Meet Your Merchant: Cleaners educate, give back to Tahoe community
April 7, 2014
What: Summit Cleaning Solutions
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Stephen and Ruth Jaenchen of Summit Cleaning Solutions dedicate their time and energy in two different areas.
The couple prioritize consumer education in the industry of carpet and flooring cleaning, and they also feel responsible to give back to their community.
"It's really important that we step out of ourselves and do something that's going to benefit someone else," Ruth said.
Summit Cleaning Solutions knows cleaning procedures specific to the Tahoe area.
“We’ve been given a lot, and we almost feel responsible to give back. I find it vital in my life to give back.”
Addressing a situation after an animal break-in, especially the messes left behind by hungry bears, is a technique Stephen has come to know well after 20 years living in the area.
After an animal breaks into a home, it's typical to find gooey foods hardened into the carpet, urine and hair, and glass from a broken door or window, Stephen said.
A dramatic clean up was in order a few years ago when three bears raided and inhabited a Squaw Valley home for over three months. Summit Cleaning Solutions came in for heavy duty clean up.
"We were able to make it look almost brand new," Stephen said.
MAKING HAPPY HOMES
As an operations manager for a carpet cleaning company in Santa Barbara, Stephen cleaned homes after college students' parties.
He learned the technicalities of dealing with materials such as silk, Egyptian cotton and Haitian cotton. Stephen vacuumed and shampooed the carpets of comedian Steve Martin, Director Robert Zemeckis and actor John Cleese.
It was never the cleaning, Stephen said, but the interaction with customers that made Stephen love his job.
"You're making people happy about their homes again," he said.
Summit Cleaning Solutions prides itself on having experienced technicians. Providing continual education and up-to-date training is important and what separates Summit from other carpet cleaners, Stephen said.
"We want to elevate the industry standard locally," he said.
Out of the 166 carpet cleaners in Northern Nevada, Stephen said only about 10 hold certifications.
Being able to properly identify different types of carpet fibers and the cleaning protocol of each is vital to protect the integrity of the fabric.
"Thirty percent of what we do is fix what other professional carpet cleaners have done to people's carpet or upholstery," Stephen said.
The business owner's belief is that people are willing to pay more money for expert carpet cleaners.
He feels responsible to educate both the consumer and other cleaning companies about proper carpet and flooring care.
In his book, "How to Avoid Nightmare Carpet Cleaners," Stephen informs customers of different bait and switch techniques and hidden costs that can appear with carpet cleaning businesses.
"We wrote this as kind of a guide to educate and warn the consumer about some of the tricks that go on in our industry," Stephen said. "We continually run into a lot of ignorance with the consumer.
"If you're trying to save money you're elevating the risk of having damage done to your carpet or flooring."
Starting this month, Summit Cleaning Solutions will be the only company in Northern Nevada that offers Microseal — a lifetime fabric protection.
Although more expensive than its competitors, Microseal lasts much longer than other fabric protectors.
Beyond consumer education and local business support, Stephen and Ruth offer a Cancer Cleaning Program.
The free service provides cancer patients in financial need at Carson Tahoe Cancer Resource Center with a home carpet cleaning.
"It's not only something nice to do but sometimes it's medically very valuable because when you're immune system is that compromised having a clean place to live that is as bacteria-free and as germ-free as possible really can help with the recovery," Stephen said.
Summit Cleaning Solutions also donates cleaning services to the Children's Museum of Northern Nevada. Stephen and Ruth donate ten percent of their earnings to local charities.
"We've been given a lot and we almost feel responsible to give back. I find it vital in my life to give back," Ruth said.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at email@example.com.