Tryna Cooper is a 36-veteran of the industry, having served as the VP of the Professional Cleaning Network (1976-1997), VP of Textile Consultants (1980-present), IICRC Board of Directors (1983-1993), IICRC Secretary (1984-1993) and Connections Founder and Management (2003-2012).
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 past 33 years that I have been involved, I have watched the industry grow from an infant into what I consider a young adult, in their 20’s with science, education and some experience, yet still exploring and growing and moving toward wisdom. When I entered the industry, there was no science and it really wasn’t a credible industry. Rotary shampooing was the “in” thing and “steam cleaning” was just beginning to find its way into the consumer marketplace. And what we know today as water damage restoration and fire damage restoration had really not been birthed yet. It has been great being part of the birth and growth of an industry. Industry organizations were being birthed and were growing too. PCUCA in Denver was a little over a year old when we joined and IICUC was just a fledgling organization, not really growing or impacting and really just a concept of pulling the industry together, when PCUCA joined the organization. I was PCUCA’s president at the time and went to the meeting in Oconomowoc, WI as the first representative. Little did I know the changes and impacts that would take place over the next 30 years…
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?
I believe that the coming together of local trade associations to IICUC in the early/mid 1980’s had a huge impact on the industry. The times of brainstorming, visioning and creating by very bright and talented individuals, both from associations as well as manufacturers and suppliers in the industry, created a new concept of education for cleaning, certification and science to back up the methods. Ed York was brilliant in his concepts and visions. His ideas for trade associations that supported the mom and pop companies, the need for education and certification, and the idea of pulling together the local organizations to build national strength was indeed brilliant. While Ed was not the personality to get it all done, many stepped forward to take on the task. In the beginning of the effort, many of the leaders that stepped forward and added their energies and talents to the endeavor were people I had the pleasure to serve and work with on the board, who included Pat Monroe, Larry Cooper, Mike West, Eric Rottmeister, Bob Wittkamp, Mike Lynch, Jeff Bishop, Ron Toney, Claudia Ramirez (one of the few women that stepped into the mix at the time), “The Toms” – Tom Hill, Tom Millington, Tom Gassman, Tom Gibbons, Neil Atkinson, Dan Bernazzani, Dane Gregory, Lee Zimmerman, Carey Vermullan, Kenway Mead and Sonny Bass and Mark Hansen; and from the manufacturers/suppliers Ralph and Doyle Bloss, Claude Blackburn, Bill Doan, Kerry Mitchell, Dr. Gene Cole, Dr Michael Berry and Bob Hughes.
Several events, besides the coming together of the local trade association to IICUC, were also impactful in my opinion. The first was when the IICUC board chose to expand education and certifications and moved beyond just the certified carpet cleaner to other areas of certification.
A big industry event that cemented the associations together and their contributions to IICUC was around 1987 when DuPont chose only one franchise company to service their Stainmaster products. The industry rose up in protest and IICUC was positioned perfectly to be a voice for the industry to get DuPont to recognize certified cleaners. This one event catapulted recognition of IICUC and certified cleaners. Another was the decision of the IICUC board to include restoration and change their name to IICRC and expand the certifications into the restoration areas and their change to a non-profit, which changed the status of IICRC. Also, when the IICRC decided to begin writing standards for the industry. There was also the “Denver Study” by Dr. Gene Cole and Dr. Michael Berry which set a baseline for the science of cleaning methods for the cleaning industry and the “Elementary School” study which was pivotal in understanding the effects of hot water extraction and cleaning. These events shifted the industry into one that was backed by science, and the years of study and research truly began.
What are some of your fondest memories of being involved in the industry in years past (i.e., association involvement, trade shows, etc)?
Many of my fondest memories, besides servicing our customers, were at the IICUC/IICRC board meetings and PCUCA/PACR board meetings and conventions, and at Connections conventions. There were so many fun times and great laughs, and heated discussions, and most of all great creation and collaboration. One of my fondest memories was in the mid-eighties at an IICUC board meeting when we were visioning for the organization and Eric Rottmeister drew an umbrella on a flipchart and pulled the concepts together of the organization. At that meeting, the ideas of Instructors and Schools, Certification Board, committees, etc. really came together. Another was at PCUCA conventions when we held cleaning rodeos and cleaning Olympics where teams of cleaners competed with each other. And my favorite memories are the great times with all the good friends I have made over the years.
Moving forward, what do you see in store for the cleaning/restoration industry’s future?
I believe that health and well-being will need to become more of a focus for the industry, with new energy-efficient methods and safer green cleaning. Education and research will be very important. And most of all, a renewed effort in working together to develop these methods and trainings is key. We are one world and one humanity, and the best, healthiest service to everyone serves us all.