Soap Study: Do Antibacterials Matter?
Antibacterial hand soaps have gotten their share of controversy since their introduction. First touted as a way to reduce the spread of disease-causing pathogens, scientists soon worried that the soaps might inadvertently be contributing to the creation of hardy bacteria that antibiotics won’t be able to kill.

Now, however, a new study suggests that antibacterial soaps and other cleaners may be unnecessary. In a study involving 238 Manhattan families, which appears in the March 2004 Annals of Internal Medicine, those who used antibacterial cleaners exclusively for a year were just as likely to get sick — including fevers, stomach ailments, colds, coughs, sore throats and rashes — as those who used regular cleaners.

“This study certainly indicates that antibacterial soaps may not be necessary and may not be offering any value," says Elaine L. Larson, associate dean for research at the Columbia State University School of Nursing, who led the study, in a recent Washington Post article. “The very small amount of antibacterial ingredients in these soaps don't seem to be doing much."

The Columbia study examined household cleaners, not professional chemicals, so its implication on commercial applications is unclear.

The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA), a trade association representing manufacturers, was quick to point out the limits of the study — most of the illnesses tracked are caused by viruses, which antibacterial products aren’t designed to kill.

“Antibacterial cleaning and personal care products do what they say they do: they kill harmful bacteria,” says the association in a press release. “The research findings in this particular study are not surprising, as none of the antibacterial products tested were designed, formulated or claimed to be effective against viruses.”

There are products that do kill viruses and fungi; SDA recommends reading the label and looking for the government-mandated disclosure to find out what types of pathogens a product is designed to fight.

Supply Line Features Ashkin
The New Jersey Sanitary Supply Association (NJSSA) returns to Atlantic City in May for its biannual convention and trade show, Supply Line 2004.

This show is the largest regional exposition of its kind, says Pat Koziol, NJSSA executive director.

“We serve all of the northeast,” she says. “Cleaning professionals can meet with a variety of suppliers to see their new products and innovations , and contact distributors.”

Koziol expects 150 exhibitors from all over the United States and Canada.

Supply Line is open to distributors only on May 6, but the following day begins with a breakfast seminar featuring green-cleaning expert and Contracting Profits columnist Stephen Ashkin (CP is sponsoring the session). The trade show then continues until 3 p.m.

This year’s show features a change from previous years — a new venue. Previously held at the Trump Taj Mahal, Supply Line 2004 will be at the Atlantic City Convention Center. In addition, the show hotel is The Borgata, a new Las Vegas-style dining, lodging and entertainment complex.

ABM Janitorial Services, a subsidiary of ABM Industries Incorporated, has signed two new contracts for janitorial and cleaning services in the Boston area, representing nearly 1.5 million square feet of office space in five buildings.

ABM has entered into an agreement with CB Richard Ellis real estate and property management firm to provide janitorial and cleaning services for the firm's redeveloped 22-story office building in downtown Boston.

ABM also signed a contract with the Flatley Co. real estate and property management firm to provide janitorial and specialty cleaning services for four facilities representing 875,000 square feet in the Boston area.

The American Lung Association, an education and advocacy group based in New York, already partners with several manufacturing companies in the cleaning industry. John Kirkwood, the association’s CEO, wants to expand those partnerships to building service contractors.

"The American Lung Association feels that there are good opportunities to form corporate partnerships in the cleaning industry, such as cleaning services," he says.

One existing partnership is that with ProTeam, a Boise, Idaho-based manufacturer of backpack vacuums.

"We have committed to ongoing dialogue to constantly introduce new initiatives that will be both creative and educational," he says of the ProTeam partnership. "We have already met for two brainstorming sessions and have come up with many exciting possibilities that we are now exploring. Some examples might include the distribution of tips to help improve indoor air quality, online interactive quizzes, and tips on how to clean properly. We are looking at both nationwide and regional campaigns."

Companies that are interested should contact Cathy Levy, director of corporate relations at 212-315-8831.

O-Cedar Commercial, Paxton, Ill., recently announced the acquisition of Clore Mop Co., a third-generation mophead manufacturer located in Danville, Ind. The acquisition will increase O-Cedar’s sales by 30 percent, according to company officials.

In August 2003, O-Cedar was purchased by a group of investors and continues to use the O-Cedar brand name.

Americo Founder Rones Passes Away
Jim Rones, founder of Americo Manufacturing Co., passed away February 23, 2004. He was born on February 28, 1925 in High Point, North Carolina. Jim was a veteran of World War II, where he served in the U.S. Army Air Forces as a pilot.

He founded American Manufacturing Co. in Atlanta, a manufacturer of floor maintenance pads and floor mats, in 1969. The company moved to Acworth, Ga. in 1981 and later changed its name to Americo Manufacturing Co. Rones was an entrepreneur/inventor and held numerous patents. He is survived by his wife Gail and four children.

Court OKs Owner Pensions
The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that a working owner of a business can qualify as a “participant” in a federally protected pension plan.

In 1996, Raymond B. Yates, a Knoxville, Tenn., doctor, was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Yates had recently repaid more than $50,000 in loans against the pension fund, and his creditors wanted claim to it in the bankruptcy proceedings.

Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, worker pensions are considered protected assets. Lower courts ruled that Yates was an employer, not an employee, and therefore couldn't protect the loan repayment in bankruptcy. The Supreme Court reversed all of those those decisions.

"If the plan covers one or more employees other than the business owner and his or her spouse, the working owner may participate on equal terms with other plan participants," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote on behalf of the court.

Election 2004: Exercise Campaign-Contribution Caution
Stay the course with George W. Bush? Or try to bring John Kerry (or one of a host of third-party and independent contenders) into the White House? Now that the 2004 presidential-election campaign is on, building service contractors might want to write a check to help their candidate of choice to the top spot.

But watch out — there are limits to what you can give. An individual can contribute up to $2,000 per election (primary and general), per federal candidate. Couples can contribute $4,000.

State and local races all have their own limits, so check with your state’s elections board for more details.

Want to cut a corporate check? You’re out of luck — contributions from corporations, unions and national banks are forbidden. (If you have a sole proprietorship or a joint partnership, you may send a business check, subject to the same per-person restrictions.) Also, you may not give your employees money to contribute to candidates, in order to get around the limits — the Federal Election Commission (FEC) tracks the employer and occupation of every donor who gives more than $200 per year.

Some business owners prefer to contribute through political action committees (PACs). Building Service Contractors Association International and the International Sanitary Supply Association both have PACs.

For more information, visit the Federal Election Commission’s Web site.