A tribute to Ken McIntosh


DALTON, GA — The following tribute was submitted by Jeff Bishop in memory of Ken McIntosh:


Ken McIntosh

April 11, 1931 – September 1, 2015


There are times in all our lives when we wish we’d taken notes. Such a time for me was when I first met Ken McIntosh.

Memories are fragile things. I suppose that it was in Dalton, Georgia — probably at the CRI’s old building — since most of my early and somewhat faded memories of Ken took place there. Probably the late 1980s or early ’90s; probably during Ron VanGeldren’s administration. Probably during the days of Ned Hopper, as CRI Technical Director, and Bob Cannon, as Carpet Maintenance Committee Chair . . .

Those were the days when carpet manufacturers were beginning to recognize environmental and sustainability issues, and the importance of maintaining their product after the sale. Manufacturers were looking to cleaning industry leaders for standards, and for solutions to carpet maintenance and cleaning problems.

Like I said, I should have taken notes.

Well, regardless, I suppose they were the people who introduced me to Ken McIntosh.

Ken was the kind of guy you could befriend immediately. Engaging smile, wit, assured manner, intelligence, humility . . .

Carpet cleaners weren’t the most respected people in Dalton in those days. We were sort of the red-headed stepchild of the industry. No one knew exactly what to do with us. The prevailing attitude was, “Why clean carpet? Just let it wear out and then, replace it with new goods.”

But not so with Ken. He had the foresight to understand that cleaning was an important link in the carpet value chain. Following all the formal meetings with CRI and mill executives, Ken would take time to sit and listen to what cleaning association and IICRC representatives had to say, to understand our perspective on issues involving carpet as an investment, and how cleaning provided solutions to environmental quality concerns.

Ken encouraged us not to give up, to keep interacting with manufacturers. He supported and encouraged us further to partner with Dr. Mike Berry and bring the science of cleaning into our industry and into his. And in so doing, he became both an industry and personal friend.

Many were the times that Ken shared his abundant knowledge, and even opened the doors of manufacturing facilities to cleaning industry delegations so that we could better understand the impact of fibers, yarns, construction, dyeing and finishing on the outcome of our cleaning efforts. He included us in CRI meetings on cleaning and environmental issues; he helped open the doors of testing laboratories to expand the body of cleaning science through testing.

I guess the word that sums it up is “respect.”

Early on, Ken McIntosh understood the value of and contributions the cleaning industry could make to support and promote carpet as a sustainable product in the eyes of consumers.

Even before his retirement, Ken volunteered his services as a Board member of the Society of Cleaning and Restoration Technicians (SCRT). He was a quiet and consistent encourager who brought a wealth of knowledge and industry history to our table. He never dominated the conversation about controversial issues, but when he spoke, we all knew it was time for us to stop talking and listen to his wise counsel.

And when meetings were adjourned, Ken was fun to be around too. It was over numerous lunches and dinners that he became one of us. He took time to engage in our personal and professional lives, to praise our accomplishments, to encourage us to become better, more productive contributors to our families, our communities, our industry.

I only wish now that I could go back and recount the good times I had with my friend – indeed our industry’s friend – Ken McIntosh.

Like I said in the beginning, memories are fragile; I wish I’d taken notes . . .


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