Showcasing the 1980s and its Impact on Jan/San
In recognition of the 80th anniversary of Sanitary Maintenance, each issue will explore a different decade and how events during that time shaped the jan/san industry.
• Personal computers were finally considered affordable and more distributors explored their benefits in a professional setting. Sanitary Maintenance dedicated an entire issue to the technology, covering topics such as software options, affordable models, computer illiteracy issues and more.
• The new decade carried over double-digit inflation rates and a recession threat. Distributors focused on minimizing dead stock in the warehouse and pushed for stricter payment schedules from customers. They also looked for assistance from newer supply chain partners: the wholesaler and master distributor. These partners allowed distributors to carry less inventory and buy a few specialty items only when needed.
• By 1985, jan/san distribution started to get back on track after low economic times between 1982-1983. In January of ‘85, Sanitary Maintenance reported: “Although the overall economy is cooling down, we believe this slowdown is bullish over the longer term. Inflation is now under control, interest rates are coming down and the value of the dollar is dropping, not sharply, but the reduction should help export business which has suffered in the sanitary supply market, as in others, the past two years.”
• Building service contractors were growing partners for distributors across the country, and many BSCs were featured in Sanitary Maintenance. Jim Harris Sr. (right) owned The Maids International at the time of this feature and Jim Harris Jr. (left) oversaw operations. The father/son duo would go on to create Janitronics Inc., where Jim Jr. continues to thrive today. Meanwhile, Jim Sr. would dedicate more than 50 years of his life as a mentor, trainer, educator and innovator to the jan/san industry before his death in 2022 at the age of 83.
• Sanitary Maintenance continued offering a pullout show guide that provides all the highlights for the ISSA convention, held in Las Vegas. In that same issue, Jack Ramaley, ISSA president at the time, provided a reflection on the industry and the association, both of which were going through significant growth.
• More than 20 industry experts were invited to join the first Sanitary Maintenance Editorial Advisory Board. Board members “were selected for their ability to voice the views of large and small firms, established firms and newcomers, first from all parts of the country (and Canada) and all segments of the industry.” There has been a board in place ever since.
• Robert H. Apple, former publisher of Sanitary Maintenance, accepted the Jack D. Ramaley Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the industry during the annual ISSA convention. The recognition came 12 years after his father, SM founder Harry Apple, was recognized as the awards very first recipient.