ICS 50th: Vince Caffarello
Vince Caffarello is a 52-year veteran of the industry, having started on April 4, 1960. He currently serves as the president of Duraclean International, Inc.
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?
Fifty years ago there were basically two divisions in our industry: those who cleaned carpeting on location and those who serviced loose rugs in their plants. Those divisions became blurred as the years passed as more plant cleaners added on-location departments and more location cleaners started cleaning loose rugs. The explosion of revenue came with addition of water restoration. As more and more companies entered this field and the insurance industry began to realize there was a place for restoration and it was less expensive for them than replacement, our industry’s service dollar footprint began to expand.
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?
The carpet cleaning industry was always driven by the manufacturing side, as the natural fibers began to be replaced by synthetics our industry was forced to find ways to release the soil from these fibers. Fortunately for all of us we had Bob Hughes, Murray Kramer and Mike Palmer to push the envelope and open a path for all of us. While all this was happening, Howard Olansky was documenting the progress of our industry with ICS magazine.
In the early 70’s, Lloyd Weaver and Claude Blackburn’s two companies began showing us that we could save wet carpet by drying it on location. Lloyd’s air mover and Claude’s dehumidifier, in my opinion, were the two single most significant introductions into our industry. From there, Ed York began to form the foundation for the education side of our industry. As IICRC became the conduit for education flowing to the technician on the truck our entire industry elevated its professionalism.
What are some of your fondest memories of being involved in the industry in years past?
The Carpet & Rug Cleaners Institute of Chicago, now expanded to the entire State of Illinois, was the birthplace of what is now RIA. Then the national organization began in 1946 and called itself the National Institute of Rug Cleaners, or NIRC. Its first president was Gus Draffkorn from the Chicago association. Gus became my partner in 1965 when my company purchased the General Rug Cleaning plant.
The monthly meetings of the Chicago/Illinois Association were always educational in presentation but even more so from conversation. As a twenty-something kid I remember sitting with the true giants of our industry - men like Gage, Treadway, Greenburg, Kaplan and Nahigian, just to name a few. I remember sitting and soaking up as much information as I could as they freely gave of their experiences. To this day, I still remember how these men gave of themselves unselfishly to improve the quality of service we all performed.
Moving forward, what do you see in store for the cleaning/restoration industry’s future?
I think the future of the cleaning/restoration industry can be summed up in two words: consolidation and adjustment. I think many companies will consolidate their operations by purchase or merger and the insurance industry certainly is on that path with the third person programs. Succeeding in the future will depend on how companies adjust their marketing to address the consolidation factor. For companies to achieve their growth goals, they will need to be excellent communicators in their marketplace. It will not just depend on good technical service - several great technical companies have gone belly-up because they couldn’t communicate their great technical ability in the marketplace. The old saying, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something” will be the slogan for success in the future.