Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Carpet Cleaning Standards: CRI SOA Success Story

Professional Testing Laboratories’ President Gary Asbury

CRI Seal of Approval Formulas for Carpet Cleaning Success



High Test Standards Improve Carpet Cleaning Product Performance



It is a frequent claim here at the Carpet and Rug Institute that the Seal of Approval (SOA) testing and certification program for carpet cleaning solutions and equipment was developed primarily to increase customer satisfaction with carpet by raising the bar on cleaning performance. The rationale behind the SOA program is captured in CRI President Werner Braun’s trademark statement, “If you can measure it, you can improve it.”

The most significant testimony to the success of any testing program lies in its power to shape product performance. What good is a standard if everyone can pass it? CRI’s claim that “Only the Best Pass the Test, is a statement we stand behind, and CRI touts the benefits of using SOA products and Service Providers in multiple marketing efforts, including the CRI blog. We celebrate every product that passes SOA testing; no more so than when a once-failing product tries again and gets it right.

One of the key players behind the scenes of the Seal of Approval testing program is Professional Testing Laboratories President Gary Asbury. Located in Dalton, Georgia, Professional Testing Labs is an ISO 14025 and NVLAP-certified lab that has provided federally-certified test results for all types of flooring manufacturers since 1988. In 2009, PTL performed more than 3000 batteries of tests, at an average of five tests per battery. According to Gary, PTL prides itself on helping carpet maintenance equipment and chemical manufacturers make better products that result in improved satisfaction for flooring consumers.

Gary says he’s seen “dozens of cases” where manufacturers of carpet cleaning products that initially failed CRI’s Seal of Approval testing used what they learned from the test results to improve their products’ performance to the point where they received a passing grade the next time through.

For the most part, if a conscientious manufacturer fails the first time, they’ll go back to the drawing board,” he says. “Many times, the testing will reveal a problem they didn’t realize they had, but once they see the problem, they can fix it.”

I asked Gary to share a few of his more interesting testing stories with CRI blog readers. Sadly, not every solutions manufacturer is willing to learn from his mistakes, as you shall see in Gary first story about a colorful carpet cleaning fat cat who wouldn’t change (or remove) his spots.


“Several years ago, PTL was doing some compliance testing for a “big-box” retailer on a carpet spot remover they were considering for inclusion in their product mix. The product failed miserably and we informed the manufacturer. Next day, the president of the manufacturing company shows up at the lab unannounced and wants to see our testing. We understood this contract meant a lot of money to him, and luckily, we still had his tested carpet samples, so we took him through the process. He wanted to try his product on our test materials for himself, so we re-stained some carpet samples and let him have a go.

Normally, we let a staining agent dwell for 24 hours on a piece of carpet before we start the product testing, but there was no chance for that with this guy. He took his product and set to work on the stains himself. It was Kool-Aid – a toughie. He rubbed and blotted on that stain until he’d just about worn the pile to a nub, but - nothing – the stain stayed put. He didn’t understand it – said the product worked great when he demonstrated it on his infomercials.

He decided the problem must be with our carpet samples, so he goes and gets some of his own samples out of the trunk of his car. We could see right away what was going on – his samples were made of polypropylene – a powerfully hydrophobic fiber that shrugs off just about any wet stain. He pours Kool-Aid on one of his polypropylene samples, and shows off how his product removes the stain – obviously pleased with himself. I couldn’t believe it, but here was a guy who represented himself as an expert on carpet stain removal and he didn’t know the difference between nylon and polypropylene in terms of their stain resistance!

I’ll never forget what happened next. PTL lab chief Lee Phillips picks up another of the guy’s samples, douses it with Kool-Aid, and, without saying a word, takes it over to the sink and turns on the faucet. Of course, the running water takes the stain right out.

Needless to say, the guy lost his contract with the big box retailer. Last I heard, he was still selling his product on infomercials where his polypropylene carpet samples clean up just like magic”!



In the next blog post, Gary talks about three SOA testing cases with very different outcomes…

Thanks, Gary!

~Bethany


Photo Caption:
Professional Testing Laboratories’ President Gary Asbury receives the Joseph J. Smrekar Memorial Award during CRI’s 2009 Annual Membership Meeting.

2 comments:

Taylor at Stain-Removal-101.com said...

I love that you guys test all your carpet samples after waiting 24 hours, because lots of people don't get around to dealing with a carpet stain until it sets, either because they don't have the right product to clean it up with right away, or they don't realize there is a spill.

Bethany said...

Hi Taylor,
You make a good point, and that is exactly the aim of the SOA program - to find out what works in real-life situations. Our pet new pet odor testing waits 72 hours before retesting. More on that later.
Bethany

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