Interview With Larry Cobb 12-17-08

Mikey P

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History of Cobb Carpet Supply

Cobb Carpet Supply was started by my late father 40 years ago as an Installation Supply House. Cleaning Supplies were added to the line about 30 years ago. I joined the company 25 years ago. We have 45,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing & distribution space here in Dallas.

Were you ever a cleaner your self?


Absolutely; I started cleaning area rugs in my dad’s shop when I was 13 years old.
One day he told me that the shop guys wanted to see if I could handle the new 17” Multi-Clean shampooer. What they didn’t tell me, was that they had it running in reverse with a broken-in nylon brush. That made it react violently, in the opposite manner to it’s normal rotation. I was able to handle it, but they had a good laugh on me.

Later, we started using the “dual process” system of shampooing, followed by a dual-vac Jiro rinse system direct-hooked to the water system with a weighted 12” wand.

Next big event in carpet cleaning came when my uncle bought the first chrome-plated “Deep Steam” hot water extractor for $3000 (equivalent to the price of a TM back then).
It had a #2 blower driven by a 1.5 HP electric motor and a strong pressure pump.
We had the first machine in Dallas that would pull BLACK WATER from every dirty carpet. The customers were amazed when we showed them.

We cleaned lots of “high-end theaters” in Dallas. It was all 100% wool wilton-weave carpet in bright colors. That is where I learned the importance of reducing agents in cleaning.

My dad also taught me to install carpet, and I worked at both carpet cleaning and installation for several summers while in High School. I fondly remember the joy of stuffing a sizable 12 ft. roll of carpet into a 7ft. high elevator for the trip up in many commercial buildings. Mikey, that’s where I got my first red carpet tattoos.

As I started engineering classes in college, I went to work in my uncles carpet workroom. That consisted of serging, binding and installing fringe on various rugs. Since many of them were geometrical shapes, we had to construct an “air table” to float the rugs for ease of turning.

After I got out of college, I went to work in the entertainment industry with a sound & lighting company by the name of Showco Inc. I helped build sound equipment, and then lighting/laser systems for some very popular bands. The clients included Beach Boys, Eric Clapton, the Who, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney (Wings), Bad Company, David Bowie, etc. Traveling with the bands was enjoyable, but grueling. It also showed the band stresses of night-after-night performing tours.

After touring in the U.S. and Europe for several years, I left that industry to help my dad with his “carpet supply”. A “short stint” turned into relying on a minor in college chemistry courses to reformulate some extraction cleaners that were too foamy.

And that led to the Dynachem line of chemicals and truckmounts.

Did you come up with the 14 inch CMP angled jet concept or did you Bridgepoint the idea from Greenie and decide to sell it for $100 less?

We worked with the forerunner of CMP products in Anaheim, when they made wands for Century 400. Their wands evolved into the most popular portable 2-Jet wand ever in this industry. When Century moved to Colorado, they started manufacturing wands for other machines.
I had some input into the CMP 14” wand head design that they currently produce. Our 14” Angle-Jet does differ from Greenie’s design in several aspects. Our stainless jet brackets are welded directly onto the wand. We utilize 4 Jets for producing higher impact directly on the carpet. We have one Spraying Systems check valve at the solution valve, since we had some sticking issues with the jet-mounted types, with some of our customers. We do like the design of Greenie’s Glide for this wand. We also utilize 1.75” diameter tubing, since we feel it is easier to reach around to grip the valve handle. We currently price it @ $629.

What is the argument for pliable film forming encapsulates vs. brittle film forming encapsulates? Details please.

“Film-Forming” encapsulates were first introduced by DuPont with their Resistec foam cleaner. When the Dupont Flooring Systems groups realized the limitations of the custom TM speced out by Jeff Bishop, they went back to the polymer chemists of DuPont to develop a cleaner that would stay clean for a month of heavy traffic. Resistec was the final result of that R & D effort. They could not outclean the TM, but it stayed clean months longer. The latest versions of Resistec have polymers as well as fluorochemicals.
This increased the gallon price of it to over $75. As DuPont pulled out of the encap business, these polymer chemists realized the potential of “encap cleaning” and continued the research they started at DuPont.

We chose the best anti-resoiling technology for our Dynachem Encapsulate product. That was a polymer which had a natural affinity for nylon fiber, resisting soil attachment to the fiber.

Another camp pursued “encapsulating the soil” which was then vacuumed away.
This vacuum-away approach does little to keep the fiber clean week after week.

Have you managed to get your stone-polishing compound right yet? The first 2 versions I tested were less than impressive, although the 2nd batch was much better than the first. Can you make the polishing compound pH neutral?


We think The Dynachem Dura-Glo outperforms the competition. It achieves a spectacular shine with some polishing technique experience. It works best with a final wet-to-dry polish system. You just need some more practice.The Dura-Pro polishing powder has a time-release acid as an important synergist.

What is it like being couped up with your coworkers all day? How many times have you contemplated suicide?


Nineteen employees usually forces me to down a large frozen margarita by Friday evening. All in all, it is gratifying, to provide jobs to a good group of employees.
I do interface with lots of customers each day.

Describe your ideal customer. Describe your ideal sales person. Describe your ideal vendor.


Ideal Customer - Pushes the envelope for delivering better value to his customers
Explores novel methods for increasing quality of work
Confidence to invest for better return on investment.
Has enough profit to replace equipment when required.

Ideal Sales Person - Remembers every single point from your last conversation.
Knows production targets for all his customers
Understands the direction of client’s companies
Has a good sense of humor and works thru his limitations

Ideal Vendor - Understands the abuse that equipment receives in the field.
Honors their warranty
Partners with the distributor/manufacturer
Listens to the users of the product.
Has a good sense of humor and works thru his company's limitations

If you had to choose between a low cost, "decent/good enough" product & an expensive "best possible" product which would you stock & why?

I think my ideal product would be :
1. Above Average in Quality & Performance
2. A Better Value than the Competition
“Best Possible” products are priced out of reach of even high-end cleaners.

Who would win in a fight: You or Rick G?
Who would win in a fight: Ed from your office or Julie from CCSOP?


I have an advantage over Rick with my CleanFax Great Debate experience/victories.
Julie from CCSOP would be hard to beat.

Will washing OP towels with PowerMax Powder adversely affect my washing machine?
No, but it will probably be cleaner than normal.


Where do you see Cobb Carpet in 1, 3, 5 & 10 years?

1 Year – More Cleaning Market Share & Innovative Online Ordering
3 Years – More Profit on Existing Products from Economy of Scale
5 Years – More Dominant Industry Products
10 Years – New Management w/ New Direction

What is the most effective low moisture method of cleaning carpet?


Truckmount with “actual steam output” and 18” of lift.
(The Indusry is not quite there yet)

Why do some of your chems have dilution rates disproportional to most other chems on the market?


I think the dilution rates for our Dynachem chemicals vary a great deal.
Consider the difference in machine ability between a standard 2-2 stage 100 PSI portable and a firebreathing #5M TM @ 600 PSI and 2.5 GPM.
Those two extremes require very different concentrations of prespray to achieve acceptable cleaning levels.

Don't you think if you had an online store there would be less chance of your guys screwing up an order?

We like to talk to our customers to insure they get the best product for their application.
A typical example is when a Web-brousing customer picks out a product that is not the best choice for his specific use. We try to point out an alternative product for better performance. Of course, the customer ultimately makes the final decision, but at least he compares the best choices.
Online ordering does have many advantages such as time independence and the ability to see detailed photos from different aspects.
I think the best ordering system is when the customer is on the web page looking at the products while we are discussing the various aspects of several products.
 

Mikey P

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SO Larry,
I heard a Zero Rez commercial tonight on the Radio.


They claim to clean ONLY WITH WATER!!!!


yes, just Water, Our specially empowered water does what no other method can do along with our Extreme suction trucks yayadada bullcrap.



How did ZR find you and how do you explain all the defoamer they go trough?

Attempting to fool the public into thinking that super water can degrease, brighten, deodorize, and reinstate the fear of christ into their carpet is surely going to screw them in the long run don't you think?
 

Larry Cobb

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Mikey;

I can't comment on the radio commercial, but I do know a little about the electrolysed water.

It is separated into 2 parts.

One part has anti-microbial qualities, which the USDA is looking at for meat and vegetable rinsing to minimize bacteria.

You are probably eating some food made a little safer with it.

To my knowledge, they are using a prespray before their electrolysed rinse water.

Don't get uptight because their TM's are designed a little better than yours.

Larry
 

Mikey P

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The commercial says NOTHING BUT WATER..


any ways..


Tell me, what percentage of your customers are walk in and what are phone/mail/net orders?


Then describe the average walk in customer..

Who does he clean for, what does he charge, how many trucks does he run, is his truck stocked soley with Dynochem products, black, white or Hispanic, Cowboy or Texans fan?
 

Larry Cobb

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Steven;

I am for "green" as long as it allows us to get the job done effectively.

We consider green as "no hazardous ingredients as defined by OSHA".

Green Seal is a bad actor. They don't have a clue.

Larry
 

Radar Foster

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In your opinion, what do you consider to be the best odor control chemistry that every carpet cleaner should have on his truck to address 99% of the stank we are requested to remove from people's homes on a daily basis.

Feel free to name the products you represent, just try to keep the # of products to under 5
 

Larry B

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Living in Texas can you speak Spanish?


Is there much of a seasonal change in carpet cleaning down their?
 

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Is there a possibility that you could create a more concentrated Powermax so that we could see a decrease in shipping cost for any excess filler that may be in Powermax and keep the same RTU cost.

As you know shipping prices have gone through the roof....it would not only save you on your free freight deals but it would save us cleaners when we have to pay shipping.
 

Larry Cobb

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Mikey P said:
Tell me, what percentage of your customers are walk in and what are phone/mail/net orders?


Then describe the average walk in customer..

Who does he clean for, what does he charge, how many trucks does he run, is his truck stocked soley with Dynochem products, black, white or Hispanic, Cowboy or Texans fan?
We are probably about 33% walk-in.

He cleans residential and/or multi-family.

Charges are higher for residential 20-40 cents.

Multi-Family $40 to $60 (+ the infamous add-ons).

One Truck to Ten

Some are solid Dynachem, some are a Mix.

White, Black, & Hispanic, most are Cowboy fans.

Larry
 

Larry Cobb

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Fred Boyle said:
In your opinion, what do you consider to be the best odor control chemistry that every carpet cleaner should have on his truck to address 99% of the stank we are requested to remove from people's homes on a daily basis.

Feel free to name the products you represent, just try to keep the # of products to under 5
Of all the products I've tested, the DC Odor Attack has done the best job.

Some of our Trauma specialists use it on some tough jobs.

It is an actual enzyme + an oxidizer.

Larry
 

Larry Cobb

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ODIN said:
for your powermax do you import Chinese ingredients
I checked this just you.

NO china ingred.

One ingred. is North American, but not U.S.

Larry

P. S. I do remember one famous National brand chemist advertising about using "second grade material" from a surplus house.
 

Larry Cobb

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Mikey P said:
Larry are you one of the, if not, the largest independent suppliers in the country?

If not, where do you rank?
I am sure we one of the largest,

but I am more concerned with the quality of the products we deliver.

Raw materials are a constant problem and require close inspection.

Larry
 

Larry Cobb

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Mikey P said:
What to the Boards and it's members do for you and your biz?

beyond the occasional sale of a case of Powermax..
The boards give us a glimpse into the current mindset of the owner-operator.

It is always interesting to see the ways cleaners tweak their equipment to get more performance out of it.

I also like to challenge the occasional misdirection that some technical threads evolve into.

Larry
 

Mikey P

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and what percentage or your chem sales are to the private labeled market?


also, have you been approached by BP and JD to take over?

and while were at it, how big of a joke was the Magic Wand store out there?
 

John Watson

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Hi Larry,

I want to thank you for being a part of our BB's. I know I have benifitted from your expertice in the past as many others have also..

Like I said just want to say thanks.
 

Larry B

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Larry Cobb said:
The boards give us a glimpse into the current mindset of the owner-operator.
Thats Scary..... :lol:


On a scale of 1 - 10 how do you rate powermax compared to what the industry holds up as some of the top products?

I have never done business with you, but how would you rank your business with customer support?

Support after the sale?
 

Larry Cobb

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Mikey P said:
and what percentage or your chem sales are to the private labeled market?

also, have you been approached by BP and JD to take over?

and while were at it, how big of a joke was the Magic Wand store out there?
We have several large Private Label national accounts. I don't track the exact %.

I don't know who it is, but we do get some fairly serious buy-out proposals by 3rd parties.

The Magic-Wand store was short-lived.

Larry
 

Mikey P

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Larry Cobb said:
[quote="Mikey P":3o4ccgqm]and what percentage or your chem sales are to the private labeled market?

also, have you been approached by BP and JD to take over?

and while were at it, how big of a joke was the Magic Wand store out there?
We have several large Private Label national accounts. I don't track the exact %.

I don't know who it is, but we do get some fairly serious buy-out proposals by 3rd parties.

The Magic-Wand store was short-lived.

Larry[/quote:3o4ccgqm]


Is your last name Cobb or King?


sheesh.
 

Larry Cobb

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John Watson said:
Hi Larry,

I want to thank you for being a part of our BB's. I know I have benifitted from your expertice in the past as many others have also..

Like I said just want to say thanks.
Thanks, John

This board definitely has more of the sharp carpets cleaners from the industry.

Larry
 

The Preacher

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who from the boards would you hire as a phone/counter rep??

if you could snag say a Shawn frosythe, Scott W or another guru who would it be???
 

Larry Cobb

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Larry B said:
Thats Scary..... :lol:


On a scale of 1 - 10 how do you rate powermax compared to what the industry holds up as some of the top products?

I have never done business with you, but how would you rank your business with customer support?

Support after the sale?
Larry;

We formulated PowerMax with the best components we could find....

I think it will compare to any other powder formulation I have tested.

I would rate it about 8, which is as high as any powder product I've seen.

Support after the sale is an area where I am not totally pleased with our results.

I want more feedback from our customers after the sale.

Larry
 

Larry Cobb

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Mikey P said:
Not including your own, who would you say make the most reliable and powerful single wand slide in truck mount these days?
It's not a slide-in,

but I did like the TM built along the "Steam Genie PTO" model.

Was it Matt who built them ??

Larry
 

Larry Cobb

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Danny Strickland said:
who from the boards would you hire as a phone/counter rep??

if you could snag say a Shawn frosythe, Scott W or another guru who would it be???
Those guys are technical wizards.

But, I would look for more of a people person.

Somebody who remembers every detail from the last conversation you had with him.

LTA or Stockwell might be a good candidates.

Larry
 

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