Ben Knause, CRS Class '08, is often asked why he became a CRS and what it means to him, so it only made sense for him to share is thoughts on the matter with our members:
Why become a CRS, by Ben Knause CRS '08
This is a topic that seems to come up at almost every ARCS event I've attended dating back to when it was formerly RIA (Restoration Industry Associates). Why should I become a CRS, Certified Rug Specialist? Why should I spend a sizeable amount of money and time away from my business? What is the value in it? Is it needed or better than the certifications I've already received? These are all relevant questions that need to be asked and I'd love to give you the answers; but I can't. The best thing I can do is share my experiences that lead me to achieve the CRS designation.
When I began my career at Carr's Rug Cleaning the education choices were much more simplistic. This was mostly due to the fact that not many outlets were available for rug knowledge; cleaning, repair, identification, etc. RIA at the time offered a couple of classes; however, that's not where my journey began.
Our first major shift in cleaning methods was switching from truck mount cleaning to submersion pit cleaning. More specifically, "The Auserehlian Method." Choosing a specific cleaning methodology made the choice for my first class easy. And just like that, I was at "The Castle" learning from Phil Auserehl and Ron Toney. Let me tell you, this experience did not disappoint. Phil is a wonderful individual whose business model I truly envy and Ron, in my opinion is a Mensa level genius. I have nothing but the utmost respect for these fine gentleman.
The class was extremely comprehensive in covering the Auserehlian method of cleaning rugs however, there were some areas that it did not cover as intently as I wanted or needed. Rug identification; beyond construction, fibers, dyes, and soils was not the primary focus of the course. Quite frankly, there just wasn't enough time to cover it with all the information they were teaching us about the Auserehlian method. Nevertheless I yearned to learn more about the very rugs I was cleaning. Where they were from, how old they were and how to tell one from another.
This is where my journey with ARCS began. ARCS had a curriculum that filled my need to learn more about the rugs I was cleaning. More importantly they taught me a process to identify rugs beyond the large array that where available during the class. This process or "roadmap to identification" is priceless. There is no way a single or even multiple classes could teach one all the rugs of the world so having a well thought out procedure to identify them is critical. If this was the only thing the class offered it would have been worth it for me. I cannot count the number of times I've gained the trust of a potential client due to the rug knowledge I acquired obtaining my CRS.
That however, is not the only benefit I received taking the CRS course and its prerequisite course. I didn't fully appreciate much of the what I was learning outside of rug ID at the time to be honest. Fortunately, I did learn the information, but it would be several years before I would understand its implications for me. This was my own fault though. I didn't go to the class with an open mind when it came to how I cleaned rugs. In my head if it wasn't being cleaned with the method we were using then it was just being done incorrectly.
It really wasn't until we started to outgrow the wash plant we had that I realized how valuable the information was that ARCS/RIA imparted on me. I was exposed to multiple cleaning methods both wet and dry. I also visited some much larger plants with much higher volume than we had or have even to this day.
Maintaining the highest quality cleaning possible while increasing volume beyond what we had ever intended, has been every bit as challenging as it was to learn to clean these beautiful and often volatile textiles. As our company continues to grow so does my appreciation for the knowledge I have learned from ARCS CRS program.
I would also like to make a special point to thank Ellen Amirkhan and Aaron Groseclose for the incredible amount of work they put into developing the CRS program. Having help build some educational curriculum myself I still cannot fathom the work they had to put forth to create such an extensive and comprehensive educational program. What is notable; they did this at a time when sharing rug cleaning processes and secrets were unheard of and even criticized. They truly lead the way in the advancement of the rug cleaning industry as a hole. So thank you again, Ellen and Aaron, myself and countless others wouldn't be where we are today without you.
I don't know if achieving the CRS designation is right for you. It was unquestionably the right decision for me and I am thankful for everything I learned, even if I didn't know it at the time. If you think this may be a course you're interested in, visit our website and take the CRS Pre-Test. A strong foundational knowledge of rug cleaning principles and commonly encountered rugs is a must. CRS is not a show up and receive your accreditation class, it's a weeklong commitment to becoming the best rug cleaner imaginable. Wherever you decided to go in this business I wish you the best.
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