Gene Marcinkowski is the Director Emeritus of the Carpet & Fabricare Institute (CFI).
1967: I had recently been discharged from the Air Force and began to work in San Rafael, CA for Gunther Hagel Maintenance. It was through this employment that I first was introduced to the RCI (Rug Cleaners Institute), which was the forerunner of the current Carpet & Fabricare Institute. At that time, the standard method of rug and carpet cleaning was by rotary shampooing.
As wall to wall carpets became more popular a new system was developed: deep steam carpet cleaning, which used a very heavy device made of stainless steel. Our company had a local franchise but it was a hard sell as the cost of cleaning was double the going rate for the shampoo method!
In 1975 I started my own business. Needing up-to-date instruction and information on advances made in the steam equipment and available chemicals, I applied to the CCI (Carpet Cleaners Institute) for membership. This opened up a whole new world of classes and fellowship with other cleaners through chapter meetings that just weren’t available in the unheard of town of Sonoma, CA. Because of my certifications and industry education my business began to grow. My very first CCI convention was held in Anaheim, CA and as I sat in the back of the room knowing no one, I was star struck by the industry leaders at the head table, such as Arlen Knight, Mike West, Murray Cremer, Russ Hoover and Carl Williams, just to name a few. It was then and there that I decided that I wanted to emulate these men. First I became the Northern CA chapter director then went through the chairs serving two years as vice president. I then became the second man in the history of the association to become a two-year president, 1988 and 1989. In the early 90’s, I was given the honor of becoming a co-director emeritus with Dick Maplesden.
I think my fondest memories of my 30 years in the carpet cleaning business and serving on the board of directors of the CCI – CFI have been the annual conventions within the CCI association. I was able to bring my whole family. The association held special events for family members who were not really involved in the business but came to be together for the fellowship. We attended a formal awards dinner. Through these events, we formed close friendships that were made among the families and the annual reunions were greatly anticipated. My children grew up with the CCI and still hold fond memories of our week of convention. One of my daughters has taken over my business, Imperial Services in Sonoma, and remembers our good times.
I have been retired and away from the cleaning industry for over ten years now and I am sure there are many changes that I have not been aware of. One thing I highly recommend to all cleaners is to join an association in your area, be sure to stay active within it and take the time to attend chapter meetings. Go to the workshops. Take a few days to attend the conventions. Get away from the daily grind to meet other cleaners - yes even your competition. You will be surprised how it will change your outlook and profit margin!