Building service contractors have begun cleaning up the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is almost completely dry after breaches in the city’s levees caused major flooding. Cleaning crews are doing all they can to prepare the city for the return of its citizens.

Six ServiceMaster Clean franchises, from Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Connecticut, led a crew of 170 cleaners to reopen the city’s first hospital. It required nearly four days of hard work to have the emergency room up and running and another week for the rest of the hospital, says Scott Carroll, director of marketing and project coordinator, ServiceMaster Clean, Villa Park, Ill. The franchises are currently working on reopening the city’s second functioning hospital.

Clean-up duties entail removing trash and debris, as well as deodorizing and sterilizing all surfaces. The hospitals ServiceMaster Clean are working on sustained no physical damage from flooding, but were home to survivors after the storm. With no plumbing or electricity for almost a month, the hospitals were in desperate need of repair.

ServiceMaster Clean in Lafayette, La., is in charge of cleaning 12 hotels, as well as hospitals, government buildings and some commercial properties. The first priority was to ready a hotel for Federal Emergency Management Agency workers. General manager Huey Miller too found the properties damaged more from survivors than the storm.

“There was no flood damage, but some water damage from roof leaks,” says Miller. “They were in need of general cleaning after people had lived in them for two weeks with no housekeeping or water.”

The BSCs working in New Orleans face challenges with providing shelter, food and supplies for their employees. Workers often sleep in the buildings they clean. Some of Carroll’s staff members are staying in recreational vehicles at the local zoo. Initially, food was brought in via coolers and ice chests, but eventually freezers could be run off of generators.

With temperatures in the 90s, air conditioners had to be run off of generators, too. Water has been turned on, but is not drinkable. However, it is suitable to use for cleaning. Just a couple weeks ago, all water, along with all other supplies, had to be trucked in.

Despite the struggles, BSCs say they are honored to be lending a hand.

“The reward of being able to open a hospital and allow people to move back is self gratifying,” says Carroll.

Displaced New Orleans citizens are also joining in the relief efforts. Miller employed 30 evacuees to help with the cleaning. Only one had prior experience in custodial and maintenance work. Unfortunately, due to the threat of Hurricane Rita, work was postponed for a few days and during this time several evacuees were further moved from their temporary housing in the Cajun Dome to other states.

Other support for Hurricane Katrina victims is coming from all over the cleaning industry. Here are just a few examples:

  • Reckitt Benckiser Inc., Parsippany, N.J. provided the Red Cross with funds, disinfectant products, antibacterial soap, pest-control products and educational resources for victims and cleanup crews on proper cleaning and disinfectant.

  • JohnsonDiversey Inc., Sturtevant, Wis., donated $100,000 and has established a matching fund for employee donations totaling up to $20,000. It also donated more than 2,500 cases of professional products such as hard surface and hand cleaners, deodorizers and sanitizers.

  • Ecolab, St. Paul, Minn., distributed waterless antibacterial hand sanitizer along with surface sanitizers and other cleaning products. Additionally, the company made its 50,000-square-foot distribution center in Garland, Texas available to the Red Cross to distribute supplies during the relief effort.

  • Minuteman Intl., Addison, Ill., employees are able to make donations to the Red Cross directly from their paychecks. The company is matching employee contributions.

  • Industrial Soap Co., a St. Louis-based distributor, donated $50,000 worth of brooms, mops, buckets, sanitizer and towel and tissue products to Catholic Charities to prepare temporary housing facilities for evacuees.

BSCAI Sponsors Standard

Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI) has announced sponsorship of the Green Seal Cleaning Service Standard and plans to participate as an active stakeholder.

“BSCAI is pleased to sponsor this important initiative, and will participate formally and constructively in the development of the standard through a representative BSCAI task force,” said Carol A. Dean, executive vice president of BSCAI in a news release.

Arthur Weisman, Ph.D, president and CEO of Green Seal Inc. says he is grateful for the association’s sponsorship and is looking forward to its input.

Green Seal recently extended the deadline for stakeholders because not all potential stakeholders were aware of the initial call or earlier deadline.

California Janitorial Advisory Group Formed

The Pacific Association of Building Service Contractors’ (PABSCO) legislation, AB 596, which would form an advisory committee for the janitorial industry for the state of California, has been placed on the Senate Inactive File.

Despite this, however, the state bill did accomplish its mission. PABSCO decided to comply with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wishes to have a voluntary committee rather than a mandated one, says Dick Dotts, legislative chair for PABSCO. The group will be in direct contact with state labor commissioner Donna Dell, who will direct her resources to evaluate and investigate the committee’s concerns.

The committee consists of PABSCO stakeholders, representatives from the Building Owners and Managers Association, unions and contractors representing different sized companies. The group will tackle issues specific to the janitorial industry such as hiring illegal immigrants.

Industry Accolades
  • Elizabeth Gonzalez-Gann, president of JanCo Janitorial, Tucson, Ariz., was recognized as the national minority female entrepreneur of the year by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency.

  • Tennant Co., a Minneapolis-based manufacturer of non-residential floor-care products, is celebrating 135 years in business.

    The company started in 1870 when George H. Tennant’s sawmill began producing wood products and flooring for local businesses. Today the company sells products directly in 15 countries and through distributors in more than 50 countries.

  • The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) of Dalton, Ga., announced the first companies to earn certification for their carpet-cleaning extractors under the new Seal of Approval program.
    Gold Seal of Approval, signifying the highest amount of soil removal went to truckmount extractors from Sears Carpet & Upholstery Care, Lewis Center, Ohio; Mohawk FloorCare Essentials, Fayetteville, Ga.; Prochem, Englewood, Colo.; ZeroRez, Lindon, Utah ; and CleanMaster, Mulkilteo, Wash.

    Extractors from US Products, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, received the bronze Seal of Approval, indicating they meet above-average soil-removal standards while Rug Doctor, Plano, Texas, was awarded a bronze rating for its self-contained extractor.

Gregory E. Lawton, president and chief executive officer of JohnsonDiversey Inc., Sturtevant, Wis., has decided to retire after serving the $3 billion-a-year manufacturer of institutional and industrial cleaning products for five years.

Neither the company’s decreasing profits nor a downgrading earlier this year of its debt were factors in Lawton’s retirement, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article. Lawton will remain in his current role until a successor is named.

Chris Killingstad will become the new president and CEO of Tennant Co., Minneapolis, on Dec. 1, at which time Janet Dolan, after 20 years at the company and six years at the helm, will step down as president and CEO. Killingstad joined the company’s board on Oct 6.

Killingstad joined Tennant in 2002 and has served as vice president, North America.