Cleaning & Restoration Association News

The Changing of the Guard

December 4, 2000
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In his final article for ICS, long-time columnist Stanley Quentin Hulin pays homage to all hard floor maintenance professionals.

Another year nears its inevitable end and the end of this year marks my final column for ICS Cleaning Specialist magazine. I would like to thank Howard Olansky, Evan Kessler, Arpi Nalbandian and the entire ICS staff for allowing me the honor of writing for such a fine publication.

When I first began writing hard floor maintenance articles for ICS in 1995, I didn’t think there would be much interest in the subject and that it wouldn’t be a long-term engagement. Now almost six years and some 65 articles later I realize that I might have been wrong.

ICS magazine took the initiative in promoting hard floor maintenance by printing articles that addressed real world technical issues. Although I must move on, ICS magazine will continue to publish articles that will help hard floor maintenance technicians achieve their objectives. As I began writing this farewell, I thought about the reasons why I started and it turned out to be quite simple—elevating the standards of the hard floor maintenance industry and helping you, the technician. In the end, I returned to the beginning and remembered my motives.

Have you ever walked into a building and noticed the quality hard floor maintenance of the lobby marble, or went shopping in a supermarket where you actually noticed how good the floor looks? Maybe you were taking a flight to your next business appointment and stopped dead in your tracks at the beauty of the terrazzo floor that lead you to your departure gate. Perhaps you were in a hurry to get to your next class at the university and never really looked down to see the miles of beautiful vinyl composition tile floors that looked as if someone had just dumped a million gallons of water on them. Chances are you never really noticed anything. That is the general perception of the hard floor maintenance industry.

No one really gives much thought about the floors that they are walking on. Occasionally someone might notice the intricate marble design or the ornate wood pattern and give praise to the architect who dreamed it up. But, rarely does anyone see the craft involved in the maintenance of the product after the installation is complete. Most people go about their daily routine and never even take notice of the floors much less give a thought about the person who labors over them on a nightly basis.

What about the hard floor maintenance craft and the unsung heroes of the night that make it happen? Most people are in a hurry to participate in the day-to-day routine of their own work or play. As far as the general populous is concerned, elves come in the middle of the night and perform some kind of magic, then leave. Let me tell you, this is simply not true. Those so-called elves are people. They have families, own homes, drive cars and pack their children off to school the same as you and I. They schedule their work and play the same, they have bills to pay and look to the future and dream the same as anyone else. So, who are those guys?

Some are dreamers, entrepreneurs, who have a vision of owning their own business and catching the carrot that so enticingly dangles in front of them. Some are college students who are trying to make an extra buck to help pay for the books that will pave the way to their future. Some are ordinary laborers who look forward to a paycheck, vacation and the security of knowing that they can take care of their families. A few are seasoned veterans who have run the gambit of hard floor maintenance techniques from paste wax to thermo plastics and still enjoy training the rookies of this industry.

The bottom line is those floors just don’t get done by themselves and elves do not come in the middle of the night and clean them. Real people do those floors and sometimes some of those people look at the floor with a twinkle of Van Gogh in their eye. They wield their mop as if it was the finest paintbrush and they were about to embark on creating the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. These people are true artists and when they are done, the greatest compliment to them is the statement “is it wet?”

So, to you, the hard floor maintenance technicians and specialists of the world, I salute you. You come in the dead of night to create those special floors. Your payment is sometimes far less than the results of your labor, but still you perform as though the whole world were watching. I cannot help but admire the work that you do. In every city in the world there is a virtual art gallery for floor maintenance and all you have to do to see these masterpieces is look down. Is it wet?

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