IAQ Radio Classic: Pete Consigli & The Z-man – A History of the Restoration Industry Parts 1-3

Air Date: 8-24-2018|Episode 514

This weeks IAQ Radio+ episode flashes back to interviews with Pete Consigli and the Z-man that conclude our series on the “History of Restoration” from the viewpoint of these two living legends. The interview started out as a retrospective conversation about their longtime relationship that spanned almost 4 decades, it ended up being a priceless discussion on the  “History of Restoration”, from their perspective in the trenches. These shows were personal, insightful and controversial at times, but most of all come from the heart with a spirit of setting the record straight on many of the industry’s misnomers and folklore! Listen in as two of the industry’s most well known and colorful personalities sit down to reflect on their professional life together as they come to the realization that in their twilight years there is still much to be done and their “work” is still in progress! Join us for a peak into Consigli and Zlotnik’s Restoration Journey with a destination yet to be realized.

IAQ Radio listeners know Pete as a friend of the show and the Global Watchdog who helps recruit guests and support their interviews addressing issues facing the restoration industry. The passing of  industry icon Marty King who founded the original restoration industry trade group in 1971 leaves Pete and Cliff as the only remaining honorary members of RIA. The interviews occurred in 2015 when Pete and Cliff celebrated two milestones; RIA’s 70th Anniversary Convention in March and the 20th anniversary of Summer Camp in August. In March of 2015 in Dallas IAQA inducted Pete into its Hall of Fame for his work with Joe Lsiburek’s legendary Building Science Symposium known as Summer Camp. What most listeners don’t know is that Cliff was there with Pete for the first Summer Camp in 1996 as the 2 invited representatives from the restoration industry! Tune in to listen as Pete and Cliff talk about the milestone events that helped shape the industry that you know today and give IAQ Radio listeners an insiders view on how, why and when things happened!

Z-Man’s Blog:

“A Heck of A day”

James Thomas Anthony Valvano (March 10, 1946 – April 28, 1993), nicknamed “Jimmy V”, was an American college basketball player, coach and broadcaster.  During his tenure as head basketball coach at North Carolina State he won the 1983 NCAA Basketball Tournament. He gave a memorable and inspirational speech at the 1993 ESPY Awards just eight weeks before succumbing to cancer.

Inspired by Jimmy V’s ESPY speech, Pete Consigli made several references to it during his interview today on IAQradio. According to Jimmy V in order to have a full day, we must think, laugh and emotionally be moved to tears. Pete and the late Jimmy V have in common, an Italian heritage, passion and their emotive and expressive nature.

To listen to Jimmy V’s inspirational speech, use this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuoVM9nm42E

When I introduced Pete as master of ceremonies of The Inaugural Water Loss Institute Conference in 1996 in Oakland, California I chose to introduce him by the letters that spelled out his name. While writing this blog I decided it’s time to do it again.

G. Global Industry Watchdog galvanizing, generosity, gentle, giving


Passionate, protective


Tenacious, tireless

Emotional, expressive


Consultant, contagious, calculating (restoration estimator), caustic, calling, capable, catalyst, caring, courageous

Overbearing, organized

Networker, no one networks better than Pete.


Intuitive, intense

Gracious host and executive chef of Summer Camp. Gifted writer

Loud, you’ll often hear him before you see him, loyal


IAQradio listeners, please welcome my good friend and colleague Pete Consigli.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

  • The word “Consigliere” (from which Consigli is derived) Latin consiliārius is Italian for counselor or adviser and entered mainstream American vernacular in 1972 when the movie Godfather was released.
  • Pete chronicled his 40 years of experience in the specialty cleaning and disaster restoration business.
  • Pete and the Z-Man first met in 1977 at a pre-RIA Convention in Florida.
  • Pete was a good student of the cleaning and restoration industry, who learned his technical lessons well and mastered his craft.
  • Pete an avid reader of business and personal improvement books, applies lessons learned from both in his consulting practice and in life. Pete is a consultant to groups, associations, contractors, company CEO’s and other consultants.
  • Pete has an uncanny and great memory for events, dates and places.
  • When you ask Pete what time it is, he can be very entertaining as he often first tells you how to build a clock.
  • Passionate about his friends, food and the industry in which he has decided to earn his livelihood.
  • Over the course of his career, Pete never sought the limelight preferring to work behind the scenes which is where he has done much of his best work.
  • I appreciate loyalty; Pete can be loyal to a fault.
  • He has an innate sense of fairness which is for him both a gift and a curse, similar to his uncanny memory for details!
  • Pete promised that it would be a full interview filled with thought, passion, emotion and some laughter and he delivered on the promise.

Superiority of a non-reimbursement model

To me its common sense that volunteers who pay their own travel and other related expenses in conjunction with association service would be more committed to serve organizations than would volunteers in which groups pay the expenses. As long as the group could afford to do so, the IICRC has paid for the travel, food and lodging expenses of volunteers. The group also provides stipends for some officers and other key positions.

In my analysis the RIA is far from perfect and has made more than their share of mistakes; RIA volunteers have always paid their own expenses.

IICRC, the “dark ages”

For several years the terms of Pete and Z-Man coincided on the IICRC board of directors. The Z-Man coined them the “dark ages” when association volunteers exerted their power and influence to become paid consultants “the dark side” with quickly escalating annual contracts. During that time the IICRC was not inclusive and not collaborative. During that time the IICRC was openly antagonistic and hostile to other groups. The IICRC refused to grant reciprocity for other group’s training programs. I liken the group’s “Instructors & Schools Committee” to a corrupt teacher’s union where cronyism abounds and barrier to competition is the norm.

IICRC, the “age of enlightenment”

A strong reform movement within the IICRC is trying to restore collaboration and relations with other groups and to repair the remnants of old damage done.

Legacy and Vision for the Future:

Pete has shared a “Mission Impossible” vision with some select industry insiders as part of his efforts to facilitate collaboration between RIA and IICRC to unify the industry for the greater good of all its stakeholders. These efforts have been received with mixed reviews due to special interests, myopic thinking and a fear of change in Pete’s opinion. Why the IICRC and RIA are not working together for the greater good is a mystery and makes no sense to many. A case could be made that RIA is the IICRC’s largest stakeholder in terms of, what other single industry entity has more certified firms and technicians, buys and/or supports more IICRC products and initiatives than the members of RIA and those industry organizations strategically aligned with the RIA? Anyone who takes a close look as an honest broker at what the two organizations stand for should come to the realization that it is apparent both organizations have much more in common than they do differences.

Mission Impossible?

The mission involves and will require leadership, team building, overcoming challenges, persistence, integrity, open-mindedness, inclusiveness, tolerance, patience, treating people with dignity and respect, creative collaboration and finally reverence and honor for your history and traditions.

If you accept this mission, the industry will be rewarded with 10 things + 1 really big one to have:

  • A unified Global Voice to deal with issues and threats affecting the trade, profession and business of cleaners and restorers
  • A Place where under one tent the industry and all its stakeholders can meet twice a year to focus on their education and growth
  • A Vehicle to differentiate and disseminate best practices for technical and business issues affecting the profession
  • A Means to partner with academia, government and the scientific community to validate the profession and business of cleaning, restoration, remediation, reconstruction, inspection and maintenance from research, quality control and marketplace surveys
  •  Industry “owned” locations for practitioners of the trade to come see and appreciate the industry’s historical roots, understanding where they came from by paying respect to the Founding Fathers and Trail Blazers who toiled the fertile soil
  • The Assurance and Confidence you wish to have with customers of the products and services the industry provides that improve the quality of life and give a peace of mind to those who require  these products and services
  • The Respect and Credibility you cherish and yearn for from those who often burden the bulk of the cost to pay for the products and service the industry provides that includes a wide range of 3rd party payers
  • Companies who will be able to hire and compensate people (including veterans of our armed forces) who will make a living for the occupation they choose as their livelihood, thus supporting their family, buying a house, planning their kids future, in return they will give back to the industry
  • An Industry where graduates from institutions of higher learning with a degree in the profession will be desired and sought after
  • A Place for those who pioneered a path for the profession will know when it is time to pass the baton of stewardship so they can retire knowing they gave everything they had to “Make it Better”
  • A Time when they will know the Promise they made to themselves and each other has been fulfilled and their legacy can be entrusted to the next generation who will take the industry to place they never thought possible for those who will stand on their shoulders to see higher and further just like they did for those who came before them!

In the Final Analysis:

(At the time of this printing the information below was taken from website’s and/or generally accepted by the organization’s printed materials)

RIA’s Mission Statement is to: “Provide Industry Leadership, Support Science and Promote Best Practices for Cleaning and Restoration”

RIA’s Member Motto is: “We Make it Better, We Promise!”

The IICRCA’s mission is: “To be a global voice for the inspection, cleaning and restoration related industries by uniting allied organizations through education, advocacy, research and networking services to the membership”

The IICRC’s Purpose, History and Values are:


The Mission of the IICRC is to establish and advance globally recognized standards and certifications for the inspection, cleaning, restoration and installation industries.

The IICRC serves as an independent, certification body that sets and promotes high standards and ethics, and advances communication and technical proficiency within the inspection, cleaning and restoration industries. The IICRC also ensures that when consumers hire a clean trust-Certified Firm or technician, they have hired experts who will provide reasonable assurance that work will be completed in accordance with the industry’s “standard of care.”

History: Over 40 years of building trust

Formed in 1972 by Ed York, originally founded as the International Institute of Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Inc. (IICUC), the now Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) are recognized internationally as a knowledgeable industry voice and resource. Overall there are currently more than 53,000 active certified technicians, many with multiple certifications, and more than 6,000 Certified Firms around the world.


Respect – We will treat everyone we encounter in our interactions through the IICRC in the same manner we would wish to be treated.

Responsible – We will work to assure that the obligations and stated goals of the IICRC are met in a timely fashion.

Integrity – We will establish and maintain a culture characterized by honesty, high values and exceptional standards of conduct.

Excellence – We will accept nothing less than the best in leadership, quality and service.

Expert – We will continue to build the IICRC’s reputation as the leading authority and source of professional knowledge in the industry.

Some sage advice to think about!

  • “Know where we started, where we are, where we are going to be? Are we willing to work for it?” Jimmy V Valvano
  • “Keep dreams alive in spite of a problem.” Jimmy V Valvano
  • “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” Jimmy V Valvano
  • “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Teddy Roosevelt
  • “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke
  • “Get your facts straight first, before you try to distort them!” Mark Twain
  • “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana
  • “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all other possibilities!”  Sir Winston Churchill
  • “Every man owes a part of his time and money to the business or industry in which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.” Teddy Roosevelt

Pete promised that it would be a full interview filled with thought, passion, emotion and some laughter and he delivered on the promise.

Today’s Music: Godfather Theme, Mission Impossible Theme, and YouTube

Thanks for listening to this week’s extended episode of IAQradio!

Z-Man Signing Off


What are the first four spoken words in the movie Godfather 1?


“I believe in America”

A Heck of a Day part 2

On this week’s episode of IAQradio we continued our discussion with my longtime industry colleague and friend Pete Consigli.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

MEHRC, fertile ground for recruiting

In our quest to find new knowledge outside the organization and training resources for RIA’s Water Loss Specialist program Pete and Z-Man were drawn to programs conducted by Mid-Atlantic Environmental Hygiene Resources Center (MEHRC). MEHRC was a Philly based nonprofit training organization specializing in indoor environmental specialty training: mold remediation, building science, indoor environmental quality inspection, HVAC system design and maintenance. MEHRC taught the first mold remediation course. Sue Smith was MEHRC’s administrator. MEHRC was supported by 16 colleges, universities and hospitals, and EPA Region 3. Some of the people we met there include: Building inspectors: John Tiffany & Howard Bader, microbiologist/mycologists Chin Yang & Phil Morey, Occupational & Environmental Physician Eckardt Johanning, Building Science guru Joe Lstiburek, Mike McGuinness, HVAC system cleaning/refurbishing expert Davidge Warfield, etc. (Pete and I were honored to join the MEHRC faculty co-instructing courses in restoration, remediation and damage repair.)

Westford Building Science Symposium Summer Camp gets iconic and cult-like            

It was at a MEHRC event that we first met Joe Lstiburek. Joe shared his idea to host a summer conference for a diverse group of attendees interested in building science. From modest origins the event has grown to a core group of 500 attendees from around the world. Specialty food items are brought and shipped from far away. A commercial kitchen has been built. Pete’s work as executive chef and master of ceremonies put him in the IAQA hall of fame.

Founders depart, cleaners left long ago                     

RIA’s original predecessor was the National Institute of Rug Cleaning (NIRC) founded in the 1946. The founders were in-plant rug cleaners who felt that the superior method for rug & carpet cleaning was hauling to and from a plant for cleaning. Plant rug cleaning involved a significant investment in building and equipment. These plants used mechanized washers, wringers and dry rooms to clean rugs. NIRC resisted upstarts who cleaned rugs and carpets on-location. [1] The organization broadened adopted a division model and changed its name to Association of Interior Décor Specialists (AIDS) which at one time: carpet & upholstery cleaners, oriental rug cleaners, drapery cleaners, carpet installers, fire restorers. The businesses of most plant cleaners who refused to diversify suffered. Due to the negative association with the acronym AIDS, the group changed its name to Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration (ASCR). From an economic standpoint, plant rug cleaning was declining while disaster restoration was increasing. The number of association members interested in disaster restoration grew while the number of plant cleaners remained stable. Member technical training is a primary and common mission for trade associations. There was more for restorers and less for plant cleaners. Asking for forgiveness, not permission, to better serve the majority of association members the board of directors decided to rebrand the association as RIA in 2007. In 2010 the Rug Specialists departed to form Association of Rug Care Specialists. RIA is moving to global model. RIA currently has Councils in Australia and Canada. RIA has influence in British Damage Management Association. The United Nations is a global model based in NYC, no one says the UN is an American organization. Pete looks forward to the time when people say the RIA is a global organization based in DC.

Catastrophic disasters occur worldwide. According to Pete, RIA is moving to a global model with new councils in Australia and Canada. The United Nations is a global model based in NYC, Pete sees RIA as a global model based in DC.

The influencers  

Pete says he studied the ancient Greeks: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle who thousands of years ago “figured out important stuff” like banking, medicine, social dynamics, architecture, foundation of western civilization. Gandhi high ethical standards of doing things right. Often quotes US founding fathers: Franklin, Jefferson & Adams.

  • For his consulting on marketing and strategy he credits the books of: marketing position gurus Reis & Trout, principles of Stephen Covey, business improvement consultants Peter Drucker, Jim Collins & Tom Peters (“Big R” importance of taking time off for thought and reevaluation)
  • Mentors and peers: Marty King, Major Long, Reed Dow, Rusty Amarante, Mac Pearce, Sue Smith & Mike McGuiness.
  • The US is founded on the rule of law. Our industry underestimates the pioneering and valuable work done by industry attorneys in advisory roles (foot soldiers of American democracy) Ed Cross, Harvey Cohen, Mike Bowdoin & Dave Governo. Peteism: “We are contractors, we use legal processes to contract with people.”
  • Summer camp guys: Lew Harriman, Ashley Easterby, “Big Ed from State Farm”. Pete has clearly been inspired by Joe Lsitburek’s statement “standing on the shoulders of those who came before us to see higher and farther”.
  • DKI guys: founder Ed York, Don Larson (who added the professional emergency response component to DKI), Denny Jensen & Frank Headen.
  • John Downey fellow industry watchdog

Attempting to come together for the greater good.                                                               

For 3 decades the IICRC and RIA have been the two largest and influential groups in the cleaning and restoration field. Much of the cleaning industry still falls underneath one of their umbrellas or both. Leaders within both groups have realized the value of collaboration and over the years there have been multiple attempts to collaborate.

  • In the 1980’s RIA became a shareholder of the IICRC.
  • Early 1990s partnership board of the IICRC regional associations was tried (Institute for Cleaning and Restoration Associations) the predecessor to the IICRC’s Council of Associations.
  • Mid 1990s an attempt was made to unite the industry by bringing the IICRC and RIA together. It was suggested that association activities be separated from education and standards following the models used in industrial hygiene. At the 11th hour the discussion fell apart sabotaged by personal egos and politics. Association: convention, networking, member services, trade journal, education.
  • Bah Rumbarger Pete calls Chuck Rumbarger (who has 40 years of association management experience) the Peter Drucker of Association Management. In 2008, Chuck was retained to facilitate discussions between RIA and Connections to work together to unite the industry. The RIA delegation was led by Rusty Amarante. The Connections delegations was led by Craig Kersemeier. While the total of RIA’s members equaled or exceeded the combined total number of members of Connections associations at the end of the day RIA due to spoilers RIA was offered the opportunity to join Connections as 1 of 14 members rather than being an equal partner. The discussions fell apart.

Industry unification requires compromise, concentrating on the greater good, requires transparency & honest communication and a wariness of conflict of interest. In order to go forward we must move passed the past! Radio Joe added that the IAQA and the IAQ Council were also ultimately unsuccessful in their attempt to unify.

Standard setting                                                                                                                            

The sewage intrusion document [2] was the predecessor of IICRC Water Damage Standard  S-500 and its first two revisions. The 3rd revision also didn’t consider the work done in the prior versions or the third party evaluators. The 3rd revision introduced the acronym IEP (Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) into the industry lexicon. The decision to include the term IEP placed the IICRC into intentional competition with other groups such as IAQA, AIHA & ABIH. The successful marketing, sale and positioning of the S-500 Standard led IICRC to write a mold standard S-520.

RIA had an alternate strategy on standards. RIA’s position was that standards provide reference guidance, that contractors should be familiar with all available information and combine them to best meet the needs of their clients.

Abuse of power        

Historically IICRC consultants, past presidents, committee chairs have misused their positions to bolster their own reputation, travel the world at registrant expense while feathering their own nests. Lack of the necessary oversight has permitted abuse in the instructor and school approval process allowing those on committees to shut out competition. These abuses have driven volunteers and trainers away and hurt the reputation of the organization.

Consolidation, national firms and franchisors                                                                                 

Entry into the insurance repair business is easy and low cost. Large national firms and franchises make it harder for mom and pop restoration firms to compete. According to Pete the industry is treading water, time will tell whether the industry will upswing or decline.


Insurance companies are asserting their dominance through use of 3rd party administrators. The relationship between insurance carriers and contractors is tense. Pete said that whatever happens in auto body and collision filters down to restoration. A car is a thing, a house is thing. Not as easy to apply concepts from auto to homes.  The insurance industry wants cookie cutter solutions to property damage claims. Mercedes Benz autos cost more than Chevrolets. Mercedes owners pay more for their vehicles, service and repairs cost more. Mercedes owners are likely to be fussier and expect more. It’s the same with homeowners.  There have been exposes on the charlatans on duct cleaning and mold remediation. The insurance industry paints all restorers with the same brush “you guys”. Restoration pros need to distance themselves from opportunistic gougers who over-scope and overcharge.

Passing the baton  

Economists and scientific types can provide specific data, Pete speculates and follows his gut.  According to him there is an industry maturation curve, he opines the industry has leveled off and is treading water delicately poised either for an upswing or a decline. He is an optimist, looking for the sunny skies not edge of cliff. The relationship between contractors and insurance companies is tenuous. Standards are evolving, states are passing new regulations. Fractionalization exists, multinational and national firms, regional firms and franchisors; the independent restoration firms need someone to lean on and brand with.

The baby boomer “Old Industry Jedi” are retiring and dying off. Industry leadership and stewardship is being passed onto the next generation. Older and younger generations don’t think alike nor do they share the same values. The younger generations are preparing for leadership.

The industry needs to set aside pettiness driven by special interest. The restoration industry needs a unified representative voice on operational standards and government regulations. It’s time for the most serious people to lead. We need leaders who set good examples.

Most pressing issues                                                                                                              

  • Odds are that weather patterns and acts of terrorism will increase the need for restoration services globally. Regardless who pays, the work will need to be done.
  • Increased patent litigation.
  • Emergence of TPAs. Profit margins are falling while the costs of mandated reporting are increasing. Different TPAs have different rules and guidelines. What documentation needs to be done? Standardize TPA practices to cut down on extra work restorers are required to do and not be paid for. Technically experienced restorers should be calling the shots on jobs not technically inexperienced TPAs.
  • Low barriers and cost to industry entry. Some in the industry want a higher government imposed barrier to entry. According to Pete, government should provide safety for citizens and allow economy to flourish.
  • True standardization, RIA is trying to reach consensus on its Certified Restorer Curriculum Body of Knowledge and has reached out to other groups and organizations.
  • RIA continues to work with Purdue Professor Randy Rapp on collegiate programs to build credibility with government and industry.
  • Address big issues collectively as an industry.


  • Separation of church and state– our founding fathers separated religion from administration of government. Our industry nonprofits should do something similar separating trade association issues from standards and certification. Trade association events would be where members gather to learn and network, see new products, get assistance to grow and develop their businesses. Certification, standards and technical peer reviewed journal should be handled by another organization.

Start meaningful dialogue and process to work together– Politics in American reflect our society. Our industry groups are a reflection of our society and government complete with partisanship and special interests. According to the ancient Greeks a revolution is needed every 20 years to clear out the corruption.

  • The issues– the association needs to: identify and address the issues most important to their members, locate the right writers, right speakers, obtain the right leadership, the correct interaction models for committees, and set a theme for the annual conference to address the pressing issues.

The associations must: control special interests and conflicts of interest, establish rules for vendors and provide a platform for exchange of information. Associations don’t take sides in business disputes or competition among members.

  • Associations do what businesses can’t do individuality.
  • Preserve the industry allows for smooth passing of baton to next generation.

Golden age of restoration,

Pete wrote a Founding Fathers of Restoration article wrote in 2007 and is ready to write a sequel and discuss: where we are, where we are going and how to pass the baton of stewardship.

Maturing of industry

The mission, core principal and vision of the IICRC and RIA have much in common. The US Marine Corps motto is “semper fidelis –always faithful” is about loyalty. The historical global impact of the USMC is admirable. The USMC is the only organization in human history that can land anywhere in the world and go to work in 6 hours. Pete’s vison for a mature restoration industry is combined industry response “we make it better, we promise” to a global disasters in 24 hours. The only way this will happen if there is a global organization under one umbrella with its members working together for the greater good.

Role of restoration is underestimated

After the loss of a loved one, not many things more important than the emotional impact of a catastrophic damage event. Insurance companies seem often to forget about the customer who experienced devastation. The insurance repair industry needs to work with government and the insurance industry to serve the public, doing together what we can’t do individually.  RIA website we make it better, we promise.

3rd party certification

According to RadioJoe the government wants and is pushing 3rd party certification on supervisory level. Z-Man opines that the industry obsession with 3rd party certification is misguided. How does 3rd party certification benefit the consumer, 3rd party certification simply validates that the certification process complied with a bureaucratic process. There are No Certifications for asbestos or lead abatement. Government licensing programs training workers and supervisors.

Today’s music: “Godfather Theme” by Slash Guns and Roses

Z-Man signing off


Name the south Philly mobster who said “I’m a cook not a crook” when he took the witness stand in his own defense during a racketeering trial in 2001 before being sentenced and serving 7 years in prison and who now owns a NJ restaurant called the Kitchen Consigliere Café?


Angelo Lutz

[1] Ed York claimed that NIRC’s refusal to allow him to join was his motivation for starting his Society of Cleaning Technicians (SCT).

[2] Suggested Guidelines for Remediation of Damage from Sewage Backflow into Buildings Michael A. Berry, Ph.D.; Jeff Bishop; Claude Blackburn; Eugene C. Cole, Dr. P.H.; William G. Ewald; Terry Smith; Nathan Suazo; and Steve Swan Mr. William G. Ewald Health Scientist Environmental Criteria and Assessment Office U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (MD-5