Why We Use Whittaker: The Chumash Casino Resort Carpet Story

The Chumash Casino Resort has been a loyal customer to Whittaker’s Smart Care® carpet cleaning systems. Utilizing Whittaker’s interim dry extraction cleaning processes into the casino’s daily cleaning routines, Chumash relies on quick cleaning time and quality results to get the job done.

The Chumash Casino Resort is a 24/7 luxury gaming hotel and day spa and a premier model for resource efficiency.  The facility features an extensive catalog of environmental programs and initiatives addressing energy, waste, water, and other issues.  Due to these efforts, the Chumash Casino Resort is now not only one of the most sought after destinations in Santa Barbara County wine country, but is also one of the greenest casinos in the world.

We sat down with Mark Funkhouser, Custodial Services Manager of The Chumash Casino Resort to learn more about why Whittaker is an integral part of his team’s daily operations to maintain a beautiful facility. Here’s what he had to say:

Whittaker: Tell us about your business—how did it all start?

Chumash Casino Resort: We moved into our newly built Casino in August of 2003.  The facility is a smoking facility and was furnished with nylon carpet.  The Casino’s Facility Department started researching the idea of replacing all the nylon carpet to a 80/20 wool blended carpet to deal with the melting of the synthetic carpet fibers in the existing carpet.  This brought up a new cleaning issue of dealing with natural fibers and also brought up some of the Custodial Services Team’s on-going frustrations with the current carpet extraction-cleaning program in general.

So, the Facilities Department Custodial Services Team started researching alternative ways to clean carpets in 2004 that would leave the carpet clean, was ‘wool safe’, would be able to work in small cleaning time frames, and would not re-soil quickly due to sticky residues typically left by previous chemicals.

W: And how did you find out about Whittaker’s products? Were you referred?

C:  When we decided to switch to wool carpets, the carpet installers recommended us to use Whittaker’s Crystal Dry extraction formula. Not only were their products recommended generally for natural-fiber carpets, but it was also the approved cleaning system to qualify for the carpet warranty that we had purchased. They believed that Whittaker does the best job in keeping the carpets in tip-top shape.

W: Were you satisfied with Whittaker’s cleaning system? And when did you officially switch from wet extraction to dry?

C: The Crystal Dry Extra chemical fit into the objectives of Facility Department’s green cleaning strategy, which is to use a minimal amount of the least harmful chemicals necessary to effectively perform a cleaning job. Our wet extraction, 5-day a week routine cleaning was completely replaced with the Whittaker system mid-2005.

The Whittaker system immediately allowed us to eliminate 100’s of feet of 2” extraction hoses. That in turn eliminated tripping hazards, gallons of cleaning chemicals per week, hours of labor setting up wet-extraction equipment, and noise pollution associated with a large truck mount machine running for hours at a time while we cleaned.

W: What is your carpet cleaning regimen like at the Casino?

C: Our team gets here every morning around 4 a.m. We have a four-hour window which is our only opportunity to clean the carpets. Our team consists of seven people, who clean a couple hundred thousand square feet of carpet weekly. We have four Whittaker machines for the main floor and two machines for back-up, just-in-case.

W: How quickly are you able to get all of the carpets done?

C: It takes about two hours. We have to get in and out of each section within two hours so that they can reopen them to make sure they aren’t losing money. That is what is so interesting about casinos—they are always open and you have to work around a business while you are cleaning, rather than coming in before it has opened.

W: Do you still use wet extraction or only dry extraction to clean the Casino’s carpets?

C: We have incorporated the use of the Whittaker dry cleaning process of carpet cleaning on a daily basis in maintaining the Casino’s main gaming floor, the Samala Showroom, office areas, hotel rooms, and hallways of the Resort. This type of cleaning process aids in keeping the appearance at a AAA Diamond standard.

Now, wet extraction is only scheduled on a quarterly, semi-annual, and in some areas annual basis instead of the time consuming and antiquated process we were using in the past.

Overall the process and line of available chemicals are very useful, allowing us the convenience of minimal guest impact, quick dry times, and clean appearance. It is the recommended way to maintain the carpets in a 24/7 operation with a limited work force.

W: Were there any challenges you faced when you first adopted the Whittaker cleaning system?

C: At the time, we had just purchased new wet extraction equipment. There was the decision to spend extra money to bring in another system that we believed would work better. Also, the majority of the industry people were doing wet extraction at that time. And there were relatively few people back in 2004 who were using dry-cleaning. We were kind of on our own and didn’t have a lot of references to go off back then.

W: It’s been nine years since you first started using Whittaker’s products. Have you seen that tide turn? Are more people going towards dry-extraction or do you still feel like the odd-ball out?

C: In the nine years we have been doing this, there has been a complete switch over to dry cleaning. It is more accepted now in the main stream carpet industry and it is kind of a no brainer now. The chemicals have improved and the residue left behind has gotten better. So it has been a huge switch. I believe in another 5 years it is going to be one of the dominant cleaning systems.

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