The day is October 12, 2022, and the tall, thin, confident man is carefully pulling out a piece of intricate fabric from the pile of matching pieces in his room. It’s an important day as it marks the Past President’s luncheon for the annual ISSA Show North America. Chicago is cold and rainy, but the energy that this seasoned expert holds in his appearance and engaging eyes is as bright and warm as a sunny summer day.
The man carefully folds and ties the fabric just under his shirt collar in a motion he’s done a million times before. It’s a motion passed down through generations, decades, and countless industry events. Then, pausing in front of the mirror to admire his colorful bowtie and the stark contrast it has between his perfectly pressed gray suit and yellow dress shirt, the man — Scott Jarden, former ISSA president — is ready to make an impact.
It is at this luncheon that I met Jarden. I was tasked with taking photos of the event and, feeling rather nervous being around so many industry greats, his welcoming face and quirky bowtie gave me a sense of solace. We chatted lightly on our way to the room where the luncheon would be held and I complimented his bowtie thinking it made him look quite an awful lot like Bill Nye the Science Guy, a 90’s icon I grew up watching.
It wasn’t until I began to ask him about the origins of his bowtie and whether or not he had others that I realized what a touching story Jarden had to share. A story that transcended the cleaning industry and got to the roots of what makes our market so special — family.
This is the story I chose to share about this impressive individual because, while his extensive experience and impact on the world of cleaning is highly impressive, it’s truly the things that make him so unique and genuine that stand out above all else.
Living life to the extreme
The Jarden family story all begins with the patriarch and matriarch of the family: Scott’s grandparents. “My grandfather started Franklin Research, a direct sales manufacturer that develop the first coating for what then was a new style of floors (rubber). The Franklin brand is still being sold today. My Dad left Franklin after they were sold to Purex and bought Bullen from Joe Bullen in 1961 for $10 (assumed a lot of debt).”
Scott Jarden wasn’t always in sales — nor was he in the cleaning industry at first despite his father’s close ties to it throughout his life. In fact, some of the earliest work that he did was capturing incredible photos of prolific skateboarders in the early days of Cherry Hill skate park in New Jersey.
In late 1979, a young Scott Jarden could be found capturing images for major magazines of some of the best early skaters including Shogo Kubo, Tony Alva, Jay Adams, and Chris Strople. As Jarden explains, this era in his life was full of fun and excitement, “I was fortunate to be around for when the Cherry Hill Skate Park (considered one of the best parks ever built) was open and all the pros would come through. I broke my ankle skating in the 22-foot-deep bowl they had there.”
Ever the pioneer, Jarden helped to revolutionize photography for extreme sports during this pivotal time in skateboarding and surfing history through his photography brand, Rad Photo, “Rad Photo was around to photograph some of the greatest riders of all time. We also innovated some techniques for taking the shots. We were the first to use multiple flashes and slow strobe with action shots.”
However, as many of us in the industry know, the cleaning market has a way of becoming a familial bond passed down from generation to generation. It wasn’t long before Jarden too was learning the ropes under his father and fleshing out his career as a business leader, mentor, and industry expert in the cleaning world.
“I have a bachelor of fine arts in photography and realized I could not make enough money to finance my travel and sports activities (surfing and all of that) teaching photography,” Jarden explained. “I came back to Bullen and worked up through the plant until running the sales department, then finally taking over as president. I like to say I take the finest pictures of toilets in the industry.”
In this way, Jarden combined his photography skills and passion for taking engaging photos with the business his father acquired in order to develop the role in the industry that he still holds to this very day.
As Jarden explains, however, he is hardly the only quirky one that has added a pop of creativity and color to the cleaning market in his family. This is where the story of the bowties truly begins.
Taking creative quirks to a corporate level
Richards H. “Dix” Jarden was born on April 4, 1920, in Rutherford, NJ. According to his online legacy, Dix (a nickname created by a high-school girlfriend to acknowledge the “s” in Richards) joined his father in business with the Franklin Research Company in Philadelphia, manufacturing specialty cleaning products. In 1963, he purchased a tiny, struggling manufacturing plant in Folcroft, PA, The Bullen Chemical Company, for $10.
It was with this new company that he made his boldest statements and created his lifelong cleaning industry legacy — which included a myriad of intricate bowties designed by his wife and daughter. As Jarden explained, the origin of the ties comes from countless scraps in fabric shops throughout his family’s lives, “The reason I have so many ties is each year my mother and sister used to make them for my dad for Christmas. There are so many different fabric styles because they used to go to fabric stores and, back then, you were able to take a small section from a roll to take home and see how it looked in your house (kind of like getting paint chips), but the samples were just the right size to make the thin style ties of the time. They got the samples for free and from some pretty unusual rolls of fabric.”
Thus, the ‘oldschool’ professional salesman defined his impact on the industry with a quirky, heartwarming, and bespoke collection of intricate colorful ties. As Jarden explained, this is what helped his father stand out in the crowd and make lasting impressions on his colleagues for decades, “It ended up being his trademark style. At the time, he was just known as the bowtie guy kind of like there are influencers now. He was very conservative but really let it go with the ties. He set a style and then backed it up with an exceptional personal and business reputation.”
Then, at last, the time came for Jarden’s father to pass down not just his business but his little scraps of history and family bonding to his son, “As I grew up in the business and moved into sales, I wore a traditional tie. When my dad retired, he kept a few ties but gave me all of the rest,” Jarden shared. “When I first thought about wearing a bowtie, I asked my dad to help me learn how to tie one. He tried but had trouble doing it from behind me. We had a lot of fun that day trying to get me to master the technique. I eventually learned how from YouTube. He did have one rule: You can never wear a clip-on bow tie.”
Jarden even shared how this simple charming choice has helped attract more networking opportunities for him in the industry as well, “Since not that many people wear bowties — and definitely not the custom-made thin ones that my dad was known for — when I wear one, I get all kinds of comments about how nice they are. It is a great conversation starter that has allowed me to meet people that may not have given me a second glance otherwise.”
From bowls to bowties: Living life to the fullest in the present
Since then, Scott Jarden has dedicated his career to helping empower ISSA to reach its 100-year anniversary and look to the future. The collection of bowties is now up to roughly 60 in total, and he has every intention of adding to this impressive set as time goes on.
His favorite bowtie that he wears most often is the orange one featured here because, as he says, “My birthday is Halloween, and this tie reminds me of that great holiday — and it also has great visual pop to it.”
Still, the adrenaline junkie never forgets to fondly reminisce on his past. In his current office space, while posing wearing his favorite bowtie, Jarden showed off just a fraction of his extensive vintage skateboard collection as well. The boards mounted on the wall and displayed behind him include a signature Steve Caballero deck, a flowboard, and even a Chris Cook signature.
Now, the devoted family man and extreme sports hobbyist finds himself wing foil sailing, spending time with his children, hitting his at-home half pipe, and, of course, attending ISSA events. Which, when there, he sometimes just so happens to meet new quirky people to add to his network that love his family tradition of eccentric bowties just as much as he and his father before him.
After all, as he shares, this tradition is one that exemplifies the importance of family, legacy, and heart that makes the cleaning industry the wonderful and closely connected industry we all play a part in, “I think it is great that I am now considered the bowtie guy and that I have continued to carry on with the reputation of the Jarden name.”
The bowtie legacy: ‘Tying’ it all together
As we chatted further about his life and legacy, it was clear to see why this past president of ISSA held that title and still is deemed a legend in the industry to this day.
At ISSA — our parent company — charisma, humbleness, and uniqueness are the defining characteristics of the entire operation. It’s what makes them so capable of captivating our audience and the millions of others worldwide in various associated fields. It’s why the team is proud to celebrate 100 years in business in 2023 — and why recognizing the importance of legacies, love, humble beginnings, bright futures, and yes, even bowties, is so very important for this year and forever.
From skateboarding and photography to bowties and networking, here’s to a wonderful and hope-filled 2023 — and another 100 years for ISSA!