Bane-Clene® Corporation''s 50th Anniversary
By Bill Bane
February 4, 1962, dawned cold in Indianapolis. The temperature was below zero when thirteen year-old Bill Bane Jr. cleaned the office of Dr. James P. Leeds. The ten dollars he earned that morning would help with his tuition at an expensive prep school he planned to attend in the fall. Bill''s mom, brother Don and I went along for transportation, support and to help if we could.
Bill did such a good job that colleagues of Dr. Leeds asked him to clean their offices and the little part-time job soon grew into a full-time business. In December of 1964, I left my job at Brink''s Armored Car Service to join the company full-time. Bill Jr. has worked in the business since his return from Army duty and Don became a full-time employee after graduation. Bill''s mother and my wife, Elizabeth, left her job as an optometric assistant to be a full-time employee in 1971.
The business was incorporated in 1966. Legal and accounting advice suggested that one person should have a controlling interest, but the four of us decided to go against that counsel with each one holding an equal share of the company stock. Our reason was simply that if the company was to succeed all four of us would have to be in agreement and work together.
Carpet and upholstery cleaning became a major part of our janitorial duties in the late ''60s which lead to the development of the Bane-Clene® system. Residential carpet and upholstery cleaning jobs we acquired through our commercial contacts were so successful we decided to market the method to other professionals in 1971. A chemical line was developed in 1974 and Don Terry came on board as our inhouse chemist. Bane-Clene Institute was founded in 1978 to train professional cleaners.
In reminiscing about the past half century, the most notable reasons for our longevity are that the company has been blessed with competent vendors and dedicated employees, several with more than twenty-five years service and some with more than thirty. Kevin Stark, for example, has been with us for forty years. But most important has been the loyalty of our customers, some of whom have been clients for more than thirty-five years.
Among our major accomplishments were the more than 400 Mini-Clinics™ we held in England, Scotland and forty-seven states including Alaska and Hawaii. In more than twenty years, even with all the travel involved, only one meeting was cancelled and we were never late for a single one. The largest was in Philadelphia with 102 people and the smallest in Hays, Kansas, where three folks showed up in 1978.
All three bought equipment though which made it our best meeting with a 100% sales factor. The average meeting had 30 to 40 people in attendance.
Conventions for our equipment owners featured great orators like Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Earl Nightingale, Dr. Herb True, Dick Semaan, Bill Gove, Dr. Ken McFarland, Bud Wilkinson, Carl Erskine, Jonathan Trivers and many other motivational and goal setting experts. Over the years we brought in lawyers, accountants and advertising experts to help our customers in their businesses. Our
first convention in 1974 had an attendance of 52, while our largest in 1986 had more than 700 in the audience.
For many years our service division has been recognized for excellence by the Better Business Bureau, WTHRTV, WISHTV and Angie''s List. It has been called on many times by these organizations to assist in exposing bait and switch carpet cleaning operations. The supply division ships merchandise to professional cleaners in all fifty states and fifteen foreign countries on five continents. Students come from around the world to attend our school in Indianapolis.
Never in our wildest imagination, on that cold Sunday morning in 1962, could we have dreamed of the vast number of lives this little business venture would touch over the next fifty years. And it all began with that little ten dollar job.
Is America great, or what?