Tips N Chat Throwback #13: Wearing a Black Hat Isn't Fun

This week’s featured Tips N Chat Throwback post is an Ed Sez article all about Ed York's position in the carpet cleaning industry. It was featured in the March/April 1980 issue of Tips N Chat, the “magazine published for the benefit and enjoyment of on-location cleaning technicians”. Remember to check back every Thursday for a new throwback post!

Wearing a Black Hat Isn't Fun

by Ed York

I've been accused of looking for ways to make folks angry at me... that I must do it for fun. Well, let's set the record straight: Wearing a black hat isn't fun. I don't have to search for ways to make folks angry. All I have to do is refuse to walk the same traditional path that others are traveling. No matter if that path is unreasonable or leads to destruction, or simply serves someone's special interest. Well, I've never tried to hide my special interest. I believe in the dignity of the service technician also known as a carpet cleaner. I respect their desire to succeed. I'm also in this business for profit. Now when the time comes that I can't combine these, then it's time for me to leave.

If the industry would grow up and produce leaders who are interested in more than just what they can sell--then there would be no market for me. I can only exist because of the simple fact that someone better isn't doing it. The reason I established a school was because, at that time, the suppliers didn't care enough about their customers to educate them. I established a supply house because suppliers were not willing to carry the necessary but unprofitable little items that every cleaner needs. I helped organize a Certifying body to help provide the carpet cleaner who wanted to earn his stripes some dignity and recognition. SCT came about only because trade associations at that time were places to go once a year as a tax write-off or to gather every month or so for a keg of beer. I continue to issue bulletins every month so carpet cleaners can share knowledge and not handicap their progress by hiding behind a phony "trade secret" cop-out. I continue to bring competitors together, as I truly believe that if they can learn to sit down and have a cup of coffee together, they will work together in harmony against their real enemy: DIRTY CARPETS.

So I challenge those who become riled at me because I upset their apple cart to start giving the carpet cleaner some real, honest leadership. Manufacturers are now building superior equipment, so they don't need to exaggerate its ability. "Tell it like it is." A prominent manufacturer once threatened to sue me because I challenged his salesman for installing a unit with the gas line feeding from a portable gas can sitting in a loop of hoses. The manufacturer now requires factory-approved installation and I don't need to shout.

A chemical manufacturer tells a class of students that breathing mineral spirits isn't harmful. He is angry because I shout WEAR a respirator! A supplier peddles an exclusive Hot Fogger for $550.00 to our members and gives him a $50 discount if he buys TWO. He is furious when I point out that the item has a list price of $425.00 at any pesticide supply house.

The trade magazines continue to publish stories written by and for the glorification of their advertisers. It matters not if the material has any substance. I make no bones about this magazine--it is published as a fun-thing for carpet cleaners to enjoy. It wasn't established to be a crusade or a voice. It is a tragedy that most trade publications provide little more than an ego trip for their advertisers. It evidently doesn't matter if the contents are fabrications merely to highlight a product, as long as the contributor continues to advertise.

If I've ruffled some feathers in the past, then the future should really be interesting. Since I'm not controlled by any special interest group, I'm going to dedicate the future issues of TIPS N CHAT to not only carrying some chit-chat about our good readers, the Carpet Cleaners-- but also to bringing out some true FACTS about our industry that others may not be able to publish. Guess that's enough for now, besides I have to go see my Haberdasher, as I'm buying myself a new BLACK HAT.

~ Ed York (1980)

Michael M.
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