By Diane M. Calabrese / Published August 2023
An abundance of excellent opportunities is good. So good, it’s possible to overlook something.
We want to be certain CETA [Cleaning Equipment Trade Association] members and prospective members know about all the programs the association offers. Here we highlight two of the programs, the Women of CETA and the Continuing Education Grant program.
[Note: For the full list of benefits that come with CETA membership—from regional meetings and certification courses to the annual meeting, technical updates, and more—visit the CETA.org website.]
Women of CETA got its official start in 2009. Brenda Purswell, who became a member of the industry in 1971, was instrumental in putting the idea forward. (Purswell and her husband, John Purswell, sold their business, Alklean Industries, in 2022, retiring after more than 50 years in the industry.)
The official start was 2009, because as Purswell explains, women had been getting together to work for the betterment of the industry and build friendships along the way since the inception of CETA. Women of CETA brought a higher visibility to their initiatives.
“Women of CETA hold many roles—some are owners, some work in managerial positions, some serve in support roles—but the ladies in our industry play a key role in their organization’s success,” says Purswell. “I have personally seen the growth of women in our industry and feel they greatly add value to the company they represent.”
As Purswell looks back at her tenure as the chair of the Women of CETA (WOC) group, she sees two important developments. One is relationship building, and the other is the follow-through it allows.
“Relationship building—each year we do something different but try to always allow time to get to know each other better and grow our relationships,” says Purswell. “We always try to convey that we are available to help each other throughout the year.”
Theresa Rasmussen with Royce Industries L.C. in North Las Vegas, NV, took over the leadership of Women of CETA this year. She emphasizes the theme of camaraderie.
The “most important dimension of the group is the friendship, familiar faces, and providing a place for us to come together and enjoy each other’s company,” says Rasmussen. Of course, that’s just the beginning.
“Women get the job done,” says Rasmussen. “There are more and more women in the industry in leading roles, which is exciting. With the encouragement of others in the WOC, we come together for each other.”
The support women get from one another through conversation in formal and informal settings invigorates their efforts, explains Rasmussen. And that in turn strengthens the industry.
Working with Rasmussen on the WOC committee this year is Yujin Yoo Anderson, general manager at Steamericas in Gardena, CA. She, too, points to the strength that comes from the WOC group.
“People are what makes the group stronger,” says Anderson, who looks forward to welcoming more women to the WOC. She cites the varied roles that women take in the industry, which range from operations to sales.
Whether designing new equipment or improving existing machines through innovation, women are involved at every juncture. Each year more women also join the ranks of those who own contracting firms. As end users of equipment, they (like men) inform innovation through their wish lists.
Anderson has been in the industry for many years now, but she recalls that when she first entered it, she had some trepidation. The “very welcoming” nature of CETA allayed her concerns, she explains. In particular, “The WOC made it easier.”
WOC offers industry-specific assistance in professional growth, and that growth works in tandem with balance in life. Just talking about a difficult issue, such as simultaneously maneuvering through a disrupted supply chain and caring for a sick child or parent, in a genial group including women who have been-there-done-that is a huge plus.
Sometimes women—and men—must be reminded to take care of themselves because they become so busy looking after their families, employees, and businesses that they forget to pause. As one quiet reminder, there will be a special focus on breast cancer awareness at this year’s WOC meeting during PowerClean® 2023 (October 11–14, Glendale, AZ), along with many other activities.
Continuing education and lifelong learning are two things we all aspire to accomplish. The new CETA grant program aims to make it just a little easier to do so by assisting with the cost.
“The grant program is to encourage continuing education,” says Gary Scott with Alkota Cleaning Systems Inc. in Alcester, SD. “Helping our members stay educated and informed raises the reputation and credibility of our industry.”
“There’s no question that continuing education can be quite costly,” says Scott. “This grant program can aid in covering a portion of the expenses…”
The grant program is a function of the Scholarship Foundation. It is separate from awards to students studying for college degrees. (Employees of CETA members can also compete—along with children of members—for competitively awarded college scholarships.)
“Members can [through the grant program] provide all types of continuing education to their employees and get a reimbursement toward that education and/or training,” explains Dennis Black, president of McHenry Pressure Cleaning Systems Inc. in Frederick, MD.
Parameters for what can be supported by the grant program are as broad as possible, explains Black. “Computer training, sales training, welding, small engine repair, etc.” are just some of the options.
“We also wanted it to be easy to participate— there is one small form to fill out and a copy of a paid invoice needs to be submitted, and you are done,” says Black. The 2023 commitment to the program is $10,000.
Reimbursement of 50 percent of the cost of training up to $500 is available. The defrayment of the expense of training should give a boost to many as they pursue knowledge that enriches them, the industry, and the economy.
“This program was created to help distributor members provide additional training and learning experiences for their employees,” says Black. “It’s a grassroots way, if you will, of providing continuing education by the association.”
Black encourages members to think about the “win, win, win” dimension of the grant program. The employee learns a new skill and becomes stronger, and so does the business.
“The grant program provides the opportunity to create an immediate and direct impact on the CETA member’s business through specific education and training,” says Russ Hess, region manager–Northeast USA, Eastern Canada, with Alkota Cleaning Systems Inc. And the return on investment will accrue across members’ businesses and the industry.
“A higher level of competency, due to specific education and training, will occur within CETA members’ businesses,” says Hess. “The result will be higher earning power for CETA members.”
Quality begins with expert hands and minds. The grant program fuels expertise.
“The business model of our segment of the pressure washer industry is focused on high-quality products backed by high-quality service,” says Hess. “The education and training provided by the grant program allows the opportunity to impact the quality of service provided by CETA members.”
Quality products and high-level service create a formidable force in the industry. And CETA—with its wide-ranging programs including the WOC and grants reviewed here—is a consolidator and amplifier of that force.