Lisa Wagner – The Rug Chick on Industry Education: Part 2

Air Date: 10-7-2016| Episode: 433

This week we welcome Lisa Wagner “The Rug Chick” to IAQ Radio. Lisa is a smart women who is known for telling it like it is. She is a 2nd generation rug cleaner and industry trainer. She is passionate about industry training and is committed to improving it.

Full Description:

This week we welcome Lisa Wagner “The Rug Chick” to IAQ Radio. Lisa is a smart women who is known for telling it like it is. She is a 2nd generation rug cleaner and industry trainer. She is passionate about industry training and is committed to improving it. Join us at noon eastern time when Lisa Wagner discusses industry education and ways to make it better with Cliff “Z-Man” Zlotnik and RadioJoe Hughes

Z-Man’s Blog:

Smart and Savvy

Lisa Wagner is a 2nd generation rug care expert and industry trainer. I remember first meeting Lisa at a Steamway event in Denver, Colorado. We were seated near one another what became a lengthy dinner in an unmemorable restaurant that was severely understaffed and where dinner for our group ran over three hours. We later served together on the IICRC board and their ethics committee, where I got to know her better and appreciate her more. Lisa is no nonsense, she tells it like it is.

Nuggets mined from today’s interview:

On the IICRC

Like Washington, DC; the IICRC is bureaucratic and political. Concerned about fees and numbers. IICRC Certification doesn’t equal an advanced level of understanding and expertise. IICRC training has hit its ceiling, only way to fix it is creative destruction.

Questions and Answers:

1) You have served twice as a board member on the IICRC board, but you never took the path of becoming an IICRC instructor – why not?

– Teaching to a test, and not agreeing withseveral of the answers. Focus on memorization instead of understanding.

2) Over 6 years ago you and Jim Pemberton wrote an article for Cleanfax called “Training – Is This The Industry’s Weakest Link?” – what led to that article, and what impact did it have at the time?

– Months of discussions about the shortcomings of the current training model led to the article by us. We decided to take a stand. Some very angry replies, and a lot of strong support. We were calling the system out, and it has led to some important changes for training available outside of the industry model. Basic training can be taught with the old system but it must be expanded to help create specialists. Today there are more options outside of the IICRC model.

3) Do the best test takers make the best cleaners?

– Not always. Sometimes this gives a false confidence in the student that can be dangerous in the wrong situations.When they leave a class with questions and gaps in their understanding, this can create problems. They passed a test but this does not mean they know the craft, especially in rugs.

4) You have been a strong proponent that cleaners should take ALL of the courses available instead of just sticking to one path – why is that?

– Shows you different perspectives and biases, so that YOU can learn “how to think” instead of “what to think.” This makes you a better expert.

5) What are the best ways of learning today?

– The model we use for Textile Pro is six months of weekly online modules that cover three phases, technical, operational, and marketing. In the middle of the timeline we have a hands-on workshop of team inspection and cleaning for 3 days. And throughout the program everyone is connected through a group page to post questions about technical how-to, cleaning methods/strategies, how to sell jobs, how to handle problems correctly, how to hire, how to bill, how to market, and how to build relationships with clients. Our goal was not to just train someone on cleaning, but to help them build a successful specialty cleaning business. We plugged in the missing pieces.

– Today through online delivery, hands-on training, and on-line communities you can keep the knowledge growing so that it becomes second nature instead of memorizing facts for a test, and then forgetting them.

6) Is there a place today for IICRC-type training?

– Yes, absolutely. There is a foundation of science and facts that should be taught, and a basic skills level achieved for technicians. And if you have a great instructor, and there are many, you can have the added benefit of education from his/her experience. Ideally though, it should be presented with an extra day of DOING the work and not just sitting and watching slides. But to be top of your field, you do need to seek out additional education that is more hands-on and not test taking (unless the test is actually cleaning something). You also need to move to training that is not just one manufacturer’s chemicals and equipment so that you can truly see the options out in the field.

– IICRC Continuing Education is key. Every cleaner should be keeping up their educational training.

7) If you had a magic wand and could change the IICRC teaching model what would you do?

– I would convert every course into online modules. I would have them take an online test, and then several times a year have regional hands-on training days when they have to put all of it into action. They pass by DOING the work. This would eliminate the mailing in of courses, and manual grading costs. And this would create some large cleaning events. I would collect items for cleaning from various charitable organizations and those in need, and make it a big publicity event so that the region would learn about the group.

Additional comments:

  • There is boundless information available on the internet, the challenge is there is no filter on who to learn from.
  • She partners with Jim Pemberton to developing textile and rug specialists.
  • Millennials consume online training content, whereas owners prefer the hands on.
  • Wants her students’ skills and workmanship to become 2nd
  • During training her students learn to think on their feet.
  • During training students have the opportunity to try new things.
  • Lisa and Jim focus on both the technical skills and the bigger picture business skills.
  • Their certification is proven and demonstrated when student can formally presentand photo-document the chain of events for servicing problem rugs.
  • Consumers don’t know cleaning organizations and/or skilled specialty cleaners exist. Groups need to become better marketers of their value.

New rug trends:

In southern California she is encountering poor quality machine loomed artificial silk products made of viscose (rayon),“Banana Silk”, “Bamboo Silk” being marketed as handmade, real silk rugs. They easily damage and fall apart when cleaned.

Rug Shopping Tips:

  • Color, design and style is very personal. Learn to recognize quality by looking at a back corner to determine if woven or tufted. When tufted the back will be covered and glued.
  • Hand knotted rugs, especially wool ones have better structural integrity and longevity.
  • Many high quality used rugs are available from estate sales and online resale sites.
  • The Iran trade embargo is over, many more Persian rugs are available.
  • It’s a great time to buy…not a great time to sell.

Lisa’s shout outs:

Jim Pemberton who had shared her frustrations with industry training and vision for a better way.

JonDon Products for supporting her when she started training.

Today’s Music:

She’s A Lady  by Tom Jones    YouTube

  • I’m happy about Lisa and Jim’s training success.
  • I like it when good things happen to good people.
  • I especially like it when: good things happen, to good people, who are good friends of mine.

Z-Man signing off




What is the difference between a Persian rug and an Oriental rug?



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