We sit down to chat with Peter Duncanson, newly elected chairman and president of the IICRC. Peter and Bill discuss the history of the organization, how to stay on top of the latest flooring industry trends and information, and what the future holds for the those of us in the maintenance field.
Peter Duncanson first joined the IICRC board of directors in 2009. He is a master water restorer, master fire and smoke restorer, master textile cleaner, and CDS. His day job as Director of Systems Development for ServiceMaster, where he has 30 years of experience, and his volunteer positions with Society of Cleaning and Restoration Technicians, Restoration Industry Association, Indoor Air Quality Association and OSHA provide Peter with a huge knowledge base from which to pull and keep him up-to-date with everything that’s going on in the industry.
Juggling work, volunteer commitments, and personal life can be a challenge, but Peter Duncanson, newly elected chairman and president of the IICRC, has found a balance that works for him. How does he do it? “I set limits for myself on how much time I will spend in each area of responsibility,” he says, “ensuring that priorities are handled and that I’m not distracted by the urgency someone places on it.” He also credits his wife with helping him keep a consistent pace. “I’m blessed to have a wife that understands my many activities and helps me keep things balanced.”
In the role of chair for the IICRC, Peter works with all interested parties and moves the organization forward in a strategic manor while also maintaining operational functions. He notes, “Volunteer organizations by their very nature create challenges in operation. We expect changes in the organization to occur as they would in our own businesses and that challenge is often what keeps us from moving in a unified direction.”
On IICRC Founder, Ed York:
““We are fortunate to stand on the shoulders of giants, people who saw that carpet cleaning could be a profession.” “
Peter is very passionate about the 40-year history of the IICRC and its focus on standardization and certification. “We are fortunate to stand on the shoulders of giants,” Peter says, “people who saw that carpet cleaning could be a profession.” He specifically mentions founder Ed York and his desire to organize and standardize training within the carpet cleaning industry. Over the years, the organization has expanded to included inspection and restoration services. With a vast array of standards and courses – from hard surfaces to carpet, from water damage to mold remediation – the IICRC has a course to help broaden the educational and professional reach of any individual in the industry. Peter points out, “With 27 course offerings and several paths to advanced certification, the possibilities are endless.” Manufacturers play a key role in establishing the credentials for IICRC courses as part of Technical Advisory Committees. “Their knowledge is crucial to our development methods of cleaning and maintenance for all surfaces,” Peter says.
Success in the flooring industry has a common denominator – pride. “I’m proud to say I’ve spent 30 years in the cleaning and restoration industry,” Peter states. “I have worked in homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals doing all types of service at all hours of the day and night.” And while he admits it isn’t a glamorous industry, he notes, “It allows us to help people in times of need and it provides the professional appearance that businesses expect to present to their clients.” Quite simply, “We make others look good.”
That industry pride seems to be wavering, however. “The work force is changing and our industry is facing an aging problem at the same time,” Peter admits. “Many of us in the industry are at or approaching retirement, yet we don’t see younger generations wanting to be professional cleaners and restorers.” He notes workforce up and comers don’t see manual labor as their future, instead opting for something they deem as fast and easy. To strengthen awareness of the industry and promote it as a fulfilling career, the IICRC has considered adding vocational school offerings to their curriculum. Peter mentions, “There are universities that use some of our standards as disciplines in their courses.” He notes, “Our focus at the vocational school level and even the high school level will be crucial in the next five years.”
“Education of the consumer is critical for our industry to maintain its place as a vital component in the life cycle of a building.”
As maintenance providers, it’s your job to educate your clients. Let them know that maintenance is crucial and that it prolongs the life of their flooring investment. “The methods used in maintenance and the added benefits of routine vacuuming, walk-off mats, etc. are often overlooked,” Peter says. “Education of the consumer is critical for our industry to maintain its place as a vital component in the life cycle of a building.”
Never overlook the importance of an educated technician. “It is crucial that only trained and certified professional cleaners are used,” Peter points out, “not only when responding to warranty issues, but to maintain the surface on a routine basis.” Will manufacturers require a certification to uphold warranties in the future? He’s unsure, but Peter notes, “We need to work with flooring manufacturers to strengthen the need for use of certified professionals to maintain warranties.”
Most importantly, keep yourself educated. “Continuing education is a must for any profession and service providers need to recognize that they are a professional and need to maintain their knowledge of the industry,” Peter says. But where do you go for the latest in industry trends and information? Peter believes that we need more ways to reach the masses quickly. “The workforce we are dealing with today live in a world of YouTube and instant message.” He notes, “They don’t want to sit through classes for several days to learn the newest technique or latest product to do the job better.” For those that are disseminating industry knowledge, Peter believes that we need to change our delivery methods as well as our view of education to keep the service provider ahead of the industry they serve.
When asked what he’d change about the flooring industry, Peter says he’d bring back the desire for durable, stylish floors. “I started in the cleaning industry while in college, stripping and refinishing terrazzo and vinyl tile floors at the university I attended,” Peter mentions. “I love the beauty and style of terrazzo, marble and stone floors, but today we deal in low cost, ‘maintenance free’ engineered floors that do not stand the test of time.”
Formed in 1972 by Ed York, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is recognized internationally as a knowledgeable industry voice and resource. Overall there are currently more than 50,000 active certified technicians (many with multiple certs) and more than 5,800 Certified Firms around the world. The Mission of the IICRC is to establish and advance globally recognized standards and certifications for the inspection, cleaning, restoration and installation industries.
The IICRC serves as a independent, certification body, that sets and promotes high standards and ethics, and advances communication and technical proficiency within the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries.