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Sustainability

Bright Lights, Clean City

September 19, 2010
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The New York metropolitan area packs nearly 3,000 people in every square mile — all convening in towering high rises, retail districts, museums and hospitals that span entire city blocks. Imagine the challenge for commercial cleaners: In a single shift, they cover every conceivable floor type for clients that have some of the highest standards in the world.

IBS Services Group, a commercial cleaning operation in Long Island City and Manhattan, sees the city situation as a big opportunity. In a typical day, IBS cleans 200 locations, from a one-story building to a high-end retail floor, to cover a total of 2.5 to 3 million square feet. The company''s client base is just as diverse, with high-profile names like the the American Cancer Society, Morgan Library & Museum, Hermès of Paris and Chanel.

"The Morgan Library was named on of the cleanest museums in the U.S.," says Owen O''Mahony, vice-president of IBS. "And the American Cancer Society is a totally green, Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building. We meet high expectations every day, and we do it with ProTeam Inc. vacuums."

A Productive Start

IBS opened in 1988, the same year the company purchased its first ProTeam — one of the original lightweight backpack vacuums in production.

"I think we have vacuum number 13," says O''Mahony. "And we still use it on a daily basis."

From its early stages, the ProTeam backpack vacuum was a innovation that transformed the speed and efficiency of cleaning. According to ISSA, the ProTeam backpack cleans up to 10,000 square feet an hour, compared to 7,000 for a canister and 2,900 for an upright. When ProTeam introduced the backpack vacuum, they also emphasized an educational program called Team Cleaning® to enhance productivity. The flexible system provides an efficient and cost-effective way to deploy cleaning staff so that one member of a crew covers light-duty work, one vacuums, one does restrooms and the other is a utility specialist for cleaning lobbies, glass and mopping floors. Team Cleaning results in increased productivity, less equipment and a consistent deep clean.

IBS implemented Team Cleaning in 1998, and the company''s 160-member staff now uses the system for 90 percent of daily work.

"We''ve achieved really excellent results. I wouldn''t even make a comparison," says O''Mahony. "From a productivity standpoint, I''d say we cover 7,000 to 8,000 square feet an hour on average. Once people are trained properly, they can vacuum up to 12,000 to 13,000 square feet an hour."

Made To Last

IBS now owns 300 ProTeam vacuums, relying primarily on the Super CoachVac® and QuarterVac®. The company performs routine in-house maintenance on the backpacks to keep them in working condition — usually checking the filter, brush heads and overall cleanliness. On average, they lose only one ProTeam vacuum a year, almost always due to theft.

"We tag them when they go in for repair," says O''Mahony. "I''ve seen them stay out for a year or two years before they come back, and usually it''s for something routine that is easy to fix. Sometimes, clients will ask us to use an upright vacuum with a beater bar because they think it will work better. I''ve never seen those vacuums last more than a year. You spend $200 or $250 dollars on a vacuum just to junk it a year later. We''ve never junked a ProTeam vacuum."

IBS also utilizes ProTeam''s do it yourself (DIY) instructional videos to train staff in both English and Spanish on maintenance and repair. Some long-standing crew members have grown attached to their particular vacuums and take upkeep very seriously.

"We''ve had some of our cleaners use the same vacuum for seven or eight years, and if it goes in for repair, they always ask for the same vacuum back," says O''Mahony. "They stencil their names on it, and make sure it''s properly attended to, even on their day off."

A Green Scene

The green cleaning revolution is in high gear in the big city, and IBS is on the cusp of new methods and innovations to help customers meet environmentally-safe standards. Over 65 percent of the company''s clients prioritize cleaning for health, and ProTeam vacuums have become an integral part of the process.

It starts with education. In client pitches, IBS offers ProTeam''s Cleaning for Health & Efficiency brochure and other educational materials to help customers understand the impact cleaning has on indoor air quality and other environmental health concerns.

"It shows them how dedicated we are to cleaning for health," says O''Mahony. "If you target the right people who care about these things, and then show them that you''ll supply them with the best equipment for their facility, everyone wins."

This dedication and commitment to education has won IBS medical facility clients, including the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, a LEED-certified green building. ProTeam vacuums allow IBS to cover more ground using advanced suction and proven Four Level® Filtration, a highly-effective system that traps and contains 99.9 percent of particles measuring one micron or larger. This includes mold, pet dander, pollen, heavy industrial dust and other microscopic particles. ProTeam high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and models boost that capture rate to even higher levels, up to .3 microns. IBS also uses only Green Seal-certified chemicals and has a color-coded microfiber system in place to prevent cross-contamination.

The Irish Connection

ProTeam has been a big hit in unexpected places. Clients sometimes ask for them for home use, and IBS is glad to help facilitate the transaction. One request even came from another continent. O''Mahony bought a ProTeam canister vacuum and an international converter, and then sent it home to his mother in Ireland.

"She loves it," he says.

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