Monday, May 15, 2017

Professional Cleaners

Those of you who have read my blog in the past realize one thing.  I believe that we as cleaners are an under recognized bunch.  I often mention the story from my youth of when I was 19.  Young and foolish I guess, I mentioned to my grandfather that I didn't want to be a salesman.  His career of 58 years was all spent in sales in one capacity.  So I am sure when I heard this from him that he might have just been a tiny bit offended.

In what was definitely a teenage moment I said to him. My father has told me that if I want to take over his business some day that I will have to learn to sell.  By learning to sell he meant doing so for 10 or 12 years before I started to learn the intricacies of management.  In my infinite wisdom I countered with.  I always wanted to own my own business or be a professional.  

Immediately I knew that I had ruffled feathers by his response.  "Chris, what do you mean by professional?  Are you saying that you want to be a lawyer?"  Yes I said.  Or a Chemical Engineer or maybe an Architect.  "Chris you have it all wrong!" He told me.  "No matter who you are, no matter what you do, as soon as you receive a paycheque for your work efforts.  YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL"  A little surprised but clueless nonetheless the conversation faded off into his aches and pains.  

A few years later as I was training a group of cleaners I heard a voice say, "If we are expected to do this we are going to have to get paid a lot better.  What do they think we are doctors and nurses?"

The moral of the story:  If you like what you do.  You will make more than just great money as any professional should.  You will make yourself and those around you incredibly happy.

Self Education.... Where do you and where should you get the answer?

If you're like me, you look to the web.  There is no doubt in my mind that the answers to most of the world's problems can be found at the click.  I have on a multitude of occasions looked to the web for recommendations of ways to solve my home repair issues.  As a hobbyist furniture maker, I have created better work simply because I could locate specialized processes to give me the results I strive for.  This blog proves that you are just like me. 

Here is my issue:  Manufacturers and Distributors claim falsely that they are the only solution to the problem.   99 percent of us know enough to look elsewhere when we need something.   It's the other 10 percent.   (We all know I have been generous in my estimate) Old world solution is the space age solution of today!  It can be I guess. 

My caution.   Know your teacher. Research the researcher. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The top ten hints for re-coating resilient floors

Why resilient only?
Simple answer...
Resilient floors are at least somewhat predictable.  

If you are a Floorcare professional.  You most likely know these answers.  
Why did I do top ten?
I liked Letterman.  Oh and "Top ten lists" do very well on social media.

1. Floor finish success is all about pH. Most finishes range from 8.5 to 9.5.  Far from neutral which is 7.  Finish will not adhere to a surface that strays from the above range by much.  

2. There is no such thing as a permanent floor finish.  Permanent means a couple of years by Floorcare standards.  It doesn't mean that it will not wear.  Often permanent finishes result in more work in the long run.

3. Floor finish is like paint.  When you view it as it were paint surface preparation becomes far more important to you: The PROFESSIONAL

4. Different finishes have different results on different floors.  A floor finish may not look perfect on every floor.  Long term success depends upon the right finish for your floor. Not the finish that is the shiniest out of the gate.

5. Remember the rule of 100 plus one.  For the maximum number of coats that you can apply.  Multiply the floor finish solids content by whatever number of coats it takes to get closest to 100 hundred but not more, and allow no more than one additional coat.  
I.E.  If a finish is 24 percent solids. 4x24=96.  Therefore only 4 coats plus one.
Or... If a finish is 26 percent solids 3x26=78.  Therefore only 3 coats plus one.

6. To quote one of the best floor guys I know: Paul Hopkins, from Betco.  "Thin to win". Not his words he will say, but he said them to me first.  Thin coats give you the best success.  

7. Start with a smooth surface end with a smooth surface.  That one is obvious.

8. If a coat of floor finish has not dried in 40 minutes.  Stop.  Call the manufacturer.  Get advice on your next step.  

9.  Never put another coat of finish on your floor until the prior coat or the surface is 100 percent dry.  Squeaky socks are my best indicator.  I never wear shoes after my first coat.  Way less risk of contamination.

10. If it doesn't look right after your first coat. It will look worse after any subsequent coats.  Stop!

There are lots of other rules.  These ones just hit home for me.  I will probably do more as my readers remind me of my oversights.  Next issue....   Stripping for success.  No brass pole required.  Stripping or deep scrubbing far out weights finish application where results are concerned.

Please let me know what you think?

Ok rule number 11
Never pour finish back into the bucket.  
Some people suggest to Use it up on a concrete floor that is clean. It will help to control dust.  

Arrrgh 12.   High humidity 90% or higher almost always results in floor finish failure.  High temperature and high humidity are a dreadful combination.  

Lucky number 13.  A cold floor.  Mostly near a store entrance or floor mounted freezer means that you need to coat thin and or not coat until weather or ambient temperature improves.

More to come I am sure.  

Monday, March 14, 2016

Where did I go wrong with my floor.

Just recently I had a run in with one of my largest contract cleaning clients.  "The floors look like garbage" , "The finish is powdering, it looks like it is starting to flake off.  Your finish must have gotten frozen" he said to me.  One of my competitors brought in a Technical Floorcare specialist from one of the largest finish manufacturers in the country.  Of course seeing opportunity the "Technical Specialist" immediately solved the problem.  My floor finish had been frozen.  How kind of him to decide this was the issue without even getting close to a microscope or even running pH tests as well as 22 other "technical" tests that could have diagnosed the real answer.

Why wouldn't my competitor go in that direction?  It's a clear cut opportunity at more business.  All other thoughts must have left his head at that very moment.  After two weeks with the tests that we ran, we arrived at a conclusive answer.  Our finish had not been frozen damaged and it was not defective.  Just to prove it to ourselves we applied finish from the same batch and pallet to a convenience store floor.  No issues.  Great results....

So where did things go wrong?
We have our suspicions.  In fact we were able to surmise that one of three things had occurred.  

Rather than digging in any deeper I decided to write down what I have learned about what causes floor finish failures.  

What do I need to avoid?

Contamination: Often floor finish is contaminated in one of three ways.  It is applied with a contaminated application device.  Or storage and application device.  The surface can be contaminated, but we will talk about next paragraph.  Here is the trick.  Always scrub your mop bucket, mop handles and dispensing containers before you use them.  Never use a pad or mop that has been coated in finish for more than 72 hours.  In fact for the cost of a new mop or wax pad.  Buy new!

Residual floor finish or improper rinsing:  If you have gone to the lengths to strip a floor.  Make certain that you have removed all of the old floor finish from your floor.  Take an extra couple of minutes to make sure that you have rinsed your floor 100 percent.  Just a tiny amount of floor stripper can easily destroy an entire floor.

Application errors:  recoat go too quick , too high humidity, too many coats,  coats that are too thick

Low quality floor finish:  make sure that you research the quality and customer reviews of the product that you will be using.  Not all finishes are created equal.

Temperature or moisture issues can definitely prevent adhesion, cause cloudiness and greatly affect the overall results and longevity of your, efforts.  

Stale dated product:  It happens.... Don't get me wrong.  Although most finishes are made with a two year shelf life.  Many can be applied up to three years after date of manufacture.  Always be certain of your finish manufacturer's shelf life commitment.  

Floor finish is every bit as permanent as paint.  No matter which way you slice it.  The better you do the job, the better the results will be.  We will do everything we can to get you the best results and longevity from your hard work.  Be sure to talk to us before you do your floor.  If you are concerned please look at the resources section of our website for more advise.

Results may vary....  Just kidding.  We can get you amazing results we promise.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Where is the Janitorial Supply Distribution Industry going?

Going going gone?

Not for now?
Not forever.  My thoughts?  We are about to go through a sanitary supply renascence!
Sounds kind of goofy, but I think it is reality.  When I was straight out of school and entering the work world the Janitorial Supply industry was booming with over 1500 distributors in Canada and 30,000 in the US.  Now?  The numbers have greatly changed in the past 25 years.  

In Canada five national players dominate the marketplace.  Literally eight years ago a national big box chain decided to enter the Sanitation market.  Due to a recent acquisition effort this chain had to give up a sizable portion of their business to become dominant in their original marketplace.  What part did they offer up?  Their least profitable of course.  Although this has yet to be finalized the real news is the potential spin off was 650 million in net sales.  To many of us billions sound like millions used to just a few years ago.  Considering that the North American market for Sanitation products is somewhere between 6 and 20 billion dollars annually depending upon who posts the figures.  Most likely these numbers are a major underestimate.

The scary reality is that a company in ten years can literally own as much as ten percent of the market in eight years.  No doubt they have hired the best people they can get their hands on.  Implemented the best inventory and distribution techniques.  Getting products into the hands of the end user in less than 48 hours almost always with complete order fulfillment.  And always at market leading prices. 

What gives?  
Should I phone it in?  Take their next offer?
I don't think so.  Business always goes through cycles.  

My belief is that there will always be plenty of room for independent distributors.  True enough the Internet has made information available for everyone.  Endless amounts in fact.  If it is your nature to take the time to research and develop programs based upon advice offered for free by distributors that likely will never be able to fulfill your order.  

What happens when something goes wrong?
How do you solve it?

The answer is obvious.  You go to where you know you will get what you need.

The real question?  Will you continue to deal with the distributor who is there with the right answer and the right product?  Only you can answer that one.  

Floor Finish Demystified

You've taken your time stripped your floor to the base.  Cleaned all of your corners, stripped baseboards and rinsed your floor sufficiently.  

What next?
Who sets your expectations?
You, your supervisor, your co-workers?

This is most common the struggle in Floorcare.  It's easy to leave the floor after you've applied sealer if required and floor finish happy as a clam.  Every floor if done reasonably well looks great after it is done.  

The reality starts now.

The questions that need to be answered aren't all that new but they were best answered two stages ago.  

Do I want a floor that is, low maintenance? High gloss right away that is easily low speed burnished, a high gloss medium maintenance floor or the absolute optimum, a daily maintained floor with high to very high gloss appearance?  Regardless of your expectations you can't try every finish out there.  So where do you go?  Maybe the large National distributor?  Maybe the local building center or the big box store?  No matter where you get your products from you need to know what you are applying.  It is true large volume vendors offer you potential advice and support.  Decent selection, training resources and quite often specialists in each vertical. The internet has made knowledge readily available.  Is that knowledge accurate?  Is the information you have gotten relevant to your circumstance?  

Here is the case for your local janitorial distributor.
Can you find all of it when you need it?  If you have and can continuously find it....?  Is it the same product that was on the shelf last time you purchased?

Your decision making process in almost all cases is the difference between success and the longevity of your efforts.  Time is money when you are responsible for payroll.  Time is even more important when you have to redo your floor any sooner than you should.

Early next month I will produce a couple of articles with more answers. 
1. What did I do wrong?  
2. The top ten hints about Floorcare.
3. The incomplete guide to Floorcare. Rules for every floor finish.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Biologicals and hydrocarbon products

Tell me you saw this one coming out of a oil tanker crash.  In the late eighties a major oil spill happened in the North Pacific Ocean.  From all disasters there is a lesson and in my opinion this man-made disaster allowed the world a new solution to hydrocarbon spills the world over.  

While scientists cleaned up wildlife they noticed that a few localized areas had no oil or even signs of it.  The interesting result of this discovery?  A bacteria was isolated that has a tremendous hunger for all hydrocarbons.  Not just Brent crude.  But refined forms of oil offer this non-pathogenic bacteria a wonderful food source that results in nothing more than water and Carbon dioxide as an effluent.  Talk about amazing!

Ten years fast forward and this bacteria was farmed for the benefit of the rest of the world.  This bacteria blend offers odor control where gas spills have occurred.  Clean up after burst oil tanks.  Diesel spills are easily cleaned and buildings once slated for destruction are restored with minimal labour.  

We have manufactured two products with this bacteria for the last 6 or 7 years.  Both have earned us accolades from restoration contractors, Environmental engineering firms all over Ontario.  Households have been saved months of dealing with the ever present odor of stove oil.  If you are ever forced to deal with a petroleum mess. Contact us. We guarantee you will be impressed.

Below are a few images of a remediation demonstration we did.  Before and after.  Fourteen hours.  Wow.