Slow & Steady

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | December 1, 2016

In a tumultuous environment, steady gains posted in the industrial and institutional cleaning sector are welcomed.

The buzz at the recently concluded Interclean Show was more of a hum, as most new product introductions expanded on well-known concepts rather than introduce entirely new lines. Still, with uncertainty so prevalent in so many sectors, slow and steady growth is most welcome to suppliers and their customers.

Interclean, the annual trade show put together by the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA), is the biggest event in North America for the industrial and institutional cleaning industry. Despite the subdued nature, ISSA maintained there were increases in the number of attendees and exhibitors. The show attracted 16,637 visitors from 74 countries. On the buyer side, distributors represented much of the increase, accounting for 42% of the total. End user turnout was strong too; of the total buyers at the show, 36% were building service contractors and in-house service providers. Among the 740 exhibitors, 132 were new, and 20% came from outside the US, drawing from 28 countries.

The Big News

Some of the biggest news from the show floor came from two of the category’s best-known names—SC Johnson and Diversey.

Sealed Air will spin off its Diversey Care business, while the remaining Sealed Air business will continue as an independent company. The company maintains that by creating two companies, New Sealed Air and New Diversey, each will focus on a distinct set of strategic objectives, creating enhanced shareholder values.

New Diversey, to be led by Dr. Ilham Kadri, president of Diversey Care, will be a pure-play, hygiene and cleaning solutions company. For the 12 months ended June 30, 2016, New Diversey generated $2.6 billion in sales and had adjusted EBITDA of $305 million.

Meanwhile, SC Johnson announced that it was ready to reenter the I&I category, several years after selling its Diversey business to Sealed Air. Now, following a series of moves, SCJ is back in a category it played in from the 1930s to the 1960s.

“This is the right time to re-enter the I&I business,” said Fisk Johnson, chairman and CEO, SC Johnson, in a statement. “Our purchase of the Deb Group and Steris Applied Infection Control and the recent move to bring back our SC Johnson-branded products from Sealed Air/Diversey to the new SC Johnson Professional business gives us a lot of momentum to re-enter this space in a big way.”

SC Johnson acquired the Deb Group in 2015 and Steris Applied Infection Control earlier this year. Last month, the company announced that it will end its existing brand license agreement with Sealed Air Corporation. As a result, Sealed Air will no longer be responsible for distributing SC Johnson branded products to the professional market. This agreement will expire in most countries on May 2, 2017. In Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Czech Republic and Poland, the agreement expires on January 1, 2017. Professional and institutional purchasers in Asia, Eastern Europe and South America can purchase a broad range of SC Johnson’s market leading consumer products direct.

Ecolab, the biggest player in the I&I category, made a move of its own last month with the sale of its Swisher restroom cleaning business to Enviro-Master. The unit had sales of $28 million in 2015. Ecolab continues to operate the warewashing, kitchen specialty, laundry and housekeeping cleaning and sanitizing products and services business of Swisher Hygiene, serving the foodservice, hospitality, retail and healthcare markets.

“The restroom cleaning business provides an important service to the marketplace, but was not a good fit with our long-term goals and objectives. We thank the team for their efforts and wish them the best moving forward with Enviro-Master,” said Bob Sherwood, executive vice president and general manager, Ecolab Institutional North America.

What’s in Demand?

While the overall market growth may be tepid, there are pockets of growth to be found, noted Laura Mahecha, healthcare and I&I industry expert at Kline & Company.

“Hand care is growing faster than most of the rest of the market,” she said. “Companies are trying to present themselves to the endusers and their distributors as value-added health companies that keep people and facilities cleaner.”

The link between cleanliness and overall health has never been stronger, which helps explain the better growth rates for disinfectants and sanitizers, too, according to Mahecha. Gojo is the leading supplier of hand care products to the I&I cleaning industry with a nearly 18% market share. Ecolab is the No. 2 player in the hand-cleaning segment thanks to its leading position within food service. Meanwhile, Zep is No. 3.

Purell’s No. 1 position in hand care made it an easy choice for Gojo to expand into two hard surface categories. In October, the company rolled out Purell disinfecting and sanitizing sprays into the foodservice, healthcare and professional markets. The formula kills germs such as MRSA, the cold and flu virus and norovirus within 30 seconds. The no-rinse, food-contact surface formula received Design for the Environment (DfE) Certification.

“Customers have asked, ‘what took you so long?’” noted Stuart Webster, product manager. “Since its introduction, sales have exceeded expectations.”

One reason is because among the 3,000 EPA-registered surface disinfectants and sanitizers, less than 100 have the EPA’s Category IV lowest toxicity rating, and of those, less than 10 have the DfE Certification. At the same time, the Purell formulas are priced on par with other premium sanitizers and disinfectants, according to Stuart. Gojo executives have been so pleased with the introduction that more are on the way.

“This is the first step in building a Purell megabrand,” he told Happi. “It’s a great fit with our leadership position in hand sanitizers.”

As germ concerns spread, schools, restaurants and health care facilities are emphasizing personal hygiene, which has provided a lift to many players in the category. GP Pro, Atlanta, for example, unveiled its premium restroom collection at ISSA. The lineup includes the ActiveAire air care suite of products such as the ActiveAire Freshener Dispenser for stalls, and active and passive freshener dispensers for the room.

“This is a special year for us, as air care is a new business,” explained Gloria Potichko, marketing and content, GP Pro. Air care has even made it to the toilet tissue dispensers. Last year, the company rolled out Compact with ActiveAire tissue dispenser.

More innovations are on the way. According to Potichko, during the next 18 months, GP Pro will roll out 30 innovations for the I&I market. All these rollouts are necessary since, according to GP Pro estimates, the average person spends nearly 400 days of his life in a public restroom! It’s no wonder then that GP Pro is determined to elevate the average restroom’s image. According to one survey, 64% of Americans flush public toilets with their feet, 60% open the door handle with toilet paper, 48% shut the door with their butt, and 39% use elbows whenever possible to avoid hand contact. One can only imagine how they would react if they learn the germ load on their cellphone and touch screens after “toilet texting!”

And that’s where Whoosh! comes in. The formula debuted in 2011 as a car cleaner, but when CEO Jason Greenspan spilled a bit on his iPad he was amazed at just how clean the screen looked. Two years later, the company pivoted to tech hygiene and since then has cleaned more than one million screens.

“Cellphones are dirtier than toilet seats; their germ loads are similar to doorknobs,” Greenspan asserted.

Whoosh! is available in major retailers such as Target, Staples and Bed Bath & Beyond, but company executives want more—much more.

On the Floor

For years, I&I marketers have told Happi that to own the floor, is to control the commercial cleaning business. As a result every key player offered floor-finishing products in an effort to grab a larger share of their customers’ business. But in recent years, floor care has become something of a stepchild in the I&I category.

“Endusers are cutting back on stripping and waxing floors,” explained Mahecha. “When school budgets get cut, the first thing to go is floor care.”

As a result, floor care product sales have been slipping for years, although Mahecha said sales are beginning to level.

Next month, Bona is expanding its floor care lineup with Winter Cleaner that promises to clean and protect hardwood floor by removing salts tracked in during the winter. According to Bona, the unique formula quickly and safely breaks down and lifts away calcium, magnesium and sodium salts. The Bona Commercial System Hardwood Floor cleaner can be used on unwaxed, polyurethane finished wood floors.

“They’re more durable tools for professionals to use on a regular basis, explained Tiffany Baird, brand manager, sport/jan-san, Bona.

Procter & Gamble Professional’s new Pro Line floor finish stripper is butyl-free and has an extremely low odor, explained Mike Weber, principal scientist, P&G.

“We’ve really built up our finished floor care offering to meet customer need,” he told Happi.

The formula saves time as it removes a variety of finishes and sealers to help eliminate the need to strip twice, according to P&G. The stripper features a proprietary combination of solvents to make it as effective as traditionally high pH strippers.

To ensure worker safety, I&I suppliers offer a range of training systems to make sure products are used correctly. Spartan Chemical recently updated its CleanCheck training system, which offers modules for training janitorial staff on how to clean offices, restrooms, carpets and hard floors; it also has a safety module. The training system can also be accessed online as well.

“Training is critical for our industry; especially with the high rate of turnover,” explained Cali Sartor, director of marketing, Spartan Chemical. Last year, CleanCheck earned ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Training Standard.

“This makes sure that the facility, staff and endusers are safe and compliant.”

Language barriers are often an issue in the I&I segment. To break down that barrier, Swept recently rolled out its Enhanced Translation feature. Designed for mobile and desktop, it enables managers and cleaners to communicate using more than 100 languages. Once set, teams can review location messages, and read problem reports and cleaning instructions in their native tongues.

Kline will take an in-depth look at the US floor care machinery and equipment market next year in a new report. Also, in 2017, Kline will publish a report on US janitorial and housekeeping cleaning products.

End-Market Stats

Despite the growing popularity of the AirBnB model, the traditional lodging industry continues to make gains. According to a recent report by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, in 2014, the number of US properties rose nearly 3% to 53,432 with the number of guest rooms climbing to nearly 5 million. According to AHLA, 60% of guests traveled for leisure.

Within the US restaurant industry, sales will reach $783 billion this year, representing the seventh consecutive year of growth, albeit at a moderate pace, according to the National Restaurant Association. Moreover, the NRA noted last month that restaurant operators have a growing sense of dread. Only 17% of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, while 29% said they think conditions will worsen. The rest expect economic conditions in six months to be about the same.

The near term prospects are much brighter in the US long-term care industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2014 there were 4,800 adult day services centers, 12,400 home health agencies, 4,000 hospices, 15,600 nursing homes and 30,200 residential care communities. Those numbers are expected to grow as more than 70% of Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Those who make it to 65 have a 40% chance of entering a nursing with a 20% chance of staying there at least five years—which translates into a lot of buckets and bottles of disinfectants and sanitizers!

Health care will provide another lift to the I&I segment. According to the American Hospital Association, there are nearly 5,700 hospitals in the US, and US health spending is rising more than 5%. The average cost per inpatient day was $2,346 for nonprofit hospitals and $1,798 for for-profit facilities.

That’s more good news for I&I companies as a hospital’s perceived cleanliness can result in better patient experiences. According to a new study commissioned by Compass One Healthcare and Press Ganey, patients’ perceptions of a hospital’s cleanliness can have a major impact on their overall care and hospital experience. Specifically, the data show correlations between patients’ perceptions of room cleanliness and three important categories: the risk of hospital-acquired infections; a hospital’s score on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey; and scores on the HCAHPS teamwork indicators.

“It’s no surprise that cleanliness is an outcome that really matters to patients and their families,” said Compass One Healthcare CEO Bobby Kutteh. “But the research connects the importance of a hospital’s Environmental Services team to the overall patient experience and how their performance can affect a hospital’s brand.”

Because patients are more likely to recommend a hospital they perceive to be clean, it makes cleanliness a target for improvement for all hospitals.

“The overall patient experience is affected by every interaction in a patient’s health care journey, whether directly or indirectly involved in the delivery of care,” said James Merlino, MD, president and CMO, strategic consulting, Press Ganey. “How patients perceive the cleanliness of their care environment can not only influence key drivers of patient loyalty, but also enable the delivery of safe, high quality, and effective care through a reduced risk of hospital acquired infections.”

According to the research, the strong correlation between patients’ perception of cleanliness and hospital-acquired infections supports the idea that patients can judge cleanliness. This finding validates the important role that a hospital’s Environmental Services (EVS) staff plays in patients’ evaluation of their hospital experience.

Cleaner is healthier. That’s no surprise to marketers and suppliers of institutional cleaning products! 

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