ICS 50th: Larry Cooper
Larry Cooper is a 41-year veteran of the industry and is the president of Textile Consultants and Meetings and Events.
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 cleaning carpet part-time when I was in high school. The hot water extraction industry was brand new and the company I worked for used Mr. Steam technology, all 50 PSI and one vacuum motor. We shampooed every job prior to using the extraction process. The industry has grown and changed and expanded. Floor covering has changed. Restoration has changed and the science has expanded over time.
There were many challenges we had to cope with trying to do a good job for our customers in the 1070’s, like double jute back carpet, tough stains without spotting technology and poor installation practices. Odor and shrinkage were big problems back then. Also, there was a lack of proper drying equipment and understanding about mold and bacteria.
I started my own business when I was 18 while working my way through college. We grew the business to over 80 employees in three cities. It was a great family business.
In 1984 my wife Tryna was President of the Professional Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners Association (PCUCA) and she was invited by Ed York to travel to Oconomowoc, WI to discuss bringing the associations together under the IICUC. At that meeting we met Mike West CCI, Bob Wittkamp, ISCT, Neil Atkinson, Executive Director IICUC and Tom Gibbons. At that meeting several organizations agreed to join the IICUC and work to start building the science and education in the cleaning and restoration industry.
At the end of the meeting during elections the ISCT President Pat Monroe become President of the IICUC, Tryna was elected the Secretary (which she served in that position for 10 years), Mike West was elected Treasurer and Ed York anointed me Vice President. Early in 1985, I became President of the IICUC.
I held the position of President of IICUC until 1988. It was a significant time in the industry with major contributions from players like Eric Rottmeister of CCINW, Mike Lynch, MSPCA, Tryna Cooper, PCUCA, Mike West, CCI, Jeff Bishop, Joe Porter, Tom Gibbons, Tom Cherney, Tom Millington and Kenway Mead.
Many more fantastic volunteers came forth including Dan Bernazzani, Barry Costa, Jim Holland, Gene Cole, PhD, Dr. Michael Berry, Ralph Bloss, Doyle Bloss, Doug Bowles, Ruth Travis, Mark Violand, Bob Merkt, Howie Wolf, Aaron Groseclose, Mike Scuillo, Ron Toney, Joe Dobbins, Claude Blackburn, Dane Gregory, Lee Zimmerman, Carey Vermeulen, Ed Hobbs, Mike Reed, Chris Davis, Claudia Lezell and so many more! The addition of Tom Hill and team to the IICRC is a huge success story that still lives on today. Tom took the IICRC to new levels and heights of professionalism not previously known in our industry.
The IICUC became the IICRC in 1993, changing from a profit corporation to a non-profit corporation. The IICUC grew from 300 Certified Technicians in 1985 to the hundreds of thousands of technicians that the organization has touched today. The cooperation of the industry trade associations and the dedication to the development and growth of the science of the industry has made a huge impact on where the industry is today.
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?
There were four events that I will mention:
- One event that brought the industry together more than any other that I recall was when DuPont Stainmaster came onto the scene in 1986/87. The industry was introduced to Bill Doan. DuPont representatives traveled around the country training cleaning companies through the trade associations to properly maintain Stainmaster carpet. The one event that changed the industry was when DuPont appointed one company to service Stainmaster. There was a huge uproar in the industry and it brought all of the industry together to battle DuPont. DuPont changed their position and signed an agreement with the IICUC for certified technicians to service the Stainmaster products. This change moved the IICUC to the forefront in the industry and brought the alliance of the trade associations closer together.
- A second major industry milestone was when Mike West suggested in 1987 that the IICUC start the Certification Council to have representation from all areas of the industry. The Certification Council with over 100 representatives from all over the industry was a major contributor to the growth of our industry in education, new ideas, industry voice and development of the industry. Thirty-five years later the concept is still working and bringing the industry together.
- A third major industry milestone was when Eric Rottmeister recommended an umbrella approach to certification and IICUC branched out into dozens of areas with separate classifications and certifications. This brought specialization to areas of certification that previously didn’t exist.
- A fourth major industry milestone was the creation of the Connections Conventions and Trade Shows twice a year for 10 years. This brought together the largest trade shows in the industry with educational programs that expanded to huge hands-on events.
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 in the industry include working with the IICUC and IICRC Board and volunteers building a new industry and all of the association representatives and Connections volunteers.
I had the honor to work on the development of Standards in the industry working with the best of the best in the world and those who committed untold amounts of time and energy. So many hours/days were spent with Barry Costa, Jim Holland, Mike West, Jeff Bishop, Claudia Ramirez, Dane Gregory, Dan Bernazzani, Eric Rottmeister, Gene Cole, PhD, Howie Wolf, Doug Bradford, Carey Vermeulen, Bob Baker, Joe Arrigo, Jim Pearson, Tom Yacobellis, Carey Mitchell, Larry Carlson, James Mullins, Bill Yeadon and Brandon Burton and so many more!
Building Connections with Dennis Iverson, Mike Morris, Jennifer Wilkinson, Paul Thompson, Gary Glenn, Dan Taylor, Tryna Cooper, Craig Kersemeier, Andrew Conklin, Pam Thompson, Patrick Paluga, Evan Kessler, Brian Boone, Cliff Grost, Darcy Lawson, Craig Jasper, Bob DiLoretta, Tom Gibbons, Jeff Cross and many more was an awesome time!
Moving forward, what do you see in store for the cleaning/restoration industry’s future?
The cleaning and restoration industry is split. There has been a separation of organizations working on the same goals of improving the industry, developing the science of knowledge and providing outstanding service. The industry came together for 35 years, my hope and goal is to see the industry come back together, working to provide excellent services and create the best practices possible for humans and the environment.