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Thank You Alison Palmer!

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Thursday, May 31, 2018

By RJ Patel

 

Alison Palmer, owner of Custom Maid in Virginia Beach and a two-time president of ARCSI, recently retired from the ISSA Residential Cleaning Council. Throughout her membership with ARCSI, Alison has gone above and beyond in her leadership and service to the association when it was ARCSI and even now as a division of ISSA. And while Alison’s presence on the Council will be greatly missed, it has presented us the opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to Alison for her efforts to keep ARCSI from going under when faced with struggles early in its existence. Alison, along with other pioneers, took over running the young association – everything from financials to membership records, until they found their future executive director.

 

I sat down with Alison to talk with her about what she has done for ARCSI and what this group means to her.

 

RJ: Alison, you are one of the Pioneers of the residential cleaning industry, especially when it comes to the existence and growth of ARCSI. What does that mean to you?

Alison: Actually, I discovered ARCSI after many real pioneers put in blood, sweat, and tears.  Some of the hardworking, passionate people who laid the foundation and made ARCSI a reality are David Kiser, Tom Stewart, Debbie Sardone, Brenda Schwery, Alonzo Adams and Richard Wilson.  They created a solid foundation.  I found ARCSI in 2006 and it was already growing. 

 

Now for your question about what ARCSI means to me.  It’s a thriving community of like-minded residential cleaning business entrepreneurs.  After 21 years in business, I discovered friends and colleagues who are willing to share their knowledge and to brainstorm to find new, innovative solutions to old problems.  Being with such remarkable people gave me a new passion for my own business.

 

RJ: What was it about having an association for residential cleaning company owners that drove you to work so hard to maintain its presence?

Alison: The members of ARCSI come to the association because they want a place to hone their skills and to become more professional.  Owning a residential cleaning business (or any other business, I suppose) can be a very lonely, isolated existence.  Our ARCSI community relieves lots of stress. Aside from learning new things about cleaning and about running a business, I think members get validation that they are already doing most things just right.

 

RJ: What challenges did you experience as a three time President of ARCSI? How were you able to overcome them?

Alison: It’s always been a challenge finding potential new members.  When we contact a business owner, there is a certain amount of skepticism about why we would be contacting them.

 

Also, budget is always an issue.  In order to offer top notch speakers and educators and to put on shows like the annual convention and the Leadership Summit, it takes money.  In the beginning, there was very little!!

 

RJ: What was the most important decision you made during your two terms as president of ARCSI?

Alison: Calling an old college friend who was in the association management field to find out where to look for a new executive director.  He gave me tons of great information on places to find the right person, then he threw his hat in the ring.  And, as they say, the rest is history.  Ernie Hartong has been an amazing leader since 2009.  All of you know Ernie and what an undeniable force he is.  He has brought his enthusiasm to ARCSI and without him, we would not be what we are today.

 

RJ: If I’m an owner of a cleaning company and not currently a member of ARCSI/ISSA, what would you say to me?

Alison: I would reach out my hand to you and ask you to join out community.  Some wise person once said you don’t know what you don’t know.  ARCSI education, from Hot Topic Tuesdays to convention and the Leadership Summit get you to think in strategic ways to help your business grow.  There is nothing so infectious as helping others make their business successful and that is what ARCSI is all about.

 

RJ: Can you look into your crystal ball and tell me what you see with the Residential Cleaning Industry?  

Alison: Now a consumer can go online, get a price, sign up for service and schedule their first appointment.  I would caution business owners not to lose the personal touch that has defined our industry in the past.  Never get too far away from your customer.

 

RJ: In one word, Alison, what does ARCSI mean to you?

Alison: Passion. ARCSI will always be my passion. 

 

# # # #

 

After talking to Alison, I talked to my fellow members of the Residential Cleaning Council – many of whom have known Alison for more than 10 years. I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful things they had to say about Alison.

 

“Alison, we have worked together for many years and sometimes we didn't see eye to eye. But I always admired your love, commitment, and dedication to the association. You were always willing to do whatever it took. Bless you and thank you!” 

Alonzo Adams, Busy Bee Cleaning Company, West Chester, PA

 

“Alison-a very wise women with a huge heart and such a passion for this industry and the people in it. I think she is proud of the work that has been done and will look forward to the work that will be done. She was a great help for me in making my decision to move forward with the fate of Harmony Clean. She will be missed but I am super happy for her, well deserved.”

Vicki Brown, Harmony Clean Doylestown, PA

 

“Alison Palmer is a quiet champion with a deep well of energy, intelligence, wisdom, and generosity.   Ask yourself…where would ARCSI be without Alison rolling up her sleeves, and working hard, much of it on her own dime and to make this industry better? We’ll never know, because she did it – whatever was needed. She is an amazing woman!”

Brenda Stankus, Classic Touch Cleaning, Richmond, VA

 

“I met Alison at her first ARCSI event in San Diego in 2004.  She quickly stepped up as a leader growing ARCSI and promoting professionalism in the house cleaning industry.   Allison did a lot of heavy lifting as President of our association when there was a lot of heavy lifting to be done.  We all owe her a great debt of gratitude for her hard work and contributions.”   

Tom Stewart, Castle-Keepers, North Charleston, SC

 

“When I think of Alison, the words thoughtful, giving, and outgoing define her. I have had the privilege over the past 7 years to work with her and watch her dedication to ARCSI and its members. She is a treasure to the organization and a pleasure to call my friend.”

Dee Strickland, Zing Zap Cleaning, Minneola, FL

 

“Alison is very special to me.  She is a rock...a real gem.  I love when I am sitting on the sofa by myself a few years ago she just started texting me because she was watching the Sea-hawks game and thinking of us in Seattle,  So thoughtful...always.  One day out of the blue she calls me to ask the colors of my living room.  Shortly after I received a package with a homemade knitted blanket.  I keep it on my sofa and on weekends when I have time to sit and sip my coffee and read I wrap myself in my Alison blanket.  I am so blessed to have Alison in my home each and every day.  She will be missed by many in the association but missed by me in more ways than one.  Thanks Alison for all you do for all of us and making me a special person in your life.  Love you!”

Stacie Sutton, Simple Clean, Seattle WA

 

 “Alison stepped in at a critical point in ARCSI's history. She saw critical problems that others had glossed over and made some hard decisions. For the better part of a year her main job was ARCSI. She gave freely of her time and resources. I don't think it would be wrong to say that without her, there might not be an ARCSI now.”

Bruce Vance, Town & Country Cleaning, Chapel Hill, NC

 

 

 

Please take a moment and share your thoughts on Alison Palmer and her contributions to our association on this blog post!

 

 

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