ICAN Offers Knowledge Resources To Cleaning Industry
After a couple of years of informal networking, a group of approximately 45 consultants to the cleaning industry have formed the International Custodial Advisors Network (ICAN). The network is designed to bring together a wealth of expertise from a variety of industry sources and make it available to the entire industry, says ICAN’s interim executive director Allen Rathey.

“We want to make ICAN a clearinghouse for advice and expertise, available at a one-stop shop,” Rathey says.

Another goal of the network is to develop cleaning standards, based on best practices.

“Standards are needed,” says Rathey. “If you were to invite eight plumbers and ask them to plumb your building, they’d all do it the same way, because of standards and codes. Ask eight building service contractors or custodial managers to come in and set up a cleaning system, and they’ll each set it up in their own manner.”

The bylaws still have not been finalized (they are expected March 1, 2003), but ICAN’s primary members are professional, full-time industry consultants. Eventually, ICAN plans to add a speakers’ bureau and provide consulting services to manufacturers, distributors and end users of cleaning products. ICAN will function as an educational non-profit organization. The interim board of directors includes chairman John Walker, and directors Steve Ashkin, Gary Clipperton, Laura Dellutri and William Griffin.

Building service contractors will be able to tap into the resources if they need advice on setting up a cleaning system in a building. Within ICAN, there are experts on most common systems, such as day cleaning and team cleaning, Rathey adds.

ASCR Releases Mold Guide
The Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration (ASCR) has released a publication for its members who deal with mold remediation.

“Recommended Professional Practices,” available to ASCR members through the association’s Web site, is designed to give mold remediators an overview of major issues related to the topic and a description of accepted best practices within the industry.

“This is a compilation of existing, authoritative information, from sources such as the Environmental Protection Agency, New York City and the American Industrial Hygiene Association,” says technical adviser Martin King, CR, who produced the document. “This is assembled out of consensus opinions that exist in the field but haven’t before been coordinated or put into a logic format.”

The report, which was reviewed by mold experts before publication, lists 28 separate issues in a chart format.

Mergers & Other Moves
• Horizon National Contract Services, Red Bank, N.J., has sold its commercial-facility and mall-cleaning business units to ABM Industries Inc., and The Millard Group, Chicago, respectively. Horizon sold those units to concentrate on its core market of multi-state, multi-facility retail and specialty sites. Horizon previously had purchased Building One Service Solutions and Building One Commercial Inc., from Encompass Services Co.; many of the former Building One businesses were part of the sale to ABM and Millard.

• Texas Feathers, Arlington, Texas, has changed its name to TxF Products. The manufacturer of dusters and brushes will continue to use the Texas Feathers name to market products.

• Scot Young Research Products Inc. , St. Joseph, Mo., recently filed a lawsuit against ABCO Products Corp., Miami, Fla., alleging infringement of its patented Changer mop.

How Nice Are The Restrooms You Clean?
If your company cleans a posh, cozy or just-plain-nice office restroom, it could be nominated for Kimberly-Clark Professional’s “Best Office Building Bathroom” contest.

“The average office building worker spends the equivalent of more than three workdays a year in the restroom, so the importance of an attractive restroom cannot be underestimated,” says Amy Walker Barrs, office building marketing manager, in a press release. “This contest gives us the opportunity to honor the office buildings that go that extra mile to make the restrooms a special place for the people who work in these buildings.”

The contest is open to people who work in an office building at least six stories tall. Entries must be received by April 30.

Office Depot Offshoot Targets Cleaners
Many months after the dot-com meltdown claimed dozens of electronic-commerce sites, a new cleaning-product and information clearinghouse has spun off from a bricks-and-mortar office-supply chain.

Online-only Janitation Depot, a division of Office Depot, went live in April 2002 in response to the growing demand for paper products at the parent Web site. The new division will offer breakroom supplies and janitorial products, as well as industry-specific information, and is aimed at the building-service-contractor and in-house market. It also is open to the public.

Currently, the site features 1,500 SKUs, ranging from water and coffee supplies to paper towels, vacuum cleaners and at least one rotary floor machine, but no riding equipment as of press time. The site still is evolving and new products will be added, says Robert Kravitz of RJK Associates in Chicago, who is handling publicity for Janitation Depot.

What remains to be seen is whether the new venture will erode sales from traditional distributors, who were worried about competition from the online janitorial catalogs that sprung up in the late 1990s and have since faded out. But Kravitz says there’s a place for both warehouses and Web sites.

“Brick-and-mortar distributors play a very valuable role in our industry,” says Kravitz. “Often, they are the information center for BSCs on how to use products and what new products have entered the market that might help them address their cleaning needs.”

However, Kravitz believes contractors who already know what they want will find the site useful.

Although there are more than 1,000 Office Depot retail locations, there are no plans to open Janitation Depot stores or departments.