The summer months are a busy time for school districts, especially a large district like Chippewa Valley in Michigan. We talked to Larry Kleinhans, Supervisor of Custodial Services, to find out how Whittaker has impacted his operations since they began using it in 2014.
Whittaker: Tell us a little about your school district.
Larry Kleinhans: Chippewa Valley Schools is a 24-building district; we have 22 instructional 2 non-instructional buildings. Our custodial staff is cleaning approximately 40,000 square feet. We run 3 different shifts at our high schools, and we have the largest high school in the state of Michigan: Dakota High School.
W: What prompted you to make the switch to Whittaker?
L: Throughout the years, we had always done carpet extraction, but I was introduced to the Whittaker System in August 2013. I met your representative Steve Pridon, and I was able to demo the Whittaker machine for about a week at one of the middle schools. We used it next at a clerical desk, where there was a stain that our carpet extraction was not able to remove. Within minutes, while the secretary worked, the stain disappeared. The unit is very quiet and very easy to use. We continued to use that unit at that school and removed numerous stains. There were a couple stains that had been there several years, mainly because of the carpet extraction.
W: Have you had any problems with resoiling?
L: Many times you may be able to get a stain out, but it resoils after 3 weeks. I followed the stains throughout the year, and they never did resoil. So I was very interested in this unit, and finally got together with Steve again in May of 2014.
W: How has the Whittaker System changed your cleaning procedures?
L: We used the Whittaker System at our 16-classroom preschool building, which is a beautiful little building with a lot of carpeting in it. The two custodians were able to clean the building within a week’s time, something that normally takes all summer because with carpet extraction, then the carpets have to dry. We have to put fans on and shut the room down for at least a night. With Whittaker, we were able to clean the room, the stains on the carpeting disappeared, and the carpets looked great. We could put the first room back together as soon as we were finished cleaning the second room. They knocked that building out faster than they ever have, and that’s when we decided we needed these units.
W: What type of feedback have you received from your custodians using the machines?
L: Change is always difficult, so it took some time, but once the custodians started using them, they are doing everything with the machines now. The feedback has been very positive. Overall, we’re extremely happy with the machines.
We just ordered additional supplies, and they were delivered within a day and a half. It is that time of year when we use these machines very heavily, from the middle of June to the first of September.
We had a problem with one of the machines and we had to send it back. The gentleman I spoke to in service was quick to respond, he was there when I called him back, and he quickly sent out the return notice for UPS.
W: What would you say is the biggest benefit that Whittaker offers to your school?
L: It has definitely the decreased dry time. We had a custodian using a carpet extractor and the vacuum motor was not up to par. He cleaned about 4 or 5 classrooms on a Thursday, and when we came in on Monday, we had white carpeting because mold had started to grow on it. So we were not happy with that process. I know for a fact that will not happen with the Whittaker machines. Your system takes the human error out of the cleaning process.
The product itself is also a huge benefit, because we got stains out that we were not able to get out with our standard carpet extraction cleaning supplies. Whatever is in that encapsulating process, it is removing the stains for us.
I have mentioned this unit to other facility managers in the county, and hopefully we can drum up some more interest. When something works, I’m going to talk about it and spread the news.