Having just celebrated our golden anniversary a year ago, we appreciate that fifty years in business is no small accomplishment. ICS magazine has reached that rare milestone and deserves not only the congratulations, but the gratitude and respect of our entire industry. A young man fresh out of the Navy, Howard Olansky, partnered with Harold Arkoff to found Installation Specialist magazine in February of 1963.
Ten years later I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting "Humble Howie" for the first time in a friendship that lasted until he passed away in 2006. Howard spoke at many Bane-Clene® conventions and was always impressed with the number of people who came to these events. I urged him to include carpet cleaners, especially in the hard-hitting editorials he wrote in his column called The Tool Box. Eventually it became Installation and Cleaning Specialist magazine and I'd like to think I had a little part in that.
Over the years I had the privilege of working with Mr. "O" on several projects of mutual interest. Perhaps the endeavor with the greatest benefit to our entire industry was taking on the Council of Better Business Bureaus. In 1974, CBBB issued an edict that prohibited the use of the word "steam" in carpet cleaners' advertising. We tried to persuade CBBB and associations such as AIDS, the forerunner of RIA, that persecuting "steam" carpet cleaners was wrong. At the time nearly all AIDS members were plant owners who used shampoo and who were opposed to this new upstart threat called "Steam carpet cleaning." Howard wrote a blistering editorial titled, “The matter of steam!” along with several others that gained national attention. And I would bet that he did it against the advice and approval of others in his organization.
These editorials paved the way for “Operation Peace Pipe,” a meeting orchestrated by the Steam Carpet Cleaners' Association, of which I was executive director. It was held October 27 to 29, 1977, in Philadelphia. There were people from the FTC, CBBB, AIDS, regional groups, carpet makers, fiber producers and of course rank and file carpet cleaners as well as their beleaguered suppliers. More than four hundred people attended the three-day conference.
I presented a scientific definition of the word “Steam” that was given to me by a chemical engineer with DuPont. Max Gruetzner said, “Steam is any discernable water vapor and may exist over an infinite range of pressures and temperatures.” For all intent and purpose, the controversy ended when I read that definition. There were many speakers, but not one openly spoke against “steam.” I believe it was this unanimous outpouring of support that convinced the CBBB and FTC to back down. The edict against using the word steam in our advertising was rescinded.
The concerted effort by Howard Olansky, Ed York, who filed a lawsuit against the Council with my financial support, and the SCCA meeting in Philly paved the way for hot water extraction cleaning as we know it today. But without that little man who bought ink by the barrel, it never would have happened.
I miss Howard. We talked every week or so until just before he died. I will always remember that wry little smile and the twinkle in his eye as he would rub the side of his nose just before delivering a zinger. I know too, that he must be smiling as he watches the dream he helped create continue to grow under the steady hand of Evan Kessler and his articulate crew.
On behalf of our customers throughout the world and everyone at Bane-Clene, may God bless ICS magazine as you begin the next fifty years of your journey.
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