Home' Inclean : INCLEAN Spt-Oct 2015 Contents 46 INCLEAN September/October 2015
CARPET & RESTORATION
"Bill came from a large drinks manufacturer sales background and
wanted to buy a business. My dad, John, assumed he would choose a
café or corner shop, so when he announced that he'd bought a carpet
cleaning business, we all thought he was crazy," Hickey exclaims.
After failed attempts to change his brother's mind, John realised
the revenue made in one week of $5000 could result in a lucrative
business, and instead decided to do it himself -- after he convinced
Robyn to jump on the bandwagon. "My mother came from the carpet
industry and back then it was unknown to clean carpets using water
extraction so it took a lot to convince her," Hickey reveals. "But before
you knew it, they had bought two machines from John Goldsmith,
who used to be the owner of Research Products, to ft out two vans
from a previous business."
Back then it was a part-time business and Hickey would often join
his father and mother on jobs after school. "Dad was still working for
the ANZ bank at the time so it was a matter of knocking on doors to
get work. The hours were long but the business kept coming."
Hickey quickly learnt the tools of the trade as he was integrated into
the industry. "This isn't a service industry, this is a sales and marketing
industry. It's about selling yourself," he states. "There aren't many
people out there who state they are the best at doing something but
that's what we did. We are the best at cleaning carpet. We are the best
at upholstery cleaning. And we allowed people the chance to prove us
wrong. But nobody was willing to ever do that."
The carpet cleaning strand of the business continued for nine years
before Ayline opened its doors to restoration. "Back then restoration
was unheard of. We fell into it as we cleaned the carpet for an assessor
who asked if we could use our machine to suck the water from carpets
that had been fooded. Of course, we said yes! Not that we knew how
to do it,” he admits with a grin. “But we were determined to fnd
out how." This is when the restoration business took off, and Robyn
delved deeper into that sector.
Without the help of today's Internet, ASE travelled to the U.S. for
answers and it discovered Dri-Eaz. John attended a training school
over there and upon his return the business changed direction. "There
were a lot of mistakes and accidents along the way -- as there always
is when you're learning new techniques -- but he persevered," Hickey
recalls. "Some might not agree but I can honestly say that he was the
creator of the restoration industry in our country."
John and Robyn threw themselves into restoration and with the
right tools and teaching via the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and
Restoration Certifcation (IICRC), they started to capitalise on the
demand for restoration work. This was 12 years since the company’s
inception and the business continued to grow immensely, breaking
outside of the industry mould.
"We started importing the range of Dri-Eaz equipment range. While
other people had it, nobody was importing it in a commercial sense. So
when we started bringing it in, everyone else in the industry wanted it too,
so we became the sole distributor in Australia of Dri-Eaz equipment,"
Hickey explains. "This is how Advanced Specialized Equipment started,
but it was only ever going to be an importer of drying equipment. The
name was created the day the distributorship was approved."
ASE was only ever supposed to be a buying group of drying
equipment for the restoration branch of the company, Ayline. "At
our peak, we were doing about 5,500 water damages and 3,500 fre
damages per year, across Australia and New Zealand, so when you
consider that restoration was still in its infancy, we were seen as the
ones who knew how to do it," notes Hickey.
At that point the Hickeys realised it was time to bring in formal trainers
and in 1996 they brought in Claude Blackburn to teach the frst water
damage restoration classes and they conducted classes in Brisbane,
Melbourne and Sydney, which saw 150 people attend. John became an
IICRC instructor and ASE taught under the Steam Way International
banner, which was the largest supplier of training schools at the time.
At this stage the importing side of the business, ASE, had expanded to
importing portable extractors, chemicals and truck-mounted equipment;
and while it wasn't part of the plan, it was a natural progression.
However, after starting so young Hickey was burnt out and took off
to the U.S. for about eight months and visited all the 'big guys' -- US
Products, Steam Way and Dri-Eaz.
When Hickey returned at the age of 21, ASE changed from being a
part-time addition to a fully-fedged business. At this time Interactive
Training International (ITI) came to life. Today, both father and
son do the training, along with trainers from Restoration Sciences
Academy. The next session, Hickey revealed, will be hosted by U.S.
expert Dr Richard Driscoll.
"We looked at the issues training has in our industry and we've never
been ones to follow; we like to think that we lead or we take a different
path, and the reason we started Interactive Training International was
nothing against other training groups but we found that with all the
IICRC training there was no hands-on component," Hickey explains.
“So ITI was started in 2006.”
They built the interactive training house to cater all areas of
expertise: whether it was carpet cleaning or food and structural
drying; fre, smoke and odour; or even mould remediation, all
participants could receive a complete hands-on program, which no
other training body in Australia -- let alone the southern hemisphere --
can offer. "The money outlaid was never a concern as we wanted the
best training we could offer to our customers," emphasises Hickey.
"We had to have a new training body so that's how ITI was born.
We also write our books and do all the training while the overseeing
body provides the accreditation and marks the exams," he continues.
Continue page 48...
Advanced and specialised in more than just
equipment, ASE does it differently
Advanced Specialized Equipment (ASE) started 16
years ago as another division of the Haniglow Group which itself
started as a carpet cleaning company 32 years ago. This business
was started on the back of John Hickey’s brother Bill who started
Ayline in Brisbane, and was later joined by his brother John and
John’s wife Robyn Hickey. At this stage Grant Hickey was
only eight years old but he can recall the story with ease. Here, he
talks with INCLEAN editor, Kim Taranto, about the building
blocks behind ASE’s growth.
From left: Wayne Keesing, Grant Hickey and Grant Stevens
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