50 Years of Industry History
1946 – Bishop Laundry and Cleaners founded in Dothan, Alabama by E.E. Bishop, Sr.
1952 – Bishop Laundry purchases Albany Laundry Company in Albany, Georgia, which celebrated its 60th anniversary last year. As a child laborer for my father, I begin my “career” washing trucks and sweeping floors for 10 cents per hour. Every spring break, summer and holiday, like many of my peers, I had a part-time job, as the son of the boss (SOB) doing whatever no one else wanted to do.
Carpet in those days was a luxury and most was loose-laid. We would go to homes in the spring, move the furniture, roll up the carpet and pad, move the furniture back in place; clean and store the rug all summer while people used cooler hard floors; return the rugs in the fall, move the furniture, lay out the pad, roll out the clean rug on top and replace the furniture – all for 8 cents per square foot!
1957 – The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) decides that broadloom carpet is durable enough to be used as a primary floor covering in homes covered by 30-year mortgages.
The days of the major rug cleaning plants were numbered, as the industry began a transition from loose-lay rugs to tacked broadloom carpet installations, and carpet cleaning began transitioning from in-plant to on-location cleaning.
early ‘60s – attended my first National Institute of Rug Cleaners (NIRC) convention in Chicago as a boy, where I had the privilege of hearing Cecil Treadway, Armin Dohanian, Merle West and Jim Kashishan discussed rugs and rug cleaning. A visit to Oriental Rug Cleaning Company in Dallas, TX, hosted by the Amirkhan family, was priceless and inspiring.
1971 – Fresh out of Vietnam and with the nation at full employment, I followed the course of least resistance and took a “part-time” job with my father’s carpet, upholstery and rug cleaning firm in Albany, Georgia.
1972 – We rapidly expanded into fire and water damage restoration, and building services. Early on, I converted our company from shampoo carpet cleaning to “steam” cleaning using the Steam Power unit (3-gallon fill and recovery capacity!). Dirty water is sellable!
I attended my first two-day carpet cleaning course sponsored by Chemspec (founded in 1968) and taught by its founders, Bob Hughes and Dan Savanuck. Guest speaker, Gene Bates, demonstrated the Bates 1511 ($1511 price), and later built the Big Red truck-mount powered by a 50-HP Perkins diesel. With a Big Red, a cleaner no longer competed: he merely drove to his competitor’s place of business, flung open the truck’s doors and intimidated his competitor out of business!
And if there’s a grandfather of steam cleaning, it’s got to be Dick Maplesden and his wonderful wife Jackie. They ran a first-class one-couple operation in Los Angeles while I was trying to build a dynasty. He proved that a small and profitable operation could be highly rewarding and he gave more back to his industry through AIDS (later ASCR, now RIA), than he ever received from it.
In the early ’70s, I attended a two-day carpet inspector course taught by Ned Hopper, Technical Director of The Carpet and Rug Institute, followed by a two-day carpet manufacturing course taught by Reg Burnett in Dalton, GA. Visited J&J mills with the tour led by Jim Jolly, J&J President.
During this time, I purchased my first real steam cleaning machine from Certified Chemical and Equipment Company, Cleveland, OH (Joe Conway; Herb Harpham). While operating the unit in my plant (thank goodness!), all the welds on the unit’s frame failed simultaneously due to sympathetic resonance (vibration) and all the mechanical components fell to the floor! Later I purchased a truck-mount from Certified, which I eventually sawed in half and converted to propane heating, since the fuel-oil burner refused to perform.
I attended my first carpet cleaning course taught by Ron Toney for Ed York’s Fiber Cleaning Schools of America (FCSA), followed by a week-long spotting and bleaching course at the National Institute of Dry Cleaners taught by Howard “Pappy” Reeves.
I shadowed Martin King, father of modern industry fire restoration, for two days in Silver Springs, Maryland. Sat under Martin, Major Long and Dr. Steve Spivak, as they lectured on cleaning and restoration procedures at the AIDS Convention in Atlanta, GA. It was there that I first met Ed York.
Ed was filled with ideas and concepts, many of which were partially formed. He rapidly established Blue Ribbon Carpet Cleaning, Steam Services Associates, Fiber Cleaning Schools of America (FCSA), the Society of Cleaning Technicians (SCT), the IICUC and Disaster Kleenup. With the help of his gifted and patient wife, Wanda, and the industry talent that was drawn to Ed, many remarkable technical and marketing ideas became a reality.
Neil Atkinson was one of the first Executive Administrators of the IICUC during the Ed York era. During those days, if I didn’t like an exam question, I’d simply call Neil and we’d make the revision on the fly with no committees to complicate matters, since there was only one IICRC-approved instructor. Neil was “the IICUC” in those days and he remains a major industry contributor today.
Among Ed’s most talented recruits were Lee Pemberton and Tom Hill. For decades Tom has operated the IICRC management company founded and originally administered by Kenway Mead. When the IICUC (later IICRC) board came up with multiple ideas, whether good or ill conceived, Kenway and Tom both had a habit of saying, “We shall make it so!” Few will ever understand or appreciate the time and treasure poured into the IICRC by Kenway Consultants, Inc. (KCI).
And what can one say about Tom’s “right-hand man,” Lindsay Barlow? She rides herd over recalcitrant Board members, instructors, and registrants alike. She a primary player who, “. . . makes it so.”
1974 – After trying to build a dynasty while spending my father’s retirement, I decided to move to Dothan, Alabama to start Bishop Clean Care, a diversified cleaning and restoration firm.
Under Ed York’s FCSA banner, I taught my first IICUC-approved Carpet Cleaning Technician class with Glenn Twist, former OK legislator and Technical Director of SCT. The course covered carpet/upholstery cleaning, carpet repair, water restoration, management, marketing and sales – all in 2½ days!
1975 – At the request of Ed York, I taught the industry’s first fire restoration course with Tom Hill in Philadelphia, PA. Tom and I would present for a couple of hours, and then retreat to our hotel room to figure out what we’d be teaching next.
I purchased an 8000 ft2 facility for expansion; rolled up the warehouse door on Monday after moving in and thought to myself, “Bishop, what have you done?!. The following Monday, after filling the warehouse with furnishings from a major church fire, I rolled up the same door and thought, “Bishop, you’re a genius!” If you build it, they will come . . .
1977 – Clean Care Seminars, Inc. separated from Bishop Clean Care.
During the early ’80s, Mike Lynch became the President of the IICUC. It was under his leadership, and with considerable political wrangling through North Carolina Senator, Jesse Helms’ office, that the IICUC became a non-profit corporation, changing its name to IICRC.
October, 1986 – Attended the World of Carpet convention at the Atlanta Merchandise Mart where DuPont introduced StainMasterCM-branded nylon carpet. The StainMasterCM marketing effort was so huge that the Merchandise Mart hired police officers to direct traffic on the escalators! There, I met Bill Doan who, in January, 1987, retained me to teach DuPont employees about professional spotting and cleaning. Seems that StainMasterCM wasn’t really bullet-proof after all.
Over the next decade, Bill went on to work with IICRC’s Tom Hill to establish a DuPont Cleaner Referral Service, causing the ranks of Certified Firms to swell from some 2000 to over 4000. Bill tirelessly promoted cleaning as an essential link in the “carpet value chain,” which includes: fiber producers, manufacturers, specifiers, retailers, installers, and chemical and equipment manufacturers.
1988 – I met two women from Chattanooga, TN, Ruth Travis and Ginger Kachline. Didn’t know much about the technical details of cleaning, but boy could they sell! Their company motto was, “Owned and operated by women who care!” which Ruth’s father modified to: “Owned and operated by women; who cares?”
Travis went on to become multiple-term President of ISCT and later, she followed Dane Gregory and Carey Vermeulen in the mid-2000s as the first female President of the non-profit IICRC. She provided no-nonsense leadership, and among many other accomplishments during her Presidency was the completion of the IICRC S520 Mold Remediation Standard in 2006.
1991 – While attending a SCT convention in Tampa, Florida in April, a group of cleaners were approached by Ned Hopper, CRI Technical Director, and Bob Cannon with the Dixie Group. “We need an industry Standard for cleaning; if you don’t write one, we will.” Since I could think of no one less qualified to write cleaning industry standards than a bunch of manufacturers, I excerpted two chapters from my book, “More Answers about Carpet Cleaning” and that became the basis for the industry’s first standard. IICRC S100, as it was titled, was peer reviewed by the IICRC Certification Board and became the first “industry standard,” which was completed and printed by the CRI by October, 1991.
1994 – Claude Blackburn convened a group of water restorers at his old tin building in Burlington, Washington to discuss a water restoration standard. Among the attendees was Dr. Mike Berry, Deputy Director of the U.S. EPA. Mike pointed out that, if we didn’t write an industry standard, the government would write one for us. And, he went on to say, “You don’t want the government to write your industry standard!”
The first S500 was written in 1994, with formal objections from ASCR leadership; later withdrawn, to their credit, when the industry response was overwhelmingly positive.
During the mid-90s, indoor environmental quality (IEQ) was becoming a major issue in the minds of Americans. In 1994, with a government grant, Drs. Mike Berry and Gene Cole began a study of 20 buildings in Denver to characterize their IEQ.
Soon after, Dr. Berry convened a group in Chapel Hill, NC at the University of North Carolina’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center and began a world-class study on Total Building Cleaning Effectiveness, which later was published and peer-reviewed in the Journal of Environmental Health. Under Berry’s leadership, cleaning has evolved into science.
1997 – If Claude Blackburn and Lloyd Weaver are considered the fathers of the water damage restoration industry, then Chuck Dewald and Larry Carlson (Phoenix Equipment) are the fathers of water-restoration science. That east-Tennessee redneck, Dewald, came up with the brilliant idea of turning air movers around and point them toward the most difficult materials to dry – walls and frames. Well, of course!
Chuck built the first water restoration “flood” house and began teaching restoration science, confirmed by tangible results, rather than just theory. Carlson worked with Dewald to introduce LGR dehumidifiers, while Kurt Bolden brought us the HydroX extraction unit.
1999 – The IICRC S500 water restoration standard was revised under the leadership of Larry Cooper and Claudia Ramirez, with editing by Jim Holland and Jeff Bishop.
2000 – IICRC VP Travis demands that Carey Vermeulen’s committee complete an Upholstery Cleaning Standard. Since the world didn’t end on Y2K, the entire standard was written by three of us in my office on January 2-4, 2000, and later peer-reviewed by the IICRC Certification Board by spring, 2000. Carey went on to become the second Canadian President of the IICRC, preceded by Eric Rottmeister and later followed by Paul Pearce of England.
2002 – Volunteers (Bishop, Bolden, Costa, Dobbins, Dewald) met at Shaw Technical Services in Dalton, under the leadership of Carey Mitchell and Ruth Travis, to conduct the SCRT Water Extraction Efficiency (WET) study. This added to the body of water restoration science by demonstrating that modern extraction equipment could remove up to 97% of water from both carpet and cushion.
2003 – Back in 1999, an idea of a consolidated industry convention was floated by a group of associations. However, in 2003, under the capable leadership of Larry Cooper (Meetings and Events/Textile Consultants), Connections Convention and Conference became a reality. Before that time, industry vendors supported about 15 conventions annually - for the most part, speaking only to each other.
“Connections” was the water-shed event that changed all that. After the first convention in Las Vegas, SCRT donated their venue in Florida, and Connections Conference was born. Of course, Cooper didn’t make all this happen by himself. He’s fortunate enough to be married to Trina – the brains of his outfit – and a wonderful and supportive group of family, friends and volunteers.
2006 – IICRC, with the hard work of countless industry volunteers, publishes ANSI/IICRC S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation.
2011 - The International Cleaning and Restoration Association (ICRA) is established by seven international and regional trade associations.
2012 – IICRC moves toward completion of two additional standards: IICRC S600 Carpet Installation Standard, Chaired by James Mullins of Shaw Industries, and IICRC S800 Carpet Inspection Standard, Chaired by Bill Doan and Lew Migliore (LGM Services).
In 2013, “Connections” is being re-invented by the International Cleaning and Restoration Association (ICRA) with the leadership of Cooper and company as “The Experience,” opening in Clearwater Beach, Florida in April of this year.
Well, after all this rambling, two sayings are prominent in my mind (and I paraphrase): “If we don’t learn from history, we’re doomed to repeat it,” and “We all stand taller because we stand upon the shoulders of those who came before.”
The cleaning and restoration industry has a robust, colorful and downright amazing history. It was built upon the shoulders of one altruistic volunteer after another. Few industries can boast of such rapid and remarkable progress.
And I’ve just touched the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Time and creeping senility prevents me from giving credit to the accomplishments of myriad volunteers who have elevated the quality of life for all industry participants.
[Bishop is a 41-year veteran of the cleaning/restoration industry. He is an internationally recognized author and trainer, and he serves as an IICRC, SCRT and ICRA volunteer. www.CleanCareSeminars.net]