Keeping Canada Clean—and Canadians Safe—Since 1908

Dustbane

Dustbane Products Ltd. of Ottawa, Ontario, a leading Canadian manufacturer of products and solutions for the janitorial and sanitation industry, is giving its support to ISSA Hygieia Network, designed to help women advance in the cleaning industry…

Ever wondered why janitors sprinkle “the green stuff” on the floor before sweeping, thereby creating even more mess that has to be swept up? Wonder no more!

The “green stuff” is a biodegradable compound, designed to reduce airborne dust created by sweeping, and was the first product manufactured and sold by Dustbane Products Ltd., the company formed by Chester Pickering in Ottawa in 1908. Considering what we know today about how disease is spread through airborne particles, it appears he was ahead of his time.

115 years later, the privately owned company, now in its third generation of ownership, continues to be prescient. For example, Quat Plus, an ECOLOGO® Certified product, is a liquid disinfectant and germicidal detergent that destroys a wide range of fungi, bacteria, and viruses, including Influenza A (H1N1), without any harsh chemicals.

It isn’t only effective against that virus. Dustbane’s claim of virucidal efficacy against the Coronavirus with a three-minute contact time was independently tested by ALG Analytical Lab Group. Their results showed that Quat Plus fully met the performance standards stipulated by the U.S. EPA and Health Canada for SARS COV.

Rising to the occasion
In total, Dustbane manufactures 126 high-performance cleaning solutions, many of which are also ECOLOGO® Certified, and 111 pieces of equipment to meet the needs of commercial industries. A few of the vertical markets it serves are education, building service contractors, food service, senior care, industrial, office and government, retail, property management, sports and recreation, and travel and tourism sectors—essentially any facility where people gather to work, study, eat, receive medical care, shop, enjoy indoor recreation, or travel.

When the pandemic struck in 2020, the Dustbane team rose to the occasion, going from a regular five-day, 40-hour production schedule, to double shifts, seven days a week, to keep up with the demand.

Shannon Hall, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, joined President Ben Merkley and the rest of the leadership team on the filling lines, shipping, and anywhere needed to get the product out to customers. She’s now concerned that people “don’t care about the pandemic anymore, even though it’s still with us.

“It seems that some people have forgotten they need to continue with their great cleaning practices, and they need to keep disinfecting because as employees return to the workplace, we’re seeing many more cold and flu viruses,” she explains. “I think we need to incorporate some easy best practices to get back to the right level of cleaning and identify the tools that can support indoor air quality, because that’s a challenge.”

While Dustbane is not an HVAC company, Hall says the company’s products and equipment can help customers achieve cleaner air by removing the dirt, dust, and bacteria that collect on both hard and soft surfaces, especially on carpeting that may look clean, and so prevent these tiny particles from becoming airborne.

Hygieia, Greek Goddess of Cleanliness
In May 2022, Hall was instrumental in launching the Canadian region of ISSA Hygieia Network, which was formed in 2016 as a charity of the International Sanitation Supply Association, the industry’s professional association, of which Dustbane is a member.

The ISSA Hygieia Network is designed to help with the advancement of women in the cleaning industry. Today it is co-chaired by Maureen Carroll, National District Sales Manager, S. C. Johnson Professional, and Kimberly Price, Vice President, Marketing and Sales, Georgia Pacific, and is supported by 12 councillors, including Hall.

The network was exactly what Hall was looking for as she considered ways she could help with the advancement of women in the industry, since it addresses best practices in recruitment, training, and retention, all aimed at helping women to emerge as leaders, through a variety of educational, mentoring, and networking opportunities.

Conferences, both in-person and virtual, feature educational activities, inspirational speakers, and networking opportunities. Further to that, Hygieia members can join one of eight regional online networking communities on LinkedIn; register for webinar series that feature industry leaders discussing relevant topics about women in the workplace; and join an online, one-on-one mentoring program to gain knowledge, insight, and skills.

High-value mentoring
Mentoring is something dear to Hall’s heart, as she believes it can “really help elevate women and help them achieve their goals, either in their personal lives or in their careers in the cleaning industry. In the mentor-mentee relationship, everyone wins because we learn from each other.”

She herself has benefited from being mentored. “Early in my career, I hired a business coach because I realized if I wanted to develop my career, I needed to build some skill sets that I didn’t have in my toolbox. Having a mentor really helped me with that,” she shares.

“I also worked with a male mentor on the other side of the country who was on a career path within the organization, and who helped me identify areas of opportunity where I might be able to excel, as well as weaknesses that I needed to work on. It pushed me in the right direction and got me to align my thought processes with what I needed to do as I moved into my role at Dustbane.”

Now Hall is giving back by mentoring other women within the organization as well as students through their sales and marketing programs at Algonquin College, which she finds rewarding.

“I think getting into a mentoring program is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and being a mentor is one of the best things you can do for others. Too often women have had ‘imposter syndrome’ and took a ‘fake it until you make it’ attitude, rather than reaching out and getting assistance with what’s holding them back. I feel we’re responsible for our own destinies, and for shaping the future by making sure we and other women have the confidence to drive forward,” says Hall.

“What we’ve seen throughout the Hygieia Network is that women who have been through the mentorship program and have taken some of the courses are starting to see career advancement, because the program opens doors, whether within their own organization or outside it. Now our goal is to make more women aware of the services that are available to them, at no charge, through Hygieia, so they can utilize the tools and skills that will help them build their futures.”

Cleaning for a reason
Long before Dustbane was formed in 1908, founder Chester Pickering had been helping those less fortunate, even as a homeless youth when he exchanged chores for food, which he shared with other homeless youth.

Over the years, and through two successive owners, Pickering’s care for others was formalized through Give Meaning to your Cleaning™ program. Acts of Kindness, in which distributors across the country participate by giving back to local communities and doing what is right for people and the planet.

On a global scale, in 2020, Dustbane initiated a tree planting project on the island country of Madagascar, which has been ravaged by deforestation and climate change, to plant one million trees by 2025. To date, nearly 500,000 have been planted.

It’s no wonder then that Dustbane was quick to sponsor Cleaning for a Reason, an ISSA charitable organization founded in 2006 to provide home cleaning for patients undergoing chemotherapy, which weakens their immune systems, leaving them too stressed to clean but extremely vulnerable to bacteria.

Since its inception, Cleaning for a Reason and its 1,200 partner cleaning companies have provided free home cleaning for more than 47,000 patients and their families across all 50 states and Canada, with their services valued at over $15.9 million.

“It’s an incredible program designed to work with residential cleaners, because there’s nothing worse than coming home from a treatment and having to clean while exhausted and mentally stressed,” Hall says.

In support of this effort, Dustbane sponsored a chilli cook-off event this past February, with the goal of raising $20,000 while raising awareness of what Cleaning for a Reason does and how the Hygieia Network can help residential contract cleaners take their businesses to the next level.

In the coming months, Hall plans to organize and host eight ‘Meet & Greet’ opportunities across Canada for women in various elements of the industry—sales and distribution, contract cleaning, and residential cleaning—to build on the ISSA Hygieia Network. Some, she says, may be set up as a ‘happy hour’ while others will be breakfasts that will feature panels composed of women in the industry.

The future for Dustbane
“Not a lot of companies have managed to remain private for so long, so we’re proud of what we do as a mid-sized manufacturer, which gives us a unique ability to tailor our solutions to our customers’ needs. There are companies bigger than us, but they don’t have the opportunity to make changes in an instant in the way we can,” says Hall.

“We’ve been here for a long time, and we intend to be here for a long time yet. Our president, Ben Merkley, is young, in his mid-40s. He has lots of ideas and has made a significant investment in a new building infrastructure, just 10 minutes from the present facility which has served us since 1912.”

She describes the new building, scheduled to open in mid-summer, as “a state-of-the-art facility that will allow us to take things to the next level, meet market demands, provide ultimate customer service, develop new formulations, and offer employees a bright, attractive workspace with all new equipment. We want to be here for another 115 years, and this facility ensures that we will be.”

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