Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Carpet Cleaning Tips For Dummies - Get Yours Now!

No matter where our travels take us these days, no matter what trade show or what audience we engage with, there is one constant that we have come to expect here at CRI: the demand for a little yellow book titled "Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies."

From housewives to architects, designers to retailers, doctors to facility managers, the easiest conversation starter we have in our arsenal over the last couple of years has been our publication Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies.

Sponsored by the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) and HousekeepingChannel.com, Carpet Cleaning Tips For Dummies , published by Wiley Publishing, Inc., is an easy-to-use resource that identifies best practices for keeping carpets looking beautiful for years to come.

And the little yellow book which is formatted like all the popular Dummies book series in Wiley’s trademarked style is easily the most popular publication CRI has ever put out. The reaction to it at trade shows is priceless and the demand is sometimes overwhelming. Over the last two years, we have literally handed out 30,000 copies of the booklet and are in the process of revising the booklet for a third run.

Carpet is an integral part of most households. Some people think that keeping carpet clean and beautiful is hard work. It really isn’t. Not if you clean it properly, with the right frequency and the right products.

Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies is designed to save you time by zeroing in on the best cleaning techniques and to help identify the products and equipment you need to get the results you want.

Between longer work days, time-consuming commutes, and kids’ activities that keep the calendar full, who has time to worry about cleaning carpet? Today, we’re spending less time on household tasks, yet we still expect excellent results. Lucky for us, carpet-cleaning products, methods, and equipment are improving all the time.

Proper cleaning and maintenance of your carpet makes all the difference in the world. It can preserve the life and beauty of your carpet, improve your indoor air quality, and avoid premature replacement costs and disposal in landfills.

Household management expert Elizabeth Goldsmith, the book’s author, provides simple solutions for fighting dirt, removing nasty spots and stains, using the right products and calling in professional cleaners when necessary. She has tips for pet owners and advice on how to clean precious Oriental rugs.

We first came up with the idea to put together the booklet two years ago as a way to get our message out about the Seal of Approval Products. Our good friend at the Housekeeping Channel, Allen Rathey, had been approached by Wiley Publishing with an offer to do a booklet. Allen immediately thought about us at CRI and together we underwrote the expense to have it published and were fortunate enough to have Ms. Goldsmith serve as its author.

The popularity of the For Dummies book template is legendary and there was no way we were going to pass on it. With near universal name recognition, more than 150 million books in print, and over 1,000 topics, For Dummies is the world's bestselling reference series. With loyal customers around the globe, For Dummies enriches people’s lives by making knowledge accessible in a fun and easy way. Described by the N.Y. Times as "more than a publishing phenomenon, but a sign of the times," For Dummies span every section of the bookstore, covering everything from health to history, music to math, sports to self-help, technology to travel, and more.

We get requests from all over the world through our website for the book, and a lot of carpet retailers use them as giveaways to new customers after the purchase of a carpet. At trade shows, attendees can not pass the booth without stopping to grab a copy usually with the caveat “I know a dummy that this book can really help.”

Of course, we all know that dummy is usually the person putting it in their back pocket as they walk away. Nonetheless, we’re happy to provide the books for people and again it is one of our best educational pieces on simple carpet cleaning while getting out the message: use good products!

In case you are not one of the “dummies” coming by to visit us at our booth in a city near you, the books can easily be ordered from our website.

~ James

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Construct 2009/TFM Show: Building Relationships in Indianapolis

Indianapolis War Memorial originally uploaded by smileygeekgirl.
Notes from the Construct 2009/TFM Show...

I spent last week in Indianapolis, Indiana, manning the Carpet and Rug Institute booth at the Construct 2009/TFM show at the Indianapolis Convention Center.

The show was sponsored by CSI, the Construction Specification Institute, and TFM, Today’s Facility Manager magazine.

The show is designed for architects, specifiers, and facility managers – in other words, people who design buildings and create the detailed documents required to build the project, as well as the professionals who must manage the buildings once they are built.

For me, it was a very busy show. I had placed a stack of CRI’s booklet, Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies on the booth’s counter, and they proved to be very popular. One attendee exclaimed, “This is the best handout at this entire show!” Many attendees took several booklets – to distribute to each of their building cleaning crews, or send to their firm’s various branch offices. Plenty just wanted a copy to take home.

As each person came by to get their copy of the book, I got to talk (over and over again) about CRI’s Seal of Approval program – how it tested carpet cleaning solutions and vacuum cleaners, etc. People were particularly interested in hearing about how they could enter their zipcode on the CRI website and find the CRI Seal of Approval Service Providers in their area.

Many of the architects and specifiers I spoke with were interested in getting the link to the page on the CRI website that lists all of the products that have been certified by the ANSI/NSF 140 Sustainable Carpet Assessment Standard. By listing all the products together in one place, CRI makes it easier to find environmentally-preferable carpet products. [Also see CRI Sustainability Manager Jeff Carrier On NSF 140 Standard for Sustainable Carpet.]

I enjoyed being in Indianapolis because it’s a beautiful city, but also because I got to visit with my sister. She lives in Indy and is a major gifts fundraiser for the Riley Children’s Hospital, which was established in memory of the great Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley, in honor of his lifelong love of children.

~ Bethany

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

CRI Sustainability Manager Jeff Carrier On NSF 140 Standard for Sustainable Carpet

CRI Sustainability Manager Jeff Carrier Talks about the NSF 140 Standard for Sustainable Carpet and Tells How to Find Carpets that are Certified to the Standard.

I am really proud of the changes the carpet industry has instituted on behalf of the environment. Through programs like CRI’s Green Label and Green Label Plus certifications for VOC emissions from carpet, pad, and adhesives, and Seal of Approval testing program for carpet cleaning solutions and equipment, the carpet industry has voluntarily reduced its environmental footprint significantly. For example, from 2003 to 2007, CO2 emissions dropped by over 50 percent, water usage declined 30%, and recycling and renewable energy use skyrocketed – at the same time that production increased! For more information on the carpet industry’s sustainability story, check out CRI’s 2008 Sustainability Report.

Jeff Carrier is the Sustainability Manager for the Carpet and Rug Institute. Jeff monitors environmental practices within the carpet industry and coordinates efforts for CRI’s environmental initiatives. He is very knowledgeable, and always willing to share what he knows with me – thanks, Jeff!

I talked to Jeff about a new development at CRI: To make it easier for specifiers and interior designers to find environmentally sustainable carpets by offering a list on the CRI website of all the carpet products that have been certified by the Sustainable Carpet Assessment Standard called ANSI/NSF 140 2007.

I asked Jeff about the importance of having a standard to assess the sustainability of carpet and the benefit of listing all the products together in one place.

BR: First of all, Jeff, what is the ANSI/NSF 140 2007 Sustainable Carpet Assessment Standard?

JC: NSF 140 is the first-ever ANSI standard for sustainability in building products. It does a lot of things for the consumer, government purchaser, and manufacturer, but probably the most important service it provides is to facilitate communication between those key groups. Manufacturers receive feedback through the consensus process about the needs and desires of the purchasers, and the standard lets consumers see and interpret the characteristics of individual products easily.

BR: What is the value of a central listing? Who will use it?

JC: Listing all the approved products on one section of the CRI web site provides users with one source for the most up-to-date information. This will be very useful to architects, designers, purchasing agents, and mill sales representatives who are trying to stay current on the most sustainable carpet products available. Since NSF-140 is recognized for LEED credits in the categories of Innovation, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Materials and Resources, those engaged in the LEED process will also benefit from the site.

BR: What must a manufacturer go through to have products certified?

JC: Typically, the process begins with a company’s internal operations. A guide book is available at the NSF website for manufacturers that helps them align their manufacturing operations for entering the certification process. Once the initial arrangements have been made, the manufacturer will contact one of several certifying companies for an audit. The audit is an extremely detailed process that includes document reviews, toxicology examinations, and on-site inspections. A complete Life Cycle Analysis is a requirement for manufacturers seeking to earn a Platinum Certification on their product. Audits normally take a couple of months of intense work. It is normal for discrepancies to be discovered and corrected that will bring the manufacturer into compliance. Once all discrepancies have been addressed, the auditor will complete the evaluation and issue a score. 37 to 51 points earns Silver Level, 51 to 59 points earns Gold Level, and 60+ earns Platinum Level.

BR: Who has passed? How many products?

JC: There are currently 10 manufacturers providing an extensive array of products. The basic unit for certification is called a platform. A platform represents a category of products that perform similarly in terms of environmental performance – for example, one platform may incorporate a variety of styles that look very different but have similar environmental characteristics. Since NSF-140 is primarily intended to address the commercial market, a reader will sometimes see that a manufacturer has achieved certification on a “backing”. This is another word for platform since the backing is the most environmentally unique portion of a carpet product.

If anyone would like to talk to Jeff about NSF 140 or other environmental issues related to the carpet industry, he says you can email him at jcarrier@carpet-rug.org.

In the meantime, you might want to bookmark the Carpet and Rug Industry Sustainable Carpet Product Platforms page for easy reference.

Until next time,


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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Locating Seal of Approval -SOA- Carpet Cleaning Service Providers

I had the opportunity to speak to the local Dalton Rotary Club this week, and as is often the case, it's amazing the little lessons you sometimes learn if you’ll just sit back and listen … even when you’re the one speaking!

The topic of my presentation was actually the work Carpet and Rug Institute is doing in the asthma and allergy community. As I took the attentive audience through our plan and our hope that we can steer doctors and nurses into making informed cleaning recommendations for the carpet as an alternative to prescribing the removal of carpet when asthma and allergy symptoms present, a nice lady interrupted and asked me the most basic of questions.

“How can I find the information to make sure I’m using the proper folks to clean the carpets we have at the day care I operate?”

The lesson here is that while we work really hard at educating the world about finding good service providers through our Seal of Approval Program, obviously there was still work to be done on the home front of our little “Carpet Capital of the World” here in Dalton.

Unfortunately, I’m as guilty as the next party when it comes to taking things for granted. The local newspaper has done a superb job of making announcements each and every time CRI adds or enhances our programs and since we’ve gotten signed agreements with several local entities including the Chamber of Commerce and the Whitfield County School system to use exclusively SOA products, I assumed most of our hometown heroes had a working knowledge of how to find these right service providers.

We’ve talked a lot about the SOA program on this blog and how it distinguishes cleaning products such as spot removers, pre-sprays and in-tank solutions from those that work and those that do not work effectively. We’ve talked about the SOA extractor program and the importance of a machine being able to not only clean, but also remove all that water it puts onto a carpet. We’ve touted the SOA Green Label vacuum cleaner program and the way it designates vacs that remove soil, keep it contained and out of the breathing zone and guarantees your carpet won’t be damaged in appearance. [See Werner Braun Discusses Seal of Approval [SOA] Program.]

Our SOA Service provider program enlists those professionals behind the cleaning in a way that ensures you are getting the best cleaning experience possible. These firms sign agreements with CRI stating that they will use “only” those products and equipment certified under the SOA program. A recent enhancement to the SOA Service provider program also means that signature on the dotted line comes with an acceptance of a code of conduct the service provider promises to adhere. It basically says that the participant agrees to uphold the basic principles of consumer satisfaction. It also states that bearers in good standing of the CRI Seal of Approval subscribe to these three basic principles:

• The Service Provider shall ensure customer satisfaction by cleaning, and/or maintaining in accordance with carpet manufacturer’s instructions.

• Manufacturer warranties are conditional upon compliance with these requirements to use exclusively SOA products and equipment

• The SOA Service Provider Plus Program strongly recommends that participants (companies) become IICRC certified firms.

It is important to understand that cleaning a carpet requires three legs of a stool in order to stand upright: right product, right equipment, right hand guiding that equipment. That’s why our cleaning and maintenance issues management team went so far as to “strongly” recommend become certified through the IICRC.

Now to get back to the lady who asked the question about finding the right person. We now have over 700 SOA service providers in the program. To find the one closest to you, simply type in your zip code on our website and one should appear. If there is not one in your zip code, go to the person who has been cleaning your carpet over the years and ask them how come they haven’t subscribed to this SOA program yet.

After all, the one thing standing between you, your carpet and a voided warranty might be the person cleaning it.


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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Meet Kasey Kruse, Kruse Carpet Recycling

Kasey Kruse and CARE Board Chairman Frank Hurd.*
Recycling is Beautiful – Meet Kasey Kruse, The New Face of Environmental Leadership.

Kasey Kruse is the president of Indianapolis-based Kruse Carpet Recycling, a company founded in 1997 by her father, Indianapolis businessman Richard D. Kruse. In 2008, KCR processed 21 million pounds of post-consumer carpet, providing feedstock to fiber recycling facilities and other industrial uses. That’s 21 million pounds of used carpet put to good use, instead of taking up space in a landfill. Kasey represents a new breed of American entrepreneur: small business owners who deal in market-based solutions for the environment.

I met Kasey two months ago, at the annual meeting of the Carpet America Recovery Effort, or CARE for short. CARE is a voluntary organization whose mission is to promote the recycling and diversion of post-consumer carpet away from landfills and into viable products for business and industry.

Before I arrived at the CARE conference, if you had asked me what the president of a carpet recycling company would look like I wouldn’t have conjured up an image of Kasey Kruse. Tall and athletic, Kasey’s ready smile and open personality mark her as the Hoosier she is. The fact that she is passionate about her business is very evident in the video she helped produce with an Indianapolis marketing company.

Watch the 3-minute Kruse Carpet Recycling Informational video on YouTube.

Kasey agreed to talk to me about her company and her experiences in carpet recycling.

Kasey, how did you find your way into the carpet recycling business?

In 2005, I moved from Chicago back to my hometown of Indianapolis. I was thinking about what I wanted to do next when I started working with some of my father’s companies. I took a particular interest in a little section of his hauling company that involved carpet incineration. It interested me enough that I did some research on carpet recycling – this was right before Shaw opened their Evergreen carpet reclamation and recycling facility.

That June, my father and I went to the Neocon show in Chicago. We ran into Frank Hurd and Bob Peoples who were at that time the board chairman and executive director, respectively, from CARE. We got a lot of good information from those two, and decided the time was right to get involved. From that point, we started the process of growing the carpet recycling business to where we are today.

How does being a female affect your experience in this industry?

When I first started there were very few women involved in carpet recycling. At the first CARE Conference I attended, I remember I was one of only three women there, and definitely the only female collector. There are lots of women involved now, in many different capacities – including collectors. It’s nice to have the camaraderie.

More than being a female, I think my age has affected my experience in this industry - especially when I first started. But I can say without hesitation that everyone I have been privileged to work with has been very accepting of me, and helpful as I found my place in the carpet recycling business.

What is exciting about carpet recycling that you want shoppers looking for carpet today to understand?

Right now nylon, specifically nylon 6, is the most recyclable type of carpet on the market, so I guess I would encourage them to buy that type, if possible.

There are multiple products on the market that include post-consumer recycled content. I am especially excited about carpet styles that are made with material derived from post-consumer carpet. If we can recycle carpet into material that can be used to make new carpet, then we have products that never have to be thrown away. They can potentially just continue to be recycled over and over again.

What challenges affect the success of your business or carpet recycling in general?

Right now the biggest challenge for both my company and the carpet recycling industry overall is identifying viable markets for our feedstock – processed post-consumer recycled carpet. When the price of virgin materials is low, it affects the market’s demand for post-consumer recycled material as a cost-efficient option.

Also, carpet recycling is a young industry, and we don’t have an extensive history of market exposure as a business model and potential source for say, representatives from the plastics industry. Because we are new and our materials are available in a slightly unique form, it is easier for us to be overlooked by potential customers. The need for exposure – getting the word out – is one of the best arguments for an organization like CARE.

Any great war stories? Ever found anything unusual hidden in a load of incoming carpet?

We used to say we’ve seen everything in our loads but the kitchen sink, but in fact, we received a load the other day that had a kitchen sink in it. It’s a dirty job, but our environment really benefits when somebody does it – so, why not me?

Thank you, Kasey!


*Note: In the photo above, Kasey Kruse accepts a sponsorship plaque from CARE Board Chairman Frank Hurd. Kruse Recycling was also named CARE's 2008 Recycler of the Year.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

CRI's Werner Braun Discusses Seal of Approval (SOA) Program

As someone who coaches little league baseball, the one axiom that I am most assured of is that the easiest job in America is that of a critic. Those of us here at CRI are no strangers to the critic, but we attack our jobs with a vigor based on a saying one of our good friends, Dr. Howard Elder at J&J/Invision, thrust upon us several years ago as we undertook yet another new project that would undoubtedly evolve and mature as we understood it the further along we traveled: “Don’t let perfect get in the way of progress.” The same applies to the SOA program.

When we first launched our Seal of Approval Program [SOA] five years ago, rest assured we knew it wasn’t perfect and we knew it wasn’t the end product. Virtually every program that has its origins within CRI’s walls has evolved and improved as we understand more and more about its ramifications. In fact, it’s something we are very proud. As new technologies develop and our industry adapts, we find ourselves continually raising the bar in our standards for the good of all involved.

From the onset, our Seal of Approval Program had its share of detractors, some of them raising valid concerns that we were able to address and make our program that much stronger. Our goal with the program has never been to exclude anything other than products which don’t work.

Recently, the program and some of CRI’s recommendations have come under scrutiny, particularly our advice on pre-vacuuming prior to deep-cleaning extraction. I recently sat down with Carpet and Rug Institute President Werner Braun and talked about our various programs and their progress and asked him to address some of the critics.

JB: A recent blogpost suggested that CRI should listen to people who are in the cleaning business. What is your response?

WB: CRI’s position is that we represent our members, we advocate on behalf of the customers of our products, and we build consensus among diverse parties in our industry. We always aim for an open dialogue among stakeholders. We have members of the cleaning industry who serve on our various committees and are well represented in that dialogue. Our position is, and always will be, to be inclusive of any stakeholder in our signature programs and history will show you that we have listened and adapted when it proved to be in the best interest of the whole.

JB: Is pre-vacuuming really necessary or does CRI indeed contradict itself when it says carpet holds soil until planned removal better than other surfaces yet supports pre-vacuuming with all methods of cleaning?

WB: To begin with, CRI recommends consumers vacuum once a week in most areas and twice a week in the areas of the home receiving the most foot traffic. Vacuuming is great way to clean for appearance and some SOA-certified vacs can remove as much as 70 percent of the soil and dust in the carpet. We also recommend a deep-cleaning extraction of the carpet once every 12-18 months to refresh the filter-like qualities. It is true that carpet traps and contains soil and dust particles until they can be removed thus keeping them out of the breathing zone where they might have an effect on those with asthma and allergies. We also support the contention that those in the carpet cleaning profession pre-vacuum prior to deep-extraction. Vacuuming removes loose particles but not sticky particles or particles that are deeply embedded. That’s one reason you need periodic deep extraction cleaning. If you can remove 60-70 percent with a gold-level certified SOA vacuum it makes sense to do so and then follow-up with the SOA deep-cleaning extraction to remove the remaining soil build-up.

Is it necessary? I’ll give you and example of a national franchise that brought their system in to be certified. They did not use pre-vacuuming in their protocol and were unable to meet the passing standard. Once they included the vacuuming as part of the process, they passed with flying colors and have since improved their process to achieve the gold standard. That’s what it’s all about: giving the customer the ultimate satisfaction in their cleaning experience and that can best be achieved by using SOA products and services.

[Ed. Note: see Carpet Cleaning - why pre-vacuuming is important.]

JB: In the blogpost, though, it mentions that this pre-vacuuming only serves to agitate and stir up dry soil and dispense dust particles into the air. In fact, it blames the increased HEPA filter sales on the hyperbole of vacuuming. The post also states that all portable vacuums dispense dirty air back into the room atmosphere.

WB: Certainly there are good vacuums and there are bad vacuums. The beauty of the CRI SOA vacuum program is that it tests on three distinct platforms. Does the machine remove the soil? Does the machine contain that dust? And does it have any adverse effect on the fibers of the carpet.

One thing that most people don’t realize in the emissions testing of the machine is that we test for all emissions. We test to make sure the dust removed isn’t seeping out of the container and back into the room, but we also measure the particles that can come from under the housing and from the brush or agitator. In addition, we measure the particles that come off from the parts of the machine itself such as the belts. The vacuum must not release more than 100 micrograms of dust particles per cubic meter of air to pass certification. In order to meet the gold standard, that level drops to 25 micrograms of dust particles per cubic meter of air.

JB: Why did CRI get involved in testing of cleaning products in the first place?

WB: There are a lot of highly-skilled trained cleaning technicians in the industry as well as some really good equipment and cleaning products. Unfortunately there also a lot of products that simply do not work. All of the surveys we have conducted at CRI show that the cleaning and maintenance is the number one issue when it comes to de-selecting carpet. Consumers simply feel they can not clean it or have had problems in the past maintaining it and they choose to replace with another floor covering.

By certifying products and showing consumers the products that really work, we hope to be able to ward off this misconception that it is more difficult to clean and maintain. Again, we simply want the customer to have a satisfactory experience with their carpet so when they do have to replace after its useful design life is complete, they will do so with another piece of carpet.

When we first started beta testing products to design our testing protocol, we found almost 60 percent of the cleaning solutions did not clean any better than water. We also found that there were a lot of extractors that did a great job reclaiming the water they put down on the carpet and others that didn’t do such a good job. By being able to identify the best products and equipment, we give the consumer the information they need to have that satisfactory experience.

JB: What would you say to someone who has a difference of opinion in regards to your statements or those messages CRI delivers in the marketplace?

WB: We’re always open to discussion. We don’t live in a vapor here at CRI. If there is contention over a statement or a testing protocol involving CRI, we are happy to address it through our various committees.

Feel free to contact me here at the office at 706.428-2100 or via my direct email wbraun [at] carpet-rug.org. Do we mind criticism? Absolutely not. I believe it was Mark Twain who once said “The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything.” We are always on the lookout for ways to improve and better what we do here at CRI.

JB: Thank you, Werner.


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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

CRI Blog Consultant Christine Whittemore Interviewed on Floor Daily

I always check out who is being interviewed on FloorDaily.net, Kemp Harr’s e-newsletter that presents a daily compilation of industry and economic news. I especially like it when the featured interviewee is someone I know or have worked with. So it was a real pleasure to listen one day last week when Kemp interviewed Christine B. Whittemore, the consultant who organized and helps guide CRI’s new blog. Christine bills herself as Chief Simplifier for her company, Simple Marketing Now LLC.

Christine has an impressive history with blogs. She created Flooring the Consumer in June 2006, The Carpetology Blog in December 2007 and most recently, her own Simple Marketing Blog.

Kemp started the interview by getting Christine to explain what a blog is, and what its value can be. According to Christine, a blog is a “web-based, self-publishing platform for sharing relevant content on a regular basis with interested readers.” She added that a blog is more about content than form or flash, and it needs to be easy to use. Many blogs, like the CRI blog, work like a journal or diary, with the latest entry showing at the top. Blogs gain stature on search engines based on how often they publish new content and how relevant the information is according to certain parameters. It is also important how many other bloggers and web sites link to your blog.

Before I started working with Christine, the previous paragraph contains more information than the sum total of what I knew about blogs or blogging. For my first blog entry, I struggled with the writing – Christine said that CRI’s blog readers would want to know who I was, including some facts about my personal life, and that was an entirely new concept for me. I was used to being a nameless, faceless copywriter, but now I understand that blogs are meant to be two-way conversations, so it makes sense that people need to know who they are listening and (we hope) responding to.

Christine went on to explain in the interview that the great value of CRI having a blog is that it gives readers from both inside and outside the carpet industry direct access to the vast resources of research and credible information that reside deep within the CRI website. It also gives CRI a chance to address issues head-on, like carpet myths and misinformation published in the media.

As an example, I recently published two posts about a negative article that appeared in Health magazine: Contrary to Health Magazine Article Headline, Carpet Won't Make You Sick and The Carpet Fact-checker Files. It felt good to write about the frustrations of dealing with those writers and editors who seem to want to print inflammatory information no matter what, but the best part was the feedback I got from people who had at one time or another been in the same boat. Wow! Social Media in action! It is exciting.

Christine says that things are going well for so far for the CRI blog. According to information she collects, there are over 100 people who have subscribed, either by email or RSS feed, as of yesterday. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed, and for everyone else, please go ahead and do it. Let me know if you have any problems with the sign-up process and we’ll get you straightened out.

To wrap up the interview with Kemp Harr, Christine talked about how to discover interesting blogs using Google blog search or the blog search engine Technorati.

I appreciate Floor Daily for focusing attention on the Carpet and Rug Institute blog. If you haven’t already, I suggest you go ahead and check out the interview. I learn something new every time I listen to Christine and I bet you will, too.


Added 6/10/09: see Whittemore Discusses CRI Blog on FloorDaily.net

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Friday, June 5, 2009

CRI Attends School Building Expo - Carpet's Stake In Education

Carpet’s Stake in Education, served up Pittsburgh-style!

On behalf of the Carpet and Rug Institute, I spent the early part of this week in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at School Building Expo, a conference and exhibition for people who design, build, administrate, and/or maintain school facilities. The event was designed for planners and managers from the entire education market, from k-12 to college and university-level.

I was on my own, manning the CRI booth (see photo below) – so I wasn’t free to walk around to see the other exhibits or listen to the speakers’ presentations. I’ll have to limit my comments to just my little corner of the market, so to speak, but I can certainly report on how people responded when I asked their opinions about using carpet in schools.

It’s important to understand that the education market is an important one for the carpet industry. According to American School and University Magazine, carpet use in education facilities rose from 31% to 36% between 2004 and 2006. Lots of things make carpet a great floor covering for education facilities, like increased comfort and energy efficiency, enhanced acoustics, and reduced slip and fall accidents and their related injuries.
Check out this article from Sanitary Maintenance magazine for a good overview of carpet in schools.

No one I spoke to at School Building Expo said they didn’t like carpet in schools or didn’t recognize its obvious benefits. But I did run into one tough nut from the East Brunswick, NJ school system who told me his problem was maintaining the trained staff necessary to keep carpet clean. I told him about a study that shows carpet can actually cost less over time compared to hard-surface floors.

And another study that linked carpet with increased learning in a Washington, DC school. I think I may have made some progress getting CRI’s message across.

I spoke with a designer for a group of charter schools who said her students loved stopping up toilets and making water fountains onto waterfalls too much for her to use carpet as much as she would like. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

One school maintenance director asked for information to help him respond to a teacher who produced a note from her doctor that said her classroom’s carpet was making her sick. I gave him my card and referred him to, among other things, a study done by toxicologist and author Dr. Mitch Sauerhoff that disproves the myth of a connection between carpet and increased asthma and allergy symptoms.

Everyone liked CRI’s publication, Carpet Cleaning Tips for Dummies. This little booklet is a valuable repository of information on how to keep carpet clean. It connects commercial and residential users to information on CRI’s Seal of Approval testing and certification program for carpet cleaning products and equipment.

I must say a word about the city where the conference was held. First, there was the world-class David L. Lawrence Convention Center overlooking the Allegheny River. The graceful steel and glass structure is the U.S’s first and only LEED Gold meeting facility.

I found Pittsburgh to be a vibrant, beautiful city filled with people who exhibit a pronounced joie de vivre, especially in the area of sports. On Tuesday night, June 2, I witnessed hundreds of Pittsburgh Penguins fans celebrate their team’s victory in the eastern conference quarter finals of the Stanley Cup. GO Pens!

I stayed at the Hilton Pittsburgh, in a room on the eighteenth floor that afforded me a priceless view of the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers join to make the Ohio.

Pittsburghers eat delightful little potato/pasta thingies called pierogies, and if you ride the circa 1877 Duquesne Incline up to Mt. Washington, you will find a selection of those delicacies and more at the Coal Hill Steak House. I had the gorgeous view for dessert.

Andrew Warhola, aka the artist Andy Warhol, grew up in Pittsburgh, and a fascinating collection of his work is housed in the Andy Warhol museum. I toured the museum – the floors were made of polished concrete and by the time I had looked at all six floors of art, my feet were tired and my back hurt. Really bad. Carpet would have been a lot more comfortable.

~ Bethany

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

CRI West: Carpet and Rug Institute's Annual West Coast Meeting

One of the best meetings the Carpet and Rug Institute puts on annually is about as far away from our home campus in Dalton, GA as possible. CRI West is our annual get-together with our member companies that reside on the left coast, and it’s a great opportunity to meet face to face with them and provide them details of how their trade association is working on their behalf.

No question about it: Dalton, GA is known as the “the Carpet Capital of the World,” and rightly so. Almost 70 percent of all the carpet made in this country is made within 65 miles of Dalton. I get asked quite often from my Yankee friends why that is so and while I won’t bore you with details of why and how the industry evolved to make Dalton its epicenter, there is a great piece on the CRI website that details the history of the industry.

One of the best things about having so many carpet companies headquartered here in Dalton is the logistical benefit when it comes to meetings. Whereas Dalton might be the carpet capital of the world, CRI has to be the meeting capital of the world. Rarely does a day pass by when one of our many committees isn’t gathering within our doors to meet, discuss, and try to shape the future of our industry.

Sometimes it’s really easy to take for granted that everyone is in the loop on what CRI is working on and doing since so many of the people involved hop in their cars and take a five-minute drive to our front door once a week to discuss matters in person. One of the things that I have learned over the years in the communications business is that communications people are the absolute worst communicators in the world when it comes to internal communications.

However, all of us here at CRI are more than aware that there is life out there outside our comfy little domain here in Whitfield County - hence CRI West.

CRI West event was the brainchild of our president, Werner Braun, who felt that every member should have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their trade association at least once a year. And since it was a lot easier and cost-effective to take the message to the masses, we’ve been meeting in Irvine, California for the last five years to inform and listen to their concerns.

This year’s meeting was held at the end of April and the attendance continues to grow as we’ve invited folks like Chris Davis, who heads up the World Floor Covering Association located in Anaheim, as well as some of the media publications that call California home.

Werner and Frank Hurd, our vice-president and chief financial officer, lead the west coast charge and, man, I’m telling you, those two guys can pack some information into a three-hour meeting. It’s like watching my wife pack her suitcase for vacation and I walk away scratching my head asking “How in the world did ya’ll cover that much information in that little time?”

Literally, these attendees get to see everything that CRI has done since we last met with them and everything that we are proposing to do before we get back to them the next year. From what our budget looks like to our marketing strategies on the issues of importance to updates on all of our signature programs, Frank and Werner leave no stone unturned.

It’s important for our members to see that not only is their money being spent wisely (especially in these trying economic times) but also how effectively it is being put to use. We explain the decisions that our three main committees (marketing, technical and government affairs) are making and we get valuable input and insight from them to formulate better plans.

The strategies and tactics put together to accomplish them are vital when we’re talking about issues that come between consumers buying carpet or looking elsewhere for the floor covering of their dreams.

Most important, though, is that CRI understands we are the NATIONAL trade association for the carpet industry and when we make decisions, we base it on the old saying that a “rising tide lifts all boats." Even when that boat sits on a far away coast.

~ James

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