50 Years of Learning with IICRC

The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and I’ve chosen this month’s article to highlight what this organization has meant to me during my career as a restorer. In doing so, I’m hopeful some of the readers might reflect on what the IICRC means to them – or could mean to them – and just maybe I can spark a little motivation in others to seek out opportunities to make our IICRC, and our standards, even better.

When I was presented with the opportunity to come to Tampa, Fl and help start an emergency services restoration company – from scratch, I was honestly a bit hesitant. I wasn’t hesitant because of the typical risks of a startup; I was hesitant and questioning if I was the right guy because I didn’t even know this industry existed. How was I going to hire, equip, and train a crew when I had no idea what a crew looked like, what equipment they needed, or exactly what to train them on. So – naturally – I said sure, I’m all in.

On the way to Florida I stopped at the Reets Drying Academy and attended the WRT/ASD combo course – my first introduction to the industry and an IICRC ANSI standard. As you know I come from a military background, so having a written standard to guide my actions was very welcomed. I leaned heavily on the folks at Reets who guided me towards equipment selection, crew size, and graciously answered all of my novice questions. I then followed that up with CCT, HST, and AMRT before hiring our first technicians. We hired six young, motivated technicians and I did my best to pass on what I learned in preparation for our first job. We were like the Ghost Busters – just waiting around for the bell to ring so we could slide down the pole and be ready for action.

When that first job came, at least in my mind, we performed flawlessly. In reality, I’m not convinced that house isn’t still wet – but that’s an article for another month…

I continued to study the IICRC ANSI S-500 – primarily because I was getting my rear handed to me by estimate reviewers. I would argue my case but wasn’t winning many arguments because I was not backing up my justification with content from that legally defensible document. I soon realized arguing with young estimate reviewers was like arguing with a pig – you both are gonna get dirty but the pig likes it. This forced me to become much more standards savvy. The more I learned about the industry standard, the better we got operationally, and the more profitable our jobs became because I was not only performing to the standard, but I was easily able to justify our actions.

In 2019 we became a franchising entity and I desperately wanted our franchisee’s technicians to get WRT certified as part of their technical training at our facility. This desire was the catalyst to embarking on the journey of becoming an IICRC approved instructor. That long, arduous journey forced me to look at the standard (S-500) with new eyes and to a level unlike anything I’d done before. I now had to understand that document well enough to confidently teach it to others and, looking back, that process was a turning point in my career as a restorer, manager, and COO.

In the days before we had a documented industry standard, and the technology we enjoy today, it was the restoration wild west. There are still restorers out there who have not embraced the standard or the importance of having certified technicians and firms. As professional restorers, I see it as our obligation not only to embrace the standards and certifications, but to study and practice those standards like our industry depends on it – because I believe it does.

The vast majority of what happens with our standards at the IICRC is done by volunteers. Did you know you don’t have to be an approved IICRC instructor to be part of a standards committee – those who review and update our standards? Well – you don’t. You simply have to be willing to volunteer your time and share your industry knowledge as part of a committee. The IICRC regularly solicits for these volunteers, but all too often the committees are filled with volunteer instructors.

When it comes to becoming an IICRC approved instructor, this is where I feel the organization needs the most help. They are in need of bright, young instructors motivated to teach our industry standards to bright, young technicians. At 57, I am certainly not the youngest IICRC approved instructor, but I’m willing to bet I’m not too far from it. Walking into the Annual Instructors Meeting (AIM) was kind of like walking into a VFW – another organization who needs some young blood.

Whether you are motivated to volunteer with the IICRC, or to pursue the approved instructor path – that’s your personal call. At the very least, become a better student of the industry standards. I am confident in doing so you will see positive impacts operationally, and possibly financially. Keep sending your young technicians to get IICRC certifications and consider becoming a certified firm. All of this keeps the organization and our industry strong.


Until next month

Nasty 7 out.

Scott Walden

Scott WaldenScott Walden is the Chief Operating Officer for VetCor, LLC; a veteran manned and managed insurance services company specializing in mitigation of water loss damage.

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