A job that, when done well, goes unnoticed

Author: Gene Stowe

Cleaner John Pride knows the inside of all University buildings on and off campus. "Every building on campus, I eventually get to," he says. "It's just like a wheel." John Pride

Clean living at Notre Dame has gotten easier.

Recent equipment upgrades have cut carpet-cleaning time in half and tile-stripping time to one-tenth, without any chemicals.

Jeff Edgerly, who became assistant director of Building Services early last year, collaborated with front-line cleaners Mike Crabtree, John Pride, Virjilio “Ve” Echevarria and Terry Tubicsak, most with a decade’s experience, to chart a new course.

“We’re always being asked to do more with less. Technology is usually the game changer,” says Edgerly.

Support for the transformation came from Shannon Cullinan, associate vice president for campus services; Valerie RiChard, director of facilities, building and landscape services; Chris Hatfield, associate director of building services; and supervisor Dawn Bell.

A machine that uses vibration and high-pressure water for stripping replaced noxious chemicals, a process far more friendly both to the workers and to the environment and one that gets the job done in one-tenth the time.

“We took a process that required a mop bucket, a side-by-side, a wet-vac, another mop bucket to rinse—we took four pieces of equipment down to one and increased their productivity at least times 10,” Edgerly says.

Modern walk-behind or ride-on equipment replaced cumbersome truck-based hoses for carpet cleaning. A building that took seven hours to clean now takes 3½ hours.

Last fall break, the workers managed to clean the hall and public area carpets on nearly all the floors of all 29 dorms. In the past, they reached only the first floor on short breaks.

Dorms are cleaned four times per year—fall, semester, spring and summer breaks—and academic buildings are cleaned twice a year. The dorms have some 300,000 square feet of carpeting. The scheduled deep cleaning comes in addition to on-call spot cleaning.

“We get work orders every day,” Bell says. “They spill coffee or juice. The winter is really hard on the carpeting. During football season we get a lot of carpet requests.”

The crew also does windows, although the cleaning of upper-floor outside windows is outsourced.

Officials are considering new ride-on equipment that would clean 20,000 square feet of carpet in an hour, a process that currently takes eight hours.

He gets to every building on campus

John Pride’s first assignment as a carpet cleaner for Notre Dame in 2007 was Carroll Hall in the summer, with temperatures more than 100 degrees in the dorm as he dragged 25-foot hoses from floor to floor.

“I thought I was going to pass out,” he recalls. “But I got it done. I had to get it done. There’s a schedule.”

He takes pride in cleaning up after students, faculty and staff, a task that goes unnoticed when it’s done well.

Pride knows the inside of all Notre Dame’s buildings, even off-campus sites such as the Center for Children and Families on Ironwood Drive.

“Every building on campus, I eventually get to. It’s just like a wheel,” he says. “We keep going around and around.”