- THE MAGAZINE
Mike Roden is a 40-year veteran of the industry and currently serves as the Vice President of Engineering at Sapphire Scientific.
How would you best sum up the last 50 years (or the time that you’ve been a part) of the carpet cleaning/restoration industry?
I started in the industry in 1972 on a part-time basis while going to college. I wasn’t there at the beginning, but over the last 40 years I’ve seen a lot of changes on the equipment side. When I first started, extraction cleaning was new technology. Most of the cleaning was still being done with a rotary scrubber and shampoo.
In your opinion, what have been some of the most significant events and milestones to impact the industry over the past 50 years? What about some of the most significant people?
One of the most significant changes has been that extraction cleaning has become the industry standard for cleaning carpet and hard surfaces. My involvement in the industry has focused on the development of truckmount equipment. I’ve seen this equipment evolve from garage-built units to sophisticated co-generation machines that integrate heat, pressure and chemical application. Truckmounts have moved from using fuel-fired heaters, propane and diesel to co-generation heat exchange systems which save a tremendous amount of cost, are much safer and require far less maintenance. In the beginning, these truckmounts were significantly large and cumbersome. The footprints and weight of these machines have been reduced over the years and even more so here recently at Sapphire Scientific.
Some of the most significant people that have impacted the industry have been Mike Palmer with HydraMaster, Jim Roden at Prochem, Ralph Bloss at Steamway, Gene Bates, Ernie Ballweber and Judson Jones. These guys all contributed financially and technically to the improvement of the industry and advances to the equipment. Of course, the distributors deserve a special recognition, as none of this development would have reached the public without their hard work.
One of the biggest milestones in the industry was the introduction of the RX-20 rotary cleaning tool, which saved a tremendous amount of back strain and labor for the operator. Another memorable highlight was the advent of the hard surface cleaning tool with the spinning spray jets, which Prochem introduced in the early 90’s.
What are some of your fondest memories of being involved in the industry in years past (i.e., association involvement, trade shows, etc)?
Some of my fondest memories were when I was able to bring new technology to the industry and see it readily accepted and applied to decrease down time, improve safety and reduce customer expenses. A couple examples would be the heat exchange technology and the hard surface cleaning tool. The dealer shows, where we were able to showcase new innovative technologies, were always a highlight. Watching the industry grow from an idea into a mature industry and see it spread around the globe has been most rewarding.
Moving forward, what do you see in store for the cleaning/restoration industry’s future?
As I look at the future of the industry, a lot of it depends on the economy. Throughout the 1990’s and into the 2000’s we saw a lot of growth in the industry which mirrored a more prosperous economical period. Until, as a country, we can get our financial house in order, I see some challenging years ahead for the industry as a whole. We will need to stay innovative and find more applications for our equipment.