By Rick Mullen
Maintenance Sales News Associate Editor
At a recent educational seminar for cleaning professionals titled “Green Cleaning in Schools: Selling to Higher Education Schools,” the president and CEO of Healthy Schools Campaign, Rochelle Davis, questioned a panel of two building services experts from major U.S. universities.
The questions Davis asked Jodi Krause, assistant director-housekeeping, University of Wisconsin and Gene Woodard, director, building services, University of Washington, came from Healthy Schools Campaign’s corporate partners. The questions were about the best way for distributors, manufacturers and vendors to approach institutions of higher learning to sell their products and services.
“At Healthy Schools Campaign, we work from a very simple and common sense notion that healthy students are better learners and health should be incorporated into every aspect of the school experience,” Davis said in her opening remarks. “This effort encompasses everything from helping schools clean, opportunities for physical education, access to health services and a healthy school environment.
“Green cleaning has been a core of our work for more than 10 years. Our approach to green cleaning is to provide schools with knowledge tools, to support implementation of green cleaning, and to make the case about the importance of green cleaning to principals, teachers, school administrators, public officials and others. It is also to recognize and reward outstanding programs.
“We have been in partnership with the American School & University’s Green Cleaning Award program. Both presenters are winners of the Grand Award.”
The two panel members were asked to give a brief introduction of their respective cleaning programs.
“At the University of Washington, we have had a green cleaning policy in place since 2003,” Woodard said. “We worked with Steve Ashkin (entrepreneur, author, speaker and a prominent green cleaning advocate) to help get our program started. We have been very aggressive in trying to go on a journey to increase our green cleaning efforts and our sustainability program.”
The University of Washington’s building services team takes care of 175 buildings in the academic and research part of the campus, Woodard said.
As assistant director of housekeeping at the University of Wisconsin, Krause’s responsibilities include helping to oversee second and third shifts servicing the school’s residence hall facilities.
“We service 7,500 students during the academic year from August to May,” Krause said. “We also have university apartments for 4,000 residents, usually graduate students and their families.
“In the summertime we become a hotel service, servicing anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 guests every summer. We clean a little more than 2.5 million square feet within our residence halls every day and we are a 24/7 operation.
“My primary responsibility is to help oversee the after-hours staff, as well as the purchasing of equipment and products. We have had a green cleaning program for more than 10 years. In 2012, we started with a water-based cleaning product in our dorms, and we are looking to advance our sustainability practices.
“As a part of our green initiative, we have recycling and composting programs. We also purchase mats and furniture that are made with recycled materials. We work in conjunction with our campus, which has several green cleaning and sustainable initiatives.”
After Woodard and Krause introduced their programs, Davis began the question/answer portion of the session. The questions and the panel members’ responses are as follows:
Davis: How would you rank the following in terms of importance in making a purchasing decision on a green cleaning product?
■ Saving money;
■ Increasing safety;
■ Simple to use; and,
■ Increases sustainability.
Woodard: First place on Woodard’s list is a tie between “simple to use and increases sustainability.”
“For a large department that is spread over the campus, we want to have products, equipment and tools that are simple, straightforward and can help my team members perform their jobs as efficiently as possible,” Woodard said. “Funding in the state of Washington is decreasing. Ninety percent of our budget goes to labor costs. Therefore, the most valuable resource we have is our team members. We need products that help them do their jobs more efficiently.”
Woodard ranked sustainability as the second most important factor in making purchasing decisions.
“We try very hard to be in alignment with the university’s climate action plan and its commitment to lowering its carbon footprint,” he said. “We are looking for anything that helps us reduce waste, fuel costs, deliveries to our campus, packaging — anything that could streamline our purchasing and invoice processes. Saving money is important to us, but it is not the driving factor.”
Krause: Her first choice was also a tie between “simple to use and increases sustainability.”
“How simple a product or piece of equipment is to use is number two for us on the list,” Krause said. “We are revenue generated at the University of Wisconsin, so cost for us is a little different, because we don’t get any money from the university. We generate our own revenue from what the students pay and what summer guests pay to stay with us. Cost for us isn’t as big a consideration. If it is something that is going to work well and our staff is going to enjoy it, we are willing to pay.”
Davis: How do you like to be approached?
■ Through a local distributor;
■ Direct by an ODM;
■ Only at a trade show or conference;
■ Through LinkedIn;
■ Emails; or,
■ Dropping in your office.
Krause: The least effective way for a vendor, distributor or manufacturer’s rep to approach her would be to drop in unannounced, she said.
“Everyday there is something else popping up. We may be in meetings or jumping from one emergency to the next, or from one task to the next,” Krause said. “Showing up unannounced is not a good way to reach out to us at the University of Wisconsin.”
Furthermore, Krause said, some campus officials might be reluctant to do business with someone making such a cold call. She said one of the best ways to contact her is by phone call or email.
“I have been traveling more and more the past few years, giving out a lot of business cards. My contact information is also on the Healthy Schools Campaign website,” Krause said. “As a result, I have been contacted a lot more by email. Phone calls and emails work best for me.”
Woodard: Like Krause, Woodard said a cold call is low on his list of ways to be approached at the University of Washington.
“I value forming relationships with local distributors who really understand our operation, and that takes time,” Woodard said. “As (Krause) mentioned, a cold call doesn’t necessarily work. In fact, I have gatekeepers all along the line to intercept cold calls.
“We are always seeking to find newer, better and more productive ways to clean our campus. We are looking for relationships with people who understand our mission and our goals. We want partners who can offer tools, equipment and products that can help us reach our goals. That takes the relationships we have with a local distributor and the manufacturers with whom we work.”
Woodard said he can also be reached by email or by phone.
“I’m just now starting to get into LinkedIn and I’m a little apprehensive about getting too many partners,” Woodard said. “It is a little intimidating to me as an old-school kind of guy. So, reaching out by email, or even a telephone call, might work.”
Davis: Both of you mentioned having someone help you achieve your goals. Do you have that information publically available? Do you have a goal or mission statement on your university’s website?
Woodard: The University of Washington Building Services website, www.facilities.uw.edu, is currently undergoing an upgrade, Woodard said.
“We are in the process of changing our website to be more customer focused. Prior to this initiative, our Web page has been all about promoting and letting the campus community know about our sustainability goals,” Woodard said. “Our mission and vision statements and cleaning policies are on the website. People accessing the building services website can also learn about our recycling and cleaning initiatives.”
A vendor, manufacturer or distributor might be able to find gaps in the university’s programs by perusing the website, and, subsequently, offering ways to help the university meet its goals, Woodard said.
Krause: “Be the place where everyone wants to live” is the mission statement on the University of Wisconsin’s housing website, www.housing.wisc.edu, Krause said.
“However, a visitor to our website will not see information about where we are at in reaching our sustainable goals, because we work in coalition with our sustainable group on-campus, which monitors and keeps track of our progress,” Krause said.
Davis: When manufacturers holistically integrate sustainability into all aspects of their products, how important does a third-party certification become?
Krause: Third-party certifications are desired for green products purchased by the University of Wisconsin, even those from manufacturers that have integrated sustainability into their products, Krause said.
“I do a lot of research on equipment and products that we choose to buy,” Krause said. “I investigate whether the items are third-party certified and whether manufacturers have references from other universities or groups that use their products and equipment. If a manufacturer is approaching sustainability from a holistic point of view, I still need to see that third-party certification, because the decision is not always just up to me.”
Woodard: “We want to know what the companies we work with are doing in terms of sustainability,” Woodard said. “We will check their mission statements to see what kind of history they have with being responsible citizens. We will see if a company has an annual sustainability report to determine if their mission aligns with the University of Washington. If we don’t, our student earth clubs and environmental groups on campus will point at me and ask, ‘What are you doing conducting business with this company that is not doing good by the earth?’
“We have gaps in our program now because certain items, such as gum remover products and others, are not Green Seal or third-party certified. My custodians don’t want anything that is not third-party certified.”
Davis: Both of you talked about being motivated by what your university wants, by what your students want and by what your team wants. Are you hearing and being responsive to your students’ voice in terms of how your programs are run? How does that impact your purchasing?
Krause: As a part of the housing effort, a residence hall advisory board meets monthly to discuss and give feedback on cleaning issues.
“The residence hall advisory board is the opportunity for residents from each of our facilities to be on a panel along with the directors,” Krause said. “It could be myself attending or my supervisor, who is the director of residence hall facilities. This is where we get feedback from students, not only on our cleaning programs, but also our dining programs.
“It is very important that we get that feedback. One of the things I do is ask students in the residence halls how they feel we are doing in terms of cleaning, what we are using and what they are noticing.”
Davis: Are you sensing a high level of consciousness about green and sustainability among your students?
Krause: “I’m always amazed at how many times I get emails, phone calls and notes in my mailbox, telling us either we are doing a good job or we are not,” Krause said. “For example, students may ask why we are still using certain products. I find it fascinating how much they know, and how much to heart they take the footprint that they are leaving and the things they are using.”
Woodard: “I have seen survey results for the past few years, asking students why they choose to attend a particular school,” Woodard said. “The No. 1 reason is a university’s academic programs. Another top reason is the location and the condition of the buildings and grounds at a university.
“What has creeped into the top five reasons is whether or not the university has a sustainability program. It is important to our students at the University of Washington. They rally and support our custodial staff team members.
“We partner with our student groups, especially in the area of recycling. We had students who put stickers on every towel dispenser on campus that said, ‘these (paper towels) come from trees.’
“In addition, some students participated in a garbology project, where they studied the waste stream from a particular building. Our students are highly engaged in everything that we do with our program.”
Davis: If a new system for cleaning and sanitizing was offered, and it was a capital expense versus an operation cost, how would that affect your decision?
Woodard: The University of Washington’s building services department has a two-year budget cycle, Woodard said.
“For a capital purchase, we would like a return on investment within that two-year period,” he said. “We would like to be able to calculate what that return on investment would be, whether it is in labor savings, product savings or whether it improves our sustainability.”
Krause: As Krause mentioned earlier, the University of Wisconsin’s residence hall housekeeping department generates its own revenue.
“I find that more things get purchased through our operating budget than our capital budget,” Krause said. “I will make several capital budget requests every year, trying to move forward with some of our sustainability initiatives and goals.”
Krause said capital budget projects in the works are a $37 million building renovation, and the installation of a water-based cleaning system for the renovated building at a cost of $50,000.
Woodard: “We have a two-year wish list for replenishing floor machines, auto-scrubbers and vacuums,” Woodard said. “We also make most of our purchases out of our operating budget. We are in the process now of bidding for a boom-lift truck for our window washers. It is going to be a well over $100,000 investment.
“I told my window washers it is the biggest capital outlay we have made at one time for a piece of equipment. It is going to be well worth it. They are going to be able to have access to the boom-lift everyday to clean windows. Distributors can help us with the planning for such purchases by anticipating what our needs are, and even asking what is on the wish list for the next year or two.”
Davis: There is obviously a lot of conversation on college campuses about local procurement, on the one hand, particularly around food, and then also about buying American. How do those issues of where the products are made fit into your purchasing?
Krause: The University of Wisconsin’s housekeeping department deals with several local companies, and seeks in-state manufacturers and vendors to do business with when possible.
“We are very aware of where and how things are manufactured,” she said.
Woodard: As Washington is an agricultural state, Woodard said purchasing food products in-state is very important. In addition, he said it is important for the university to have good, solid local programs for recycling an composting efforts.
“We want to conduct our recycling and composting initiatives in a responsible way,” Woodard said. “For example, we had an electronic firm that was a certified recycler. Someone tracked a couple of refrigerators and computers that had GPS on them, and they discovered those items ended up in China illegally. As a result, we immediately stopped doing business with that company. We pay attention to where products are made and how they are disposed, but it hasn’t been a significant issue.
Davis: One of the things I have noticed is the use of smart technology. Are you thinking about that sort of technology? Does it interest you, scare you — where is smart technology on your radar screen?
Woodard: “It is high on my radar screen,” Woodard said. “We have Bigbellys (Bigbelly Smart Waste & Recycling System) on our campus, which are outdoor containers for waste, compost and recyclables. The Bigbellys send a text message to the manager of our waste collection crew when it is time to come on campus and empty them. We also keep data on the volume of materials they contain.”
Woodard would also like to have dispensers with smart technology that will tell maintenance people when they need refilling. Technology for floor machines that tells how often and how long a piece of equipment has been used, as well as tracking battery charging history, is also on Woodard’s wish list.
“Smart technology has great appeal to me,” he said.
Krause: “One of the things I took back from a tour of the University of Washington with (Woodard), was the outside Bigbelly containers,” Krause said. “I loved that idea. It hasn’t gotten approval for our campus, so I’m waiting. I would love to take advantage of more technology to clean our facilities, to alert us when we need to restock, as well as to monitor our equipment — how it is being used, is it being charged correctly, etc. More technologies are coming, so we need to get used to using them.”
Woodard: Some of the University of Washington’s buildings are open from 7 a.m. to midnight, serving several thousand students continuously, Woodard said.
“I would love to have some technology that allows a person to put a work order in from a restroom if it needs something, and to also give us feedback on the cleanliness of the restroom,” Woodard said. “That type of data would help us adjust our resources and our staffing to meet the needs of a particular building.”
Davis: Is cleaning time a driving factor when considering new cleaning systems?
Krause: “Yes. We want our staff to be as efficient as possible. We want to use the safest products and equipment to clean to the standards we expect,” Krause said. “We want to use our staff as efficiently and effectively as possible. We are constantly taking on more work. For example, another director and I will be taking on two large facilities that serve the entire campus for dining and conferences, adding to the 29 buildings we already service. At this time, we are not going to be able to get additional staff, so we need to figure out the best way to clean those facilities. So, absolutely, time is a factor.”
Woodard: Time to clean is the most important and toughest challenge facing the University of Washington’s staff, Woodard said.
“Our custodians are responsible for an incredible amount of square footage each day, so we want to do be able to do things as efficiently and effectively as possible,” Woodard said.
In evaluating an item, Woodard’s team members fill out a form that asks, was the product easy to use, how effective was it and did it save or increase the time to do the work?
For example, Woodard said, team members might evaluate a vacuum that is supposed to clean 1,000 square feet in 10 minutes, versus one that the manufacturer claims can clean 1,000 feet in 8 minutes.
“We would actually do the time test ourselves. It is that important to us,” Woodard said.
Davis: Is there any other advice you could give in terms of selling to higher education?
Woodard: “I would just re-emphasize it is all about relationships and partnerships,” Woodard said. “The local distributors that we work with almost have an office in our office. They are that welcome, because they have become a part of what we do. With the current budget crisis, they work with us on how we can reduce our supply expenditures without sacrificing safety or any of the value that we are trying to accomplish. They partnered with us when we were looking for green initiatives. It is all about what kind of relationships you can have with your partners.”
Krause: She reiterated Woodard’s advice, saying it is relationships that have led to the suppliers with which the housekeeping division does business.
“Our suppliers have gotten to know our program,” she said. “In addition, they understand, and this is the case with us, there are state budgets. As one of our procurement people, sometimes I can’t go outside a contract. Our vendors and manufacturers understand that there are limits.
“As much as I would love to purchase this product or how much I would love to purchase that equipment, I am not able to go outside the guidelines that are set in place. This is where the relationship building comes in.
“I would advise vendors to let a university cleaning staff get to know your products and, in turn, getting to know a particular program, which is going to be crucial in order to be able to sell to higher education.”
At the end of the Q&A portion of the panel discussion, Davis asked attendees if there any questions they would like to ask. One audience member responded with the following:
“Would you be open to a local vendor coming to your location to shadow your maintenance team to see exactly what they do and make recommendations there, rather than writing a recommendation that may not fit your program?”
Woodard: Woodard said if a representative of a vendor, manufacturer or distributor can demonstrate he or she has the university’s best interest at heart, he would be open to allowing his staff to be shadowed.
“I think that is a very good idea, and I think that is something you should try,” Woodard told the questioner.
Krause: “I have had suppliers offer to do that,” Krause said. “I have taken them on tours of our facilities, showing them, hands-on, how we clean and the equipment we use.”
Contact: Healthy Schools Campaign,
175 N. Franklin St., Suite 300,
Chicago, IL 60606.
SCA Will Become Two Listed Companies: SCA And Essity
Essity will become a separate global hygiene and health company, and will include the Tork and TENA brands.
“SCA began in 1929 in Sweden as a forest products company. Over the years, the company has expanded geographically and developed to include hygiene and health brands in the areas of incontinence care, consumer and Away-from-Home tissue and medical solutions, with the recent acquisition of BSN medical,” according to a press release from the company.
“As of 2016, 86 percent of the company is in hygiene and health areas, with 14 percent in forest products. Synergies between the operations have diminished over time.”
The forest products company will continue to be known as SCA, which will include the forest products operations and all forest land currently owned by the SCA Group.
“Essity will be a global hygiene and health company that develops, produces, markets and sells personal care and tissue products, including the recently acquired BSN medical brands. Essity stems from the words ‘essentials’ and ‘necessities’ and is well suited to the products the new hygiene and health company offer, products we use every day. Essity’s vision is ‘Dedicated to improving well-being through leading hygiene and health solutions.’”
Magnus Groth, currently president and CEO of SCA and future president and CEO of Essity, said,“Hygiene and health are necessities for better lives, and our products and solutions play an essential role in improving well-being for everybody, everywhere.”
A vote in favor of the SCA board of directors’ proposal to split the company was made by shareholders at its annual general meeting April 5, 2017. The split will be carried out following completion of the listing process on the Nasdaq Stockholm, no later than the second half of 2017.
“I am pleased that the shareholders support the board of director’s proposal regarding two separate listed companies. This will increase value for shareholders through increased focus, customer value, development opportunities and enable each company to successfully realize its strategies. We look forward to an exciting future for our two strong listed companies,” Groth said.
“Our customers who purchase the Tork brand can rest assured that the leading innovations, demonstrated commitment to sustainable practices and employees who deliver exceptional service will remain a hallmark of Essity,” said Don Lewis, president, SCA AfH Professional Hygiene.
Sales are conducted in about 150 countries under global brands including TENA, for incontinence products, and Tork, for Away-from-Home tissue. With the acquisition of BSN medical, a medical solutions company, Essity offers brands such as Leukoplast, Cutimed, JOBST, Delta Cast, Delta Lite and Actimove.
The release stated that SCA owns 2.6 million hectares of forest in Northern Sweden, an area corresponding to about 5 percent of Sweden.
“With this unique resource as the foundation, SCA has developed a well-invested industry, designed to create the highest possible value from the forest, a resource-efficient industry where the entire tree is used to create value,” said Groth.
The products of the forest products business include solid-wood products, pulp, kraftliner, publication papers and renewable energy.
A video can be viewed at http://www.sca.com/two-listed-companies.
More information can be found at www.sca.com.