ICS 50th: Wanda York
Wanda York is the widow of industry pioneer Ed York, who passed away at the age of 79 on March 13, 2006. Of Ed York’s many accomplishments, there’s perhaps none more significant than the establishment of the International Institute of Carpet and Upholstery Certification (IICUC), which is now the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Wanda was with Ed every step of the way, and was kind enough to share her memories:
When we became involved in the industry there was no “industry” as we know it pertaining to on-site workers. There was the large rug cleaning plants that sometimes sent out people to “shampoo” carpets. There were janitorial firms that shampooed carpets as part of their cleaning of businesses. A few people were making “steam cleaning” machines in their garages. We became involved when Ed agreed to sell some machines for a friend. We knew nothing about the furor going on about the merits of “steam cleaning” versus shampoo, but were soon to learn about it. The first show Ed went to, he was surprised to find that people watched his demonstrations from a distance. We didn’t know any better so we were convinced that steam cleaning was an innovation that’s time had come.
A born teacher and promoter, Ed not only sold some machines but sold himself. We started a steam cleaning operation in Fresno, CA in 1969. He went around the country selling machines and picking up knowledge from everyone he talked to. He called me every night with new information as I was running a two-truck operation in a business I knew little about. We were told that all we needed to know was how to work the machine. We had two other chemicals: Soil Break, a pre-conditioner which was very hot, and Foam Kill, which we used to cut down the foam from all that shampoo in most of the carpets we cleaned. I have a lot of funny stories about the things that happened to us but Ed’s ideas about promotion put us out front almost from the beginning. In spite of or because of our ignorance, the cleaning we did was superior to anything that had come before and we prospered.
It become clear to us that people (mostly new to cleaning) needed training more than anything and we began insisting that people come to us for three-day training on our trucks when they bought a machine. This was the beginning of schools as we know them know. We eventually added classroom training to our schools and became “Fiber Cleaning Schools of America.” Our school was actually accredited by the state of California. It would take more of my time and your patience to go on about how we started “The Society of Cleaning Technicians” and “Disaster Kleenup,” a restoration group. In the meantime, more and more people were going into the business who had never thought of cleaning before. It was an exciting time to be involved.
The IICRC (then IICUC) was a total brainchild of Ed. He felt there should be some way that on-site operators could be certified to a certain level and that they could take that certification with them when they changed jobs.