Bill Griffin's Crystal Balls-- Cleaning Trends in the USA 2001

By Wm R. Griffin, President

Cleaning Consultant Services, Inc.

2000 has been a great year. The economy was good, the weather was mild and I'm still alive. So I can't complain too much and I think that's the attitude of most Americans as we enter the Holiday Season and look forward to the New Year. I'll go over some aspects of business in the USA during 2000 and review why, most American's think it's been a pretty good year.

The Economy

It's been boom times in the good old USA. The Internet explosion pushed stocks up and unemployment down. People and businesses made and spent millions, while turning tried and true business models up side down.

Now reality has hit home, the Internet bubble has burst. Cutbacks and layoffs are the word on the street. All signs point to an economic slow down if not a recession in the USA in 2001. It is expected that the repercussions will be around the globe over the next 12 to 36 months.


Finding and keeping qualified worker is every employer's greatest challenge. There is truly a shortage of good help in most every industry. In the cleaning industry the staffing shortage is critical. Without workers to push the mops and brooms, cleaning contractors and in house departments can't clean buildings.


Over the last year we have seen an increasing interest in providing training for cleaning workers. In an effort to find and keep workers, employers are using training as a way to reduce turnover and labor costs by improving employee efficiency. The IICRC has approved a new Floor Care Technician certification program with classes scheduled to begin in early 2001. In addition a number major chemical and equipment manufacturers are now offering product specific training materials and programs to their customers.

Floor Coverings

Carpet is loosing market share (off 15% in 5 years) as a floor covering in both residential and commercial properties as wood, stone and laminates replace carpet as the material of choice. This appears to be related to problems with issues such as indoor air quality, life cycle costs, overselling by dealers, and restrictive warranties that take away more than they provide.

Computers and Software

We have seen a proliferation of cleaning management software programs for specific segments of the cleaning industry. The Palm type computer/organizers with Internet access and email capability are the latest rage in hand held technology. Several companies now make software that can be used to track service quality via a palm with data being downloaded to a desktop computer for tabulation and printing.

Due to concerns about safe driving and getting brain cancer from cell phones, headsets and earphones are becoming quite popular.


Technology is gaining a foothold with equipment manufacturers. We are now seeing medium to high-end equipment that is lightweight and utilizes electronic circuit boards, digital technology and LCD screens. No more do it yourself repairs.

Riding equipment is gaining popularity as a way to reduce labor costs in the cleaning industry. We are now seeing riding autoscrubbers, vacuums and burnishers being used in factories, schools, warehouses and other locations with large open areas and halls.


The use of green chemical formulations is on the rise in both commercial and home cleaning products. Natural seed esters, citrus oils and other plant-based materials are gaining popularity and becoming a more economically attractive alternative to petroleum based products as oil and energy prices continue to increase. Dry vapor steam and micro fiber cleaning cloths are being promoted and are gaining popularity as chemical free cleaning processes.


The use of independent cleaning contractors is continuing to grow in existing and new market segments as costs continue to increase and most companies find it more difficult, if not impossible to attract and retain cleaning workers.

Contractors are continuing to penetrate new markets, including, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, schools, state, as well as local and federal government agencies. This trend is expected to continue to grow in the future.

The ISSA Show

Attendance was down at this year's ISSA show in Atlanta, GA. Next year's show is open to end users and is scheduled for October 16 to 19 in Orlando, FL.

The Sanitary Supply Industry continued to evolve and shake with a number of acquisitions and mergers among equipment manufacturers, distributors and paper companies. Distributors and suppliers continue to come under additional pressure from Internet companies and non-traditional suppliers who are now offering their customers cleaning supplies, chemicals and equipment.

The Weather

The weather has been good; we have had a lot of sunshine and not too many floods or fires. However, it appears that the winter months will be tougher to bear with cold weather, snowstorms and high energy costs on the horizon.

Next Year 2001

Americans are cautious, yet optimistic about the future. The stock market is down, gasoline prices and electrical rates are up. The Supreme Court has decided who our President will be regardless of who won the election. After ten years of debate and fierce opposition from business, Bill Clinton, in one of his last acts as President, signed into law new OSHA ergonomics guidelines that will impact every business with eleven or more employees.

Armstrong World Industries, Inc. has filed for Bankruptcy protection due to mounting claims related to putting Asbestos in their floor tile for the last 40 years. Xerox is on the verge of bankruptcy and a number of large companies (Aetna, Gillette, Motorola, Whirlpool and General Motors) have announce plans for layoffs in early 2000.

At the same time, the long awaited Space Station is flying, the Republicans are in office (normally good for business) and being it's a dirty world and people can't do without toilet paper, there is money to be made in the cleaning industry.