Barry Costa has been involved in the industry since the early 1970’s. He’s an educator and consultant in carpet installation and repair, water damage restoration and cleaning.
Congratulations to ICS magazine on your 50th Anniversary!
I have been reading Installation & Cleaning Specialist magazine since the early 1970’s. I especially enjoyed reading Howard Olansky’s editorials. I remember speaking with Howard at Surfaces before he sadly passed away about an editorial he wrote in the early 1970’s - I believe it was 1972. His editorial dealt with some of the ills confronting the quality of installation and the state of the carpet installation industry. When I spoke with him, I mentioned that he could re-write his editorial and sadly it would still fit the installation industry today: lack of pay, lack of seam and edge sealing, lack of power stretching. These issues still exist today…
However, since my conversation with Howard, I am happy to state that there have been a lot of positive changes in my industry! Jimmy Walker and the CFI energized the educational side and professional side of the industry. Howard thought Jimmy was nuts at organizing the CFI, however, as we all know, Jimmy was recognized by the WFCA as person of the year! New seaming systems, RF technology (Kool Glide), the Hot Glue 2 seaming system of Gundlach, the collaboration of CRI, WFCA and the IICRC in the writing of a new, carpet installation standard to be called S600 all helped as well.
This process brought the independent installers - Carpenters Union, Painters Union, CFI-certified installers, Shaw, Beauleau, Mohawk and others - including sundry representatives to work together through a consensus process to produce a strong installation standard. It is with hopes that S600 will become approved as an ANSI standard for which many other positive things such as installation certification and warrantees attached to qualified installation will come to fruition.
On the water damage restoration side in the 1970’s, we removed the carpet, brought it back to a shop, hung it to dry then brought it back to be reinstalled. Who checked the walls? Lloyd Weaver created one of the first air movers - a metal box that you plugged an electrical cord into. How did we not electrocute ourselves? Claude Blackburn, who started out creating blocks, created one of the most successful restoration equipment manufacturers in the industry. How many of you remember the convention when Lloyd met Claude?
On the water damage restoration side, we were very comfortable and stagnant for many years. Then Chuck Dewalt and Kurt Bolden arrived. In-place drying became an option in drying and a new wave of R&D came to the industry improving the systems of drying we were currently using. Better extraction methods were born to extract the majority of the water. New air movers and types of air movers, along with LGR technology, improved. Again, we grew. Then came Charlie Cressey, Jeremy Reets, Ken Larsen and others that made us re-think what we knew about drying. Again we began to focus on the water, the manipulation of energy (action and re-action) and the science of evaporation.
The “mold issue” also woke our industry up and we needed to tackle this foe (that has existed since the early biblical days). AFD technology and the need for a controlled cleaning/remediation environment was born. These issues again are being tested by Jim Holland, Dr. Eugene Cole and others as they relate to AFDs and challenging in-place drying and the proliferation of bacteria. Dr. Daniel Bernazzani with his doctorate dissertation also challenges us to define clean and question how we deal with oriental rugs and sewage. His results also bring questions concerning antimicrobials used in the past and those developed for use today. Our industry is strong, healthy and growing.
Sadly, many of the cleaning professionals today will never get to meet some of the pioneers in our industry. Ralph Bloss was one of those very special people in our lives. Ralph put relationships as a key to running a successful business. He was the “father” to many of us when we needed him. From Howard Olansky, I learned the importance of letting people know how you feel about them and not to forget to tell them that “you love them.” And there’s Bob Wittkamp’s reminder for us all to “chill out” and remember why we are all in business.
Happily, many in our profession still have examples from the above. Nick Paollela and Ralph Bloss must have been distant cousins. Nick reminds us not to forget to have fun in all that we do! Dr. Eugene Cole and Michael Berry have also reminded us of our importance for the well being of society and that what we do is important. Dan Bernazzani reminds us that it is never too late to continue to learn and contribute. I believe Dr. Daniel Bernazzani will leave one of the biggest gifts to society in the years to come through his non-profit organization that he is establishing in the water mitigation industry. Larry Cooper and Jeff Bishop are also great examples of “get-it-done” people in our industry. They can both be magnets that bring people in or repel, however you should never question where their hearts are when it comes to this industry of ours. Doers often create controversy while doing.
My fondest moments in the industry were found in the past. We played! I hope people can find the “fun” in life and remember the lessons of Ralph, Nick and Bob. Our industry needs to continue to grow and flourish. We should celebrate our victories and remember those that help got us to where we are today. We all stand on the shoulders of those before us.
The problem with doing something like this is that you always leave some very important people out, such as Cy Gantt. Professionals today will never get to hear of the history straight from those that made our history, such as Cy. There’s Bill Doan, the very capable professional and friend to our industry in all that he does. The list can go on and on.