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Cleaning In the USA – We Live in Turbulent Times

We Live in Turbulent Times
There are a lot of things going on in the cleaning industry right now. On the surface things may look normal and calm, but behind the scenes the winds of change are picking up speed and the breeze is blowing in your direction.

What’s different this time is that it’s not just chemicals, equipment and processes that are changing. The fundamental structure of the cleaning industry in the USA is evolving and I don’t think anybody knows for sure where it’s going. Most everyone involved has their own agenda and a direction in which they would like to move the industry, but I see that as much easier said than done. As you read this a number of different special interest groups and industry associations are jockeying for position in order to establish themselves as “the clearing house” that will represent the cleaning industry when it comes to developing what are known as industry standards.

One such group is the recently formed Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI). This is a group made up of mostly chemical and equipment manufacturers, with a few consultants and publishers mixed in. It’s one of those things where you may not like what’s going on, but you can’t afford to be left out either. The group has formed a steering committee and has held several meetings in their effort to establish themselves as the lead group in the standards setting competition. We are already beginning to seeing a flurry of activity as competing groups and established associations come forward with their own version of a process for setting industry standards. Over the next six months watch as the BSCAI, IICRC, ISSA, IEHA, ASCR and many others join the fray.

And there in lies the problem. The cleaning industry is extremely fragmented and doesn’t speak with a united voice. There are already some thirty different associations or groups that say they represent various small or specialty segments of the cleaning industry. What the industry doesn’t have is one group or association that represents all the various specialty segments and the cleaning industry as a whole.

I think the industry needs an association of associations. The Association of Cleaning Industry Associations (ACIA) would have a Board of Directors that is made up of the President or Executive Director from each of the various non-profit groups and associations that represent the various segments of the cleaning industry. What scares the existing associations and groups about this idea is that no one group would be able to control it. And that’s the way it should be. Considering the fact that many of the existing associations are in financial difficulty due to declining membership (among other things), I question the need for more associations that do little more than collect membership fees and produce an out of date magazine full of useless advertising.

Getting industry leaders to look beyond their own egos and personal agendas long enough to focus on improving the industry instead of their group’s bank account balance is much tougher work than most industry leaders are willing to tackle.

IICRC Approves New Certification Categories
In November of 2004, right after the Connections Conference in Las Vegas, NV the IICRC Certification Council and Board held one of its twice-annual meetings. I only attend the Certification Council meetings because I can only take so much of the IICRC at one time without a loss of the little bit of sanity that I have left.

At the November meeting the group approved new certification categories for Rug Cleaning Tech (RCT), Leather Cleaning Tech (LCT) and Stone Maintenance Tech (SMT). I fought hard to keep the SMT program from getting approved. I simply don’t think the program is ready for prime time. Primarily because I believe it represents people selling products and does not have the support or involvement of the stone restoration industry. Further, in my opinion, the way the SMT program was ramroded through the process was a joke and made a mockery of what the IICRC is supposed to be all about. Anyway I lost the battle and life goes on.

Speakers at the Certification Council meeting included Dianna Bisswurm with the ISSA who talked about how the ISSA and the IICRC could work more closely together in the future. Chuck Hill with 3M gave a presentation on the companies soil protection products; Kyle Strait with Tenant Industries made a presentation on the companies new Soil Transfer Extraction technology, which combines a cylindrical bonnet-cleaning roller with wet extraction in an auto scrubber for carpet. Stan Hulin gave a presentation on the size, value and importance of the hard floor surface market.

The Floor Care Tech and Stone Maintenance Tech committees met jointly to discuss various issues related to each course.

Mike West gave an update on the progress and plans for the JanSan Task Force, which is approved to develope an apprenticeship type Carpet Cleaning Course. A request for proposals will be issued in the next few months to interested and qualified schools.

The next IICRC meetings are on April 16th & 17th, right before the Connection’s Conference in Orlando, FL, which begins on the 18th. The fall certification council and board meeting will be held in Vancouver, WA October 22 to 24. The IICRC Instructors Symposium will be held in Vancouver, WA on October 20 & 21, 2005.

For info on the Connection Conference visit:

For more info on the IICRC meeting and future dates, visit:

The ONE SHOW for the Cleaning And Maintenance Industry
The ISSA/INTERCLEAN 2005 trade show and convention was held in New Orleans LA on November 16 to 19. It was a great show. Very busy, lots of meetings, seminars, and events all going on at the same time. There wasn’t enough time to attend all the different seminar tracks and see all the exhibitors on the show floor.

Here are my high lights of this year’s ISSA/INTERCLEAN show:

New Orleans
What a place. Bourbon Street in the French Quarter is a gas. Food, drink, entertainment and people flow freely 24 hours a day. It’s as if the place never closes or sleeps. In some ways it’s like Las Vegas, but more of a street party. I hit a few jazz bars for entertainment and refreshments and ended up with two CD’s and a headache. I have a favorite dive bar that serves the best Red Beans and Rice in New Orleans. After three helpings in two days, I couldn’t eat any more and it took me a week to recuperate.

The Trade Show Floor
Although the traffic seemed lighter than usual when compared to past years, it could have been the wider aisles. Who knows and nobody cares. According to the ISSA there were over 700 booths and 16,000 attendees so it was a big show. I am always amazed at all the new things I see being exhibited on the show floor and this year was no different. In fact there were so many new items that I video taped some of the best things I came across and they are available for viewing on my website at:

Facility Service Provider Networking Lunch
I don’t remember what we had for lunch but the room was a sell out with roughly 400 people in attendance. Each table had a different moderator who led the discussion. At my table we had two people from a health care facility, two custodial managers from a biotech firm and five supervisors from universities and colleges. Everyone had a chance to discuss their operation, some of the challenges they face and to bring up any topic they wanted to talk about with the group. Most of our discussion was about the need for training and how it can be applied in different locations.

The event was sponsored by long time industry education supporter Marvin Klein of Portion Pac Chemical Corp. Thank you and hat’s off to Marvin, PortionPac and the ISSA. The event was appreciated by everyone and provided an excellent opportunity for industry professionals to get together in a non-commercial setting for networking and education.

ISSA/IICRC meeting
A meeting was held with the Executive Director, incoming President and other key players at ISSA and representatives of the IICRC. The group got together for a one hour meeting to discuss areas of mutual interest and future cooperation in bring advanced education to the cleaning industry. The meeting was positive and will hopefully lead to better communications between the groups and more educational opportunities for cleaning professionals in the future.

Floor Care Technician Seminar
Bob Merkt, Chair of the FCT committee for the IICRC conducted a floor care technician certification course during the ISSA show with roughly 60 people in attendance. That’s got to be a record crowd for the FCT program. Hopefully we will see more such classes at the ISSA Show here in the USA and around the world where ISSA/INTERCLEAN Shows are being held.

International Shows
Regardless of where you live in the world, cleaning is important. Proof of the growing interest in cleaning around the world is the number of international Shows that are being scheduled each year. ISSA/INTERCLEAN has led the way in spreading the word and bringing shows to far away locations. Listed below is just some of the international shows on the schedule at this time:


ISSA/INTERCLEAN – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
May 9 to 12, 2006,
Clean Asia Show – Shanghai, China
September 7 to 9, 2005, email:
ISSA/INTERCLEAN – Mexico City, Mexico
March 8 to 10, 2006,,
ISSA/INTERCLEAN – Warsaw, Poland
June 30 to July 2, 2005, Email:
The Cleaning Show, – Birmingham, UK
March 1 to 3, 2005,
CleanEXPO, St. Petersburg, Russia
April 11 to 15, 2005,
Pulire Cleaning Show, Verona, Italy
June 7 to 10, 2005,

George Bush Sr. Speaks
George Bush (The Elder Bush) was the keynote speaker at this years show. It was a packed house and unless you got there early and had a chair, chances are you didn’t get in. Being an ex-president was speaking the security was very tight, although I did manage to talk my way past a security guard who was determined to turn everyone a way at the door who didn’t show up before the presentation started.

Even though the President had the sniffles and was a little older, he gave a warm and honest presentation that was well received by the audience. Here are some of the Presidents key points:

I’m an unabashed optimist about the future of the country.
I’d like to see less regulation and tax burden on business and the economy.
The economy continues to pick up steam and build momentum. The indicator points toward a better tomorrow. I think things are looking good.
After 911 we lost one million jobs in the 3 months, that has been tough to overcome, but we continue to make progress.
I’m not proud of and I am troubled by the corporate scandals. It’s important that businesses operate in a transparent, ethical and legal manner.
One of the keys to success is to surround yourself with a strong team and give them the support and credit they deserve, especially when things go wrong.
Follow your mother’s advice.
The NY Times. I can’t stand it and now I’m free to say so.
Leadership is a lonely job, but you have to stand by your principles.
The toughest decision to make for a president is to send Americas sons and daughters into harms way.
I believe we are laying the foundation today for peace and justice in the world in the 21st century.
I prefer action to rhetoric
We have more to gain by working together than by working alone.
I’m happily retired and hopefully active and useful.
People have been nice; there are less and less protestors at my appearances.
Throwing up on the Prime Minister of Japan was not one of my best moments. I invited him to the ranch in TX and he came. I told him this time the dinner would be on me.
It’s about family and friends, not legacy.
Don’t turn your back on your friends when things get tough.
Michael Moore is a slime ball.
I don’t think the elite liberal media ever got the pulse of the public. They were predictable.
We can’t surrender or allow our security to be determined by the UN. You can’t count on the UN or others to wage your battles or expect them to support the use of force.
I haven’t changed my mind on broccoli. You can’t call me a flip flopper on broccoli. I still don’t care for it.

ISSA Ponders Opening Membership to End Users
BSC’s, FSP’s and ISP’s. Sound like more alphabet soup to me. But according to the ISSA, it’s their hope for the future. As the JanSan supply and distribution industry continues to flatten and consolidate, the ISSA has lost members and income. As part of their strategic planning process (a way to make sure they don’t go broke in the future) a determination has been made to ask members to vote to change the bylaws so ISSA membership in the US and Canada can be expanded to include certain groups of what used to be referred to as end users and are now called Facility Service Providers (FSP), Building Service Contractors (BSC) and In-house Service Providers (ISP).

This is no shoe in, and ISSA management is working hard to promote the concept to its members before the vote. The ISSA today is made up mostly of distributors and manufacturers. A few years ago, there was a similar battle over the idea of opening up the trade show to end users, which did happen and I think most agree it was a good idea. At the same time a small number of companies did drop out of the ISSA and no longer participate in their show over that issue.

I don’t think the ISSA should be in the business of competing with other associations. In my opinion a much more productive approach would be to find a way to bring the existing association together under the umbrella of the ISSA and to other existing associations find ways to offer additional benefits and build their membership. The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has taken this approach and it’s been fairly successful for them and a number of smaller industry segment associations.

One of the reasons the ISSA wants to go after BSC is that they haven’t been able to make any progress in getting the Building Service Contractors Association (BSCAI) to participate in the ISSA’s trade show and convention. For some reason there is bad blood and hard feelings between the Executive Directors of both groups, being that neither is willing to budge, there is a stand off that is holding the industry hostage.

Association of Residential Cleaning Professionals (ARCP)
Quietly in the shadow of the ISSA show in New Orleans, a number of smaller, but related associations held their own conventions. This has proven to be a great way to pull the industry together and bring more people to the ISSA trade show. Examples include the IEHA and ARCP and I think you’ll see more of this type of thing happening in the future. In fact let me predict right here that within 5 years the IICRC, Connections and the BSCAI as well as other groups (BOMA, IFMA) will actively participate in the ISSA Show. It’s really a winner for everyone and only a matter of time. Many of the smaller shows and associations are struggling or have already given up the ghost. And unfortunately many of the people who belong to the smaller groups don’t even know that the ISSA exists. Only now is the word starting to spread to many of the members of the smaller associations and the cleaning industry in general, that there is a much bigger picture available for viewing.

Now about the ARCP. It’s a new association for house cleaners. I had an opportunity to address the group about Specialty Cleaning issues and then hung around to sit through a number of excellent presentations by other speakers. ARCP is doing a great job of filling a long existing need in residential segment of the cleaning industry. For more information on the membership or the groups next convention or other educational events, visit:

What I Didn’t Like.
For the first time in 15 years the ISSA ran me around in circles about getting a press pass to attend the show. I guess I’ll never understand the logic behind dumb rules that show up out of nowhere and are arbitrarily applied. It must have taken me 15 emails and then I finally had to ask the publisher of INCLEAN Australia to request a press pass for me. What a bunch of crap.

The ISSA can’t be that broke that they need a few bucks out of me. Heck I’m the guy who thinks there can and should be 50,000 people attending the show.

Other than that it was a great show. I recommend it to everyone, not the crap, the show.

If you want to see what you missed or what you don’t want to miss next year. Check out a free ten-minute streaming video of 2004 ISSA/INTERCLEAN Show at:

This year’s ISSA/INTERCLEAN Show is in Las Vegas, NV on October 18 to 21, 2005. Don’t Miss it. For more info visit:

World Of Concrete
73,000 people from all over 111 countries showed up in Las Vegas to visit the 1597 booths in the exhibit hall and 40 conference seminars. I go because the show deals with such subjects as concrete polishing, decorative concrete and epoxy type coatings that we have to deal with on floors that have to be maintained.

It was a great show. It’s just amazing what is being done with concrete these days. It is really becoming the building material of the future.

I attended one four-hour seminar on troubleshooting decorative concrete and to my surprise there were over 900 people in the class. If they can get 85,000 people to come to a show about concrete, getting 50,000 people to an ISSA Show should be a breeze. For information on the 2006 show in Las Vegas, Jan 17 to 20, visit:

That’s It

Ok, that’s it for this month. I could go on and on, but that will just have to wait for another time. If you have any questions or want to talk you can reach me at:

If you want to buy book or video or attend a seminar about cleaning or find more links and information about cleaning than you ever knew existed, visit my website at:

For a ride, click on the NEW; Seminar, Trade Show, Association and Publication buttons on the home page. Till we meet again. Keep it Clean.