ICS Magazine

What If...?

September 18, 2007

When you were a child, did you ever play the game “What If…?” What if I made a million dollars per year? What if I were a famous person? What if I had different parents? What if I lived in another country? What if I married a different person? Remember?

Of course, most of our “what ifs” never materialize, and even more important, some were highly unrealistic or absolutely ridiculous. Some even would have been disastrous if they had materialized the way we imagined them.

But let’s turn things around for a moment. What if you hadn’t had the parents you did; grown up in the city you did; attended the schools you attended; had the influence of the teacher, coach, or relative you had? What if you hadn’t married the person you married, or had the children you love so much? How would that have changed your life, for better or for worse?

And, what if you had not wound up in this industry? How would that have impacted your life today?

Believe it or not, I’m very aware that there are some people who aren’t big supporters of the IICRC. They don’t think it has positively impacted our industry. So just for the sake of discussion, let’s play “What If?”

What if the organization had never been formed? Just how would our industry have been changed? What if some 35 years ago a handful of forward-thinking individuals hadn’t decided that the industry needed a means of identifying the more committed cleaning and restoration companies? What if a group of association professionals hadn’t bought into the IICRC concept and taken it to non-profit status? What if they hadn’t dedicated their volunteer time and personal financial resources to creating and expanding certification categories and standards?

What if? Consider:
  • There would be no industry “standard of care” for some 22 inspection, cleaning and restoration categories of work.
  • There would be no generic training for cleaning and restoration service providers. Every chemical or equipment manufacturer would declare that their process, machine or cleaner was the best, and you wouldn’t be able to dispute them with knowledge and facts.
  • There would be no agreement about what represents a proper body of science regarding any of the work procedures we, as an industry, agree to be necessary for effective results and consumer protection. Consumers would be the victims of the bait-and-switch companies or the restoration/remediation scam artists.
  • There would be no written standards for carpet cleaning, water-damage restoration, upholstery cleaning and mold remediation. One opinion of how procedures should be executed would be as valid as the next. Government agencies, institutions, insurance companies, lawyers would have no document to reference when consumers are taken advantage of. Professional cleaners and restorers would have nothing to cite when insurance companies or consumers suggest short cuts that might be detrimental to structure occupants or even to the environment.
  • There would be no central voice to communicate cleaning or restoration industry policies to allied affiliates. There would be no one to communicate with carpet and rug manufacturers, furniture manufactures, insurance professionals and consumers.
  • There would be no entity to communicate with the media about how cleaning and restoration industry professionals solve consumer problems, protect the environment, provide a cleaner, healthier environment resulting in a better quality of life for those we serve.
  • There would be no “free” referral website (www.certifiedcleaners.org) or phone number (800-835-4624) to help consumers locate professional companies who employ trained, certified technicians for the services they need.
What if the IICRC had never been created? It’s something I don’t even want to contemplate.

And no one has to. The IICRC continues to serve this and other allied industries. New volunteers have stepped forward to fill the shoes of the original founders, some of which are still active even today. Programs have expanded; today, all of us are viewed not merely as people who do the job that no one else wants to do. Today, we are considered valued associates of product manufacturers, of consumer protection agencies, of the public health sector. True professionals.

Now, as to the future of the IICRC and the industry it serves, the question is not “What if,” but “What’s next?”