Getting to know Doyle Bloss!

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Doyle I was going through our incredible library of past interviews and was surprised you have not been held victim yet, so grab a cold one, turn down the lights, tell the wife and dog you'll see them in the AM and lets give this a go..

-How old were you when you finally came to terms with the fact that you would be following in your dad's footsteps in the oh so glamorous career of a carpet cleaning supplier?

-Were you ever an actual cleaner in the trenches?

-What innovations can we thank your dad and family for bringing to this industry?

-Steamway, Interlink and now Hydramaster, where else have you worked and where do you see yourself in ten years from now?

-Your good friend just lost his job and wants start a carpet cleaning biz. He has 100 grand under his mattress and want you to recommend a cleaning method, machine and marketing program to get him going, his goal is to learn the rope and get off the truck in a year or less and run 2 to 3 crews, let hear your advice.....

Is your brother still in Hawaii? What is he doing there?

-Slide in or CDS/PTO, where do you stand?

-In a perfect world what would you be doing to earn a living?

-How bad do you want to punch larry Cooper in the throat for making you waste four days in Frisco Texas next year?


Thanks Doyle

Great to have you here!!!
 
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How old were you when you finally came to terms with the fact that you would be following in your dad's footsteps in the oh so glamorous career of a carpet cleaning supplier?</SPAN>I actually cleaned my first carpet in 1973. My mom drove me to the job site in our cherry red 1972 Ford Station Wagon. It was about a 10’ x 20’ carpet installed in a small gas station. I still tell stories about that first cleaning job, and I am sure they have gotten better over the years.</SPAN>

My dad, Ralph Bloss, had gone to work for a gentleman named Clark Seabloom in 1972. At the time the company had two names – Associated Manufacturing and Engineering and International Equipment. One of the products they manufactured was the Steam Way portable carpet cleaning extractor. I cleaned carpets throughout my teenage years, and sometimes helped out at the factory. In fact, I used to pour gallons of 1,1,1 Trichloroethane from a drum or tote into single gallon bottle. That should explain a lot about why I am the way I am now.</SPAN>

I headed off to college in 1978, and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a business degree in 1982. My dad had been trying to buy the Steam Way division of the company from Mr. Seabloom for several years. In 1982, he decided to pursue other interests and told dad he would sell him the company. When my dad went to the bank to borrow money to make the purchase, they were concerned about his age (he was 60 at the time). They wanted someone else to co-sign the loan with him. He offered up his recent college graduate son. I was happy to do that with him, but I headed off to work on my Master’s Degree. My dad would call me every couple of weeks in Missouri, and would kid with me that he was old and senile, and needed me to come work with him at the company. He always reminded me that I had co-signed the loan, and that if he ran the thing into the ground, the bank would certainly come after me, because I was younger and had more long term earning potential. You could say I kind of got into the supply side of the industry because my dad black-mailed me. I had already decided I did not want to go into my original pursuit – accounting, so in 1983 I went to work with my family at Steam Way. It is a decision I have never regretted.</SPAN>

Were you ever an actual cleaner in the trenches?</SPAN>Great question. I started a carpet cleaning company with a friend of mine that we ran throughout my high school and college years (1975 – 1983). We discovered early on there was a lot more money in cleaning carpets than flippin’ burgers at McDonald’s. When I left for College, my brother and my friend continued the business.</SPAN>
After I went to work at Steam Way, one of the things I felt strongly about was being “in the field” as much as possible. I owe a great deal of gratitude and thanks to many members of the “old-timers” in the PCRA in Colorado (then called the PCUCA). They let the bosses kid at Steam Way go out on many a cleaning and restoration job to help out. Over the years, it has been my privilege to be helping out on many job sites and in many carpet inspections. I believe you need to stay as connected as you can to what is really happening on job sites. At the same time, when you take many phone calls per day from cleaners and restorers all over the world who are on job sites and running into a challenge, which also presents a great opportunity to learn. You discuss with them what the “book” says should work, what they have done, and come up with a plan to solve the challenge. It is very gratifying to be able to hear back what worked and did not work.</SPAN>

What innovations can we thank your dad and family for bringing to this industry?</SPAN>Well Steam Way certainly was one of the original companies who made a hot water extraction machine, and I believe was the first to include an in-line heater, but that all actually pre-dated even my dad’s arrival at the company. Later in 1974, Steam Way introduced its first truckmount- the TurboMatic. In fact, one of the cleaners that helped the company design that unit, Ralph Greco, still runs a successful cleaning operation out in California. That was only a couple of years after HydraMaster, BaneClene, Ballweber, Judson and others introduced the first truckmounts. Both Prochem and Steam Way introduced fuel oil burners instead of propane for heating. That first Steam Way Unit did not even have a waste tank. It came with an auto pump out system, so my guess is that Steam Way innovated the first pump out. Later, Ron Toney helped us develop the Hydro-Kinetic Upholstery Cleaning tool. It literally changed the way the industry cleaned many delicate natural fabrics, and was the first high flow, shearing effect upholstery tool. In fact, there have been many improvements but that tool is still manufactured by Hydro-Force (who bought the rights from Steam Way) today. Though Steam Way was primarily known for fuel oil fired truckmounts, we were the first to introduce an automatic exhaust diverter valve to a heat exchange truckmount. We made a huge mistake not getting a patent on that.</SPAN>

I think my dad’s biggest contributions to the industry (and I hope I have lived up to that legacy) came in the way we made education the most important part of the cleaning and restoration business. My father, and three original Steam Way distributors, John Maucieri, Dick Hook, and Jim Nalley started hosting education seminars for professional cleaners back in 1972. Some of the early trainers at those original seminars were guys like Lee Pemberton, Ron Toney, Jeff Bishop, Murray Kremer, Ned Hopper, Walt Lipscomb, Wally Weber, and many others. Later, we built what was the largest IICRC training school in the industry at the time with the help of incredible trainers like Tom Hill, Joey Pickett, Barry Costa, Dan Bernazzani, Shawn Bisaillon, Dane Gregory and many others( My apologies in advance to my friends I left out). We pushed education and industry involvement as key things that would help the industry move forward. My father received the highest award from 14 regional and national trade associations for his contributions to those associations and the industry. As I stated at my father’s funeral, his greatest legacy are the thousands of small business owners he guided, encouraged, and counseled whose businesses survived and thrived in part, because of that. Though the industry has changed and organizations have changed, I still believe that message of education, camaraderie, networking, and learning rings true today. Mikey’s Board is a great example of how those messages have taken form in a forum changed by the way we get information. It really is an on-line association of likeminded professionals. They may not see it that way when they argue and disagree, but just watch how they come together when a real crisis hits or another cleaner faces a real life challenge.</SPAN>

Steamway, Interlink and now Hydramaster, where else have you worked and where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
</SPAN>You would have to go all the way back to high school and college, where I worked in landscaping and janitorial as another job for a company other than those three. But I learned compassion from my boss at the daycare center where I did janitorial work when I added an entrance to the boy’s bathroom with a rotary floor machine while stripping wax. I thought I would lose my job. He laughed. God bless Darryl Bivens.</SPAN>

I worked at Steam Way from 1983 to 2003, and Bridgepoint/Interlink from 2003 until 2011, and have been at HydraMaster since the fall of 2011.</SPAN>

I don’t see myself retired in 10 years. I do see myself involved in this industry. How that unfolds and presents itself only time will tell. I enjoy working at HydraMaster and am blessed once again by the people I get to work with. Probably the best part of doing this for 30 years now are the friendships I have made with my co-workers at Steam Way, Interlink Supply and HydraMaster, and the many cleaners and restorers who remain customers and friends.</SPAN>

Your good friend just lost his job and want to be a start a carpet cleaning biz. He has 100 grand under his mattress and want you to recommend a cleaning method, machine and marketing program to get him going, his goal is to learn the rope and get off the truck in a year or less and run 2 to 3 crews, let hear your advice.....</SPAN>
That is a great question. I think the opportunity in getting into this industry is as strong as it has always been. This last recession certainly presented the greatest challenge I have seen in my time in the business, but we continue to scratch and claw our way back to a higher level of prosperity. There is always opportunity in our business to someone who is willing to work hard, and learn and implement the management and marketing principles that have worked for other successful cleaners and restorers. A lot of what I would recommend to that person depends upon their own ability to implement what needs to be done with a steadfast discipline. </SPAN>

The equipment part is easy. In about 98% of the country, I would tell them to get a good van and truckmount. I would also recommend they buy the necessary equipment and chemicals to offer encapsulation cleaning. With those two weapons in their arsenal, there really are not too many jobs they cannot pursue.</SPAN>

There are so many great marketing and management systems and programs available now. I love reading about who is great and who is a “scam” when it comes to those. Whether you are talking about a franchise system or a network like Strategies for Success, Piranha, Phenomenal Products; you will find those who swear by them, and those who swear about them. What I have found is that most of the detractors of any franchise or system went in with the wrong attitude or goals, or simply did not implement what they were taught. What Steve and Strategies for Success present is about as turn-key as it gets, and really represents the culmination and compilation of 30 years of what works and does not work. But Steve will be the first to recommend to you to look at some of the other marketing systems to see what they can add to your arsenal. I consider Steve, Howard, and Joe all friends, and all three people who have helped thousands of cleaners be more successful. They have all been appropriately rewarded personally for doing that. If I can remember back to my college economics class, I believe that is called capitalism.</SPAN>

That is why I come back to my original thought. “A lot of what I would recommend to that person depends upon their own ability to implement what needs to be done with a steadfast discipline.” You can get some incredible advice and information for free right here on Mikey’s Board. Do you have the skills and the discipline to implement what is provided to you? If I thought my friend was self-motivated enough to get it done, he/she might not need coaching or accountability. If my friend was more of a dreamer than a doer, then I would suggest to get into a system, franchise, or program that would make him/her more accountable for implementation.</SPAN>

There are also lots of great “add-ons” when it comes to ways to help build your business. They are not entire systems, but simply something that can be part of your company growth plan. After implementing the basics, I would encourage my friend to never stop learning and be open minded to any program which can add to their growth. Above all, I would encourage them to find a cleaner or restorer who has built a business like they want to build, whether it be here on Mikey’s Board, or some other place, and stick to them like glue. Milk their minds, but don’t waste their time. If you are going to ask for advice, then do something with it.</SPAN>

Is your brother still in Hawaii? What is he doing there?
</SPAN>Yes, my brother, Greg, is a successful realtor on Kauai. He was named one of the top 3 performers on the Island in 2012. He has ridden the highs and suffered the lows of the real estate market there since 2003. Above all though, he absolutely loves living on Kauai and raising his family there. I think they will bury him there someday.

I have asked him in the past, what is more difficult – selling a $20,000 truckmount to a wavering carpet cleaner or a million dollar house to a California investor? He just smiles and tells me I know the answer to that question.</SPAN>

I often ask him if the butyl ever boils up in his blood and whether he is going to come to the Experience in Vegas to see all his old friends in the cleaning industry. I keep reminding him we are all getting older. He is always tempted, but he figures he would rather be in Kauai, and we can all come see him. Truthfully though, what he tells me he does miss the most are the people. The relationships we build in this industry are something we should all cherish. There are not a lot of industries where that opportunity is still afforded.</SPAN>
-Slide in or CDS</SPAN></SPAN>
</SPAN>/PTO, where do you stand?

It depends upon the person’s own mechanical abilities and how far they are from a distributor who can service it for them. If I was operating a fleet of truckmounts, I would certainly recommend a CDS. If I was a long way from a distributor, and was not that mechanically inclined, I would recommend a CDS. If I was somewhat mechanical, and an owner-operator, I would probably get a slide in with all the performance I needed to do carpet cleaning and hard surface cleaning. I am still a heat guy too. I would want a heat exchange machine that kept the water the hottest when cleaning hard surfaces. Always consider the type of jobs you are doing, but just as importantly, the types of jobs you want to be doing in that determination.</SPAN>

-In a perfect world what would you be doing to earn a living?

I would be living just outside of Yellowstone National Park and I would be a professional wildlife photographer who was talented enough to make a good living selling my photographs. </SPAN>

I might consider being the athletic director at the University of Colorado to help bring our football program out of the doldrums. But since that job is presently open and they have not called me, I guess that might not happen.</SPAN>

My other dream job would be to own an on-line forum and bulletin board for professional carpet cleaners and restorers. I hear the real money is in that. Seriously Mike, thanks for the many contributions to educating the industry that Mikey’s Board and its contributors do every day.</SPAN>

-How bad do you want to punch Larry Cooper in the throat for making you waste four days in Frisco Texas next year?</SPAN>If you put 15 cleaners and restorers from various parts of the country in a room and ask them what would make for a well-attended, great trade show and convention, you will get 15 strongly worded and completely diverse opinions about what would work. I know, because I have sat in those rooms.</SPAN>

What I do know is that prior to the Connections Events and the leadership that Larry Cooper and his team provided, we had mostly poorly attended small events that mostly wasted the time of exhibitors. It was not always that way. Everything has to change and evolve. Fortunately it did, and that was the birth of a central trade show or two in the Connections events.

Some people think they have a better idea and have started various other events. I guess the marketplace will decide. What I would like to see is that if organizations and people want to start their own event to compete with the Experience, or Mikeyfest, or any other event with a proven track record, that they for once do it by telling us what is great about their event, and not by tearing down the other event. I also hope for world peace too.</SPAN>

All that being said, I am never afraid to express my opinion (hopefully in a considerate way), and Larry already knows what I think of Frisco, Texas as a convention destination (and I was born in Dallas, so I guess that makes me a Texan by blood). The good news, it is better than the following towns I have attended conventions in since I started in the industry (no offense to people living in these towns, just stating my opinion) – Toledo, Ohio; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Atlanta, Georgia in July.

I say we all just get Lee and Jim Pemberton and Frank Kuse to take us all back to Seven Springs Resort in Champion, Pennsylvania during the “Miss Ski-Bunny” finals again. Oh yeah, I was not married back then.</SPAN>

Thanks for the chance to share a few memories Mike. As you know, one of my passions is that we not forget the people who helped build this industry during its infancy. Any time you need someone who can bore to death your readers with an old story about a bunch of people they have never met or heard of, I am your guy – well Jim Pemberton can help me. Seriously, I have enjoyed this and will try to answer to the best of my ability any follow up questions.</SPAN>
 
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Wow, love it.

Thank you Doyle for that well written, engaging and educational interview.

I remain convinced that this industry is unique in the relationships camaraderie and closeness of the people in it. Most of us may be a little off, but we are a pretty good bunch in whole. I credit the founders of our industry....and their children for setting an example we all could follow.

Take care,
Lisa
 
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Thank you Doyle.

Our friendship over the decades has been one I've treasured.

However the fact that you reminded me that somehow along the way you and I went from being the "kids" of the old men of the industry to now BEING the old men of the industry doesn't feel quite so nice.....

:lol:
 
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Bill-
I was going to disclose the fact you did teach me everything I know about the value of heat in carpet cleaning, but then I would have to bring up the fact we met in a hot tub (not lukewarm tub) and I was afraid of where that might take the conversation. :)
Thanks Mike, Lisa, and Larry for the kind words. Jim, we are the old guys now. Just look at Yeadon for proof.
Regards,
Doyle
 
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I enjoyed that trip down memory lane. Sometimes I miss the good old days.

When ever I read Doyle or speak with him I am never disappointed, and often amazed at his ability to see the forest and see around the trees. I can always get the big picture and see things from all sides.

Doyle, you have no doubt tired at times from me peppering you with questions. I have learned a lot from you over the years. As your dad used to say sometimes, and I still say this to my wife on occasion with his drawl, "I appreciate you". (She knows I am imitating him)

Thanks again for the memories.

Loren
 
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Ron K -
Your reference to "too hot to hold" pressure hose is one we often talk about. I will never forget the microbiologist from the Children's hospital in Denver who we invited to come take a look at the carpet cleaning process with a Steam Way PowerMatic back in the early 1990's. He was there with a research doctor who was kind of their "lead investigator" on Kawasaki Syndrome. One of their theories at the time was that perhaps the carpet cleaning process was "pushing" some kind of "pre-existing" bacterial or viral source out of the carpet into the breathing zone of a crawling infant. Of course, their "exposure" to the carpet cleaning process up to that point had been rental equipment. When the steam came bellowing out of the scrub wand and we asked him to feel the pressure hose, his instantaneous response was "we are barking up the wrong tree. These guys are killing the bugs, not activating them." Of course, he was immediately chastised by the research doctor for "publicly" professing what was an obvious conclusion, because as you may know, research doctors are 1) careful not to jump to conclusions; and 2) when a researcher solves an issue, the funding stops. They would never admit it to us, but after our little visit together, their future research on the cause of KS moved completely away from carpet cleaning. Doug Bowles, a great instructor who worked for Steam Way at the time, was there with me helping with the testing. We joke about the look on that mcirobiologists face to this day when he saw what truckmounted carpet cleaning was capable of. Doug is one of the people I neglected to mention in my stroll down memory lane. His contributions to the growth of our educational program are something I will always be grateful for.

As far as HydraMaster, and the future of heating the solution, I think you can bank on the fact we will stay with heat exchangers exclusively. I have learned in this business to never say never. However, today's heat exchangers are pretty amazing in their heating performance, especially at carpet cleaning solution pressures and water flow rates. In addition, as there is more scrutiny on the use and consumption of resources, the "green nature" of using one fuel source to power the equipment and heat the water is only going to become more important. That is why I like the HydraMaster Titan 575 so much, because of the consistent level of extremely hot water it will maintain virtually under all conditions.

At the same time, in my opinion, so long as the pressure washing industry continues to use fuel oil as the fuel source for hot water pressure washers, that technology will continue to be employed. Carpet Cleaners who believe they want a propane or fuel oil fired heater on their truckmount will still have choices to do so.

The great thing is that there is more recognition than ever of the value of using extremely hot water in the carpet cleaning process.
 
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Thanks for the reminder of those difficulty days during the Kawasaki Syndrome scare Doyle.

We joked about how many people would call cleaners worried about the "Suzuki Disease" or "Harley Syndrome" (they knew it was some sort of motorcycle name!), but the fact is that the Bloss family and their instructors like Doug Bowles led the fight against the damage the half truths floating around the country and the world were doing to us then.

Thank you Doyle...again.

The debt we owe you, your family, and the good people you surrounded yourself then is beyond any measure of evaluation.
 
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The Blosses, Bill Yeadon, and the Pembertons are all great people with terrific proven reputations. They all have helped to build this industry especially in the early days of the trade show era.

I also had the pleasure of speaking with Ralph (on the phone and at the shows) on many occasions regarding products/business. Great conversations!

Best to all of them and their families.
Ed Valentine
 
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a good read. tx for sharing Doyle. the only name i can drop is Doug Bowles, he & Sandy were some fantastic instructors out at Carl Weidrich's old Steamway of NY shop.



what other forum has this type of participation, where an industry noob like me can interact with some big wigs? none that i've seen. ;)
 
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Doyle thanks for your Response. I was talking about My 94 mastermatic. It seemed so well thought out. It made really hot water the more you asked for it. We drove all the way to Denver from Seattle to buy it from your Dad. What we really liked about that machine was it was a great combination of reliable pieces, Kohler, Cat, Roots, ect and another tremendous part of Steamway then was Henry, He could diagnose any problem I had on the phone and was the reason my machine lasted as long as it did.
 
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Doyle thanks for your Response. I was talking about My 94 mastermatic. It seemed so well thought out. It made really hot water the more you asked for it. We drove all the way to Denver from Seattle to buy it from your Dad. What we really liked about that machine was it was a great combination of reliable pieces, Kohler, Cat, Roots, ect and another tremendous part of Steamway then was Henry, He could diagnose any problem I had on the phone and was the reason my machine lasted as long as it did.
Henry Kell was a good ol' boy from McMinnville Tennessee and a big reason that I loved my Powermatic and was able to keep it running for decades.
 
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Ron and Scott - I talked to Henry Kell just a few weeks ago. He is doing quite well as a retired person taking it easy. His wife, Irene, is an avid bowler and humongous Denver Bronco fan so he keeps busy accompanying her to her bowling tournaments and traveling to Bronco games. His granddaughter Sarah, just graduated from College. I know he would appreciate your comments, and would concur with Scott on the wonderfulness of Tennessee. He was/is a man of incredible patience and perseverance. It always amazed me how he could diagnose an issue with a truckmount over the phone.
Derek, Doug and Sandy are great instructors. They do a lot of teaching for one of the big franchises now and live in Tennessee. Is Rocky Top playing in the background? If you come to a convention sometime, we can sit around and tell stories about the Bowles and Carl. Maybe they will show up to defend themselves.
 

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