Innumerable milestones, personalities and entrepreneurial ambitions have laid the foundation for the jan/san industry as we know it. Here’s a glimpse at just a few of them

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Atlantic City National Sanitary Supply Association (NSSA) Convention 1955.

Harry Apple in 1943 was secretary of the NSSA. Marshall Magee of T.F. Washburn Co., Chicago, was president. Magee reported in 1943 that the 21st Annual Convention of NSSA “shattered” attendance records, and although the number of distributor attendees wasn’t reported, there were 24 exhibitors.

Sidney J. Bockstanz was treasurer of the NSSA in 1943 when Sanitary Maintenance was launched; he became president in 1925. The executive secretary at the time was Leo J. Kelly.

Carl Betz perches on a Betco Corp. drum.

Heavy traffic at Johnson Wax’s NSSA booth in the mid-1950s.

Pete Cook hand sets the “Bombay” floor brush. The brush is on a turnblock, which turns on a lathe and cut in half to give it a flared bristle
pattern, circa 1950.

Chase Products was a pioneer in aerosol technology. Pictured, Chase’s ant killer.

Bockstanz Bros., Detroit, was located in this building (inset) from 1906-2000. (S.J. Bockstanz was one of the founding members of NSSA.) The company was purchased by Kellermeyer Co. in June 2002, but continues to operate out of its Detroit location.
Kellermeyer Co.’s main warehouse facility is located in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Taken in 1925, Hospital Specialty’s feminine napkin production line.

That was then, this is now: ice-melt manufacturer Ossian Inc.’s 1975 location (inset). The company went on to become a Fortune 500 company and is now headquartered in this 70,000-square foot facility, which sits on 10 acres.

ProTeam CEO Larry Shideler built his first backpack vacuum from PVC pipe. ProTeam has become a leader in backpack vacuum innovation and now produces a line of state-of-the-art vacuums.

Spartan Chemical Co., Inc.’s founder, Eugene T. Swigart Jr., is pictured in 1956 with the company’s first product, HD-10 Liquid All-Purpose Cleaner. The product’s name later changed to SD-20, which remains in Spartan’s line offering today.

N.S. Hillyard and the Hillyard Shine Alls. This basketball team was the national A.A.U. champion in 1925 and 1926.

Golden Star was founded in 1908. At that time the company manufactured cleaning compounds and polishes. Today, the manufacturing focus is on mats and matting, and its facilities occupy a 350,000 square-foot building in Kansas City, Mo.

Strauss Paper Company, Port Chester, N.Y., is celebrating its 60th year in business. Pictured (l-r): Stewart Strauss, Ruth Strauss, Joyce Strauss-Jonap and Robert P. Jonap featured in a 1995 New York Times article.

In 1964, Henry M. Unger went door-to-door throughout Germany demonstrating to other window cleaners his invention of the telescopic pole.

At the 1980 ISSA Convention, featured events included the humor of Bill Cosby and economic expertise of Dr. Alan Greenspan, then-chair of a private New York finance firm, Townsend-Greenspan Co., Inc.

In 1980, SM also published its “Who’s Who” directory. It included exhibitor listings and attendee names, a place for user notes, and a detailed floor plan.

In 1945, Harry Wax purchased a small business, San Diego Janitor Supply and Chemical Co., in downtown San Diego. It has since become the largest family-owned jan/san distribution company in the United States.

Golden Star’s 1950s and ‘60s corrugated shaker package for Shuffleboard Wax. The product is a formulation of carnauba wax and cornmeal used to increase gliding and sliding on dance floors and shuffleboards.

This portrait of Newton S. Hillyard, who founded Hillyard Industries in 1907, is permanently on display at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Elon Lindberg works a Carlson Unifill Stapler machine used to feed-fill material into pre-drilled holes then staple them into place. The mechanism is worked using foot pedals while moving the block by hand to align the machine with the holes. Circa 1953.

A 1950 photo of the second generation of P.B. Gast & Sons leadership: (l-r) Fred, Wally and Ray Gast. (A portrait of founder Peter B. Gast hangs in the background.) Today, third-generation Gasts, Peter B. and Frederick C. Jr., head up the laundry, and administration and sanitation sales, respectively.

Harry and Morris Wax with employees in 1945. Morris is in the front row, second from left. Harry, also in the front row, is third from the right.

Clarke’s early 1970s carpet care line. Clarke was purchased in 1996 by Alto.

An old Waxie Sanitary Supply price book lists toilet paper at 20 cents per package.
This heavy, leather-bound catalog and price list belonged to a Waxie Sanitary Supply sales representative in the 1960s.

Alfred Pollack, president of National Chemical Laboratories, Philadelphia, on a tank truck in front of the company’s original location on Lombard St., circa 1955.

John P. and Pauline Malish founded the Malish Brush Co. in the basement of their home in Garfield Heights, Ohio. In 1948, operations moved to the garage.
Today, Malish is located in a 82,000-square foot plant in Willoughby, Ohio. The company produces floor, hand-maintenance, cylindrical, specialty and technical brushes, and extruded plastic products for a variety of applications.

This photo, from a 1959 “Sales Tips” brochure given to Geerpres distributors, appeared with the caption: “Recognize this fellow? No, it’s not a new Geerpres salesman. It’s Andy Griffith as he appeared in ‘No Time for Sergeants,’ a recent Warner Brothers picture. Andy was P.L.O. (Permanent Latrine Orderly) for his group, and the Air Force thoughtfully provided him with a Geerpres Mopping Outfit.”

Now based in Port Chester, N.Y., Strauss Paper Co.’s first delivery truck takes to the streets from its White Plains location in 1944.

Golden Star’s line of refinishing products for wood floors and furniture. The polish cleaner’s medicine-bottle packaging (far right) was introduced in the 1920s, but the product it contains was formulated in 1908.

Representatives pose inside the Advance booth at a mid-1950s NSSA Convention.

Two dispensing and fluid control products released in in 1965 by Dema Engineering Co., St. Louis
Perhaps the industry item that has achieved the highest level of notoriety recently is a glass-cleaning squeegee, manufactured by Ettore Products, Oakland, Calif. On September 11, 2001, a window cleaner named Jan Demczur, on coffee break, got into an elevator with five men on his way to the 70th floor of World Trade Center 1. After hearing an explosion, the six were trapped between floors in the elevator. Demszur used the squeegee handle to prop the doors of the elevator open while he tried to slice through the plasterboard wall. As he tired, the blade slipped and fell down the shaft. He resorted to using the handle to hack through three inches of plasterboard. The men then kicked through a tile wall into a restroom. An elevator took them to the 40th floor and they were led to a stairwell. Around the 12th floor, they heard the other tower collapse. Demszur made it outside moments before the North Tower collapsed. The squeegee handle that saved six lives has a new home at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.