It’s a Revolution!

It’s a Revolution!

Over the coming weeks and months, Varsity Facility Services will be publishing articles from our industry experts that we find informative and helpful. We begin with the article below from the President of ISSA:

Reprinted with permission from ISSA Today (June 2016) (

Nanotechnology. Gamification. Engineered Water. The Internet of Things…. If you are anything like me, these words bring to mind, in order, (1) a vague chemistry notion, (2) a wildlife preserve, (3) an automated office water cooler, and (4) a really good retail website. Be aware that my definitions miss the mark (the correct ones can be found within this issue). What these terms really tell us is that our industry is changing—like never before.

A good friend once told me that we are on the leading edge of low technology. I believe this has often been the case—which is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, many in our industry have saved millions of dollars by not being on the “cutting edge” of technology, by letting someone else develop, experiment, fail, and try again in the quest for the perfect chemical, machine, or software solution.

But this time is different. Today, we are at the forefront of what I will call “the cleaning revolution,” and I attribute this difference to the convergence of a few driving forces:

The first is overall worldwide technological advancements, such as wireless communication where, without cords and hook ups to bind us, the world is the limit. And “smart” technology is no longer limited to computers and phones or even residential thermostats. It is being used commercially for everything from floor and restroom care to remote product activation and monitoring.

The second driver behind our “cleaning revolution” is an old force, but one with a new twist: demand. This demand is for products and services that make work and home life easier and safer, and our indoor environment greener and healthier. The use of old energy-inefficient, unsustainable technologies and cleaning practices based on traditionally formulated chemicals are simply no longer acceptable to our customers, our workers, or the government.

The third revolution driver is a generational shift. If we think attracting Millennials to our industry is tough, imagine trying to sign up Generation Zs (currently ages 3-20)—the first generation who know nothing but technology, and modern technology at that. (Don’t ask them to recall when mobile phone charges were by the minute or pre-Google or Uber days, because they are unable.) How can we expect these “tech babies” to join an industry where technology is the exception rather than the norm? The answer is we can’t.

These changes are inevitable. The variable for each of us is how will we react? One way is with fear. Individuals in this category are eager to believe—and to try to convince others—that their jobs will be stolen by robots, that gamification will replace them as trainers, and that new environmental standards will reduce chemical sales. For the more optimistic (and dare I say, business-minded), however, these changes are seen as opportunities. After all, just 10 years ago, who would have imagined there would be self-cleaning surfaces and hands-free robotic floor cleaners to make tiresome tasks less labor intensive or that workers might be trained better and faster, thanks to mobile game apps that can be played 24/7? These optimistic individuals marvel at—and embrace—the advances being made in our industry and look eagerly toward what innovations the future may hold, knowing that by doing so they are helping ensure the sustainability of our own industry.

We all have the freedom to choose which category to join. I’m going to join the optimists, believing that change is inevitable—and good. Remember our ISSA brand promise: “To Change The Way The World Views Cleaning.” Embracing the “cleaning revolution” is one way to help deliver on this promise. Won’t you join me?

David Sikes

ISSA 2016 President David Sikes is CEO of Sikes Paper Co. He can be reached at

International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA) is an international organization representing the entire cleaning industry worldwide. ISSA helps its members change the way the world views cleaning – promoting it as an investment in healthier people, higher profits, a greener planet, and more. ISSA advances clean and driving innovation.

ISSA is one of the world’s most recognized cleaning associations. As a member, Varsity Facility Services is part of a global community of thousands of building service contractors who are on the cutting edge of cleaning innovation and green cleaning initiatives.

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