This is the first part of a three-part article on the use of orbital equipment.

Floor cleaning has come a long way. One commercial cleaning veteran remembers when people stripped and finished floors on their hands and knees using steel wool and ammonia. Decades later, the technique has evolved to the use of orbital equipment, which provides a dramatic improvement for building service contractors and their customers.

“I like to call it ‘old school strip and finish’ and the ‘new school strip and finish,’” says Mark Rager, regional business development manager, Cleveland Support Center of Coverall Health-Based Cleaning System in Valley View, Ohio. “I’ve been around 30-some years doing this from where you had mass products and machinery and labor to where now, by using the orbital machines, you could basically do a job yourself.”

Orbital floor cleaning machines, also referred to as oscillating machines, vibrate the pad at high speed, a mechanical action which greatly increases efficiency.

“The time savings alone on an orbital are just phenomenal,” says Rager. “In this business, the more you spend on labor, the less profit you’re going to have.”

Coverall, based in Deerfield Beach, Florida, has cleaning franchises around the world. Owners service the full range of clients in offices, hospitals and schools, adding up to countless square feet of hard surfaces. When it comes to buying the right equipment to clean and strip those floors — from marble to vinyl to tile — orbital machines were a pretty easy choice for franchise owners.

Coverall provides extensive training to franchise owners through, textbooks, videos and hands-on training both at the company offices and in the field. Although the company shows franchise owners how the equipment works and explains the cost, the ultimate purchasing decision is left up to the owner. After demonstrations, the popular choice is an upright, walk-behind orbital machine with a 14-by-20-inch pad.

“If you want to be involved in stripping and waxing, [orbital equipment] is the ‘cat’s meow,’” says Al Simon, owner of Al’s Wall-to-Wall Commercial Cleaning Service, a Coverall franchise on the east side of Cleveland. Simon likes orbital equipment because it works well without chemical stripper or water.

Simon is a hands-on owner who serves his 15 customers with four part-time workers. He owns about 10 orbital machines of various sizes and styles, including electric, propane and battery operated so he’s prepared for any situation in the schools and offices he cleans.

“You want to invest in a top-notch machine,” says Simon. “If I’m in this business, I’m in it to make money. So if it costs me a couple thousand dollars to purchase a machine that’s going to cut my time and labor, that means I’m making more money.”

next page of this article:
New Floor Care Equipment Makes For Happy Employees