Meet the Experts with Robert Mann

Rug Restoration Unveiled

Hosted by: Aaron Groseclose and Tim Baker

Discover the artistry of rug restoration with Robert Mann of Robert Mann Oriental Rugs. Embark on a journey tracing Robert's illustrious career spanning over four decades, as he unveils the secrets behind preserving Oriental and Southwestern rugs and textiles.
Webinar #20201216

Join us for a captivating session of “Meets The Experts” featuring Robert Mann, the visionary behind Robert Mann Oriental Rugs (RMOR). Delve into the intricate world of rug craftsmanship and restoration as Robert shares his illustrious journey, spanning over four decades in the industry.

In February 1978, Robert embarked on his rug repair odyssey under the tutelage of an Iranian master in Denver. His passion for rugs, fueled by extensive travels to rug-producing regions, laid the foundation for his illustrious career. Initially, he honed his skills by undertaking basic repairs for rug shops and dealers, often resorting to unconventional methods like bathtub cleaning.

As his expertise burgeoned, so did his enterprise. RMOR’s modest beginnings in Boulder gradually evolved into a thriving venture, culminating in the establishment of a state-of-the-art wash plant in Denver’s Northwest district in January 1982. Over the years, RMOR expanded its operations, relocating to larger premises to accommodate its burgeoning clientele and workforce.

In August 2018, RMOR faced a monumental relocation spurred by Denver County’s redevelopment plans. After years of perseverance, they unveiled their new 24,000 square foot facility at 2151 W56th Avenue, equipped with cutting-edge technology for rug cleaning and restoration.

Specializing in Oriental and Southwestern rugs and textiles, RMOR offers a comprehensive suite of services, including repairs, restoration, mounting, appraisal, and expert consultation. Their esteemed clientele comprises private individuals, dealers, and prestigious institutions, with projects ranging from residential rug cleaning to large-scale museum endeavors.

Venture into the realm of rug restoration and preservation with Robert Mann as he shares insights gleaned from a lifetime dedicated to the artistry of rug craftsmanship.

into it too far we were in the last building i was ever gonna buy the one prior about a fifteen thousand square foot space acre and a half of land city and county of denver decided it would be a great parking lot for the stockyard stock show uh yeah bought us out and so we were forced to move to this new building and and in the process of moving we sort of redesigned everything from the ground up and went kind of crazy yeah so i mean it's kind of nice you start out you know washing rugs on the floor or in a bathtub and as you progress and develop you know put together businesses and new buildings to the one that you ultimately your dream shop but uh you know i guess volume dictates you know all the necessities for modernizing but you know for our for everybody that's listening in you can start you know a rug business out of your home or out of a small shop oh of course i did as a matter of fact and people still do i think a critical point to be remembered here everybody thinks it's just volume that dictates the investment and equipment but it's actually payroll machines are cheaper and more reliable than people and i don't mean that in a pejorative or bad way the fact is you can have three four guys running some equipment that makes their life 10 times easier allows you to pay them a lot more money and does just as good or actually a better job in the end as long as you're really controlling everything we're not talking about being done with the machines you got to do the right thing and in the very long run most of the equipment i've bought a lot of the stuff built by centrum and custom equipment i've bought and sold a lot of my equipment over the years and i've hardly ever sold it for any less that i paid for because the value and the price of the gear goes up so fast so when you look at it that way you advertise it out uh and and and some of our watch guys have worked for us for 10 15 years you know they do this all day long every day and that equipment makes their life possible 15 years as a manual rugwash was a tough job so it's worked in a lot of different ways it's not just about big volume although of course if you're sitting down to do the math volumes are critical volume and population base are those are the those are the start points of determining what you can build in a particular area well we'll continue on with a tour of your current facility this is obviously the dry room that's the dry room yeah and um cash and carry area i'm assuming yeah it's a sort of a gallery space it's about a 900 square foot room that's designed we buy and sell antique rugs and it allows us to hang nice things up on the wall as well we're involved in a lot of different ends of the business we have a second floor and a second story mezzanine so that's a finishing area that's where rugs that's the middle of the the arcs uh rugged palooza conference so things are set up a little different but that's a intake room and shipping room and finishing it's a very large space that allows us to work on stuff after it's clean and storage too it looks like yes of course yeah right and now on into your repair area yeah that's a separate space that we built in the top floor of the building with you know its own air conditioning and heat and stuff because guys working downstairs flinging around rugs are wearing t-shirts whereas people working upstairs you want it a lot warmer you keep your hands warm and stuff like that so we set up two totally different environments in the building for the different job descriptions and that's a repair area there what what portion of your total sales are repairs maybe 30 percent okay like that it depends how you do the math we do a lot of work overseas and if you calculate the gross of our overseas repair work the figure is much higher but if you're talking about the work that we actually do in this building it's maybe 25 30 okay the washing is is by far the majority looks like one of your finishing cables you're giving it a haircut yeah that's a little hand clipper we're sharing some fuzz off a rug there maybe not all of the people that are with us tonight are aware of how valuable native american textiles can be can you tell us what's going on in this photograph well what's going on in the photograph is we're blocking some wearing blankets you know the navajo sort of got conquered by kit carson in the 1860s 70 period but prior to that time they wove garments so-called wearing blankets that they made for themselves or traded to other native peoples or anglos or hispanic people and subsequently when they when they ended up on the reservation they started making rugs well the blanket period which is what you see here on the floor uh produce textiles that can have very high values you know values like a hundred and two hundred and three hundred thousand and a million dollars or even more actually and a lot of you probably seen those youtube videos of you know uh don ellis on the antiques road show or or you know the pasadena auction where the you know the guy with one leg discovers that he's going to be able to keep his house all that kind of stuff there's a lot of anecdotal stuff about the high value of some of these textiles they're an indigenous north american art form and they're very rare and the markets value them very highly so there's two blankets there kind of give us an idea of when they were produced and what their value might be today those are both classic period wearing bank it's a so-called third phase in the front the so-called second phase in the back it's actually two separate textiles that look quite similar aggregate value between those two blankets is over half a million dollars and i'm assuming that's why you have a safe in your building a walk-in safe we have a large vault yes right we do a lot of work for museums as well and so we consequently have to be able to provide them comfort and say listen no matter what happens it's locked up securely and here's an example of a repair that you sent me can you talk about that yeah that's a transitional navajo rug so navajo wrote for around about 1900 1890 1910 something like that and interestingly enough it's it's actually the it splits right down the middle there the top photo it has a cotton spring warp it was a period of time when the navajos used cotton string warp and that rug went through a ringer in a big midwestern wash plant and a guy called me up just in a complete state of panic and he said i put this thing to the ringer it got snagged and it got ripped to pieces and i said well send it to me we'll figure it out so the top picture is the damage with the beginnings of a repair and the bottom picture is that area after it has been repaired and that's you know it's a great photo it's really dramatic but actually this is basic level navajo restoration i mean for someone who's done it for a couple of years this is just the kind of job you do every day okay well i like this this is a good photo this is what you can do if you don't know anything um you know wash plants lots of little nicks and dings either occur in wash plants or the rugs come in with small problems and people think well i've got to send it to my guy people often say i'm sending it to my weaver which is usually something across town some place to you got to drive it over and he quotes you whatever this is a very simple repair to teach someone a small piece was missing out of a selvage a little bit of white cotton string got put in there it got sewn in place and it's wrapped with wool anybody who can barely sew i can teach them to do this in an afternoon and we do run a class about once a year or so where we do teach some of these real basic kinds of introductory repairs that provide kind of a foundation you know a guy could just do simple repairs forever after he took that class or use it as a a springboard where he recombines some of the skills that he acquired to do more elaborate stuff and train himself better and that class is going to be june of next year that's what we're told yeah i mean everybody's watching the kovid calendar of course but but we have hopes that in june we'll be able to hold that class okay it's your place in denver yes through master road cleaners yes correct people can go to and read about it and yes yeah well here's just another really simple repair same kind of thing that can be taught to almost anybody who can barely sew clients ask all the time can you make designers especially ask all the time can you make lamb cord holes in rugs really big rugs where they want the lamp port holes to come through and i mean i have seen everything from just razor knife x's on down to you name it so we devised a very simple system for making a vertical slip between the warps sewing some tape around there stitching it down uh you can do a repair like that once you're a little bit practice you can do a repair like that in 30 minutes we typically charge a hundred dollars per cup so it's it's a lot of these little repairs are easy to learn and and very profitable kind of thing you can push to the side of the room and have your crew of guys one of them is trained and you know maybe he's got an extra hour every day and he does these small repairs for you doesn't have to be anything too fancy well this is an example of rug restoration you're looking at a very desirable caucasian rug here you can see on the left and right side what are called fold lines or fold cuts the rug is buckled up it's worn through it's been torn open much of the design is obliterated it's a desirable rug the kind of thing that people spend thousands of dollars to fix and if you roll up the slide you'll be able to see what it looks like once it's been fixed the exposure's a little bit different here but it's the same rug and it's been completely put back together again this kind of thing happens a lot in iran and turkey and pakistan it tends to be too expensive to do in the united states but you've got a you still have a pretty well-trained workforce in in three or four different countries that can manage repairs like this and you're able to send rugs out of the country for this type of work we do uh there was a very well-known rug company called woven legends who produced a very highly regarded line of modern rugs they were working in turkey in 89 or 90 that one of their principals came to me and said listen would you write a business model for shipping rugs from america to a facility that we hope to establish in turkey and i thought it was a crazy idea but i went home for the weekend and kind of ran the numbers and it worked it worked on paper and so i called the guy back the next week i said yeah it works on paper he goes how'd you like to go do it so i spent the next three years helping establish the woven legends repair facility their 600 000 my trip to turkey every eight weeks or so it was a lot of work it was really a lot of work and then when that was all set up they asked me to represent them to the united states and we still do actually so we send rugs for private people and for dealer customers to turkey have them restored and bring them back so anyone who's listening could contact you and send a high value rug like this or a low value rug yeah sure i mean anything we we do a very you know everybody thinks you have to send something exotic or fantastic to turkey we send a lot of we do a lot of navajo rugs in turkey we send lots and lots of navajo rugs but the total bill for per rug might be as little as five to eight hundred dollars so these are it's all air freight it doesn't have to the big metric is what does the rug weigh you know if it's a 100 pound rug and you want to do a 200 repair it's cheaper to do in the united states because of shipping costs but when you invert that either high value or low weight low value then it makes total sense we send anywhere from 20 to 40 pieces a month to turkey okay other repair in your business um if can someone send a rug to you for repair as well sure absolutely people send us photos all the time we just ask they send something high-res and they understand that we're just making our best guess from the pictures but we're we are we're very much a wholesale business it kind of heart goes back to the beginning when i first started doing repair we were working exclusively for dealers i didn't have any private customers and when i started washing rugs i was working almost exclusively for dealers so i started out as a wholesale guy who tried to build a retail business but still have a very big i mean i don't know what the percentage of our gross is wholesale but it's it's in the 50 range someone put you that way exact number but it's around about there and that's washing and repair we do a lot of wholesale work so we're constantly consulting with dealers or other cleaners or you name it on the phone on the internet every day talking about potential projects so this is rug stretching um stretching is is very much like replicating the conditions that a rug existed on on a loom you know if you think of a rug stretched on a large frame the warp stretched out and the weaving proceeds on that frame when rugs get out of square or a little wonky sometimes you can recreate that same tension and pull them back into shape it's more complicated than that but this gives you an idea what it looks like and that occurs generally in the wash process where it gets out of square or no not necessarily some rugs come off the loom with with strange shapes or or irregularities or some primitive village rugs or tribal rugs are sometimes made with multiple different kinds of warps that have differential shrinkage rates so humidity just causes them to buckle up you name it there's any number of reasons some rugs are almost perfectly square but the customers who own them wanted to be absolutely perfectly square so you know all different sorts of needs in in the blocking and stretching business do they want a machine made look for a hand knotted rug well part of it too is a lot of a lot of good old stuff gets hung on the wall not these big runners like this but but you know when you hang something on the wall if it's not really square it really shows that's where you begin to see those irregularities of shape sometimes very subtle ones and so we do a lot of blocking of things that are going to get hang on the wall so that they look as perfect as they can okay i guess that's the concludes our tour through your uh facility thank you um you've talked about how important wholesale work is to you uh i know tim was um had some questions about that yeah you know in the greater denver area how many professional cleaning companies do you work with that bring you the rugs and you give them let's call it the front range i don't know if you know colorado geography basically you've got denver you've got colorado springs about 60 miles south of us pueblo south of that fort collins about 80 miles north something like that yeah that corridor up and down is really only about 30 miles wide about 150 miles north south so that's our that's our metro area really we work with 60 or 70 different carpet cleaners at least in that area including a lot of the big names the guys who really spend a lot of money advertising we offer a price where they can make money now prevailing rates in denver average retail prevailing rates are around about four dollars a square foot denver's expensive compare or let us put it this way rates are tend to be higher here than they are in a lot of midwestern cities so we charge 225 to the wholesale trade they will typically apply a soil protector or or engage in some kind of upsell of some other sort pad or you know who knows what and a lot of them of course are in the homes doing installed carpet cleaning they're doing on-site cleaning and the great thing about picking up some rugs is they put them in their truck as long as they can keep them clean in the truck take them to us and a week later they're back at the ladies home or the client's home rolling these rugs out making the money on that and also being able to re-engage that customer to to make sure that the other job they did on site is is satisfactory and that it's a great way for the for these fellows to make more money and to really connect with their clients and it can add a huge profit margin on a job well you had to go be at that house anyway and all you did was take a rug back uh a week later drop it off and you know you're making on a room size rug you might be making 250 of gross profit the the contractor who brings it to us what suggestions would you have for them before they take the rug out of the location and bring it to you just some photos and well photos are always great but of course if you're in a home you really have to ask you know you have to ask if it's okay to take pictures a lot of people are very sensitive about photos being taken in their homes you know measuring the rug providing a proper receipt having a real conversation looking like you know what you're talking about i mean you know getting some training this is not for someone who just doesn't want to put a lot of energy into it go into homes and find drugs and make lots of money i mean just because you're not cleaning them yourself doesn't mean you want to be very expert and able to speak so the most effective contractors who we work with who have made a lot of money for a long long time selling cleaning services we're actually pretty knowledgeable about cleaning and that really helps so would they mark you know urine damage or sure oh yeah yeah i mean an effective an effective way to do it is to print up a slip you know like a receipt form where you so you put the size of the rug down you got some check boxes on the side there are many different models for that uh and and and provide that as a receipt to the customer maybe have them sign a disclaimer on the bottom that says you have their rug and these are the terms that you're going to have it under the more documentation you have the better and and to learn to do that quickly and simply is is more gracious they don't want you standing around their house for 20 minutes yeah and then would you recommend like a bailey insurance or something so they're insured when they take it off we have all of that yes we we carry huge insurance of every conceivable form and and yeah that's not a bad plan actually it's a good plan uh i'm not i've never questioned my customers to ask them to what degree they insure themselves but let's hope they do we have a couple of questions kind of jumping back to repair someone would like to know where you buy your wool for navajo repairs and the second question is the turnaround time of sending drugs for repair to turkey i'll try to i'll answer them in turn uh the navajo we don't buy any dyed navajo wool of any kind we have a lot of it custom spun and the rest of it we buy from various suppliers we used to buy a lot from wild yarns christopher i don't buy much brown sheep i mean if the person is asking a question is familiar they'll know what all that means um but we tend to buy bulky rovings uh and and woolens funds uh and we've got a dive facility in our building so we dye everything to suit and we die for inventory or for project in terms of sending things to turkey turnaround on a lot of jobs is three four months so it's slow probably the average size job we do in turkey is about dollars uh we do a lot of jobs in turkey on navajo blankets that cost from twenty five hundred dollars to three thirty thousand dollars and when you start getting into the twenty and thirty thousand dollar range turnaround times are typically you know six eight months something like that very very slow um but it's worth it and and oftentimes there's no other alternatives you know it's it's a compromise you can't get it done any other way so you do it that way it's a very impressive facility yeah it's called atc antique textile conservation it's an izmir turkey they have a staff of 60 highly skilled restorers and it is an impressive facility the the arcs a couple of different arcs groups have made visits there as of some other groups and anybody who's going to turkey if they're serious about visiting just write to me and i'll make the arrangements so you can visit okay how has your company been faring with with the virus i know it's affected everyone but well it's affected everyone in the state of colorado laundries which was what we are technically were rug laundry laundries were deemed essential businesses and given an exemption to run we have a very large building so we're successful in allowing people to have a lot of space around them um when it first started we did lay off a couple of people we had a staff of 20 we're down to about 15 now through a combination of layoff and attrition uh and uh you know we're hoping it's all over soon put you that way in terms of your volume you know we're kind of coming up on the end of the year did you are you gonna be coming out of it yeah we're coming out okay we were recipients of a fairly large p p p grant uh we buy and sell rugs and that's got nothing to do with washing rugs and so sometimes we have a very large revenue from buying and selling rugs okay but but our wash this year is probably uh eight or nine percent overall down what's interesting is that our total gross is down by maybe maybe 10 let's say let's just for practical purposes about 10 down total growth but our wholesale is up by about 15 it's our retail that went way down so who knows what that all means we'll find out next year what do you see looking in your crystal ball in terms of trends with rugs because i there's the uh famous v word that's out there well you know there was a great quote from kurt vonnegut years ago the novelist where he said things are going to get worse and worse and worse and they're not going to get me better and forgive me for saying that but in the moments there are two things that really are putting a lot of pressure on modern rug production one is the fact that tastes have changed so dramatically and the desire to spend money dollars per square foot has gone down so much people want less expensive things and that has coincided with a moment where after however many thousands of years of weaving rugs the craft is dying out internationally and will disappear here within the next 20 or 30 years so you may have woolen gun tufted rugs 30 years from now but you'll have very few hand-woven drugs 30 years from now that's my suspicion at least there's a few little backwaters and niches where production is still very possible although for various reasons it's difficult pakistan i've worked in all the producing countries so i have an intimate knowledge of how this stuff works pakistan is still very viable parts of india afghanistan iran especially but each one of them has a proviso iran is a possible place to produce because sanctions have kept their economy so debilitated the minute their economy gets fired up or there's a regime change a lot of hand production will start to diminish people warp in factories rather than working there afghanistan's too politically unstable in pakistan i hate to say this it's just too complicated i i won't use the word corruption but there are complications just beyond the beyond and i've worked a lot in pakistan and was and we were thwarted at every turn i can say wow so what about the v word well this goes you know the funny thing about viscose and you wrote that wonderful article not that many years ago uh there's different kinds of viscos the turks in kaiserin central anatolia have made what they call in turkish what they call flush which which is like our word floss and flush was a domestic viscose made from beechwood source cellulose and they're not bad rugs they sort of hold up they you can get the stains out you can clean them they don't brown out instantaneously so there's viscose and there's viscose and i personally don't understand the differences it's like a lot of that 10 cell that's being used in europe to make those paper paper-thin machine-made viscos shiny things those wash up pretty well the stuff that's coming out of india is uh very difficult to clean and stains if you just barely look at it with a glass of water and i i would wish that it all went away tomorrow but i am not naive enough to think that it will and the popular is the look the shiny silk-like look they love it yes and i used to wonder i used to think why would anybody want a rug like that and then i went into some modern homes where they had spent a lot of money with good decorators and beautiful homes and i saw the rug sitting there and i thought yeah they look great you know the rooms were nice i mean i get that part but they're not practical um you do clean them we clean many of them every single day and they keep us in business just like dogs and kids with crayons a lot of things that you know you you kind of don't like them but you kind of you live with them let's say when the dog dies you buy him a puppy i mean something yes right well you know there's a there's a fantastic amount of dog here under animal urine you're in in in area rugs and that's one of the big dilemmas for carpet cleaners is how to deal with all of that and it is everywhere lots and lots of it yeah i don't i can't remember who said this but they told me they were no longer a rug cleaner i said oh what happened he says we're now in the pet waste disposal business oh yes or in the dirt transfer business yes correct yep that is what we do that's what we do actually we're in the business of talking to people the rugs don't talk they just lay there this is what people don't really mean frequently they don't understand about a rug washing plant or a rug washing business as it is maybe i'm certainly cleaning on location has to has to be very tough interpersonally i would think so for me i've never done it but in our business because the rugs are so expensive and they can be so integral to an important room in the home uh you know will i get more girlfriends if i buy that rug you know that kind of that kind of psychology and and so there's a powerful desire for them to feel comfortable and to be spoken to in a way that gives them comfort and they understand that they're spending their money carefully and wisely and so with the road cleaning you just learn that like kindergarten you get to be a good rug cleaner then you have to figure out how to deal with people that's the hard part yeah i don't have you you've kind of spanned uh several decades now and you started pretty humbly what was your marketing plan going in or how did your marketing plan develop i didn't have one i didn't have one for a very long time i'm not even sure i have one right now um in the beginning what happened it's an anecdotal story i worked for a persian guy who uh this was 1978 and at the end of 1978 feminism had who had been in exile in paris went back to iran made his grand entry and the guy i work for this guy he said i need to go home to my country because the politics are changing and i want to see what's happening so he called up all of his customers he said i'm leaving and these two guys who i just sold my will to or taking over my business that was my marketing plan that was it and we just knew a bunch of different store proprietors around town and they brought work to us or we went and got it from them and when it came time to sort of slowly build a retail business i did it just very ineptly and through fits and starts mostly by word of mouth tiny bit of paper print advertising and of course i was a slave to the yellow pages for 20 years before i finally wrote my last check to those guys and was thrilled to do so [Laughter] i'll remember the yellow pages right yeah so if i i never had a very sophisticated my no better yet i just simply never had a marketing plan uh somewhere in the last 10 15 years we began to think more carefully about that built websites uh hired an seo company and tried to figure it out and it still perplexes me but we're doing okay so something's working how did you get involved with the collectors well that's very complicated one of the main ways that i got to know a lot of collectors was my involvement with the woven legends and the facility in turkey i had helped establish that turkey that facility in turkey uh the company in america woven legends that was the one the mean partner with their turkish partners took out ads in all the major trades and said we're doing this crazy new thing we're going to send drugs to turkey and you need to call this guy robert mann and he's going to give you the bids and suddenly my phone started ringing from dealers and collectors all over america so once again an anecdotal story when i first helped set that business up a number of people i knew in the industry came to me and said you're going to put yourself out of business you'll be broke here real soon because you're setting up this facility in turkey that's going to compete with you and i said i don't think so and it turned out in my smugness that i was right there we got to know dealers and collectors in every state in the country through working for that company and that was sort of if there was a marketing plan inadvertently that was it i fell into it by accident and that was a very effective entree also at the time i was married to a woman jeannie braco a well-known textile and art conservator who was a fund funding and grant review person for the nea in washington and so she helped us write grants or she wrote grants and we got to do the work for a lot of museum projects and when private collectors saw that museums were sending you amazing stuff they figured well if the museums are sending it to them we could do that too and so that sort of testimonial of doing that sort of work provided this kind of advertising if you will once again one of these these these haphazard marketing plans that sort of got thought out barely but worked and so a lot of what we did to build our business was just to do the work and and be open about it and not not keep it all secret which is what some people in this industry i mean the carpet cleaning industry but the repair business is oftentimes run by guys who want to make you believe that everything they do is special and secret and they shouldn't show it to you and we didn't adopt that mode that's all like that worked it got you into the one percent i mean i would call the collectors kind of the the one percent of the industry because yeah like you said we've seen those antique roadshow videos where yeah right sell for one two million dollars yeah it's kind of crazy you know another aspect and this is collateral is that even before i began fixing rugs i had developed because i was traveling a lot in those countries i developed an interest in rugs and textiles just sort of for whatever reason i just found it interesting and bought and sold even before i began a repairman always bought and sold and so what happens is when you begin to learn the antique material the collectors will come and talk to you and they'll always test you so what do you think about this and what do you think about that and if you can sort of talk that that language with them you then develop a certain credence that that you might not have if you didn't know the material quote unquote so we we do a lot of advising to the collector universe you know a guy will call me up he'll say you know look at this look at lot 75 at rip on boswell and v-spot in two days from now and tell me what you think it's going to cost to fix it oh and by the way what do you think of it so it you enter into a kind of a very personal relationship with a lot of these folks i like a lot of them i've known them for years you know and it's and they're just as geeky about what they do as i am it's perfect [Laughter] how important is the navajo side of your business very big part of our business we do we probably do i mean i'd have to make a wild guess here we do three or four hundred thousand dollars a year worth of restoration on blankets uh mostly in turkey and we're working on some of the best material that comes in the market so that's a significant part of our business and it's really it's rewarding and it's engaging and it forces you to learn you got to step your game up you got to understand what the stuff is and so that's always been a pleasant challenge not an odious one someone again has asked about viscose rugs and um uh what is it that allows you to successfully clean viscose remove the stains get the pee out et a very hot drying room sun and tons of peroxide those those are all the secrets no just kidding not actually not kidding i mean the fact of the matter is is that we tumble viscose rugs if the if the weave will withstand it so we remove all the dry soil so they spend less time in the wash um we have ringers and centrifuges that allow us we and we use hot water on our floor we use 105 degree water on our floor with fairly powerful power washers that are regulated we can give a throttle on them so we'll power wash a viscose rug with warm water that allows us to use a very low concentration of cleaning chemicals warm water less detergent put it through a ringer spin it out six seven months out of the year we have a huge area outside where we can dry things in the sun so we'll frequently put viscose rugs out in the sun to dry the surface and then we have a very powerful drying room where when we put them back in that drying room at night they're dry in three or four hours uh in terms of urine stains the the the remedy is straight up peroxide anywhere from four percent to 30 depending on what you're doing and how how heavily you're applying it well it kind of sounds like kids don't do this at home kind of thing when you start talking about peroxide at that level so peroxide yeah well you know i mean 30 peroxide or 27 peroxide i'm not talking volume i'm talking percent it can be applied as a fine mist with a solar sprayer or an airbrush or something like that so that you're getting an incredibly small dose of really powerful peroxide right at the point where the stain is and there's technique to that and anybody who wants to stop by i'll show them what we do we have no secrets whatsoever you know and we did that rugged palooza thing a couple of years ago and we all sat around spray peroxide and stuff together all of us and lived to tell about it yeah right although i've certainly seen people do a lot of damage with peroxide so this is no encouragement to go out willy-nilly and do something reckless i mean you really got to learn you got to figure out what you're doing before you start running around doing this stuff yeah we've um we've all seen the damage yeah oh yes now when you say hot water people that are working with the truck mount you know they're thinking 130 degrees hot no kind of a jacuzzi hot at 1045 well our boiler puts out 160. so i've got a hose if i need to create a solution at 160 i can fill a bucket with 160. our power washer guns are at about 105 nozzle temp and then the the we have a big feed through a ringer like a more machine a ringer washer machine the wash jets on that are set at about 145 but once again that's nozzle temp and they're hitting a large pool of water that's between a couple of ringers so temperature drops down to around about 105 pretty quickly but what we've discovered is about 100 degrees you're using a half or a third of the detergent you might be using in cold water sure it's not so much a savings of money on the detergent as it is putting less into the rug so that you have less to have to take out another question that has come through is fabric protectors on rugs and um you'd mentioned a lot of your wholesale clients will sell those directly to the customer do you offer that service well we keep a tiny bit of it around and if anybody insists we put it on their rug we spray it on for free but i will tell you anecdotally nobody ever asks for it now i run completely counter to the industry logic here and and everyone everyone loves the idea of selling fabric protector because it's such a profitable product we we don't sell it we don't push it we don't sell it and frankly i don't even believe in it well um listening to some people that do believe in it and were they were speaking to the viscose rugs they felt because it was such an absorbent cellulistic fiber it needed a couple of coats two light coats but um that could be yeah i could answer someone's question but i can see your part armenian most of the armenian rug cleaners say we don't believe in it either yeah i tend not to believe in it i mean you know a visco let me put you this way if i had a white wool couch i'd i'd be thrilled to put that on there because you can't wash a white bowl couch i can wash a rug i can take the next hundred viscose rugs that come in with kool-aid and pee and whatever on them and have a very high batting average on making them look just as good as they can look now let's face it a viscous rug frequently once it's washed three or four times can look a little different than when you first brought it home from the store this is a given i mean there's there's surface change textural change that's a given no matter how careful you clean the rope isn't gonna happen even if you just walk on it the idea that i could charge somebody a dollar or two dollars to spray something on their viscose rug and then their great dane's going to come in and put a quart of pee on that rug and somehow that that secret sauce is going to make that situation better i don't buy it that's all i recognize the potential for profit i don't i don't denigrate it in any way i just don't do it that's all okay the i'm waiting for the anti-gravity force fields you know then you know no problem too lately bounce out to the gutter i guess sure that'd be great do you see rugs out ahead um continuing this trend of these machine-made inexpensive rugs coming down the pike i do as a matter of fact you know and and you know the funny thing about machine made rugs is they can be good you know kerastans were boring i i find them boring visually but they're very well made rugs uh there are a lot of modern rug producers in turkey and in egypt and places like that who are using pretty good wool have some interesting designs most of them are using belgian gear you know sort of you know sort of face-to-face cut apart you know not not kerastan structures and you know you can make rugs like that that you can retail for 18 or 20 dollars a square foot and it'll look good and they have a nice full surface and they're real you know and you can spill something on them and you can get it up i mean those are quality rugs i would take one of those any day over a hand woven indian viscose rock so the only thing that holds them back is their ability to design and market and meet you know the the public demand and desire that that's a very tricky thing i mean i worked in rug production for years watching guys you know come up with a new design every year and either it sold or it didn't sell they know and sometimes it was just a mystery whether that worked or not so it's a very tough thing sometimes you know robert sometimes you have people they go to a uh a discount store and they have a wool rug there and people buy it for 300 thinking they got a great deal i'm sure they bring it to you drop it off and sometimes they do they do get a good deal sometimes but but yeah you know something what you're mentioning there is this this sort of contrast between what people pay for things and what it costs to get them clean sometimes and and i've literally had customers you know we have a large area of denver called the north side or highlands just south of our business and there are mostly older victorian homes where the main floors are you know 1100 square feet that kind of thing so eight by tens and six by nines fit in there young people with money and good jobs live in those homes they come in with rugs they say well this is a 500 shag rug i bought it on my phone and you want to charge me x to wash it i say well i want your house to look nice don't you and you don't want to have to sit and talk to your wife or your girlfriend about what you're going to buy if you throw this away and throwing it away isn't very responsible is it and frequently they go yeah you're right i get it you know it's not i mean we re-wash our shirts hundreds of times i mean you know i mean it's it's a furnishing textile and people want their homes to look good but it does make it harder it's different when you've inherited some fabulous ancient rug from your grandmother that's worth a pile of money and and when they tell you it's going to cost 400 to clean it you think well that's got to be worthwhile i do want to maintain this this this family heirloom it's true it's a problem yeah do you clean tufted rugs any differently faster and tested yeah yeah yeah hand tough gun tempted hand suffered yeah you know that's a that's a tricky one because at one end of the spectrum you got ones made in india that are just so bad that if you look at them they practically fall apart and at the other end you have things like fields or vesaski or you know you have these super high end tufted and the high end cleaning them is very simple and straightforward except that they're typically very heavy at the low end uh if they don't have a lot of urine in them what we do is sometimes we tumble them but not too much because it breaks them up too much we use the more machine a lot of those we'll pre-wash the fringes we use either zero ph like fringe plus you know like like a petroleum-based cleaner on there or very low ph type cleaners uh and just try to move them through pretty quick um they're they're they have a limited capacity or or lifespan if you clean them too the more you clean them the more they break down because of the disassociation of the filler and the glue and the glue itself so we clean an awful lot of them but if i could if i never saw another one i'd be thrilled let me put you that way there's another question about what do you do with moth infected rugs we have a big walk-in freezer that's a 10 by 16 walk-in just like a restaurant house and so we'll take if the weather permitting we'll take the rug outside with compressed airlines and try to blow as much you know sort of moth eggs and moth whatever out of there get them as as air blasted clean as we can and then we put them immediately in the freezer and leave them there for a couple days freezer runs about 15 fahrenheit so it's very cold in there and everything freezes solid that does not kill the moth eggs contrary to popular belief it doesn't kill the moth eggs but it kills anything that's moving on that route anything that's even remotely alive is now dead and you can take it from the freezer to your tumbler tumble and then clean out the tumbler enclosure because you probably knock some moth eggs on the ground and then take it and wash it and at that point you've done within reason everything that's practical and possible in a plant like ours there used to be fumigators years ago who use methylene bromide and stuff like that but they're mostly out of business and gone and it was too complicated anyway not much of anything else works okay oh let's see we've got another question here um for rugs that the client will not allow to be rolled what is the go-to for cleaning on site or is it best to walk away um well i mean a customer the idea that a client doesn't want a rug to be rolled is is kind of a little odd and quirky because they probably brought it home rolled they didn't bring it home a nine by 12 bolted to the top of their car with support stakes so the rug was rolled at some point in his life you know so it could be rolled again um a client who insists on having it cleaned in their home uh can hire someone with a with an extractor you know you know a truck mount or whatever and have that person come in and do what i would call assuming they are careful and skilled what i would call a creditable surface cleaning you know i mean you get the dirt off the top you cannot properly clean a handmade area rug in someone's home it's just not possible and i think if you read all the specs from the various associations who talk about such things generally speaking that's the consensus um that doesn't mean that you know you can't go home yourself and vacuum your rug very carefully and get a you know get a tampico scrub brush and go over the whole thing with a mild detergent solution to make it look pretty good but you didn't clean your rug you just cleaned the top of you around um so i don't believe that i would aspire to setting up a business where i took machines into people's homes and tried to do surface cleaning on the other hand if you're in that home cleaning the wall-to-wall carpeting and someone asks you to run a machine over a rug and make it look better if you've trained yourself effectively and carefully you can do that you know you just can't clean the fringes or get the urine out that's all okay we're kind of coming up on our hour of time uh did you have any last questions tim um yeah as far as repairs on you know a persian rug do you ever take like donor rug pieces and you know so where a dog chewed up a piece do you have those kind of things in your shop or absolutely you mean like use pieces of another route to fill areas yeah occasionally there are businesses who specialize in that and who have spent you know decades accumulating huge quantities of patches which frankly unless you keep them in the refrigerator turn into moth farms you know you've got these barrels full of patches and oftentimes they're contaminated so it's something to be cautious of and specialize in taking pieces of other rugs and sticking them into other rugs and and i've sewn many a patch into a rug but i generally don't offer that as a specific service although there are times when it's a great solution so i have no no resistance against it i just never built my business around the idea that we would do that yeah and then in your drug course you can kind of go over those kind of repairs oh sure yeah yeah in the class that we offer a three-day class it's very intensive it's entirely hands-on and we teach people how to sew pieces under rugs we actually take rugs cut chunks out of them and sew the chunks back in so some of it's about sewing a patch in some of it's how to take a rug that's been cut a couple of different ways and piece it itself back together again they are a similar skill the thing about patches is in practical terms it's really really hard to find patches that work unless you have that giant inventory that you spent the last 40 years building and even then it's it's not something that i ever aspired to because we always knew how to re-weave holes and and so and a re-weave is i won't say it's better than the patch but it's usually better than apache although it is a more expensive approach i guess the last question we have for you with time permitting is what is the most successful method for removing pet urine from rugs whether it's natural fiber or synthetic soaking i i bucked the trend there you know everybody's everybody's soaking rugs in acetic acid and doing all this kind of stuff we don't do any of that uh but bear in mind we have centrifuges ringers hot water and a big wash wheel so a 1200 gallon large machine a paddle wheel type washing machine and a small washing machine in terms of chemicals we use uh shy name names or i mean we use we we use things like u-turn and some of the master bun products uh that are that degrade urine and also kill the odor of urine but generally speaking most urine rugs we clean we just use our cleaning process and it gets the urine out now sometimes it takes more than one cleaning and sometimes we'll soak a rug in warm water for a couple of hours to get the thing fully softened up sometimes we'll wash a rug then tumble it extensively and then wash it again multiple recleans are possible and with equipment a reclaim is not a big deal it's much harder if you're doing it all manually but a lot of the popular ways of getting urine out of are are designed for people who have less gear than we do and i'm not saying those are bad ways they're just ways we don't need to utilize that's all true but you know if you're washing with a plastic basin in a garage and you have no other equipment then there are techniques that that make total sense given those limitations okay all right well thank you very much robert for your time um obviously clearly very knowledgeable and skilled at your craft you set the buy the bar very high for the industry thank you for inviting me it's very flattering to say that too thank you well we've enjoyed their time thank you very much we're we're very visible on the web and and i'm pretty free with information so if any of your listeners tonight or your viewers tonight has a question you just call me up and i'll talk where you can stand probably all right thank you thanks again the problem rugs too i'm sure yeah yeah we're happy to talk thank you very good good night good night bye bye
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