I began cleaning carpets and upholstery in 1978 and took a common route by working for various companies. Typically, the large companies and franchises advertise a low price and increase the cost once in the door. I worked for one company that actually hired salesmen and then would teach them how to clean carpets. A common pay structure is to give the workers a small percentage of the job as it was booked, and the more the person sells, or "adds-on", the higher percentage he gets. The 'Add-On' is the bread and butter for many carpet cleaners.
After a few years I was subcontracting for a national company and eventually trained most of the technicians for the home office in New Jersey. I also became the 'fix up guy' who would go out to problem jobs where either the technicians or their work, were not up to standards. By 1999 I had acquired a lot of experience, but unfortunately I also acquired serious lung problems. As I found out, most of the standard industry cleaning products are carcinogenic.
My girlfriend at the time was a nursing student at the University of Pennsylvania. After listening to my steadily worsening cough for a couple of years, she convinced me to sit down with two of her professors, both pulmonary specialists. A few months and many doctors and tests later, I was given a report compiled by the Environmental Occupational Health Science Institute.
The verdict: My job was killing me, and if I continued, in a short time I'd be in a box!
The very next day I gave my notice, but it took me the next few years to regain my health.
While living in Hawaii and doing massage part time, I got my first computer. One day on a whim, I Googled "non-toxic carpet cleaners". Sure enough, on the top of the list was a product called Procyon, made in Washington State. It passed all OSHA standards and had even been used in the White House. I tried it out and was surprised to find that it actually worked better than the typically toxic national brands I had used for over twenty years.
My luck continued when the salesperson for Procyon told me about something called Rotovac, a carpet machine that hadn't been invented when I started out. This machine works in conjunction with the standard steam cleaning method, making it twice as effective.
Now I'm getting better results while no longer putting my or my customers' well-being in jeopardy.
I'm grateful to be healthy and back in the business I've known for so long.
Actually, I'm lucky to be here at all.