Editor's Blog

An Open Letter to Werner Braun

September 28, 2010

Some 15 years ago, IICRC officers and volunteers began working with the CRI to foster an understanding that consumer perceptions about their ability to maintain and clean carpet were an important part of the “carpet value chain.”

Dear Mr. Braun,

In 1972, a group of dedicated volunteers began working through the Institute of Carpet and Upholstery Certification (IICUC), now the IICRC, to enhance professionalism and unity in the cleaning and restoration industry. Some 15 years ago, IICRC officers and volunteers began working with the CRI to foster an understanding that consumer perceptions about their ability to maintain and clean carpet were an important part of the “carpet value chain.”

Through the diligent and continuous efforts of IICRC volunteers, the cleaning/restoration industry now has four standards - two ANSI-approved - and some 23 certification categories designed to promote the value of formal education and to heightened professionalism for industry participants. Because of that hard work and dedication, the IICRC has grown to some 55,000 registrants and over 5,500 IICRC Certified Firms.

However, using some 40 years of IICRC work and credibility as a springboard, I now find that the CRI has decided that the IICRC simply isn’t good enough. In fact, all the hard work and dedication that has gone into building credibility for our industry was for naught, since the CRI has stepped in with its own program for approving cleaning professionals and placing them, along with CRI credibility, before the consuming public; i.e., carpet purchasers.

And what does it take to earn CRI Service Provider approval?
  1. fill out a form pledging to be a responsible firm;
  2. use CRI SOA cleaning chemicals and equipment (self-policed)
  3. send the CRI money.
Pretty easy. Anyone can do it. No requirement for training or certification, no quality control, no consumer protection from bait-and-switch operators.

Why even Shaw and Mohawk, who manufacture the lion’s share of carpet, are perceptive enough to require or recommend IICRC-certified firms for warranty service on their carpet. Does the CRI SOA program take precedence over carpet mill warranty specifications that require that consumers have carpet cleaned by an IICRC-Certified Firm – in fact, doesn’t this send the consumer a mixed message that may wind up violating your own member warranties?

My questions for you, Mr. Braun, are simply these:
  • How do carpet consumers benefit from having CRI-approved cleaning firms in their homes to maintain their carpet investment, when there is no assurance that the firm will be licensed and insured, or its service providers technically qualified? Is the CRI that desperate for income?
  • Moreover, why does the CRI feel the need to compete with and undermine the industry-recognized, non-profit IICRC? (And please don’t toss our industry a bone by saying that CRI “strongly recommends IICRC certification,” since that’s not a requirement of the Service Provider program, nor is it used in the marketing of CRI SOA Service Providers.)
I have participated directly in the development and promotion of CRI SOA programs for vacuum cleaners, chemicals and methods. I have worked directly with the CRI, Professional Testing Laboratories and even NASA scientists. I am appalled at the misinformed comments of many self-appointed critics of the SOA program in the industry social media.

But neither I, nor any responsible member of the cleaning industry that I know of, was asked to participate in the development of the CRI SOA Cleaning Service Provider program. Moreover, I fail to understand why CRI SOA Equipment Testing Program managers have not implemented changes that we all have agreed should be made.

Bottom line, since there is already a comprehensive industry-consensus certification program in place (IICRC), why is the CRI insisting on insinuating itself in an area in which it has neither qualification nor quality control programs?

L.J. Bishop, Administrator
Clean Care Seminars, Inc.
3113 Oxmoor Industrial Blvd.
Dothan, AL 36303
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