I remember, in 2008, when Activeion Cleaning Solutions LLC introduced its game-changing product.
To say that I was skeptical might be an understatement.
I mean, cleaning with water — you''ve got to be kidding.
I approached the company, got a unit and began field testing — the only kind that matters, from my point of view.
The first question is always, "Does this thing really work; does it really make a difference; is it a product that end users will really adopt?"
Suffice it to say that our adenosine triphosphate (ATP) measurements and other metrics opened the possibility that this ionized water idea might just be something to keep an eye on.
The interesting thing about this or any business is that being first is often risky at best.
I am reminded of a quote by Machiavelli, "It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things."
Respect Where It Is Due
With the recent demise of the Activeion product, I am a bit conflicted; not because they failed — there is no shame in trying and failing in the effort — but because of the response of so many who are critical of even the effort to reach beyond the traditional cleaning chemical box.
And, this is what I want to respond to in this column.
Those who gloat over this company''s failure have failed themselves and our industry to some extent.
It just seems like a myopic view and misses the lesson and respect for those who tried and failed in a vision to attempt the improbable quest for a better future for our industry, our health and our environment.
Even in defeat, there is honor in having advanced an entire industry, having challenged our limits and having the courage and faith in themselves and in us.
Activeion singlehandedly redefined what might be possible for all of us.
It''s not that they failed; it''s that they dared to try.
And, even in failure, the rest of us ought to praise their vision for our industry — not demean it.
Theodore Roosevelt had remarkable insight for this situation; he mused, "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly — who errs and comes short again and again — because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
Because of Activeion, the idea of cleaning with water has become an exciting area of experimentation and new product development.
The broader idea of toxic-free, chemical-free cleaning solutions is experiencing expanded interest with emerging products that extend the possibilities of the Activeion vision for water-based cleaning.
The Chemical Free Cleaning Network (CFCN) was an early advocate for the idea that electrolyzed, energized, activated, engineered, etc., water was viable and that it will become an accepted component of tomorrow''s cleaning systems.
Their regional, university-connected expositions are their commitment to the vision introduced by Activieion and the broader model for a toxic-free, chemical-free strategy for how we clean our buildings, homes and schools.
As I talk to industry leaders and innovators, I am struck by the new boundaries of what might be possible.
They have picked up the banner lost by Activeion, and our future will owe a lot from their breakthroughs and Activeion''s courage.
All that I can ethically say is that you haven''t seen anything yet.
Vincent F. Elliott is the founder, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Elliott Affiliates Ltd. of Hunt Valley, Maryland. For more information, visit www.EALtd.com. He is widely recognized as the leading authority in the design and utilization of best practice, performance-driven techniques for janitorial outsourcing and ongoing management. Elliott is also the founder of the Chemical Free Cleaning Network (CFCN). More information about that initiative can be found at www.CFCN.info.