What you gain attending the annual cleaning convention is priceless. Taken together with the four associations who gathered in Las Vegas in November, the industry trends, association initiatives and major awards were uniquely uniting for the cleaning industry.
If ever there was proof that the cleaning industry is strong, large, and growing, the evidence could be found at the 2013 trade show and conventions in Las Vegas. Attendance records were broken, vendor participation was at an all-time high, and annual awards honored unsung heroes.

Centered around ISSA/INTERCLEAN 2013 were its three co-located conventions by IEHA – the International Executive Housekeepers Association, ARCSI – the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International, and BSCAI – the Building Service Contractors Association International. With each of these associations reporting record attendance, it’s no wonder the main trade show was packed for two-and-a-half days.

Trends in the Cleaning Industry
Within our ever-evolving industry, change is inevitable, but it’s the changes that catch on with the customers who demand quality and specialty service as well as the businesses who work together up and down the supply chain who really define the trends and challenges facing the cleaning industry at large.

The “green” movement has had its day and continues to enjoy a specialty following, but the lasting trend from that effort is one of sustainability: the balance between achieving our clean goals, rendering minimal negative impact on the natural environment, and operating a successful and profitable business.

Toward that end, many manufacturers launched or featured low-impact salt-based cleaner/sanitizers, including some designed for use by residential cleaning companies. The number of steam-based cleaning and disinfecting options is growing, and the availability of cleaning enzymes is expanding.

Aging Building Maintenance
More than once, the challenges of servicing the “aging building market” was a topic of presentation and discussion. For many years, cleaning was cleaning, with no standard body of knowledge or skills established. With construction remaining slow, rents rising, and businesses moving to older buildings, BSCs find themselves faced with a well-worn building where no amount of removing soil can make things shine the way they used to.

BSCs are faced with the conundrum of feeding into the “pretty and shiny = clean” consumer mentality or potentially losing out on contracts when maintenance or even renovation is the best choice for achieving the consumers’ end-goal appearance. For this reason, the multiple-solution bid is becoming more common, providing the opportunity to place the best option (whatever that may be) in a value perspective.

Mobile Business Solutions 
The number of online and mobile business solutions grows every year, so it was only a matter of time before technology-based solutions made their way into the cleaning industry. Mobile business solutions are major investments that empower cost-cutting savings in operations and support services. They make a huge, positive difference in margins. Online quoting tools and automated sales systems help land new clients. Customer satisfaction and survey tools help retain great clients. These mobile solutions also enhance efficiency in scheduling, creating work orders and dispatching field staff.

When you’re evaluating your existing solutions or looking for a new solution, be sure to check for mobile and cloud interfaces with coordinating products, including ISSA Innovation Award winner CleanTelligent Software for their mobile surveys and work orders. And be sure to check out our June article, which compares options for scheduling and field services software.

Trends Among Associations
Since 1998, ISSA has shared the annual ISSA/INTERCLEAN Show with at least one, and now three, co-located associations. Together they represent “customers” of the various manufacturer and distributor groups who comprise ISSA’s primary membership. And in those 15 years, IEHA, BSCAI and ARCSI have worked together with ISSA to empower growth within the industry at large and within their own constituencies. 

IEHA executive director Beth Risinger commented that about 20 years ago, when she first reached out to ISSA, the leadership of other associations was skeptical of initiating a relationship between ISSA and a group considered its customers. But today, she and the leadership of ARCSI and BSCAI have forged strong friendships and an enormous business network. This strengthens the member companies of each group.

BSCAI opened its convention with a unique panel including leadership from BOMA – Building Owners and Managers Association, IREM – Institute of Real Estate Management, and IFMA – International Facility Management Association, along with the BSCAI President. Though the panel was focused on addressing important questions for building service contractors (BSCs), the conversation and its residual value spans the industry.

Our common cause is the delivery of exceptional products and services to the occupants of the spaces we build, manage, clean, and maintain. When we enter into business arrangements with this knowledge, knowing the mission and recognizing the value of our respective associations, we better benefit each other and ourselves. Specifically, we best benefit our end users by:
  – Cooperating and collaborating with members of related industry associations
  – Sharing mutually beneficial resources – bodies of knowledge, educational programs, and certifications
  – Engaging in informed supply chain relationships, which provides the best possible experience for end users


IEHA – ISSA Lifetime Achievement Award
Beth Risinger

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award marks the 15th anniversary of the landmark and highly-successful partnership between ISSA and IEHA. And for the first time, IEHA participated in the selection process and presentation of the award. As the executive director of IEHA, Beth Risinger has grown that organization to the largest of the three association partners to ISSA. Together with ISSA, she has championed education, certification programs and the development of many leadership tools. She has authored Kip the Koala, the first coloring book for children about cleaning.
BSCAI Industry Service Award and ISSA Industry Distinguished Service Awards
Varsity Facility Services

Two of the industry’s top service awards were granted this year to Founder Don Aslett and Board of Directors Chairman Arlo Luke, both of Varsity Facility Services. These two college friends started Varsity Facility Services over 55 years ago and have grown it into a powerhouse.

The company has interests in every area of the cleaning industry and has achieved several milestones. It was the first company to become CIMS Certified with Honors. In addition, Don Aslett is the founder and curator of the Museum of Clean, an historical collection of cleaning instruments and advertisements which serve as a testament to the role of cleaning in the evolution of society. In his award comments, Don asserted that, though “we’re still invisible” to many, he can always tell a professional cleaner by the sagging pants, where their keys have pulled them out of shape.

BSCAI Employee of the Year Award
Patrick Morgan

It’s not often that the heroes of the cleaning industry are known outside of their association, let alone outside of the company for which they work. But thanks to the power of our connected world, the tale of Patrick Morgan of Sunshine Cleaning Systems went viral in early 2013. So on November 20th, when Larry Calufetti, President of Sunshine Cleaning Systems, introduced Patrick for the BSCAI Employee of the Year Award, sponsored by Hillyard, Patrick was known, recognized, and appreciated for the example he sets for members of the industry, and also for consumers. 

ARCSI President’s Award
Rachel Farquer, My Maid Service

In its closing President’s Reception, ARCSI honored Rachel Farquer of My Maid Service, who in 2014 will become the majority owner and general manager of the company’s newest office in Dayton, OH. Having started off as an average cleaning technician, Rachel’s true talent in leadership and management was revealed when she transitioned to office work in the later months of a pregnancy. Today, at just 24 years old, Rachel is the first President’s Award recipient to have risen through the ranks of her employer’s company to become a majority owner.  Read Derek Christian’s nomination letter.

Through awards and the occasional viral video, members and companies in our industry continually advance the notion that “clean is a condition,” in the words of Don Aslett. With far more than just the four industry associations which convene with ISSA/INTERCLEAN each year, it is essential to remember that all are aiming toward the same ultimate goal: a strong and growing cleaning industry perceived as valuable by our society.