Michael Schaffer, a senior executive with Tacony’s Commercial Floor Care division and president of Tornado Industries and CFR, has seen many industry trends come and go.
However, Schaffer believes what is occurring now is the emergence of a “new norm” impacting the entire industry.
“No one can argue that our industry is recession proof any longer,” he says. “Many manufacturers and distributors have come to accept that the ways they conducted business before has changed forever. The companies that are prospering [are those that] have embraced these changes and are adapting to them.”
Schaffer also believes building service contractors (BSCs) may actually benefit from the new norm.
For instance, more school districts are outsourcing cleaning operations. “This helps [school districts] keep a tighter control on budgets and shed ‘legacy’ costs such as pensions and benefits.”
BSCs will also have much more marketing power in the future, says Schaffer. “If distributors are not currently working with BSCs, they may be in trouble in a few years.”
Schaffer anticipates the following directions for the cleaning industry:
· Green cleaning will link hands with sustainability, especially concerning water; BSCs will need to adopt cleaning methods that use less water.
· The industry will become more professional. Facility managers will expect BSCs to be CIMS certified, providing them the assurance they meet “best practices” training and standards.
· The “high shine” look facility managers once demanded for their floors is fading due to budget and environmental concerns. This is changing the market for traditional floor care tools, equipment, and chemicals.
· Carpet manufacturers and mills will start dictating what carpet cleaning methods can and cannot be used.  As an example, most of the major mills now ban the use of any type of rotary machine, dramatically changing historic interim carpet cleaning methods. 
· Distributors will face greater competition mainly as a result of information technology; the exclusive distribution channels distributors have today will vanish.

“I also believe because of the economic downturn, you’ll see a renewed appreciation for products built or assembled in America,” adds Schaffer.
“The president of a major manufacturing company recently said we are beginning to realize that if my neighbor does not have a job, sooner or later I may not have one either. This will usher in a ‘buy American’ philosophy in an effort to promote job growth here at home.”