Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
April 2014 A Clean Sweep

A Look Back With Allen Rathey

Tracking industry development and answering reader questions.

April 3, 2014

Cleaning and Maintenance Management (CMM) is largely where I got my start, writing about vacuum cleaners, back in 1991.

I was running a contract cleaning service at the time and decided to pursue my interest in writing by pitching an article to CMM’s editor at that time, Tom Williams.

The article was accepted, and writing for CMM was a learning experience for me.

Tom Williams was my mentor, teaching me how to write meaty, informative copy, not fluff. 

Of course, I also wrote for several other trade magazines of the day — Services, Maintenance Supplies, etc. — all of which helped hone my writing.

That jump-started my career as an armchair expert, branching into PR writing partly as a result of that early CMM article and a related interview with then-president of ProTeam, Larry Shideler.

Branching Out

Once the writing bug bit, I wrote articles for my community newspaper (a column called “Clean Sweep,” which was a Q&A for local readers who submitted their toughest housecleaning challenges; and a local interest column called “Here at Home”) as well as submitted/published articles in other media outlets.

Meanwhile, Bill Griffin accepted, published and paid for an article I wrote about Walt Disney World called, “How the Mouse Keeps House.”

For this article, I received the tidy sum of $90 from Bill’s magazine (Service Business), plus I got free admission to Walt Disney World and a private interview with the head of housekeeping.

“Team Cleaning” became a household name because of the outreach work funded by ProTeam that saw daylight in the pages of CMM.

Also, backpack vacuums entered the U.S. mainstream largely because of the combined efforts of ProTeam, its field sales team and internal and external marketing teams working in tandem with CMM (and other) editors.

CM e-News Daily

Another major influence on my career, and many others, was the CM e-News, which was clearly a product that blazed a trail in the JanSan industry.

Its then-editor, Bob Preuss and I, developed a good relationship founded on the business of disseminating industry news, which served both my clients and the cleaning field nicely.

CM e-News published many of my early press releases, as well as many recent ones, and became the main news outlet for our sector.

Humphrey Tyler, the prior publisher/principal of CMM, was a leader and innovator, and his openness to new ideas led to my proposing the formation of ICAN — the International Custodial Advisors Network — with its Ask the Experts feature.

ICAN was founded as an independent nonprofit but has effectively become a vehicle to assist the cleaning industry through the outreach of CMM. 

Thanks to Bill Griffin for picking up the baton as ICAN President, which I passed to him many years back, and to Lynn Krafft and Gary Clipperton who have answered the lion’s share of Ask the Experts (ATEX) reader questions.

Humphrey Tyler was also a strong supporter of the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI).

Industry Impact

CMM has had such an impact on the cleaning industry because its editors and publishers have cared about it and the importance of cleaning, taken it seriously and been instrumental in its growth.

The Cleaning Management Institute (CMI) has helped to provide a much-needed training vehicle.

The green cleaning push has given way to the sustainability movement, and the healthy facilities movement is a yet deeper/higher level to which to aspire. 

The environment is important, and the "four P’s" of people, planet, performance and profit will continue to be served by CMM’s editorial leadership.

Once I formed The Healthy Facilities Institute® (HFI) Educational Center and Website in 2011, CMM’s editors have been and continue to be very receptive to our news about healthier processes and practices.

HFI strives to provide authoritative information for creating and maintaining clean, healthy indoor environments.

Since buildings are ecosystems, HFI works to address the many interrelated aspects of built environments — such as air, water, energy, materials and resources; green cleaning; indoor environmental quality; waste management; people; and more — as an integrated or holistic system.

Inasmuch as “clean” is a metaphor for healthy indoor spaces, HFI also emphasizes prevention and removal of pollutants or contaminants to help ensure optimum conditions for living, learning and working.

Thanks to CMM for giving us a recurring platform.

Advice For Readers

For new readers of CMM, the sage advice is simple: Read, read, read, then talk with and listen to the authors of CMM articles to learn more.

Tell them you appreciate their articles so they will continue to share information with other professionals.

Write and submit your own articles. 

Teach so you can learn. 

If you do not like to write, hire a writer (freelancers always need work), but ask CMM’s editor first before you commit pen to paper.

You will find him or her a valuable ‘friend in the business.’

That’s where I started to learn, and will continue.