How I Almost Got My Butt Whipped
By A Mad Rug Dealer
I still remember when I started specializing in rug cleaning and I rented a small warehouse.
I put up a sign that said "Wool Rug Cleaning Experts."
No customers came. I then had a brilliant idea. I decided to introduce myself to the rug galleries in my city and ask them to recommend me.
I walked into the biggest in my city, Persepolis Oriental rugs and introduced myself to the Iranian owner, Fred Khornami. Fred forcibly replied that I couldn't possibly be a rug expert because, obviously, I wasn't Iranian, Turkish or Armenian.
I challenged him to let me prove myself. He obliged by giving me a filthy Tabriz rug. I was so excited because I knew he would be a huge source of referrals!
I took it back to my warehouse and preceded to put all my IICRC training to use.
I bled test it, I pre-vac'd it 4 times in opposing directions very slowly. I shampooed it with a wool shampoo. I steam rinsed it with a powerful extractor I rinsed it with a fiber rinse. I groomed it. I hung it to dry. The next day I carefully detailed the rug and fringes. It was beautiful. I knew I would knock Fred's socks off.
The Shock Of My Life
The next day I delivered the rug to Fred and proudly presented the rug by
rolling it out in front of him. As the rug was dropped and rolled a cloud of
dust puffed out of the rug and on the last roll grit flew out of the rug.
I just about died right there on the spot.
Fred grabbed one of those old-fashioned wire rug beaters and pulled up a corner
of the rug and proceeded to hit the rug. Dirt and Grit and dust were jumping out
of the rug.
He was so angry I thought he was going to use the beater on me. Fred yelled,
"This is not clean, you have to beat all the dirt out!"
I was in shock of course, how could it be dirty?
I had just put my heart and soul into washing it and it looked beautiful. I had
taken classes in cleaning and done it properly. How could dirt still be in it?
Fred then handed me the wire beater and told me to take it back to my place and
get the dirt out.
The Intense Embarrassment I Suffered
I was embarrassed beyond belief, but I took up the challenge and I told him I would get it clean if it was the last thing I did.
When I returned back to my place I hung it over a rug lift and proceeded to beat it with the hand beater. I beat it for hours. I beat it till I thought my arms would fall off.
Still the dirt kept coming out.
So much filth was coming out I was choking and sneezing and being allergic to the dust I had to put on a dust mask.
I Needed To Find A Better Way
I quickly decided that this just wasn't going to cut it so on recommendation of an industry leader I tried something else. I put the rug upside down on the driveway and clamped 3 turbo blowers to it to get the rug flapping.
That was impressive and I figured that that would do the trick.
So after about 15 minutes I turned off the blowers and took the wire beater to the rug.
Still the grit was there.
I decided to let it flip and flop for an extended period of time and let it go for 2 full hours. Again I was impressed because there was dust and dirt coming out of the rug and blowing all around the parking lot.
I then gave it a test with my borrowed wire beater. Yikes. Grit and grot was still easily coming out of the rug. I realized then that this procedure didn't cut it.
I then remembered an old book I had on rug washing entitled "HOW TO CLEAN RUGS AND UPHOLSTERY FABRICS, C.C. HUBBARD 1930. I leafed through it and read the section on rug dusting.
How Air Dusting Nearly Choked Me
There was an intriguing process involving air. This old book said it was an old fashioned process, but I decided what the heck, let's give it a try.
I fortunately had a huge air compressor because my brother in-law had previously been in the auto body business. I took an air nozzle and blew it into the rug.
The dust jumped out of the rug! I figured I was onto something good so I had a local machine shop make me a special nozzle with a slot in it to blow into the rug.
The next day my machine shop called me to say it was completed so I quickly hooked it up to my compressor. I proceeded to air dust the rug and I was very impressed. Dust was flying out like there was no tomorrow!
I was thinking this was the answer. I was impressed...for about 3 minutes.....
My shop was full of dust and I was choking and hacking.
Why Air Dusting Got Me In Trouble
I quickly realized I would need to do this outside, so I moved the rug outdoors and proceeded to air dust. I had been working on it outside for a good 10 minutes when my neighbor, a Nissan car dealer, came over to pay me a visit.
He said, "My cars are getting dirty and I think you are polluting the air, if you continue I will lay charges with the authorities."
To further complicate matters, I then took that same Tabriz rug and gave it a test with my wire beater. There was now very little dusty soil coming out, but it was still loaded with the heavier gritty abrasive sediments.
I realized that there had to be a better way. I consulted with my old Rug manual by C.C. Hubbard and noticed there was a machine called a star wheel duster. Unfortunately it was something you had to build yourself and it took up a tremendous amount of space, as it was over 12 feet high.
I scratched the star wheel as an option.
The book also spoke of automated machines that dusted rugs called power beaters. I decided to call rug cleaners all over America and ask where I could get one. I quickly discovered that the last one was made about 5 years ago and was sold for about $40K and that no one is building them anymore.
I asked if any one had a used machine. The answer was no, and a couple of plants said if any were available they would buy it for themselves as theirs were on its last legs.
Frustrated and Nearly Defeated
Finally, I took the rug back to Fred's Gallery and he was less then pleased with the results. Needless to say I didn't get many recommendations from Fred.
I'm sure you can tell at this point I was feeling very frustrated so I tried using an upright vacuum on the back of a rug.
At least this process did get some of the grit and dust out, and didn't blow dust and filth all over my shop, but it was extremely slow and couldn't get it all out by a long shot.
I was always afraid that if I dropped one of our freshly cleaned rugs on the floor in front of a client that they would see the dust. I had to be really careful not to drop a rug or roll it out to quickly. I had nightmares and lost sleep over this.
My Troubles With A Full Size Rug Dusting Machine
I finally decided to do something about this problem. I called around again and actually found a full sized rug duster. It was in Boston, but I didn't care. I knew I needed it badly so I made a B-line for Boston.
It was a huge behemoth.
Thirteen feet long and a cracked frame. I didn't care. I decided right then and there to buy it and have it shipped back to British Columbia. The power duster took months to be repaired as it was made from cast iron and it is very difficult to weld.
Once I got the machine shipped across the continent I proceeded to have it installed. Much to my horror the duster used more power then my warehouse could supply.
It had to run on 3 phase power and needed a lot of amps. Luckily my building did have 3 phase power available, so I asked my electrician to fix me up with more power. He announced that that was not possible, but suggested I speak with an electrical engineer.
On speaking with the engineering firm they announced to me that they would have to run a survey on my whole building, meaning they had to consult with about 20 other business owners in the building to figure out if there was any extra power available.
About 8 agonizing months later I got the word that we could increase the power supply. Unfortunately this whole episode ended up costing over $10K. I'm now wiser for the wear.
The RugBadger Inspiration Was Born
While all this was going on I kept asking myself why someone doesn't design and build a portable rug duster? A machine that can run on an ordinary 15-amp 110 volt circuit?
Then I realized that I could be that person, so I decided to start work on a prototype right then and there.
I retained an engineer and we did a lot of experimenting and adjusting and refining over and over and finally we got it to a point where I was happy with it. We have now just finished our first production Badger and have run it through 4 weeks of trials.
We are thrilled with it and are working on our first production run. Now you can have you very own Portable Rug Dusting Machine and benefit from everything I learned.
We have now been building the RugBadger for over 4 years and are proud that it has become the industry standard.
I'm also happy to announce that Fred “the rug gallery owner that almost beat me” is now a HUGE source of referrals for our rug cleaning operation and we just had our biggest month ever with 1102 rugs cleaned!