Keeping Current - Staying Involved

May 22, 2019

Posted by D. A. Burns

Keeping Current - Staying Involved

Meeting with Our Industry Leaders

As a leader in our rug cleaning industry, we recently attended a conference in Indianapolis sponsored by the Association of Rug Care Specialists (ARCS). D. A. Burns is a founding member of this international organization of experienced professionals committed to the highest levels of customer service, technical knowledge and business management in the rug cleaning industry.

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We value continued education to better serve you. Expanding our service team’s knowledge of your hand-made and machine-made rugs - and keeping us abreast of the latest technology - is one of the core values at D. A. Burns. Consumers can be confident that ARCS members are synonymous with professional excellence, customer service, and upholding the highest industry standards.

We thought some of what we learned at the recent ARCS conference may be of interest to you as well, so here’s a few of our conference take-aways.

Listen Up

The conference kicked off with a seminar on listening. Sounds funny that people need to be taught to listen, although it was refreshing to hear the group felt the topic important enough to learn and “listen”.  The presentation stressed the value of learning more about the importance of a particular rug to its owner (through listening), as often a client has a strong attachment to their old, worn Heriz and would like to extend its useful life as long as possible.

We have long recognized that the value of cherished rugs may have little to do with their financial value and everything to do with the rug’s emotional and sentimental value to its owner. We have countless stories of bringing cherished rugs back to life with our rug cleaning and repair services.

Changes in the Rug Weaving Industry

In over forty years of travel to rug weaving centers, ARCS member Robert Mann (Denver) has observed regional traditions and made friends. He recently purchased an interest in a rug weaving and repair center in Turkey, and reported on changes occurring in the weaving industry.

Worldwide, the market for hand-knotted rugs is shrinking. The time it takes to make a hand-knotted rug requires a higher sale price than loomed and machine-made copies, so many consumers are opting for less expensive floorcoverings that offer a similar look. Part of this decline is also due to the popularity of contemporary patterns that will likely be out of style in 5 to 7 years, which is acceptable to many consumers.

Much like the US in the 1920s, people in rug weaving countries are leaving small villages to move to larger cities.The typical picture of a solitary rug weaver, quietly spending months weaving a rug, is being replaced by weaving centers that employ hundreds of people. They use a tool to beat the weft down and tighten the rug’s weave, and the unwoven cords on the loom broadcast sound like amplified guitars. Add the shouted conversations and rug weaving becomes a very noisy experience.

Antiquing a New Rug

Many rug manufacturers have used bleaching, burning, tumbling or trimming the pile lower to make new rug look older.   Gas torches have been used for decades to give a new rug the patina of age, usually by burning an area to simulate wear from foot traffic.  Now that a significant trend has developed of buyers wanting extremely worn rugs, this artificial wear is taken to the next level.

Rug Antiquing Torch

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Robert explained this consumer trend to his Turkish partners, so the rug makers scorched some rugs right down to the backing.They sold immediately, and now they’re taking all of the rugs that were difficult to sell out of storage and “antiquing” them.

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Other Industry Related Discussions

Most of the remaining seminars had to do with operational topics and improved techniques and products.  Even though rug yarn is available in every color, we have avoided using Turkish yarn for rug repair because of its inconsistency in quality and thickness. Robert is working with the yarn spinners to improve the strength and consistency of their product.

Another brief discussion addressed rugs that become a tripping hazard when severely worn. Securing a felt backing to the worn rug can give the rug some body (dimensional stability) and help it resist buckling. We offer this service at D. A. Burns, should the need ever arise.

Customer service is vital to the continued success of any business.  Another conference seminar touched on how our service team can put themselves in the shoes of our clients and customers. Co-worker training, coaching, encouragement and recognition are key elements to offering and sustaining superior customer service. 

Learning From Our Peers

We were invited to tour two Indianapolis rug cleaning facilities and one rug retail showroom. It happens that the owner of the retail showroom, Michael Joseph, had recently been elected chairman of the Oriental Rug Retailers Association (ORRA), and had a good handle on trends in the rug market.

Michael said that, unfortunately, 50% of all hand-knotted rugs now contain rayon (viscose). Although rayon does not wear or clean well, it is cheap and people like the shiny look.  Michael had several of these rugs in his store, including rayon rugs labeled as bamboo silk and agave. He said that he cautions customers about the limitations and extra care needed with rayon.  Some choose a different rug and others ask for a stain protectant application. As professional cleaning firms, we know only too well the cleaning limitations and disappointment many clients have later discovered with soiling and spills on rayon rugs.  (D. A. Burns Shiny Rugs Blog)

Here are a few other current rug retailing insights:

  • There is a niche / hot market for fragments of larger rugs being edge finished and sold as smaller rugs.

Having two of four borders is part of the appeal.

  • Overdyed and distressed rugs continue to sell well. Michael had several rugs that had purposefully been worn to the their foundation, and even had holes in them.

  • Good quality Persian style rugs from India and Pakistan don’t sell at all.  

Maybe a good time to buy a good quality rug?

  • Blues are back in style, so even the old Persian style floral rugs will sell if they have some blue                                    

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A new rug taken down to the foundation by the“antiquing” process. Hey, it’s blue as well!

Keeping Current – Staying Involved

Much of this information may be of interest to only a few outside of our industry, but it does reflect our commitment to keeping current and staying involved, for the benefit of our clients and our service team.

The highest achievement level as a member of the Association of Rug Care Specialists is the designation of Certified Rug Specialist, requiring a combination of three years of course study and experience to obtain. Worldwide, there are only 28 firms that have earned this designation … D. A. Burns is one of those firms.

To inquire about our cleaning and rug repair services, or request a complimentary quote, contact us today.

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