ICS 50th: Rug Cleaning Reflections with Ellen Amirkhan
Ellen Amirkhan is a 33-year veteran of the cleaning/restoration industry and currently serves as the co-owner of Master Rug Cleaner, LLC and the president of Oriental Rug Cleaning Co. (Dallas, TX).
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?
In the most basic practices, the rug cleaning business has not changed dramatically. However, the complexity of cleaning so many different types of modern rugs far exceeds the complexity of cleaning rugs from 40-plus years ago. In the distant past, the secret to cleaning rugs was that there were no secrets. Today, one has to be much more informed due to the many combinations of materials, constructions and dyes used to make today’s area rugs.
What are some of your fondest memories of being involved in the industry in years past?
Oriental Rug Cleaning Co. was a member of The National Institute of Rug Cleaning since 1949, then the Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration until 2010. Beyond all the technical expertise learned from the industry’s best and brightest, the friendships my family made during our 60 years of attending conventions, seminars and trips are my fondest memories. “What happens at convention stays at convention!”
Moving forward, what do you see in store for the cleaning/restoration industry’s future?
Rug cleaning education and training has improved dramatically in the last 20 years. Manufacturers are focusing on providing rug cleaners with industry specific chemicals and equipment. More businesses than ever before are diversifying into rug cleaning as wall-to-wall carpet is (becoming) replaced by rugs and hard surface (flooring). Multi-generational rug cleaning businesses’ model of “this is how we have always done it” is becoming obsolete and unsustainable. In the distant past, there may have been 2-3 fully automatic rug cleaning plants in a large city. In those same markets today, there may be 30-plus businesses that advertise rug cleaning. Businesses must be active in trade associations, advanced technical training, business education and most importantly, implementing what they learn, so they can thrive and stay relevant in a far more competitive market.