Cleaner Times — April 2024

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APRIL 2024 • $8.00 US The Journal for High Pressure Water Applications

Editor’s Note

Steamericas: An American Success Story

Curious about Chemicals

Giving Back: Whether Putting Out Fires or Fighting Grime, Firehouse Pressure Washing Has a Heart for Family and Community

Spring into Success—How Wood Restoration Contractors Can Maximize Profits, Part I

CETA Edge: Grants and Scholarships

Power Washing Industry Pro by Day, Amateur Team Roper after Hours—Meet John Thurman of Farley’s Inc.

Fill ‘Er Up! Successful Distributor Traits

Power Washer’s Guidebook: Playgrounds and Water Slides, Part II—Where Others Play, There Are Lucrative Opportunities to Work

Car Wash Tools

Financial: Debts—Good, Bad, and Otherwise

Industry Innovation

Product News

Industry News

Service Center Directory

Products & Services Directory

Advertiser’s Index/Subscription Form

Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 3 APRIL 2024 Vol 36 No 4
Photo courtesy of Steamericas 34
4 6 14 20 26 30 34 38 44 50 56 60 66 67 68 70 72 44 20 6

If you’re like me, then you enjoy a storyline where the protagonist meets adversity, overcomes it, and flourishes. This issue contains a true story where this has occurred in the pressure washing industry. Turn to page 6 and read “Steamericas: An American Success Story,” by Terri Perrin.

The account starts with Homoog Yoo, Steamerica’s founder, who “grew up in extreme poverty in the post-Korean War period and felt strongly that the only way to accumulate wealth was to have his own business,” according to Perrin. So he quit his current job and started importing and selling industrial cleaning equipment and pressure washers from Europe. Then he had a customer complain to him about how much water the pressure washers used, and this customer challenged Mr. Yoo to make something better, which he did. The most current result can be seen in the Optima Steamer.

To learn more about Steamericas and the challenges faced and overcome by Yujin Yoo Anderson, daughter of Mr. Yoo, take time to read the entire article and be encouraged by such a great success story.

On page 20 we read another inspiring story about Mike and Monica Dingler and the start of Firehouse Pressure Washing. Mike Dingler aspired to become a firefighter after he lived through a fire that destroyed his family’s home in Brooks, GA. In 2004 Mike entered firefighter school and met his future wife, Monica, who became the fourth paid female firefighter in Fayette County. Challenging work schedules that kept them frequently separated, the blessing of a growing family, and financial challenges due to low pay led the Dinglers to decide to expand into pressure washing, which led eventually to being a full-time business owner.

Turn to page 34 to read about John Thurman, who is the coil manufacturing manager and vice president of sales at Farley’s Inc. during the weekdays. However, during the evenings and weekends you can find him on his horse, Ned, competing in team roping events while serving as the heeler in the roping duo.

Other articles in this issue talk about chemicals, profits to be made in wood restoration, the CETA grants program, traits of successful distributors, and car wash tools.

Cleaner Times wishes you a great April and hopes you enjoy the total solar eclipse on April 8. Don’t forget to wear your certified ISO 12312-2 compliant solar eclipse glasses.



M. Calabrese
Perrin SALES
Ware •
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4 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times




The inspirational story of California-based Steamericas begins decades ago and traverses the Pacific Ocean some 6,000 miles.

It involves a South Korean man who had big ambitions and a bright idea, and his daughter who came to work in the family business where her entrepreneurial spirit, intelligence, and enthusiasm have helped the company become one of the pressure washing industry’s leading innovators in the

water-saving practice of steam cleaning. The success of Steamericas and its “Optima Steamer” is a testament to the American dream come true.


“I was born and raised in South Korea,” recalls Yujin Yoo Anderson,

6 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times

CEO of Gardena, CA-based Steamericas. “My father, Homoog Yoo, began his career as a marine engineer for a major ship-making company (Hyundai), so he knew steam boilers very well. He grew up in extreme poverty in the post-Korean War period and felt strongly that the only way

to accumulate wealth was to have his own business. So, in 1991 he quit his job and launched SeongJin Engineering Co. in the city of Busan, South Korea. (It would later become SJE Corporation.) He began by importing and selling industrial cleaning equipment

and pressure washers from Europe.

“SJE was always a successful enterprise,” explains Anderson, who has

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by Terri Perrin

lived in America since 2000. “But in 2006 dad had a proverbial ‘light-bulb moment’ that would change the direction of the company. A customer lamented that pressure washers use too much water, and he asked if dad could make something better. Utilizing his experience with steam boilers, dad retrofitted a steam boiler inside a pressure washer. That was the first prototype of what would become the Optima Steamer. It was one of the first commercial-grade mobile steam cleaners to exist on the market.”

Compared to a typical pressure washer that uses five-plus gpm of water, the Optima Steamer uses about .08 gpm and produces dry steam, not hot water. Before the Optima, the only existing mobile units were coil-type wet steamers that were more like pressure washers. The engineers behind the Optima instead took the rapid-heating abilities of coil systems and combined it with the vapor-producing abilities of a pressurized pot boiler. The result was a unique boiler vessel with an open

inner cylinder capable of rapidly heating and pressurizing water, generating a pure vapor jet of steam to clean and sanitize using a fraction of the water.

The Optima Steamer was immediately seen as a water-saving alternative for washing cars, enabling businesses to clean cars in garages or parking lots where pressure washers couldn’t be used. Uses for the system grew quickly

as the powerful, dry steam made it possible to clean almost anywhere.

Over the years the Optima’s design was refined and its performance optimized, making it the industry leader in portable steam cleaning and sanitization technology. What started as a wastewater-avoiding solution for car washing became the industry standard for cleaning interiors and exteriors of

8 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times
Yujin Yoo Anderson, in the early days of Steamericas, demonstrating the Optima Steamer to potential customers. SJE QC Line.

transportation equipment, including automobiles, commercial truck fleets, boats, RVs, and aircraft; commercial food processing facilities including wineries, distilleries, and craft breweries; medical facilities; HVAC coils; and much more. And the company founder was set on expansion to America.


While her father was busy building his business, Anderson was working at an advertising agency in Chicago after completing bachelor of art degrees in international studies and anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. Well educated and well on her way to success in her career, Anderson initially ignored her father’s pleas for her to join the family business. That was until she got a glimpse of how successful the company could be on an international scale.

“I went home to South Korea for Christmas one year, and I helped set up Google AdWords for Dad’s website,” says Anderson. “Lo and behold, two weeks later, things kind of blew up … in a good way! He was getting email inquiries from all over the world. He didn’t have an international sales team and didn’t know what to do. So, I started helping him manage the inquiries virtually on evenings and weekends. We decided that it was time for me to join the family business.”

In May 2009 Anderson moved back to South Korea for six months, working on the production line at SJE to fully understand how the equipment was built, to learn how to service the product, and to take a crash course on the overall industry. She proved to be a good learner.

In February 2010 SJE officially opened their North American warehouse in a 3,000-square-foot building in Carson, CA. Although plans for this expansion had been in the works for years, Yoo was pleased that his daughter would lead the team as general manager/CEO. (Her younger brother, Sijin Yoo, also works for SJE in the manufacturing division in South Korea.)

Two moves to larger premises later, the company is now based out of a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Gardena, CA. It is conveniently located near the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and the Port of L.A. in San Pedro. This gives them quick access to supply their customers across the North, Central, and South Americas— hence the name “Steamericas.” (FYI— it is pronounced STEAM-ericas, not STE-americas.)

Fast forward 14 years and Steamericas has become an industry-leading supplier of commercial and industrial cleaning products, specializing in highheat, dry-vapor steam machines for

“We take pride in diversity, proudly employing veterans and people of various cultural backgrounds, which allows us to offer support in English, Spanish, and Korean,” states Anderson, “We believe our diverse backgrounds and focus on people are key to customer satisfaction and sustainable business growth.”


Steamericas has established a solid distribution network of over 65 official distributors located throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Latin America. Each distributor has been carefully selected and trained to pro-

mobile or in-house applications. They operate a lean team—with just seven employees—but plan to grow their team despite ongoing labor shortages. Future expansion, with another warehouse on the East Coast of the USA, is a possibility to better serve customers in those regions.

Initially a wholly owned subsidiary of SJE Corporation, Steamericas is now considered a ”sister company and global partner” in supplying businesses around the world with the Optima Steamer. It is a minority woman-owned and -operated business with an emphasis on investing in their employees.

vide customers with product demonstrations, assist with purchases, and provide technical service postpurchase. Most Steamericas’s distributors also represent other major pressure washer brands such as Landa, Hotsy, Mi-T-M, Alkota, and Kärcher because these brands also place importance on quality and customer service. Products are sold business-to-business, not through the consumer market.

“There are a lot of manufacturers in Asia, but I believe that the reason Americans may be hesitant to do business directly with them is because of cultural differences, challenges in

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HVAC Train Coil.

getting products imported to the Americas, and difficulty receiving timely support,” explains Anderson. “One big difference in the USA, for example, is that we have a “credit culture.” Businesses typically order products and pay on 30-to-90-day terms. Outside the USA, that financing model doesn’t really exist. You pay before your product gets shipped.

That’s something that I had to work on. I have to be like a bank for my clients because I have to pay our factory before we get the product.”


Steamericas’s mission is to help businesses optimize finite resources for infinite possibilities. The Optima Steamer can generate enough steam to

thoroughly clean the exterior and interior of the average car using a gallon or two of water with little to no runoff, which is perfect for drainless facilities. The powerful dry-vapor steam is capable of sanitizing a vehicle’s interior without the use of chemicals, so fabrics are left free of harmful residues, all while ensuring no toxic waste is discharged into storm drains. It’s safer for pets, kids, and the environment.

No wastewater runoff also means the user doesn’t need to capture wastewater and can avoid fines from breaking environmental regulations involving wastewater. And having no need for wastewater reclamation, treatment, or disposal means that there is no post cleanup. Best of all, the wash technician’s feet stay dry!

“I want to stress that we understand we are not here to replace, but rather to complement, the mainstream pressure washing industry,” emphasizes Anderson. “Yet we recognize that there are many applications where steam can be used instead of water.

“Wineries and breweries are another excellent application for the

10 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times
Yujin Yoo Anderson chatting with attendees at the SEMA Trade Show in Las Vegas.

Optima Steamer. Wineries traditionally use about 60 gallons of water to clean one wine barrel; when the water is disposed of, it can’t be dumped in the sewer system. Our system uses a half gallon of water to sanitize a wine barrel. We estimate that based on 10 years of regular use, the Optima Steamer technology saves about 10 million gallons of water per unit sold, reducing the amount of water used as well as potential pollution to streams and groundwater.”

Small off-road engines (SORE) emissions are at the forefront of manufacturing technology research and development in the power washing and other industry sectors. And Steamericas has addressed that issue as well.

“SORE is not a concern to Steamericas because the Optima Steamer does not have an engine, so there is no idle running,” she clarifies. “It is also exempt from the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD)

permit requirement in California. Emissions are produced from the burner but are exempt because the intermittent emissions from the Optima Steamer are well below the exemption BTU threshold of 150,000 per day. So, our customers do not require permits and annual renewal. This is another way we are being green.

“That said, our diesel unit does require a generator if you are in a mobile location without access to electricity,” adds Anderson. “We know that generators will soon be banned in California, and we have been working on a mountable, all-day battery generator add-on, which will be released later this year.”


Everyone can tell a story of how they pivoted their home and work lives to get through the COVID pandemic. But Anderson worked through multiple challenges, with her family’s

health being front and center during this challenging time.

“When the COVID pandemic started on March 15th, 2020,” recalls Anderson, “I was at the hospital in California because my daughter had to be hospitalized for treatment of flu-like symptoms.

“While this was happening, the governor started closing down the state. I was seven months pregnant with my third child and trying to figure out how to run the business remotely while also homeschooling my children. My husband suddenly developed a debilitating headache. Seeking medical help in the USA at this time was very difficult because everything had moved to virtual consultations. When he finally had an MRI, he was diagnosed with a cerebrospinal fluid leak (CSF) and needed brain surgery. It was impossible to get a surgery date at UCLA at the time due to the lockdown.

“Korea, however, was not in lockdown, so we flew there for the

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operation, taking the kids with us,” she says. “A few weeks later I had my third child. We ended up living there for over a year because when we were ready to return in the fall of 2020, schools weren’t open in California, but they were in Korea. I ended up running Steamericas remotely.

“In hindsight, I realized that although I worked hard in the past, I don’t think I was a good leader,” says Anderson. “I had to learn to delegate. I now had to rely fully on my staff to run the business. They accepted the challenge admirably. For my business, it was the start of a journey to start building a ‘team-managed’ company. For my personal life, it was a crazy time; but, thankfully, everyone is doing well now.

“I still have a lot of work to do myself, as a leader, but I trust my staff and also have learned to let things go because you can’t be everywhere at once,” concludes Anderson. “Leaving a career path that I had worked very

hard in, to join something technical and entrepreneurial—with family, no less—has proven to be a blessing for me. It has actually brought us closer together as a family because we communicate more often.”

In summary, Anderson explains that Steamericas is on the lookout for partners and customers who share their vision of empowering businesses

for the benefit of humanity through sustainable solutions. “Our focus includes product expansion in niche markets, collaborating with industry experts, and expanding our service center network,” she states. “If you’re interested in being part of Steamericas’s mission, please reach out.”

Learn more about the Optima Steamer at CT

12 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times
Company founder and Optima Steamer inventor, Homoog Yoo, visiting one of their distributors, NorthStar Clean Concept in Pasco, WA. SJE Corporation’s head office in South Korea.


14 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times

Curiosity—cats aside—is a good thing. It drives exploration and development.

And well it should. Curiosity is a distillate of the desire to learn or know. The word’s Latin root, curiosus, embodies careful and diligent, and it is allied with the word “cure.”

What a tidy way to sum up the world of chemicals—the efforts to extract the best from them (and their combinations), use them in prudent ways, and in some instances tap them as therapeutics.

Being curious about chemicals leads to many good things.

The path to ever better—the very best—practices begins with asking questions. Curiosity by another name.

“I feel most contractors are not curious enough when it comes to the chemicals they use or when they go to choose a new chemical,” says Linda Chambers, brand and sales manager, GCE/Soap Warehouse Brand in Norcross, GA. “Many just follow the herd and go along with or try whatever has the biggest buzz at the moment.”

The way to assist customers is to talk with them. “At our company we try to get contractors, especially the new ones, interested and educated on their chemical options,” says Chambers. Among those options are “what and why a certain chemical will do a particular job” the contractor confronts.

In fact, Chambers’s company goes the extra step of providing structured instruction. “Our most popular and most attended contractor class throughout the year is my ABCs of Chemicals.”

In the class Chambers explains how chemicals work for particular tasks as well as how formulations are developed for optimal performance (as opposed to a single raw chemical ingredient). To be sure, safety is also part of the instruction.

“Safety is a very often overlooked factor when using and choosing chemicals,” says Chambers. “Many do not give bleach the caution it should be given as a hazardous chemical.”

Chambers reminds readers that many contractors suffer injuries each year when using bleach without using proper PPE [personal protective equipment]. Injuries include eye, lung, and skin damage.

Bleach must not be brought in contact with an acid; but unfortunately, through misapplication or cross-contamination in containers, it sometimes is, says Chambers. “We put an emphasis on SDSs [safety data sheets] and making sure customers get and have them for any new product they purchase.” That emphasis includes tips on binder organization and readiness for OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] queries.

“With distributors, I think many try to stay with the ‘in crowd’ of what new products are coming out rather than what has worked in the past,” says Chambers. And she cautions that many “new” products “are just remakes or with small improvements” that are typically linked to higher prices.

By knowing more about the formulation of the products they use, contractors can make informed decisions on where there are and are not differences correlated with price. “Very few new products really have anything completely new to bring

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Photo by

to the table,” says Chambers. “But new products can be an improvement.”

Still, everyone is interested in doing more with less chemical and the least environmentally detrimental chemical composition possible. “Manufacturers have been spending a lot of time the last few years assessing products and needs and tweaking old products and introducing new ones,” says Chambers.

Manufacturers also adhere to the expectations of regulators and change products to meet new requirements. “Some ingredients have been or are being banned or deemed unfit for the environment, so a revised version of a cleaner must be found,” says Chambers.

How can we do it better? That question embodies curiosity.

And such curiosity brings good outcomes, such as soft washing. The introduction of soft washing itself brought more curiosity-driven improvements.

Among them are “products with more foam or thickening ingredients to increase dwell time,” explains Chambers. Products were also “developed to break down bleach to help stop equipment corrosion and plant damage.”


From hydrogen (atomic number 1) to oganesson (atomic number 118, synthetic), the periodic table of elements has been quite firmly in place for some time. The credit given to Dmitri Mendeleev for producing the first version in 1869 no doubt deserves to be shared with many others, but the stability of the table is the main feature.

Yes, there are hypothesized elements. Some will certainly be found. But the basics are in place.

It’s easier than ever to understand elements in relation to one another thanks to chemical societies and medical

research groups that illustrate the periodic table at their websites. Better still, the tables are bolstered with information about each element that’s available with a click on the element.

Anyone in our industry who wants a quick refresher about the table of elements, or a specific element, can choose from excellent sources. We like the offering at the Royal Society of Chemistry for vivid colors and ease of navigation (

Claudia Hirschochs, president of Vector Chemicals in Youngstown, OH, explains that thinking about the future and chemicals sparks her imagination. “What does the future hold for curiosity in chemistry?” she says.

In short, more ways to enrich society. “As we have seen in the past few years, there is still a lot of curiosity in chemical development,” says Hirschochs. “Electric car batteries, nanotechnology, medicines, solar cells, and more, to name a few. Perhaps in the near future we will have fusion energy that will completely revolutionize the planet. These are exciting times in chemistry.”

But let’s just back up and think about the present. Today.

“As a manufacturer of cleaning compounds and products we’re always interested in the latest chemicals that are being developed,” says Hirschochs. “We are always on the lookout for new chemicals with superior cleaning properties.”

Hirschochs’s company is fully committed to the process of continuous improvement. “We do extensive research and testing on possible new products we’d like to incorporate into our product line. It’s a very exciting time in the chemical industry as so many products are being developed, especially plant-based ones that allow for more eco-friendly products.”

With a keen interest in chemistry, Hirschochs takes note of breakthroughs across all sectors. One that particularly captures her attention factors into ensuring that the entire world can be fed adequately.

“The biggest curiosity about a chemical, which led to an innovation, had to be the development of nitrogen as a fertilizer,” says Hirschochs. “It revolutionized global food production. Without this development food production would not be enough to feed the global population.”

Between the foundation set by Mendeleev and the future (possibly fusion?) imagined by the chemistry-minded like Hirschochs, there are big things going on in the world of regulations. And everyone should be curious about them because they present opportunities in addition to constraints.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promotes green chemistry. The 12 principles of green chemistry focus on doing the most with the least. Principle one is to “prevent waste.” Principle two is to “maximize atom economy”—atoms in and atoms out are equal. (See .)

Expect innovation in chemistry, including innovation in our industry, to align more and more closely with green chemistry because it tackles pollution on the front end. In

16 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times
Photo by

other words, find ways to eliminate processes that leave behind pollutants or toxic residues.

There’s a tremendous amount of serendipity in chemical research. That has resulted in some amazing products.

“I remember 3M found the adhesive for sticky notes while chasing down a different consumer product,” says Mike Gruver, general manager at Hydrus Detergents in Estherville, IA. That’s the sort of happy outcome that happens often.

“While working at a former employer, our field R&D applications team was working on a cooling tower product,” says Gruver. Although the product failed, it “led down a redevelopment path towards a nonhazardous chemical-based odor control program for wet air scrubbers that’s commonly used in the food industry.”

Curious people do not see failures. They see the need for another approach.

And that results in fascinating and useful outcomes.

Could there be more curiosity among members of our industry? Perhaps.

“My observation is that it’s up to the personality of the person,” says Gruver. “It’s amazing how many people use something every day that would cause serious harm to themselves if they were grossly negligent.” He adds that applies to household products, too.

“Those people who are curious by nature or detail oriented typically ask for application information, safety details, or other information that helps them be more informed,” says Gruver. (We should all follow our curiosity to stay current.)


Joseph Daniel is CEO of ITD Inc. in Tucker, GA, and shares in the robust optimism about the present and the future of all good things chemicalbased. “We have found that contractors

and distributors have a thirst for knowledge about the chemicals they are using or should be using,” he says.

“So, yes, I believe there is sufficient curiosity about chemicals,” explains Daniel. “However, I believe there is a dearth of knowledgeable support available from the manufacturers in the industry, so many of those questions go unanswered.”

A company ought to be educating as well as making or distributing, explains Daniel. “Our company has made a name for itself in part due to our investment in knowledgeable and responsive support staff, to ensure our customers understand their chemical programs and have the support needed to grow those programs.”

Interacting regularly with end users instigates the sort of improvements that benefit both the industry and green chemistry objectives. “Those at the leading edge of the industry follow their curiosity because they want to innovate,” says Daniel.

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“Curiosity about alternatives to bleach has led to innovation in products that can serve as a substitute in mold and mildew removal,” says Daniel. “Our new product, Bio Bomber, is an example of this innovation.”

Improvement comes in many ways. “Thoughts regarding freight efficiency have led to dehydrated and super concentrated kit products, which arrive and are hydrated on site,” says Daniel.

“Innovation has occurred in bringing high-quality detergent additives to combine with cheap, locally bought bleach—products such as Green Machine, which can reduce bleach consumption and improve cleaning efficiency,” explains Daniel.

“Of course, two-step truck washing was an innovation that came from a curiosity about washing fleets without touching truck surfaces, leading to product sets such as Power Series and

Polished Series two-step chemical systems,” says Daniel. “The best formulators and manufacturers are always listening to the market and developing products to innovate in a particular niche.”

The excellent news is that those who seek to innovate with a deep attachment to the doing-more-with-less philosophy that girds green chemistry can find funding opportunities. The EPA funds research by small businesses in addition to funding academic research.

EPA funding for small businesses is made through the agency’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program. Other agencies also offer SBIR funding for green chemistry technologies.

The funding is a natural fit for our industry and should be explored. Reviewing the 12 principles of green chemistry reminds us that while entities may be working from different starting points, they often converge.

Our industry wants to prevent waste, use the least hazardous chemical processes, ensure the safest chemical products are found and deployed, increase energy efficiency, rely on biodegradables whenever possible, and keep mishaps of any kind to the absolute minimum. The EPA’s green chemistry approach wants to achieve the very same things.

For our industry, such an approach is good for the bottom line (and that bottom line includes keeping workers safe). The EPA embraces the approach because it puts less stress on the environment (and it keeps workers safe).

The green chemistry initiative derives from the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990. That 34-year-old act made it official federal policy to identify ways to avoid producing pollutants. If pollutants do not get produced, they do not require removal.

More than three decades on, much still must be done to keep industry thriving and the environment healthy. But the convergence of business interests and environmental outcomes stands as a plus for all.

Too much curiosity? Never. Especially not about chemistry CT

18 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times



Adevastating fire that destroyed his family home in Brooks, GA, and resulted in the death of two of the family’s pets compelled then 16-yearold Mike Dingler to aspire to become a firefighter. He became a fire cadet at the age of 17 and entered firefighter school in 2004. A year later he met Monica, who was attending EMT training, and the two became fast friends and, eventually, married. She graduated in 2006, becoming the fourth paid

female firefighter in Fayette County. As the saying goes, “First comes love, then comes marriage,” and by 2010 the Dinglers were putting out fires and pushing a baby carriage.

“We both loved being firefighters, but 20 years ago the pay wasn’t great, and it was challenging to make ends meet…with a mortgage to pay and two little boys to raise,” recalls Mike. “My father owns a house painting business, and since 1998 I have been pressure washing houses for him. So, essentially, I was

a pressure washer before I was a firefighter. It wasn’t long before I was making more money on my days off by power washing homes than by fighting fires. I specialized in soft washing, pressure washing, and roof cleaning, providing services in Senoia, Peachtree City, and Fayetteville, GA. Ninety percent of the business is residential.”

“But it wasn’t just the pay that was challenging,” adds Monica. “We were dating the whole time we were training as firefighters, and when we got

20 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times

married, they put us on separate shifts. We only saw each other about 10 times a month. That was tough. Then I found out I was pregnant and was put on administrative duties. In 2011 I hung up all my firefighting gear and stayed at home to raise our boys. In 2014 I went to work in the ER so that we had a sense of security, since Mike had quit the fire department to start pressure washing full time. By 2017 he had scaled the business to where I had to quit working in the ER to help him full time in the business.”


In 2009 the Dinglers expanded their then home-based enterprise, buying their first trailer and full equipment. They came up with the name Firehouse Pressure Washing and developed a strategy to grow the business by helping others who were in the same situation as they were. They only employ working or retired firefighters and EMS personnel, who work with them on their days off. (Yes, it makes

employee scheduling a challenge, but they make it work.)

“Both of us were still working full time for the fire department, and it was natural for us to hire our colleagues—not only because of the camaraderie and need for all of us to earn more money, but because they have such advanced safety training and teamwork skills,” states Mike. “I’ve ridden in an ambulance or fire truck with half the guys that have worked at Firehouse Pressure Washing, so I know who works hard, and we share

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the same values. Firefighters don’t typically stand around and talk about how to handle an incident in the heat of the moment, and that mentality and professionalism carries over to our pressure washing contracts.”

“It’s a bonus when hiring that firefighters must also have clean driving records, no drug use, and some of the things you may have to worry about then hiring everyday lay people,” explains Monica. “It has

actually worked out well because following systems and processes are a firefighter’s bible. On the admin side of our business, there is a way to do everything, and they don’t question that. On the job site already having ladder safety training, advanced first aid, OSHA certification, and more makes training for power washing so much easier. As a bonus I think our guys make people feel safe when they show up. It just makes people feel better as homeowners, … knowing that the individual coming to power wash their home might have saved a child the night before.”


As the business grew, both Monica and Mike grew weary of doing double duty. In 2014 Monica quit her job in the ER to support the admin side of the business full time, allowing her to work from home and be there for her boys when they needed her. At the same time Mike

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Muster Meeting.

started to do some number crunching. “I had been a full-time firefighter for 10 years and decided that I could transition to being a volunteer firefighter and full-time business owner, also working from my home-based office. Back surgery necessitated retiring from firefighting altogether in 2022. While I miss hanging out with the guys and the camaraderie of station life, I love being home with my family.”

In December 2015 they bought their first F550 flatbed pressure washing rig and assembled it on their home driveway. Having the extra vehicle required the move to warehouse space. In 2016 they moved the business to rented space.

Today Firehouse Pressure Washing operates out of a 2,600-square-foot space and has three flatbeds and one trailer rig, two box trucks for Christmas lights, an F250 with custom pressure washing skid for their operations manager, and a Tesla for their

sales manager. They have five fulltime and five part-time staff. At their peak in 2022 when they employed just off-duty firefighters, they had 16 men. (One full-timer is equivalent to four part-timers.)

“Success means that we are bursting at the seams!” says Mike with a laugh. “We are building racks to store Christmas lights in the bay, which is a service we began offering in 2022. Christmas light installation and

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Mike and Monica Dingler.

takedown enable us to keep the team busy year-round. We did 39 houses the first year, 86 the second year, and are aiming for 150 houses annually in the next couple of years.”


While their business model in itself is a way of “giving back,” the Dinglers love being an active part of their community. They support events and fundraisers for local sports teams,

schools, and the fire station costs and awards ceremonies by donating cash or “gifts in kind,” like house and roof washing. But they do much more than that. In 2020 when one of their parttime workers suffered third degree burns while on duty as an EMT—he saved someone from a burning car before the fire truck arrived—they staged a huge fundraiser for him. They sponsor a benefit race for special needs children and a Cares for Kids

annual golf tournament, along with Keller Williams Real Estate.

“One of our biggest community contributions to date was in 2020, during the COVID pandemic,” reports Monica. “We washed over 40 public playgrounds for free. This was so important at a time when everyone was hyper aware of cleanliness and disinfecting.”

To the Dinglers, “giving back” not only means supporting the community but being active in the industry.

Mike still holds a National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedic License; is certified as a HAZMAT Technician and a SWAT tactical medic; is the president of the Peachtree City Firefighter Foundation; serves as the chair of marketing for the PWNA; and teaches PWNA safety classes at conventions, such as the IWCA.

As a working couple, they are also always eager to expand their knowledge, believing that “you have to meet people who are smarter than you, and make more money than you, to learn and grow your business.”

When asked if, given the opportunity, they would do it over again, the answer was a resounding “Yes!” “Being a husband-and-wife team is difficult; it can be hard to differentiate between being married and being business partners,” says Monica. “It’s been tough … but also very rewarding to look back and see how far we have come. Running your own business has risks, but it’s not as risky as being a firefighter! Besides being your own boss, having complete access to our children and all their activities makes all this worth it. I get to be at every event, party, field trip, and baseball game. We don’t get that time back, and I want to take advantage of this very special opportunity that we’ve sacrificed for.”

“I’m glad that I was a firefighter, but I’m also glad I am no longer a firefighter,” concludes Mike. “We are blessed to have the flexibility to be a part of our children’s lives.”

Learn more about Firehouse Pressure Washing at CT

24 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times

26 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times
Photo by Radya Binti Md Radzi

As the chill of winter recedes and the warmth of spring peeks over the horizon, homeowners everywhere begin to look at their homes with fresh eyes, eager to rejuvenate and refresh their living spaces. For wood restoration and preservation contractors, this seasonal shift represents a golden opportunity. As the world awakens to the potential of the new season, so too should you awaken to the potential profits just waiting to be tapped. This is your time, your season to shine, and with the right preparation and marketing strategies, you can transform this period into your busiest, most profitable time of the year.

The allure of spring is undeniable. It’s a time of renewal and a chance for homeowners to breathe new life into their cherished outdoor spaces. Decks, fences, log cabins, and wood-sided homes stand ready to be restored to their former glory, and you, with your skills and expertise, are perfectly positioned to fulfill this need. However, as any seasoned contractor knows, being able to provide a service is only part of the equation. The real magic lies in effectively marketing your services, capturing the imagination of homeowners, and convincing them that now is the time to act.

But why is spring such a critical period for both homeowners and wood restoration professionals? Put simply, it’s a matter of timing and economics. First, booking early ensures homeowners don’t have to wait in line. The early bird does indeed catch the worm, or in this case the best contractors. Planning ahead is appreciated by contractors who can provide a more thoughtful, less rushed service, leading to better outcomes and more satisfied customers.

Second, proactive maintenance is significantly more cost effective than reactive repairs. The cost of early intervention pales in comparison to the expense incurred when wood finishes or the wood itself deteriorates beyond simple maintenance. Acting early,

therefore, saves homeowners money in the long run, a compelling argument for any cost-conscious individual.

Lastly, getting wood restoration done early in spring allows homeowners to maximize their enjoyment of outdoor spaces. There’s a simple joy in kicking back on a freshly stained deck or admiring the revitalized appearance of a wood-sided home; and the sooner this is achieved, the longer the period of enjoyment.

Understanding these motivations is key to tailoring your marketing message effectively. However, knowing why spring is the perfect time for wood restoration is just the beginning. As we delve deeper into this article, we’ll explore actionable marketing ideas that can help you attract more leads within your local area. From leveraging social media to creating compelling before-and-after content, there are numerous strategies at your disposal.

Furthermore, in Part 2 of this article (in the May issue) we’ll touch upon the transformative power of mentorship in marketing your services. Growing a small business is no small feat, and the guidance of a seasoned marketing mentor can be the difference between stagnation and exponential growth. Through strategic advice, personalized feedback, and the sharing of industry best practices, a mentor can help you navigate the complexities of marketing with confidence.

So, as the spring season beckons, let’s embark on this journey together. Prepare to be inspired, and ready yourself to implement fresh marketing strategies that will not only attract new clients but also ensure your services are in high demand throughout the season and beyond. This is your moment to capitalize on the spring-cleaning gene of homeowners, transforming it into profitable engagements that benefit both you and the clients you serve.

Stay tuned as we delve into the specifics of crafting a marketing strategy that resonates, driving leads, and fostering growth in the booming field of wood restoration and preservation services.

Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 27


Spring represents a time of rejuvenation and opportunity, especially for wood restoration contractors poised to assist homeowners in reviving their outdoor living spaces. As professionals specializing in breathing new life into decks, fences, log cabins, and wood-sided homes, your services are in high demand. But, how do you ensure that your business is the one homeowners think of when they decide to embark on their spring cleaning and renovation projects? The answer lies in a strategic, wellexecuted marketing plan.


Before diving into specific strategies, it’s crucial to understand your target market—homeowners within a 50-mile radius of your business location seeking professional wood restoration services. These are individuals who value quality, convenience, and reliability. They want to enjoy their outdoor spaces to the fullest, knowing that early maintenance can save them money and enhance their property’s appeal and value.


• Leverage Local SEO—Ensure your business is easy to find online by optimizing your website for local searches. Include keywords related to wood

restoration, your specific services, and your geographic area.

• Pro Tip—Claim your Google My Business listing and encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews.

• Before-and-After Content— Showcase your work’s transformative power with compelling before-and-after photos and videos. Share these on your website, through social media, and in email newsletters.

• Pro Tip—Create a case study section on your website where potential clients can see detailed project overviews, including challenges, solutions, and testimonials.

• Seasonal Promotions—Launch early bird specials for clients who book their spring restoration projects in advance. This taps into the promptness and costsaving motives.

• Pro Tip—Combine services into package deals for a more compelling offer.

• Educational Workshops and Seminars—Position yourself as an expert by hosting free or low-cost workshops teaching homeowners about wood restoration basics and maintenance tips using products like those from Woodrich Brand.

• Pro Tip—Partner with local hardware stores or lumber yards for these events to broaden your reach.

• Social Media Engagement—Use social media platforms to engage with your community and share tips on wood preservation, project ideas, and special offers.

• Pro Tip—Create a hashtag for your business or specific campaigns to track engagement and spread by word of mouth.

• Referral Programs—Encourage word-of-mouth marketing by offering incentives for both the referrer and the new client.

• Pro Tip—Tailor rewards to be relevant and appealing to your target market, such as discounts on future services or free maintenance products.

• Local Press and Community Engagement—Get featured in local newspapers and community blogs, and participate in community events. Visibility in the community builds trust.

• Pro Tip—Offer your expertise for free to a community project or charity event and get the word out through local media channels.

• Professional Branding—Invest in professional branding and marketing materials that communicate the quality and reliability of your services.

• Pro Tip—Consistency in your branding across all platforms increases recognition and trust.

• Direct Mail Campaigns—Target local neighborhoods with direct mail campaigns, offering spring specials or maintenance tips. Direct mail remains highly effective for local service-based businesses.

• Pro Tip—Use eye-catching designs and clear calls-to-action (CTAs) to improve response rates.


A cohesive marketing plan that integrates online and offline strategies ensures that your message reaches your target audience effectively. Start by setting specific goals for your spring marketing campaign, such as

28 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times

increasing bookings by 20 percent or growing your social media following. Next, create a timeline for your campaign, allowing enough lead time for homeowners to plan their spring projects. Finally, measure your results and adjust your strategies accordingly for continuous improvement.

Crafting a winning spring marketing strategy requires a blend of creativity, strategic thinking, and deep understanding of your target market. By implementing these targeted marketing strategies, you position your wood restoration business as the goto choice for homeowners looking to rejuvenate their outdoor living spaces this spring.

Editor’s Note: Part II of this article will be published in the May 2024 issue. It will address how to grow the business through effective marketing and mentorship. In addition, visual marketing on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok will be discussed.

Russell Cissell is the founder of Woodrich Brand by Extreme Solutions, Inc., and a leading authority in exterior wood restoration and preservation. With decades of handson experience, starting from restoring cedar homes to eventually developing a line of specialized wood care products, Russell has paved the way for innovative solutions in the industry. Located north of St Louis,

MO, Woodrich Brand provides highquality restoration products nationwide, offering predictable results with backing from Russell’s expert guidance. Wood restoration professionals have trusted products like Extreme Solutions HD-80 Heavy Duty Stripper since before the turn of the century. For more information, visit CT

Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 29
Photo by


30 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times
Photo by Muller by Diane M. Calabrese

There’s nothing new under the sun. While the fundamentals of mankind remain the same, we may enjoy some changes, and CETA can be a part of that.

Learning is the life-long companion to doing. Taking advantage of formal and informal educational opportunities ensures that whatever we do, we do well.

Among the many benefits the Cleaning Equipment Trade Association (CETA) offers to members are grants and scholarships through an independent but aligned entity. The concept is a basic one: help defray costs of life-long learning, and more people will be able to partake in it.

Grants are designed to help CETA members fund training opportunities for their employees. Scholarships for post-secondary education are awarded on a competitive basis to applicants who are the children of members or their employees.

The grant program is the newer of the two initiatives that are administered by the CETA Scholarship Foundation, a separately incorporated charitable organization that exists in parallel with CETA. The grant program focuses on continuing education for employees. The scholarship program (Great Futures) is open to the children of members and members’ employees.

Flexibility within the grant program merits attention, says Erik Spurling, a foundation trustee and the director of sales and marketing at ProPulse, a Schieffer Company in Peosta, IA. “The training can be an exact overlay of a staffer’s daily responsibility, or it can be used to diversify a particular skill set.”

It could be a welder who wants to learn skills such as Microsoft Office, or the reverse, with an administrative staff member who wants to learn to weld, explains Spurling. “The grant can be a bridge for supplementing the cost of any type of training that an organization faces.”

A triple-layered benefit emerges from grants. There is a more educated

work force that is an asset to member companies, says Spurling. The industry grows stronger. “And everyone in society benefits in some small way when people develop stronger skill sets and are able to perform at a higher level.”

Put aside any concerns about the time it takes to apply for a grant. “It’s easy,” says Tim Mendoza,

president and CEO of H2O Power Equipment with headquarters in Commerce City, CO.

Mendoza’s company received a recent grant. He explains that the time it takes to apply is minimal, and the return on that investment is great.

“The implementation of this program is a way for CETA to directly

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contribute toward the enhancement of our industry,” explains Mendoza. Through the investment it is “enabling its members to invest in their people, which as we all know is any organization’s greatest asset.”

Mendoza advises prospective applicants to the grant program to think broadly about the possibilities. “Perhaps you need to send a service technician to a specialty technical course, or one of your staff members

to build upon his or her computer or accounting skills, or a salesman to advanced training.”

Wherever educational paths lead, take advantage of the program. “It all helps build a better business and team,” says Mendoza.

The grant program aligns perfectly with the CETA mission to make a strong industry even stronger by bringing together distributors, suppliers, and manufacturers. “The

program was created to assist the membership in providing all types of continuing education for their employees and businesses,” says Dennis Black, president of McHenry Pressure Cleaning Systems Inc. in Frederick, MD.

The objective of the grant program is “to assist members in directly providing education for their employees and staffs,” says Black, and to streamline the process of meeting that objective.

“It is easy to participate,” explains Black. “It’s a very open program. Any type of training, education, and/or learning to help improve your business fits within the parameters for applicants,” he notes.

The name of the CETA scholarship program, Great Futures, heralds its philosophy. The program endeavors to provide the workforce of tomorrow with educational opportunities, says Black.

“Some participants may stay in our industry, and others may serve our communities in other ways and professions,” says Black about the scholarship recipients. “Education helps in making the future better and hopefully great.”

Black is the past chairman and a current member of the board of trustees for the foundation. “I know personally that serving as a trustee has provided a source of pride, knowing I am helping to build our society’s future,” he says.

Currently serving as chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees is Russ Hess, the regional manager (Northeast USA, Eastern Canada) for Alkota Cleaning Systems Inc. in Alcester, SD. Like Black, he welcomes outcomes the scholarship program ensures.

“Many of the scholarship recipients will work within the industry after finishing their college education,” says Hess. “This is a direct benefit to the industry.”

Fortify the skills and knowledge base of the individual. Fortify the industry and society. Therein is the

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vision realized by the grant and scholarship programs.

Hess wants CETA members and prospective members to know there are no constraints on the kinds of instruction grants can support. “The opportunity is limitless,” he says. “The educational foundation does not designate types of training that qualify. The CETA member organization can address its very specific training needs.”

The grant program provides awards up to $500 and up to 50 percent of the cost incurred for training. “The types of continuing education that can be supported are quite diverse,” says Hess.

“Technical training for a service person, sales training for a salesperson, and bookkeeping training for a member of the office staff are a few examples,” says Hess. “A CETA member organization can determine their greatest need in any department and address it with training.”

Trustees of the CETA Scholarship Foundation include, in addition to those already cited, Gary Scott with Alkota Cleaning Systems (treasurer) and Theresa Rasmussen with Royce Industries L.C. in North Las Vegas, NV (secretary).

Each successive group of trustees would acknowledge that they both stand on the shoulders and build on the work of all who preceded them in the role. In fact, some trustees have particularly deep knowledge of the foundation because they have served more than one term.

Established in February 1996, the foundation is now in its 28th year. It becomes stronger each year.

The CETA Scholarship Foundation succeeds because of the contributions of time and money that are made to it. The trustees exemplify the contribution of time through the hours they devote to foundation tasks.

Monetary contributions arrive in many forms. For instance, Lease

Consultants Corporation in Des Moines, IA, donates a portion (one percent) of every standard financial transaction originated by a CETA member.

Many CETA members donate funds sufficient to award a scholarship in recognition of their company. Other members donate funds in memory of an individual. The goal of the CETA Scholarship Foundation is to build over time an endowment that will grow through both additional donations and sound investment.

As exposure to the sun creates a thirst, so does the new—and innovative—create genuine thirst for knowledge. The CETA Scholarship Foundation assists those who aim to quench that thirst by learning all they can in striving for excellence.

To learn more about the foundation or to review the application procedures for the Great Futures or grant programs, visit the website and use the Foundation pull-down tab. CT

Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 33






34 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times

s the coil manufacturing manager and vice president of sales at Siloam Springs, Arkansas-based Farley’s Inc., John Thurman is known to be a “jack of all trades” who wears many hats … but you wouldn’t expect one of them to be a cowboy hat! But on evenings and weekends, you’ll find Thurman wearing said cowboy hat because this multi-talented man is as much at home on horseback as he is overseeing the production line at Farley’s. And, it turns out, he’s pretty skilled in throwing a lasso (rope), too.

Thurman has recently entered the amateur rodeo circuit as a team roper, competing in the Ariat World Series of Team Roping finale, which coincided with the National Finals Rodeo. It was held at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. This is the second largest equestrian event in the world and is focused on the sport of amateur handicapped team roping. The 2023 event paid out over $15 million to nine divisions over nine days and boasted over 3,000 contestants and horses from Canada, the USA, Mexico, Brazil, and other countries.

Thurman competed on his horse, Ned, along with roping partner Kevin Kendrick, riding Hippy, on December 13 and 14, 2023. (Thurman is the “heeler” of this roping duo, while Kendrick is the “header.”) The two lifelong friends and their horses traveled 1,300-plus miles through six states over three days to get there. While they didn’t win money in Vegas, it was a long and hard process to qualify, and they considered it an honor to compete among some of the world’s best team ropers. Thurman’s extended family, friends, and co-workers at Farley’s couldn’t be prouder.


Growing up on the family farm in Arkansas, Thurman has a long history working with horses and, in high school, dedicated countless hours competing in the sport of team roping. Unfortunately, a bad car accident in the early ‘90s and a resultant broken back put his team roping dreams on the backburner for a few decades. After the accident, he only rode horses for ranch work or pleasure. Around 2017, as a way to keep fit, reduce stress, and have something to do besides work, Thurman got back into team roping. In the last five years he started taking it more seriously, and it turns out, he was still really good at it.

Thurman and his wife, Angie Farley Thurman, live on the ranch that has been in the Farley family since the early 1990s. They moved in with Angie’s parents (Bob and Ethelyn Farley) in 2017 to assist them in their retirement. Bob passed away in 2018, and they continue to live on the ranch and take care of Ethylen and the family farm as well as Farley’s Inc. They still raise beef cattle and also have a herd of eight quarter horses and two ponies for the grandchildren.

“John does most of his own horse training,” explains his stepson, Henry Hardaway. “He definitely has a process that he likes to work through. If he doesn’t have time or the horses need some more intensive work and conditioning, he will work with another trainer. We are very proud of the fact that he has turned his hobby into being part of the amateur rodeo circuit.”


Thurman has worked for the Farley family since 2006, starting as a cattle ranch manager on the family’s 1,100-acre cattle ranch just south of Siloam Springs. Recognizing that his management skills went beyond wrangling up to 250 head of cattle, the Farley family eventually moved him into a management role at the family-owned company. And, in 2016 he married Angie Farley. Angie and John had been friends since high school.

Farley’s Inc. opened in 1979 and was the first company to offer all makes and models of replacement coils,

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John and Ned.

manufacturing over 700 different models of coils for all known brands. They have operated in the same location since the beginning. Company founders were Bob and Ethelyn Farley, and this family-run business remains solely owned and operated by their children and grandchildren. Today, son Calvin Farley and daughter Angie Farley Thurman work the business full time. CT


Team roping is also known as “heading and heeling.” The first rider/ roper is referred to as the “header” and is the one who ropes the front of the steer, usually around the horns. Once the steer is caught by one of the three legal head catches, the header must “dally” (wrap the rope around the rubber-covered saddle horn) and use his horse to turn the steer to the left. This event comes from actual historical ranch work that is still done today to provide needed care to cattle on large ranching operations.

The second roper is the “heeler,” who ropes the steer by its hind feet after the header has turned the steer. Team roping is the only rodeo event where men and women compete equally together in professionally sanctioned competition in both single-gender or mixed-gender teams.

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38 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times
Photo by


Is there anything better than stopping to fill the fuel tank when on the way to a social event and getting splashed with fuel? Yes, being greeted by a fuel station attendant who is happy to provide the service of filling the tank.

Fuel station attendants were once the norm, not the rare exception. Somehow, though, the idea of compressing the chain of manufacturing and distributing took hold.

Compression has overtaken every industry. And it’s not always a good thing. What’s lost with a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to everything from restaurants (salad bars) to banks (ATMs and smartphones) to equipment sales (direct from a manufacturer online) is a human connection.

Make that the sort of human connection that builds natural feedback loops, a social network that keeps useful information— and the quest for the best and correct information—at the forefront of business. Without a waiter or waitress visiting the table of restaurant patrons, the owner of the establishment will never know what’s liked and what’s not.

Distributors play the vital role of connecting to end users. In doing so, they ensure that products are used correctly and maintained properly.

An end user could become an expert in all the equipment he or she uses. But in taking time to do that, time that could be devoted to the primary function of his or her business is lost.

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Role confusion does not just make for a chaotic production on a theatrical stage. It also leads to industry muddles.

Distributors streamline the flow of information—accurate and concise information—between manufacturer and end user. They serve as a bridge and a gateway.

Successful distributors understand their role. And they do everything possible to refine their performance of it.

“While I don’t think there is one golden trait that sets a distributor apart, I do feel that having a partnership mentality is important,” says Missy Ordiway, a Deco Products representative and distributor. Her company is headquartered in Denver, CO.

The mindset of being partners facilitates interaction with customers. And it is essential that distributors “work with the clients who are purchasing from them,” says Ordiway.

“Distributors who go beyond simply pushing products and become true partners with their clients—

understanding their needs and proactively suggesting solutions—stand out,” explains Ordiway. And she iterates what some of the stand-out approaches are.

“They offer value-added services like training, technical support, and marketing assistance, becoming an extension of their clients’ businesses,” says Ordiway. “This helps the client as well as the distributor.”

Partnering may extend to offering potential customers occasional sessions on new products. The sessions can be topically focused (e.g., wastewater collection, electric motors) and tied to relevant product solutions.

Strong end users of products must have a reliable source for their products. Successful distributors aim for consistency in reliability. And that reliability encompasses quality of products and responsiveness.

Candor also counts in every setting. Not everyone can do everything—even the most engaged and qualified distributor.

Yes, end users with a product issue want it resolved as quickly as possible, but they also want it resolved correctly. They appreciate the distributor who explains that it will take 24 hours to have a part shipped overnight and that it will take a firm two days to complete a repair.

“Be upfront and honest as to what you can do and when you can do it,” says Mike Hansen, sales manager— water division at Dultmeier Sales in Omaha, NE. Service center customers want to have solid time estimates so they can adjust their workload accordingly.

Great service, says Hansen is the one trait that sets a distributor apart from others. It’s an umbrella that covers many things beyond quality products.

There’s a cordial team that’s obviously expert in the products it sells and services. And there’s a roster of the most up-to-date and innovative products, which are supported by expert advice on use and routine maintenance.

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Is there one trait that all distributors must have? “In a word, dependability,” says Josh Wagner, retail manager at Atlantic Pressure Washers in Linthicum Heights, MD.

“Our goal as a distributor is to have the right product when you need it,” explains Wagner. “It’s a must because it ensures customers can meet their goals in a timely way,” he comments

“The concept sounds simple, but dependability is where most distributors failed during the recent [pandemic],” says Wagner. They failed because they had not put in place the mechanisms to compensate for the unexpected.

“If a company does not have the processes to succeed and handle ‘roadblocks’ when they come up, then dependability is the first trait to go out the window,” says Wagner. “By contrast, when you have the correct systems in place to meet this goal, then you become even more valuable to the customer when emergencies arise.”

Steadiness is a close ally of dependability. And distributors with a great deal of team turnover—any business with too much turnover—has difficulty steadying itself. The turnover figuratively rocks the boat, but it does literally, too.

Every new hire must be afforded time to learn processes and procedures and develop a working rapport with the team. It takes time. More frequent hires equal more time consumed.

Of course, at the end of any introductory period, what the distributor wants is a team member who has the skill sets necessary to fulfill his or her role. That is, a team member who is competent.

One distributor commented to us off the record that developing and retaining a competent staff is a big issue for everyone. That includes distributors and

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all channels of commerce. This is an issue that comes up again and again among those in the industry and one that is concerning because of its impact on communities, society, and the health of the economy. But we leave it aside here.

We will assume that distributors can and do find new hires as needed, new hires who will learn what they do not know. Hires who will also stay and grow in their expertise.

“At a minimum a distributor needs the following roles filled: production, sales, shipping,” says Wagner. “If your staff can’t produce the product correctly—accurately and on time—you lose a customer.”

But there are multiple ways to suffer losses. “If your staff doesn’t know the product they are selling, you lose a customer or at the very least a sale,” says Wagner.

Then, there’s follow through. “If your shipping department is a wreck and can’t wrap a pallet, pack a box, or coordinate transit, leading to missed deadlines or delivering damaged products, then once again you have lost a customer.”

Obviously, the goal of a distributor is to keep and expand the customer base, so any loss is a negative. There is no positive side really, but any loss

of a customer does indicate where shoring up is needed.

Aim for the best. That’s what successful distributors do.

“When the staff is up to speed with processes and follows them from start to finish and delivers the product to the customers’ expectations, then you’ll have success in your distributor chain,” says Wagner. “Recently this ‘extra’ hasn’t been found in companies, and as a result distribution chains worldwide are truly struggling.”

Wagner has tapped the lid on an enormous issue for our industry and others. Something seems to be weakening the links that once fortified industries (and all that grows from industries).

Put the phrase “work ethic deficit” into any search engine and the return of articles on some version of “too many people just do not want to work consistently or at all” is overwhelming. Did it all start with the global perturbation caused by the COVID-19 virus that started circulating widely in 2020, or did it begin earlier?

A little of both, it seems. Distributors—like all other businesses—must compensate for that reality in addition to accomplishing all other tasks related to their enterprise.

Daunting? In 2024 that word applies at least on some days. But a commitment to the industry and the end users it serves defines every successful distributor. Commitment means forging ahead and finding alternatives and workarounds as well as keeping pace with regulations.

Successful distributors have full confidence in the products they sell. That’s because they have full confidence in the manufacturer(s) of the products. They take advantage of training offered by manufacturers, and they relay concerns and ideas from customers to manufacturers.

There are many jokes in old movies about whether the cook would eat at the restaurant where he works. If the cook would not eat there, why would a prospective patron eat there?

The analogy: Would a distributor shop at his or her business? Would he or she rely on the service center at the business? If the answer is “yes” and “yes”—most certainly “yes,” therein is a successful distributor.

A successful distributor knows his or her business falls into the excellent category and is determined to keep it there. Distributors fill a specific niche. And there’s a lot to be said for specialization, starting with no fuel on dress clothes . CT

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ditor’s Note: This chapter is a new addition to the Power Washers’ Guidebook. Part I was published in the March issue and can be read online at It covered geographical considerations for playground and water slide cleaning as well as a typical job and part of the techniques and equipment to be used.


Water Supply, GPM, and PSI—Playgrounds don’t usually have any access to a water supply, and a typical project requires about 300-to-600 gallons of water, so a mobile water tank is a must. The more gallons per minute you use, the more water you will go through, so use about 3,000 psi at 5.5 gpm with hot water followed by a good scrub brush. Only use a higher pressure in areas that can’t be scrubbed because soft plastic (and wood) is easily scarred by high pressure. Hold the wand tip about two feet from the surface, using a 45-degree nozzle with higher pressure, and a yellow tip 15-degree nozzle for graffiti removal. A dual lance wand can be used to drop the pressure for delicate areas.

If you have to leave the site to get more water, stop using any chemical products when you are down to about 100 gallons and do a thorough rinse of the entire site before leaving. (Wastewater will be absorbed in the substrate.) You can’t risk leaving chemical residue in areas if children may start using it again before you get back.

Surfactants— Playgrounds present multiple types of surfaces to work with, and a good detergent will have the ability to take the grease and grime off all. But be aware that different surfaces may react differently. (Slides may be fiberglass or plastic. Decking can be metal with rubber coating.) If you have to use higher pressure, start the wand three- or four-feet back and move in slowly, as required.

Working at Heights—In most cases, an X-jet throws the water and soap pretty high. If there’s a roof on top of the structure, bring a wand extension with ball valves so you can easily discontent the wand and switch to a six-foot wand to get closer to the cleaning area. Be aware of the wind and overspray. Waterslides are a different safety game! Use a safety harness because losing your

Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 45

grip and sliding down into an empty pool isn’t fun! In Taylor’s experience they have never had to use a ladder or cherry picker for play structures. Also, the substrate is often not stable enough to support the use of ladders.

Safety Inspections—You are not a certified playground inspector , but if you see a bolt missing, broken slides, burn marks, etc., take photos and send them to the customer, alerting them of the safety/maintenance issue. It’s also a good idea to take before and after photos as a marketing tool and as proof of disrepair, existing damage, etc.

Trash Duty—The first step in playground cleaning is to do a ground sweep of the area at about a 100-foot radius. “For this step, my staff wear disposable rubber gloves and use a trash grabber tool to pick up trash,” explains Taylor. “Be forewarned that this will include anything from candy wrappers to condoms, broken glass, cigarette butts, soda cans, drug para-

phernalia, and much more because, while playgrounds are used by children during the day, after dark they may be frequented by unsheltered people, drug users…you name it! (Add rubber gloves and trash bags to your equipment and supplies list.)

Graffiti Removal—The second step is to look for graffiti. This requires graffiti removal products with attention to what surface the graffiti is sprayed on. Our most go-to graffiti removers are Taginator and World’s Best Graffiti Remover, and they have great online training materials. The nice thing about graffiti removal is that, once cleaned up, the “artists” tend to stay away for a while. If the playground looks neglected, they get out their spray cans.

Rinse Down— After graffiti removal the entire structure should be rinsed down with a mixture of water and four percent sodium hydrochloride, the main ingredient in bleach,

with a surfactant to make it cling to the surface being cleaned. The ratio of bleach to water depends on what is being cleaned. Sometimes there may be blood on the slide from a child getting hurt, and a stronger mixture may be required. A pump sprayer can be used to access a small area. In most cases an X-jet nozzle and wand work best.

Apply surfactants/soap— When cleaning upright surfaces, add a surfactant to your soap mix to ensure the soap clings to the surface longer before it runs off. Apply the soapy water to the upright structures and then use a wash brush to scrub. End with the safest version of spray/rinse.

Taylor advises not to use any waxes, even though it helps water sheet off, because it can make the surfaces too slippery for children.

Once the structure is cleaned and rinsed, use the X-jet on the play pad/ substrate. If the pad is able to hold a surface cleaner, it is almost like

46 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times

cleaning concrete. You will see a huge difference in color.

Disinfect—The last step is a disinfectant called “Vital Oxide,” an EPAregistered hospital-grade disinfectant cleaner, mold killer, and odor eliminator. Its formula contains a unique form of stabilized chlorine dioxide that is very effective at killing bacteria, viruses, and mold, yet it is noncorrosive and gentle enough to handle without causing skin irritation. This cleaner was brought to market long before COVID became an issue for cruise ships that needed a way to control germs. This product rates as a “Zero” on the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and can be used without any PPE, and no rinse is required.

Wipe Out the Germs, Then Wipe Off the Slides—As a final step, use a towel to wipe down sitting surfaces and slides. Water will typically pool there and the first child to play on the equipment will end up with a wet bottom.

“Wash and Tell”— A clean and shiny recently power washed playground can be a powerful marketing tool. After you complete the project, snap some photos and get busy on your social media platforms to promote it as “the cleanest playground in town.” Be sure to “tag” the property owner (the city, state, community association, etc.) and have them engage on socials as well. Remember, the parents of all of those happy children also own homes and businesses. (Never use photos of children without their parents’ written permission.)


Wastewater—As with all power washing projects, be mindful of wastewater runoff. Playgrounds typically have lots of substrate and are surrounded by landscaping/grass that can absorb the runoff, but be mindful of nearby water. If cleaning anything such as a dock, boat ramp, or slide that is near or above ponds, lakes, or streams, only use hot water— absolutely no chemicals. Do your research for every county and city you work in, just to make sure you know

the rules. Watch for storm drains and block them off.

Product Dilution—Diluting soaps to a safe level is a must, not just to protect children, but for pets and wildlife as well. The main thing to

look for is to ensure wastewater doesn’t run into natural water or storm sewers. Let the customer know you may have to restrict the use of chemicals for safety. And, when using cleaning products, only bring out

Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 47

from your vehicle the amount that you expect to need on the job site. Fill a smaller container at the truck (or shop) so that if you accidentally spill, it is a small amount.


Some structures have awnings/ canopies for shade. Clean them with low psi and soft wash only.

Under swing sets the kids drag their feet and make holes. Watch if it has been patched. It can affect your footing and/or water absorption, and the brittle seams may not be able to handle the surface cleaner.

Ropes on rope play structures are usually made of nylon. Do not use soap. Disinfect only using Vital Oxide.

On galvanized areas, such as slides, graffiti removal may affect the finish.

It won’t affect the sliding surface, but it will change the look of the slide.

In some cases, if graffiti can’t be cleaned enough so the words are no longer legible, the customer may have to paint over it as certain paint pigments on some surfaces are harder to remove. With permission, you may be able to use very high pressure to grind out the nasty words, but it may scar the surface.

Right after you wash a slide it is squeaky clean and slippery, so be careful!

You may be asked to work on “almost-abandoned playgrounds” in questionable areas of town. Always send a team, never an individual. Usually, the county or city will know if it is a dangerous neighborhood and will advise/support you accordingly.


Curb Appeal started with charging by the hour, and some contracts still prefer this. But now they know from experience, how long it will generally take and they can offer a fixed price. Be forewarned, it often takes longer than you might think when you first start this type of work.

The best way to find out who owns the playground is to ask park and recreation employees, who are often overworked and underappreciated. They want to have these structures cleaned but don’t have the time or resources. They will be happy if you offer them a solution.


There are many ancillary projects you can undertake when working on

48 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times

playgrounds. This includes park benches and picnic tables and the concrete bases they are on, garbage receptacles, signage, sidewalks, restrooms, steps, railing, …everything! But don’t overwhelm someone’s decision making, by offering too much at once. You may be cleaning with a wand … but it’s not a magic one!


• Get to know your customer.

• Set clear expectations and boundaries.

• Provide written quotes.

• Document problem areas with before and after photos.

• Watch your language (when speaking to a prospective client) and avoid using scary words. Never say you will “Blast this clean.” And refer to “soap and surfactants,” not “chemicals.” And never guarantee 100 percent removal of grime or graffiti.


Jake Taylor is the owner of Curb Appeal Power Wash, Topeka, KS. They focus on residential, commercial, and

playground projects in Topeka and several other communities in their region. For more information, visit CT

Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 49


Ultrasonic showers will be the future if life imitates art (in this case, science fiction). Already in use are ultrasonic cleaners for high-end auto parts (plus precision applications elsewhere).

What about the in-between: ultrasonic cleaners for the exterior of vehicles? We’re not there yet.

Even so, the tools for washing cars go well beyond buckets and cloths and water. Adoption of steam for cleaning and detailing continues to grow, for example.

Those engaged in the day-to-day sphere of car washes—whether contractors, distributors or manufacturers—most likely have a magic-wand tool in mind. What would they conjure up instantly if they could?

“An endless supply of deionized water for mobile washing,” says Michael Hinderliter, president of Steamaway Inc. in Fort Worth, TX. Water that’s exclusively water (i.e., no salt ions, minerals, or carbon dioxide in solution) makes it much easier to achieve a beautiful outcome.

Deionized water may be used without chemicals. If chemicals are added to deionized water, they do not get diminished or altered by ions already in solution. The positives attached to deionized water just begin there.

Better adhesion of wax and no residual odor are two other plusses tied to the use of deionized water in car washing. “Coveted” may be too strong a word to describe the view of deionized water by car washes striving for outstanding results, but tools to give contractors all the deionized water they require are

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certainly wanted—and an opportunity for manufacturers and distributors.

Match the tool to the task. We know the adage: holding a hammer does not mean everything is a nail.

So it is with car wash tools. Just because an operator is holding a wand, it does not mean it should be used to apply water (and chemical) to every part of a vehicle.

A mix of wands, automated brushes, carriages, and tunnels have carried the car wash industry beyond buckets and cloths. It continues to

benefit from modification. Members of the industry have suggestions about what some of the changes should be.

Aaron Lindholm is president and CEO of Veloci Performance Products in Burnsville, MN, and cites one tool that is very welcome in the industry. “The Morelite Plug and Dry system of brushes for rollover and tunnel equipment has the maintenance and operator in mind,” he says.

The system keeps “brushes clean and cars maintained much more efficiently,” explains Lindholm. “Carwash

drying systems have been the same for a long time, and this new system is truly innovative.”

There are still plenty of components that ought to get the attention of designers, though. One is “a tool that would clean wheels better,” says Lindholm. “I always feel like my wheel wells are dirty and don’t get the attention that they deserve.”

Ensuring that every part of a vehicle receives the attention it requires is one part of the equation for determining how to carry the industry forward.

Photo by
Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 51 Serdynska


The companion part of the equation is the adjustment to existing tools to make them easier to use and maintain.

Car wash tools include a big matrix of ancillaries. The ancillaries include PPE [personal protective equipment] for machine operators, oil water separators, drain covers, devices for cleaning drains, and so on. Systems that capture, clean, and recycle wastewater on site are desired at least as much as a constant supply of deionized water.

Licensing entities (state and local) for car wash facilities apply considerable scrutiny to the businesses. A commercial wash may want to welcome vehicles used to apply pesticides or herbicides.

But in many places, the wash owner must verify the vehicle has been decontaminated by a registered applicator of such chemicals. Even then, separate bays may be required for the washing.

Whether a rollover, tunnel, or wand car wash, increasingly the goal at each is a closed-loop recycle system for water. Any tool that makes it easier to achieve

100 percent on-site recycling pushes the sector to a higher and notable level.

Of course, any tool—from deionized water to exacting brushes—that reduces the amount of water required to clean each vehicle is welcome. Steam reduces the amount of water needed considerably.

If steam cleaning requires only about two gallons of water per car, and a water wash requires approximately 40 gallons, why has the move toward steam been less than fast? Several reasons explain it. Among them are dirty exteriors that require something more (e.g., water flow, chemicals), cost, and safety of workers.

The broadest definition of a car wash tool backs up to the car manufacturer. Advances in coatings aimed at making it easier to keep cars clean are in the mix.

At the same time, protective coatings following a wash now extend beyond wax. A graphene coating repels water and contaminants as does wax. But graphene advocates believe it does so better than waxes can.

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Next to water capture and recycling, maintenance of structures (e.g., tunnel, conveyors) at wash sites might be the most vexing issue. Manufacturers keep introducing tools that make maintenance incrementally easier. Among them are pivot points that require no lubrication and an overall reduction in the number of moving parts.

Logistics of car washes get a lot of attention. Optimal scheduling of customers that eliminates waiting is one goal. Efficient movement through a wash exit is another. There are now myriad software packages on the market that allow a wash owner to meet both objectives.

Along with operational software, there are plenty of CRM [customer relationship management] programs. Such tools may be useful in retaining customers and obtaining feedback that informs changes.

Things work quite satisfactorily at car washes. A dirty car enters and a notably clean one leaves.

Improvement is always possible, though. Consider reverse osmosis (RO) equipment used in some on-site water collection and recycling systems. Extending the longevity of RO systems is key to making the tools costeffective for the owner of a car wash.

An RO system requires proper routine maintenance (e.g., changing micro filters on schedule) and testing (to make certain it’s working properly). Chlorine—if there is any in the water captured—can damage the filters. As

such, expect more refinement of this tool over time.

Ultra-filtration (UF) systems also may be used in car washes. Right now, the literature indicates they are more popular outside the United Sates.

Neither RO nor UF systems take water to just hydrogen and oxygen. But the tools get closer and closer to doing so with continuous improvements.

We mentioned steam cleaning in conjunction with car washes, especially the inside of a vehicle. Vacuums must also be included on a list of car wash tools. They still get the nod in the predominant number of instances when both interiors and exteriors are cleaned.

The car wash itself may be viewed as a tool when it comes in the form of a kit. Some manufacturers offer setups with canopies, water collection pads, and a cold-water pressure washer with wand.

Although we have found no source suggesting special precautions when washing electric vehicles, the EVs may nudge the development of new tools. The weight of EVs will over time add more to the wear of both conveyors and the mechanisms that move them. Conveyors capable of handling a steady flow of heavy vehicles instead of just the occasional EV will be needed.

Car wash tools mirror the tools in other industries. They are designed to bring excellent results and to do so while using the minimum amount of water, chemicals, energy, and time.

Ultrasonic cleaning? Someday, probably. CT

54 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times


56 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times

One of the most daunting four-letter words for any pressure cleaning contractor or business owner— particularly those with smaller businesses—is the word “debt.” Not too surprisingly, today’s tight credit market and the general skittishness on the part of lenders has made avoiding debt easier for many small business owners. But, what about those other debts, bad debts, and debt forgiveness?

DEBT 101

Debt can best be compared to “leverage,” because borrowed funds help many pressure washing operations grow using someone else’s money. Debt is borrowing money from an outside source with the promise to repay the borrowed funds along with an agreed-upon amount of interest. Despite its negative connotation, even the healthiest of corporate balance sheets will include some level of debt.

In reality a business typically has two financial resources for growth—debt or equity. Raising equity requires the business to sell ownership interests, while debt allows the business to obtain the funds needed to grow and operate by borrowing it. In other words, debt can be extremely advantageous and a useful tool for any pressure cleaning business.


For a troubled business, forgiveness of a debt generally produces taxable income. There are exceptions to the requirement for reporting debt forgiveness as income, such as for insolvency or for those operating the increasingly popular LLCs. LLCs hold a unique position under our tax laws and are generally treated as a pass-through entity (unless there’s only one member, in which case the entity is disregarded) with taxes included on Schedule C of the individual’s Form 1040.


When a pressure washing business finds itself dealing with the debts owed to it by another party, the tax rules, as complicated as they may be, can actually help. The tax rules recognize two types of bad debt deductions: business bad debts and nonbusiness bad debts.

A business bad debt creates ordinary losses while nonbusiness bad debts give rise to short-term capital losses. A business bad debt usually results from credit sales to customers for goods sold or services provided. Business bad debts can also take the form of loans to suppliers, customers, employees, and distributors.

A bona fide debt arises from a debtor-creditor relationship based on a valid and enforceable obligation to pay a fixed and determinable amount of money. While some bad debts can be claimed as a capital loss, if the bad debt is a business bad debt, it’s only deductible as an ordinary loss.

The pressure washing operation must be able to show that it was the intent of the parties to create a debtor-creditor relationship and that the debt is legitimate and can’t be recovered from the creditor. To this end there must have been a reasonable effort to collect the amount due.

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Photo by

Unpaid invoices can be deducted as a business expense if they have already been included as income and so long as reasonable steps have been taken to collect the funds. For a sole proprietor selling goods or services on credit that eventually becomes worthless, a tax deduction is possible only if the amount that was owed was previously included in gross income.

the accounts receivable that resulted from the short-term cash problem.

With or without a guarantee from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), lines of credit typically are made for one year at a time and are expected to be used for 30 to 60 consecutive days sometime during the year to ensure that the funds are used for short-term needs only and are quickly repaid.


While borrowing is, in general, difficult for many pressure cleaning businesses, short-term funding may be an alternative. Every business should have a line of credit established.

A line of credit allows the pressure cleaning business to borrow funds for short-term needs as they arise. The funds are repaid once the business collects

Since even a thriving business can find itself short of cash, every borrower should ask the following:

• Are the borrowed funds to be used for fixed or variable assets? If the borrowed funds are to be invested in a fixed asset such as equipment, near-term cash is unlikely to be generated. If the funds are for a variable asset, such as inventory,

materials for the services provided, or costs associated with each new customer, then the debt should generate that needed cash flow.

• What are the customers like? Customers who consistently pay on time are critical to every pressure cleaning operation’s cash flow and its ability to repay its own debt. Learning the payment habits of customers and considering incentives such as discounts to get them to pay early are important. Also, checking with associations and competitors to ensure the operation’s payment terms are in line with industry standards is important.

• Where is the operation in its “life cycle?” In the early stages of a business, debt financing can be dangerous.

In all likelihood, the new operation will be losing money at first, thus hurting its ability to make payments. Also, since its net income will be low, the tax advantages of debt will be minimal.

As the business grows and matures, debt becomes a stronger option. The tax advantage will be greater, cash flow will be more predictable, and the risk faced in bankruptcy decreases since the business has been operating longer.


Not too surprisingly, incurring any type of debt usually has tax consequences. In most cases borrowed funds, or debt, result in a tax deduction. That means the interest portion of the loan repayments can be deducted on the operation’s tax returns.

Tax deductions also have an impact on interest rates. If, for instance, a lender is charging 10 percent for a loan, and the government taxes the operation at a 30 percent rate, there is an advantage to tax deductible loans.

Take the interest rate and multiply it by the tax rate, which in this case is a 10 percent interest rate multiplied by the 30 percent tax rate to equal seven percent. In other words, after tax deductions, the business is paying the equivalent of a seven percent interest rate.

58 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times
Photo by


While it is true that borrowing enables a business to take action or grow at a pace that might otherwise not be sustainable, it can also result in a less flexible business and one that takes on greater risk. After all, the more the business borrows, the more it must spend for debt payments and interest. But how much debt is too much?

Lenders love to analyze ratios. It allows them to see how a business is doing and allows them to compare a business to other businesses they’ve loaned money to. Ratio analysis is also a useful tool for the owner of any business.

How healthy is your pressure washing business? Some basic ratio analysis may tell the story. Calculating the operation’s financial ratios will allow any owner or manager to check his or her business’s current temperature, diagnose potential problems, and see if the business is doing better or worse over time. Consider the so-called “total debt ratio.”

The name of this ratio says it all; the total debt ratio shows how much the business is in debt, making it an excellent way to check the operation’s long-term solvency. The formula is total debt ratio = total debt/total assets

These numbers can be taken from the operation’s balance sheet and simply plugged in. To illustrate, a business with $22,375 in total assets and $25,000 in total debt would have a total debt ratio of $25,000/$22,375 = 1.11:1.

Thus, this business has $1.11 in debt for every dollar of assets. Obviously, the total debt ratio reveals this business is not in good health and may become really ill. For good health, the total debt ratio should be one or less.

The lower the debt ratio, the less total debt the business has in comparison to its asset base. On the other hand, businesses with high total debt ratios are in danger of becoming insolvent and/or going bankrupt.


The evidence shows that during economic downturns the less debt a business has, the greater the odds of that business surviving. And when the economy is looking brighter, the debt-free business

is often in the strongest position to take advantage of opportunities.

Unfortunately, for the majority of businesses that choose to become debtfree, business growth tends to be slow. Quite simply, the more the business borrows, the more it spends toward debt payments and interest.


While there are no guarantees in life, it is certain that a small business owner

will sleep better at night knowing that his or her pressure cleaning business is stronger and more secure in these uncertain times as a debt-free operation.

However, until the business is ready to stop growing, the pressure cleaning operation should leverage all possible funding resources for investment in the operation. If debt is ignored as a business tool and debt forgiveness as potential income, it could hurt the operation’s growth CT

Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 59


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Photo by by Diane M. Calabrese

Priority gets murky in the world of invention. Who got there first? When does a minor modification indicate a new product? How can an innovator protect a concept? Those are a few of the questions that swirl.

But the questions we consider stay clear of trademark and patent issues. Attentiongetting innovations, wish lists, and opportunities are where we will go.

On January 9, 2024, Kärcher announced CleanWave, a batterypowered, commercial-strength coldwater washer. The company, which is based in Aurora, CO, describes the machine as one that makes partners of “power” and “environmental responsibility.”

Much contemporary innovation is driven by environmental concerns. In one way or another, though, advances are rooted in the quest to combine the possible with the wants of end users.

For example, the new machine from the company based in the Centennial State is cordless. Cord free is a certain way to strike a harmonious chord with equipment users— not just in our industry but everywhere.

Safety deserves the utmost attention. And intuitively we know that in any setting, cords and/or hoses coursing around a worksite constitute trip and fall hazards. So, retractable hoses are as welcome as cordless machines.

In May 2023 Giraffe Tools in Azusa, CA, launched a new model of its wallmounted Grandfalls Pressure Washers. The series is notable because it combines a pressure washer with a retractable hose.

Entanglement-free, compact machines are welcome features on any jobsite. But changes for the better far exceed what operators see on the outside. Operators know well that machines have been—and are being—streamlined. An unwavering eye toward fewer parts, block design where possible, and use of metals and alloys that enhance longevity are just part of the day for design engineers.

Of course, innovation extends beyond equipment to chemicals. The focus on green chemistry—sustainable technologies—takes those doing brainstorming beyond thinking only about biodegradable cleaning agents.

Environmental focus has broadened to endeavors that achieve an exacting tradeoff between atoms in and atoms out process measures. It’s a high threshold to meet, but establishing a high goal ignites creative processes.

Not every innovation moves beyond a prototype. And some innovations move to market and fail to be embraced because they falter. Someone overlooked something. The history of the aviation industry offers one of the best illustrations of how big and small changes led to advances.

In the 1930s the dirigible looked like a significant transport vehicle for the future. Today airships of its class are novelties.

Innovators never hesitate to pause on a concept and declare that it’s just not good enough. Goals being met and receptiveness to a new configuration will indicate how good a change is.

What engenders receptiveness?

Efficiency gains or doing the most with the least effort, energy, time, personnel, equipment, and ancillaries.

Everyone in the industry has had their attention captured by one or more innovations. Yet usually it’s necessary to stop and reflect a bit because of the many improvements that are easy to take for granted.

“The emergence of the use of foam in cleaning has brought renewed attention to its benefits, both in its visual effect and efficiency in cleaning,” says Jim Sheperd, general manager at Suttner America Company in Dubuque, IA.

The practicability of foam—one can see where it’s been applied—is a nice complement to its utility in cleaning. Foam sees wide use in Europe in the livestock sector, and U.S. livestock producers are using it more and more.

What can be cleaned with foam? Outbuildings, floors, and milking equipment, and they can be cleaned while meeting regulations from the USDA, EPA, OSHA, and FDA.

Foam reduces the use of chemicals because it achieves such good coverage. Suttner’s company estimates that it may reduce chemical use by as much a 50 percent.


Everyone has a wish list when equipment or ancillaries are in the picture.

Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 61

(Many have a “wish” for a computer operating system that takes “no” for an answer and suppresses an unwanted assist.)

Wish lists are items end users dream about and manufacturers account for when they know about them and understand them. Six-question surveys will not get to all that end users want. Talking to end users and getting feedback from them person-to-person via distributors will.

A member of our industry has a wish list and is willing to share it on the condition of anonymity. The individual does not want to be perceived as critical of offerings that keep coming from manufacturers, but instead wants to get the point across—similar to the one made by this more-than-I-need computer user. That is that too many features, even if they are good inventions (for others), can be too much.

Where does the necessary end and the “flash” begin? That’s on the mind of our anonymous source.

For example, not every equipment operator wants LED lights in water tanks, Maserati-like beauty, and remote control. Perhaps there could be more attention—innovation of sorts—given to customization of equipment, allowing purchasers to choose what they want if it fits the “flash” category. (Back to the computers—yes, some pay extra to ensure they do not get a touch screen.)

Our source would like to see more choices. Buyers who want proportioner systems or more complex plumbing could choose those features. Others could get just the basics they want in a solid system.

The optimal roster of equipment for this individual is redundancy. That equates to solid machines and backup systems to ensure there will be no lost hours.

The source has used proportioner systems in the past. Team members, however, got sidetracked by the nuances involved. Especially problematic was a clear way to assess when the system was not working. Yes, hygrometers

were used, but the complications of using them had a way of making what was a simple task more complicated.

On the remote-control issue, the times when remote control does not work make it frustrating. (Computer users who work in a high-density setting can commiserate, given that Bluetooth is lovely when it operates but sensitive to interference.)

Keep it simple and as simple as possible. That’s the recommendation from our source to innovators.

Is the anonymous source suggesting that innovators may get carried away with enthusiasm for what’s possible but not always practical? Maybe.

Balance must always be part of the equation in design changes. (No carpool driver wants to use a Maserati to take children to school.)

And balance is particularly important in weighing cost and benefit. A contractor must be able to afford equipment, ancillaries, vehicles, and personnel and make a profit too. Titanium might be nice and tough, but will

62 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times

aluminum endure for the same number of years and keep the machine within the realistic budget of a contractor?


The federal government is pumping a great deal of money into manufacturing. It aims to catalyze innovation or support innovative equipment processes already in the queue. Members of our industry should be aware of the funding sources.

On January 29, for example, the Innovation Engines Awards program was announced by the White House. Ten regional innovation centers, which are called “engines,” were announced. They are being funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The amount of money that will flow into each center (engine) could reach $2 billion across 10 years. Manufacturers ought to be aware of the possibilities to tie to some of the

research and development funds in their region. Some examples follow.

The Great Lakes Water Innovation Engine focuses on smart water recovery systems. The Louisianna Energy Transition Engine focuses on development of sustainable manufacturing processes. And the Southwest Sustainability Innovation Engine aims to find new solutions to regional dryness and heat. (See the complete list at https://new.

The announcement cited in the preceding paragraph also lists the many government agencies working with the engines and offering separate funding sources for everything from workforce development (Department of Labor) to rural community engagement (U.S. Department of Agriculture). The many federal entities on the list merit review because a potential funding source for a project in development may be discovered.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is, of course, on the list. Even outside the engines’ thrust, the SBA’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs are important resources for innovators.

SBIR programs function in tandem with a variety of federal entities. In November 2023 the EPA announced Phase II award recipients who will receive up to $400,000 to develop and commercialize their technologies. (In Phase I companies received up to $100,000 for six months to demonstrate proof of concept.)

Among the EPA Phase II recipients was LeapFrog Design in Bend, OR. The company is developing a “nature-based treatment technology” for on-site use of non-potable gray water. (See all awards at

Perhaps in the next round of Phase I or Phase II awards through EPA’s SBIR program there will be a member of our industry.

Meet a need. Respond to a wish. Make something better. That’s what innovators do CT

64 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times


Coxreels ® is proud to introduce a new line of three industrial-duty LED lights now available on the C (dual purpose) air/electric reels. The new LED lights feature a variety of industrial-grade features and options, including a 50,000-hour rating, internal light diffusers, and shatterresistant polycarbonate lenses. Coxreels’ new LED lights also feature adjustable steel hooks for hands-free placement.

Whether you are looking for the compact LED light feature (-M), the LED light with the additional power source (-K), or the industrial-duty, UL-listed LED light (-H), these reels have the perfect features to complement a variety of applications.

Coxreels ® has remained steadfast and focused on manufacturing high-quality, industrial-grade hose, cord, and cable reels with leading industry innovation since 1923. Offering a full product line serving the industry in every channel and application, Coxreels ® takes great pride in designing, building, and supporting each and every product made exclusively in the U.S.

For further information on Coxreels® industrial-duty LED lights, contact customer service at 800-269-7335 or visit

Note: Product News submissions should be emailed to Please be sure that your product announcement is accompanied by a high-resolution photo of the product. CT

66 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times


In recognition and appreciation of our vendors’ contributions and partnership, the PWNA will be changing the term “Vendor” to “Industry Partner.” Our industry partners have truly been instrumental in the success and growth of our organization.

As with any successful partnership, our industry partners are devoted to a common value, bringing more awareness and professionalism to our industry through safe work practices and access to educational resources.

The industry partners’ contributions throughout the year, financial support, and convention involvement enhance the contractor member experience. To further recognize and embrace each industry partner’s value, the PWNA has elected to add two of our industry partner members to join the PWNA board of directors.

The board of directors is confident that having industry partner board representation will provide valuable insights and perspective. The board of directors is confident that with the inclusion of the industry partners’ influence, our organizational future will help shape the future of the PWNA contributions and the future of the organization. CT

Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 67


American Waterworks, Inc.

13250 Weidner St. Pacoima, CA 91331 818-252-0706

Custom trailer system sales & service.

Nor Cal Pressure Washer Equipment

250-G S. Maple Ave.

S. San Francisco, CA 94080 (866) 554-6601

Hydro Tek Sales & Service, Industrial/Commercial.

Pacific Bay Equipment

609 G Street Modesto, CA 95354 (209) 578-3925/fax (209) 578-3120

SF Bay area: 28301 Industrial Blvd. Hayward, CA 94545


Pressure Systems, Inc.

1646 E. Jefferson Street Phoenix, AZ 85034 (602) 253-9579

Experience Makes a Difference. Working With Water & Finding Solutions Since 1965.

Superior Cleaning Equipment

4422 E. University Dr. Phoenix, AZ 85034 602-257-1357


American Cleaning Systems 5261 W. 42nd St. Odessa, TX 79764 (800) 205-7797

Pressure Washers, Soaps, Degreasers, Hot Shot Alklean Industries, Inc. 2111 Catalina Dr. Pasadena, TX 77503 (281) 479-5966

Hotsy, Mi-T-M, Hydro Tek, Alkota, KEW, Alto, plus many more. POWERWASH.COM

2313 Cold Springs Rd. Fort Worth, TX 76106 (800) 433-2113

Pressure Washer Sales & Service, Parts, Chemicals. River City Pressure Cleaning Equipment

7306 NE Loop 410 San Antonio, TX 78219

(888) 889-WASH (9274)

Industrial Pressure Washer Sales, Service, Parts, Detergents, & Diesel-Powered Equip. Available.

Sellers Sales Co. Inc. Pumps & Equip

1904 So. Loop Drive Waco, Texas 76704 (254) 754-5761

Cat Pumps dist for 50 years. Pump Sls/Parts/Repairs/Cstm Built

Pump Pkgs


AaLadin Central Pressure Washers & Supplies

2339 East Front Street Kansas City, MO 64120 (816) 221-1007

Aaladin Elite Dist. Sales, Service, Parts, Soap for all brands.

Chappell Supply & Equipment

• CETA Certified Distributor

6509 W. Reno Ave.

Oklahoma City, OK 73127 (405) 495-1722

1-Stop-Shop for Industrial Cleaning Equip. Needs.

KO Pressure Supply

2950 E. Division

Springfield, MO 65803 (888) 301-3005

Quality Parts, Equipment, Chemicals, and Service.


American Pressure, Inc.

• CETA Certified Distributor

3810 West Broadway Robbinsdale, MN 55422 (763) 521-4442

Parts/Repair/Equip-Contractor Discount-Huge Inventory

Omega Industries, Inc. 11317 W 47th St. Minnetonka, MN 55343 (952) 988-8345

Sayers Wash Systems 21020 Cambodia Ave. Farmington, MN 55024 (800) 456-9840

Servicing Virtually All Brands of Pressure Washers.


Michigan Power Cleaning 2101 Palmer Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49001 (269) 349-3656

35y+ Parts/Service Cat General Hydrotek and Other Brands.


Pressure Washer Supply Center 480 Hylton Rd. Suite D Richmond, VA 23238 804-708-9851

Commercial Pressure Washer Sales, Service, Parts, Chemicals & Repair.

Pressure Washer Supply Center 110001 Houser Dr. #13 Fredericksburg, VA 22408 (804) 708-9851

Commercial Pressure Washer Sales, Service, Parts, Chemicals & Repair.


Delco of Knoxville 6675 Clinton Hwy Knoxville, TN 37912 (865) 938-4486

Sales. Parts. Service. Rentals.

Etowah Chemical Sales & Service

• CETA Certified Distributor

1706 Rossville Ave. Chattanooga, TN 37408 (423) 756-5763

Quality Chemical & Equipment Solutions Since 1980.

Etowah Chemical Sales & Service

• CETA Certified Distributor

5720 A Middlebrook Pike Knoxville, TN 37921 (865) 584-7477

Quality Chemical & Equipment Solutions Since 1980.

68 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times


Etowah Chemical Sales & Service

• CETA Certified Distributor 878 Davis Dr. (Atlanta) Conyers, GA 30094 (770) 760-7031

Quality Chemical & Equipment Solutions Since 1980.

Etowah Chemical Sales & Service

• CETA Certified Distributor 206 5th Ave. SW Cullman, AL 35055 (256) 734-1208

Quality Chemical & Equipment Solutions Since 1980.

Etowah Chemical Sales & Service

• CETA Certified Distributor 7688 Spanish Fort Blvd. (Mobile) Spanish Fort, AL 36527 (251) 621-1901

Quality Chemical & Equipment Solutions Since 1980.

Etowah Chemical Sales & Service

• CETA Certified Distributor 3521 Richard Arrington Blvd. Birmingham, AL 35234 (205) 323-6441

Quality Chemical & Equipment Solutions Since 1980.

Etowah Chemical Sales & Service

• CETA Certified Distributor

2618 Forrest Ave.

Gadsden, AL 35904 (256) 547-7527

Quality Chemical & Equipment Solutions Since 1980.

Etowah Chemical Sales & Service

• CETA Certified Distributor 1624 ½ Hamilton Road LaGrange, GA 30240 (770) 668-6319

Quality Chemical & Equipment Solutions Since 1980.

GCE, Georgia Chemical Equipment 1580 Beaver Ruin Road Norcross, GA 30093 (770) 921-0397; (800)762-7911

Sales, Service, Chems, Rentals Repairs on Nat Brands. North Georgia Airless 2126 Hilton Drive Gainesville, GA 30501 (770) 532-4442

Trusted Sales, Rental, Parts and Repair Center.

Power Cleaning Equipment, Inc. 5020 Hwy 157 Florence, AL 35633 (800) 423-8605

Full-service P.W. Dist & Chem. Mfg. (TN also)


Faitella Enterprises

• CETA Certified Distributor

Ft. Pierce, FL (800) 874-0607

Since 1976, Sales & Service at Your Location or Ours.

Florida Pressure Washing Equipment & Supplies

671 Progress Way Sanford, FL 32771 (407) 688-4532


Mi-T-M Dist. Seal´nLock, PW Sales, Service, Parts.


ETS, Equipment Trade Service Co. Inc.

20 East Winona Ave. Norwood PA. 19074 (610) 583-7657

All PW’s! Sales, Repairs, Rental, Parts, Chems, Since 1970.


2928 Washington Avenue Clearfield, PA 16830 (800) 528-5733

A full-service car wash & pressure wash equip provider.

Kepner Equipment, Inc.

2365 Firehall Rd.

Canandaigua, NY 14424


Helping You Clean Up Your Act

Since ‘92! Sales, Service, Detergents

Portage Power Wash

814 736-6288

217 Main St.

Portage, PA 15946

We are a family-owned business that has over 40 years of experience.


PSC Pressure Systems Company, Inc.

3300 Steeles Ave.

W Concord, ON, L4K 2Y4

(800) 246-9689

Manufacturing, Sales, Parts and Service, since 1969.

Pumps and Pressure, Inc.

7018 Johnstone Dr. Red Deer, AB T4P 3Y6 (800) 661-9274

Serving all industries in Western Canada since 1984.

Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 69


Accessories: Schedule 80 Aluminum Wands, cut & threaded. Call for price, 800-874-0607.

PA SpA: +39 0522 623 611;

Steel Eagle: 800-447-3924;


Barens, Inc.: 800-676-0607;


CETA: 800-441-0111; www.ceta. org.

PWNA: 800-393-7962; www.


R.W. Beckett: 440-327-1064;

Wayne Combustion Systems: 260425-9200;



Kleen-Rite: 717-684-6721;

Veloci Performance Products: 866-686-4020;


Etowah Chemical Sales & Service: 800-848-8541.

ITD Chemical: 800-472-1233;

Vector Chemical: 800-331-0347;


Coils-R-Us: 479-549-3880; www.

Farley’s Inc: 800-522-COIL; www.


Aaladin Industries: 605-356-3325;

American Washall: 833-645-4275;

BE Pressure Supply, Inc.: 800663-8331;

Cam Spray: 800-648-5011;

Epps Products: 888-826-9191;

Karcher North America: 877722-6555;

Mi-T-M Corporation: 800-5539053;

PowerJet Pressure Cleaning Systems: 877-765-9211; www.

PSC Cleaning Systems: 905761-1733;

Suttner America Company: 563-556-3212;

UDOR USA, Inc: 651-785-0666;

Veloci Performance Products: 866686-4020;


EXPLOSION-PROOF hot or cold pressure washers.

Industrial, heavy duty, to your specs. Pressures to 10,000 psi. Meets UL 1776 & UL 1203.

Call 800-231-9708

Acme Cleaning Equip, Inc. 6839 Piccadilly Houston, TX 77061-2848


Lease Consultants Corp.: 800325-2605;


Midland Industries: 800-8215725;


Equipment Trade Service Co.: 877-824-7763;

Graffiti Solutions: 800-891-0091;


JTI Trade, Inc.: 360-226-3637;


BluBird Industries: 844-7694673;

Hannay Reels: 518-797-3791;


CSC Insurance: 724-929-2300;

Joseph D. Walters: 800-878-3808;


Pressure Systems Inc.: 602-2539579; www.pressuresystems


Arthur Products Co.: 800-3220510;


EDI Distributors

Prompt, courteous service, tech assistance, excellent prices. Visit for a small sample and free catalog, or just call 800-433-2033


Chappell Supply & Equipment Company: 405-495-1722; www.


Dyne Power Packs: 772-332-1662.

70 • April 2024 • Cleaner Times

FNA Group | Delco: 847-3481500;

Pressure Systems Innovations: 561-249-2830; https://pressure

PSC Cleaning Systems: 800246-9689;


Cat Pumps: 763-780-5440;

Valley Industries/Comet USA: 800-864-1649; www.comet


AR North America: 763-3982008;

UDOR USA, Inc: 651-785-0666;

Valley Industries/Comet USA: 800-864-1649;


Deco Products: 800-500-3326;


Whisper Wash: 727-577-1292;



It Really Works On Concrete + Asphalt! + Soil! ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY & SAFE TO USE No Solvents—No VOC’s— No Harsh Chemicals. Increase Sales & Profits With EATOILS™ CLEANING PRODUCTS.

WorldWare Enterprises Ltd. TOLL FREE: 866-621-8244




Universal Trailer: 818-252-0706;



J.E. Adams Industries Ltd: 319363-0237;


Midland Industries: 800-8215725;



Woodrich Brand: 314-762-8865;



WJTA-IMCA: 314-241-1445; www.


Cleaner Times • April 2024 • 71
For credit card orders, please call 501-280-9111 or go to Please Print Account # (Found On Label) Name Title Company Address City/State Zip Phone ( ) Fax ( ) o New address or name Email: MUST SIGN & DATE ___/___/___ o YES! I WISH TO RECEIVE (OR CONTINUE RECEIVING) MAGAZINE! o Industrial Users Check Here for a Complimentary Subscription 2. Type of Business My Company performs the following (Mark all that apply and circle primary): A o Manufacturer of Equipment B o Manufacturer of Chemical & Coatings C o Distributor D o Supplier E o Advertising Agency F o Service/Repair G o Consultant H o Rental Center I o Contractor o Low Pressure o High Pressure 1. My title is: A o Owner/President B o General Manager C o Marketing Director D o Sales E o Safety Supervisor F o Service/Repair What do you clean? Subscription Rate: o One Year — U.S. $24, Canada $75 Advertiser ....................... Page Aaladin Industries........................ 33 AR North America 28 AR North America BC Barens Inc 59 BE Power Equipment IFC BluBird Industries 49 Cam Spray ............................. 47 Cat Pumps 13 CETA 32 Chappell Supply 64 Coils - R - Us 66 CT — Pressure Washer’s Guidebook........ 54 Deco Products, Inc. / SilaCast 41 Epps Products 69 Etowah Chemical Sales 23 Farley’s Inc 25 FNA Group 1 Hannay Reels ........................... 18 ITD Inc 17 J.E. Adams Industries 52 Kleen-Rite 54 Lease Consultants Corporation 37 Mi-T-M Corp 67 P.A. NAM............................... 24 PowerJet Pressure Cleaning Systems 5 Pressure Systems Innovations IBC PWNA 40 RW Beckett Corp 19 Spraymart 63 Steamericas ............................ 11 Steel Eagle 71 Suttner America Inc 62 Udor USA Inc 42 Universal Trailer 36 Veloci Performance Products 53 Whisper Wash Inc ........................ 2 Woodrich Brands 29 ADVERTISER’S INDEX

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