in their decision as to whom to vote for. Personally I’m sick of both parties and both candidates. I don’t see either one as inspiring, exciting or insightful.

The country and the world are being strangled by the demand for petroleum and there is no talk of alternative energy sources or energy independence. The Earth is dying from pollution and there is no talk of changing our wasteful ways to save the environment or mankind. (more…)

Cleaning in the USA

Summer is a busy time of the year for me. I travel a lot, attending shows and seminars wherever I can find them. In the last couple of months, I’ve been on the road at least three weeks each month, often returning home for a day or two before heading off in search of another learning adventure.
Here are some of the highlights of my June and July travels.

Cleaning in the USA

JohnsonDiversey, President and CEO Greg Lawton Talks About the Future
On Friday May 3rd, the sale of Diversey Lever to Johnson Wax Professional became a reality when documents were signed and money changed hands. And on that day JohnsonDiversey became the new global name for the company. The purchase is unique for many reasons, one of which is that Johnson Wax, a $1 billion dollar a year company, bought Diversey Lever, a $1.6 billion dollar a year company.

Having talked with CEO Lawton in Scotland after he spoke at the World Federation of Building Service Contractors Association Congress, I was invited to attend a JohnsonDiversey (JD) press conference with Lawton and other senior executives at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN Show in Amsterdam.

A Time For Education

I think that we all know that employee training is an important and necessary management function and responsibility. It’s difficult if not impossible for an employee or a supervisor to do a good job if management doesn’t take the time to make sure that everyone understands what is expected of them and how “a Good Job” is defined.

I think it’s time to take education in the cleaning industry to a higher level. If you look at any other profession, advanced education is available to those who want it. You can attend a college or university to get an Associate of Arts degree, a Bachelors degree, a Masters or even a Ph.D. in your chosen field. That is not the case in the cleaning industry. In fact, you can barely get a meaningful certificate with your name on it, let alone any formal academic degree. I think that needs to change.

I’d like to challenge some of the large corporations like, 3m, Johnson Wax, Nilfisk-Advance and others who take millions of dollars in profits out of the industry each year to put some of those profits back into the industry as an investment in everyone’s future. This goes for industry trade associations as well. I think it’s time that both groups take a leadership role and fund the establishment of a professorship chair in Cleaning Science at several Universities in the U.S. and several foreign counties.

Oh, I’m sure some will be offended by my comments and challenge, but I don’t care. The way I see it, our industry and the millions of people who clean America’s buildings each day and night will never get the respect they deserve if we don’t establish an upward mobility ladder that provides those who want it, with an opportunity for advanced education that brings with it better pay, recognition, research and factual information.

Ok, Corporate and Association leaders, where are you when it’s time to step up to the plate? Are you willing to support investing money in the future of the cleaning industry or are your pockets the only place you’re willing to put the profits? Hello is anybody listening?

Textile Cleaners of America hold Symposium in Broomfield, CO

Approximately 150 professional cleaners from throughout the U.S, Canada and Australia attended the TCA’s first Commercial Carpet Cleaning Symposium on April 4 & 5.

Speakers covered such subjects as Product Specification, Inspections, Developing a Preventive Maintenance Program, Niche Marketing, Selling Commercial Add On’s, Pricing, Indoor Environmental Quality and other topics of interest. Symposium presenters included such well-known authorities as Jeff Bishop, Barry Costa, Dr. Michael Berry, Carey Mitchell and others.

The program not only included presentations by qualified speakers, but also hands on demonstrations of all the common carpet cleaning processes, as well as an evening workshop format that had groups of cleaners on their hands and knees inspecting, bidding and developing a maintenance program for various areas of the hotel where the event was held. This was truly a hand on event that added several new twists to the process of educating carpet cleaners on how they could better serve the needs of commercial customers with multiple locations in different geographic locations throughout the country.

The event was fast paced and well planned, with plenty of good food for all.

As part of the event, over $5000 was raised and donated to the fight against leukemia and other childhood cancers.

The next TCA Symposium is planned for May of 2003 in Dalton, GA. For more information contact the TCA at 888-990-9952 or visit their website at

Dr. Michael Berry Talks About the Value of Cleaning

Berry, who is well known for his work at the EPA and his book “Cleaning For Health,” spoke at the recent Textile Cleaners Association Symposium in Broomfield, CO, and here are some key points from his presentation.

– What we do as cleaner’s makes a difference in people’s lives and businesses.
– The purpose of business is to create wealth.
– If you know everything about you’re chosen field, you’re on the road to failure.
– Successful businesses capture the trust and loyalty of their customers so they will come back again and again.
– The business of cleaning is about managing indoor environments.
– Over 90% of environmental exposures occur indoors where people spend most of their time.
– Where we spend our time
o Home 60%
o Office or work 30%
o In Transit 6%
o Out of doors 3%
o Other 1%
– Health is a state of well being.
– Unsafe and unsanitary environments can create hopelessness in refugee camps, schools, hospitals, homes and businesses. When this happens people respond with drastic measures as they don’t see any alternative and they have nothing to lose.
– The work place environment plays a key role in employee productivity, and satisfaction as well as business success and profit.
– To achieve success in business you must think of your customer’s outcomes and performance more than your own.
– Get closer to your customer so you can better understand their needs.
– There is a lot of baloney, actually fraudulent material floating around in the cleaning industry. Dig deeper for facts that are based on scientific research and not marketing hype.
– Every environment constantly seeks disorder.
– Unsanitary buildings have health complaints, which impact the financial stability of businesses they house.
– Sensory irritation of the eyes, nose and throat are common health effects associated with a breakdown in cleaning and sanitation.
– Dust levels play a critical role in indoor air quality and building health issues.
– The public should be outraged that most schools, government buildings and public facilities are mismanaged and deteriorating because of it. Unfortunately these facilities are owned by everyone and taken care of by no one.
– Indoor environmental quality affects attitudes, productivity and health of occupants.
– To market your services you must be able to show and explain the cost/benefit relationship to potential customers.
– You can’t improve what you doing if you don’t measure what your doing.
– Dirty carpets support mold and bacteria growth, clean carpets don’t provide a health risk.
– Water and dirty environments are key factors in public and personal health. The single leading source of disease in the world is contaminated water. Your best protection is to keep indoor environments clean and dry.

As ever, Dr. Berry’s presentation was well received and gave everyone in the audience a fresh perspective on the value of cleaning and a few new things to think about.

Cleaning Industry News

HOST School Dates Set
Professional cleaners, building service contractors, facility managers, executive housekeepers, carpet mill technical service reps and mill salespeople are invited to attend the HOST basic school and Masters Course (graduate school) sessions. Dates for the January, February and March educational training sessions have been announced by Geoffrey Greeley, Director of Training for Racine Industries, Inc. Those attending the schools can earn Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) or Continuing Education Credits (CEC’s). The HOST School provides technical instruction in care, cleaning and total maintenance programming for commercial and residential carpeting. The different fibers, textures, and structures of carpet, and the cleaning requirements and maintenance planning steps for each type are reviewed in detail. Each school also includes a section on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).


Training For Your Custodial Workers

Some would question the need or wisdom of providing training for cleaning workers. Turnover is high. Cleaning isn’t brain surgery, what we’re talking about is dumping trashcans and mopping floors. Anybody can do that.

From some people’s perspective that may be the case. But comments like that are a sure sign that whoever is speaking doesn’t know what they are talking about. (more…)

Welfare-To-Work Custodial Training

If you could get a tax credit of up to 30% of the wages you pay on half the workers you hire over the next two years, would it help your bottom line? Would this allow you to be more competitive in the market place? How would you like to get something back from the Federal government instead of just paying your taxes each year? Are you interested in tapping into a new source of workers? Would it be helpful if the new workers you hire had completed a training program in professional cleaning before they go on your payroll? (more…)

The Need for Infection Control

This article is meant to alert lodging and food service personnel to the potential impact of infectious diseases, the risk of cross-contamination, and the need for infection-control programs throughout the hospitality industry. An infection-control program is not only a wise policy from the standpoint of avoiding health risks, but can also be an effective marketing strategy for those individual properties or corporations that seize the initiative.

The food service industry has experienced a phenomenal number of disease-related outbreaks. It is nationally recognized that only five to ten percent of food-related illnesses are reported to local environmental agencies and that the real number of illnesses is at least 25 times that reported. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) feels greater efforts should be made to determine the incidences of all diarrheal and food-borne diarrheal disease. In the hospitality industry, the process of eliminating disease-causing organisms is often taken for granted.