‘Currently Unavailable’: Finding Supplies in a Time of Crisis
by Jeff Cross, editorial director
Cleaners and restorers across the country—and the globe—are struggling with the current challenges spawned by the coronavirus outbreak and the pandemic that is gripping the world. While companies in the cleaning and restoration industry are considered “essential businesses” and can remain in operation, that doesn’t mean it is business as usual.
Most carpet cleaners are feeling the pinch in that customers are cancelling appointments, waiting for the pandemic to pass. Some owners are deciding it isn’t worth the risk of going into customers’ homes. Restoration contractors, in comparison, are still busy with water damage, fire and smoke damage, mold remediation, and similar restoration projects.
The question is, for those still operating now, are there enough supplies for them to get the job done? And are they making it through the supply chain and to the end-user? It’s known that many items, such as certain PPE, are currently unavailable due to extreme demand.
Manufacturers stepping up to provide cleaning and restoration supplies for coronavirus
Manufacturers of equipment, tools, and chemicals realize these are difficult times and they are working overtime to provide what’s needed to cleaning and restoration companies.
“Legend Brands companies have been determined to be ‘essential business’ operations critical to infrastructure sectors,” according to Paul Anderson, the vice president of operations with Legend Brands. “As such, our production and distribution facilities remain open to ensure that these essential services are available without interruption. We are doing everything possible to meet the disinfectant and equipment needs of restoration and cleaning companies during this challenging time when there’s an unprecedented demand for specific products.”
A refocus on what’s most important right now is the strategic focus of those at HydraMaster, according to Doyle Bloss, the vice president of marketing. “We have been focusing on ‘revisiting’ cleaning for health and cleaning before you disinfect,” he explained. “I think the opportunity is there for the cleaning or restoration professional. In the commercial setting, there are buildings shut down everywhere that need a deep cleaning to be done before they re-open to customers, employees, or students.”
On the residential side, Bloss feels that with proper marketing and preparation, there are many who would want the surfaces in their homes cleaned right now.
And, “Certainly, after all of the stay-at-home orders are over and families begin to return to their normal routine, the high concentration of traffic and usage in every residential home during this time makes the timing perfect to promote deep cleaning for a healthier environment,” Bloss concluded.
Some manufacturers are also involved in distribution and see both sides of the issue.
“Two months prior to the coronavirus, I was educating myself about the virus and what products would be best to use for the professional cleaner,” said Taf Baig, president of the Magic Wand Company. “This way, I was very well prepared for when people had questions and needed solutions.”
Before the stay-at-home order, Baig said, there were many facilities utilizing the services of his customers. After that order was declared, it slowed down somewhat. “I believe people were in shock. But during this period, I was able to contact my customers through email and social media to get ready to get involved with cleaning for the coronavirus,” he explained. “Many got busy with work right away. Then, most recently, it has become very busy with facilities that do their own in-house cleaning. They have been buying disinfectants that are on the EPA’s official COVID1-19 list, along with natural sanitizers that we carry.”
For now, Baig is getting ready for the residential rush, which he believes will occur once the stay-at-home orders are eased or lifted.
The Truck Mount Forums online store, featuring all types of products for carpet cleaners, is delivering products to end users and keeping up with inventory as well.
“We are an essential business and are still supplying companies globally,” according to Rob Allen III. “We are taking steps to keep our distribution center safe by sanitizing surfaces, according to CDC guidelines, and all our workers are implementing social distancing practices.”
In addition to delivery of products, TMF features live chat and phone support and educations programs from the TMF Academy Training division.
The supply chain effort
Jim Pemberton is the president of Pembertons Interlink Supply. He is also a noted instructor and consultant in the industry.
“In the last few weeks, we’ve been overrun by calls from everyone from restoration companies, commercial cleaning services, carpet cleaners, and the public at large for disinfectants,” he observed. “Keeping product in stock has been a challenge, but the greater challenge is trying to guide buyers in the proper use of products.”
Pemberton recognized, that, to the credit of our industry as a whole, the majority of people he talked to were looking to purchase products to disinfect their equipment and tools to keep their employees and customers safe. “Cleaning companies who already understand the cleaning needs at times like this are also asking the right questions and attempting to purchase the right products,” he explained. “What’s distressing are the individuals who are seeing this as a means of profiting out of fear and offering to do things that are ineffective to control the problems at hand. More than a few people are asking about using smoke deodorizing products that they know have zero benefit but just ‘make people feel better.’”
As Pemberton has believed all during his career in the cleaning and restoration industry, education is vital to doing the work correctly and to protect health of not only customers but technicians as well.
Industry supply company Jon-Don sent a nationwide bulletin to its customers addressing the challenges cleaners and restorers are dealing with today.
“Jon-Don is an Essential Business and will remain open throughout any ‘Shelter in Place’ or ‘Stay Home’ orders to fulfill the needs of our customers,” the bulletin said. However, as with most physical retail locations, it’s not always business as usual. “Your local Jon-Don branch will remain open to take care of your will call orders, but will no longer permit customers to shop inside the store. Please call ahead to place your order—your rep will provide instructions on how to place, schedule, and pickup your order,” the bulletin added.
Jon-Don did note that due to the high demand created by the coronavirus outbreak, there is a national shortage of many of Jon-Don’s regular stocked items. “If the product you’re ordering is on backorder, it will be filled in the order it was received once the item is back in stock.”
The Aramsco family of companies is also working overtime to fulfill orders to its customers.
“Aramsco is proud to provide essential services and products to contractors, health care workers, and government organizations that are supporting the COVID-19 efforts. Our customers are on the front lines doing everything they can, and in turn, we are doing everything we can to support them. Our team is working around the clock with our vendor partners to do everything we can to make the supply chain function effectively,” an Aramsco spokesperson said.
While open for business, Aramsco has taken several steps to provide for the health and safety of its team members, vendors, and customers. “We are no longer holding any customer events, including training classes, customer appreciation days, or other in-store events. We have also implemented social distancing strategies across our workforce and have arranged for ‘curb-side’ drop-off and pick-up of products.”
Share your thoughts
Cleanfax and ISSA want to hear your voice. Please contact us with questions and concerns about cleaning and restoration supplies for coronavirus or any other issue related to the pandemic, and tell us how we can help you in this crisis. Share your own observations and what you are doing to handle this COVID-19 outbreak. What are you doing? How will you cope? How will you move forward when the crisis is over? Share your thoughts.
Join our global community
ISSA is here to help, not only its members but the entire global cleaning community. By uniting and working together, we will be able to more effectively battle the next public health issue, in whatever form it evolves.
Use the ISSA “Essential Business Resources” documents and information to operate your cleaning or restoration company.
Become an advocate of clean and join the global cleaning community as it unites each and every day: Join ISSA and help.
And read “Post-COVID-19: The Aftermath for the Cleaning and Restoration Industry,” online now, for a look at how all of this will affect the businesses of the industry.
Jeff Cross is the editorial director of ISSA Media, which includes Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine. He is the previous owner of a successful cleaning and restoration firm. He also works as a trainer and consultant for business owners, managers, and front-line technicians. He can be reached at [email protected].