Cleaning & Restoration Association News

Rising Above the Fray

The volume on the ICS bulletin board recently has been something above a din, what with the talk of the CRI Seal of Approval (SOA) Program and the effects it may have on professional carpet cleaners.

The discussions range from concerned and confused, to angry and disheartened, to the moderate “wait and see” and the supportive vote of confidence. Indeed, there is a wide range of commentary, and also a great deal of anxiety.

So what’s the issue? CRI, the trade organization made up of carpet mills, decided to test and approve carpet cleaning chemicals, equipment and systems (a combination of chemicals and equipment). This is because carpet has lost market share largely due to the belief that carpet cannot be maintained and kept clean. It is perfectly understandable that the makers of carpet would want to change this misperception, and indeed that is to the benefit of all who make their living proving this is so.

Several of the member mills (Shaw, Mohawk, Beaulieu) have set additional requirements, including requiring cleaners to have IICRC Certified Firm status and the use of SOA-approved products, as further assurance that their products can be maintained and that their customers will not choose other products over carpet. Naturally, the IICRC, as the education and certification arm of the professional carpet cleaning industry, would welcome the opportunity, and indeed lobby, to be the army of professionals who can carry out the mission of the CRI and its member mills.

It is necessary to bifurcate these issues, and not further confuse the matter by lumping the IICRC in with the CRI’s SOA testing, the requirement for SOA-approved products and the warranty requirements of these individual mills. These are all separate and distinct issues. The CRI does not make warranties. The IICRC does not require the use of SOA equipment or chemicals, and it is not involved in product testing.

With, I believe, all the best intentions, the CRI put together a program to attempt to give their customers some assurance that the product they are purchasing can be maintained. We all know about intentions and, with all due respect to the CRI, the delivery method for this system was not well thought out before its implementation, creating confusion and miscommunication.

In this issue Werner Braun, president of the CRI, has accepted an invitation from ICS to write an open letter to the carpet cleaning industry (page 8) to help clarify some of the misunderstandings that exist and to quell concerns that the CRI SOA Program is going to put professional cleaners who do not own specific brands of equipment on the shelf and render them obsolete.

As always, we welcome your comments and opinions.

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