Sunday, June 8, 2003

Rug firm has it all covered

Security Amirkhanian is 65-year institution

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Mark Bubash, president and chief executive officer of Security Amirkhanian, walks through the company's huge rug-drying room.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
Not all business cultures choose to navigate the fast track of change. Rug cleaning company Security Amirkhanian has achieved success and steady growth weaving a few modern methods into a fabric of time-honored practices.

Floor covering fashions come and go, but since its founding in 1938, this company has maintained its emphasis on Oriental rug care. It adapted to the wall-to-wall carpeting trends of past decades by developing carpet cleaning capabilities, but the firm's real love is scrubbing rugs until they're good as new.

Now, with area rugs back in favor, Security Amirkhanian is finding new ways to penetrate an expanding market.

The company's Tennessee Avenue plant hasn't changed much since it was fully automated in 1952. A huge machine can accommodate even the largest rugs on its conveyor-style washing surface. Upstairs, cleaned rugs hang from giant racks in a drying room whose temperature hovers between 115 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit. "If you were to build that same room today, that's pretty much how you'd do it," said plant manager Ben Brauer. "A governor regulates the temperature, and air circulates the whole time. One of the key things is getting the rugs dry relatively quickly; mold and mildew can destroy them. This technique also prevents shrinkage and color running."

"It's old-fashioned washing combined with modern expertise and techniques," said Mark A. Bubash, Security Amirkhanian's president.

According to the two men, the attention given to a rug before it's cleaned is just as important as the cleaning process itself.

"We evaluate each and every rug that comes in," said Brauer. "We determine what the rug is made out of, so we know how it should be handled. For instance, silk rugs are done completely by hand; they can't be cleaned by machine."

"What's automated is the brute work, the lifting and dragging," Bubash explained. "What we want our folks to do is to pay attention to the details of cleaning."

Customers from all over Greater Cincinnati send their new and heirloom rugs for regular care; Bubash said 75 percent of Security Amirkhanian's business comes from repeat customers. And because well-made Oriental rugs can last so long, some of those customers are second- or third-generation.

While good cleaning methods haven't changed much over time, there is always plenty to learn. New manufacturing processes, new fabrics and new products require technicians to stay current. The company belongs to several professional associations. Brauer is one of only 37 specialists certified by the Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration in the United States. Bubash is certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification.

"We're always training, always asking our staff questions," said Brauer. "They need to be able to tell me where the rug is from, what's it made of, if it's sturdy or fragile."

"Even our office staff are certified upholstery cleaners so they can talk to customers intelligently," Bubash said. "There are quite a few companies that are our competitors in some areas, but they bring their oriental rugs to us to clean."

Security Amirkhanian also offers classes on rugs and rug care for interested groups.

"Oriental rugs can last forever," Bubash said. "That's where maintaining a rug is so important. Not having one cleaned is like not going to the dentist. Dirt has a sandpaper effect on the fibers."

After this spring's floods, Security was deluged with Oriental and other area rugs that were soaked and caked with mud. While plant staff redeemed those flood victims, the company's carpet cleaning teams worked round-the-clock to clean and dry customers' wall-to-wall carpeting.

"We're able to do large quantities quickly and efficiently," Brauer said.

A few floor-covering facts

According to Mark Bubash and Ben Brauer, an oriental rug generally is any hand-made rug from Eastern Europe or Asia. Orientals also come from places such as Spain and Morocco. The term "area rug" usually refers to a machine-made rug.

Industry figures indicate that 42 percent of homes nowadays have oriental or area rugs on their floors.

Floor covering in a low-traffic area may need cleaning only every other year; in high-traffic zones those rugs should be cleaned every year, possibly every six months.

Security Amirkhanian cleans rugs of all sizes for commercial and residential customers. Charge for a typical 5-by-7-foot rug is $80. The company also cleans carpet and upholstered furniture. Customers can buy various levels of service. For instance, deodorizing is optional. The company does sell carpeting as a sideline.

The company's name is the result of the purchase, in 1960, of the Amirkhanian rug company by Security Rug Cleaners. The Geier family owns Security Amirkhanian. The company is at 1776 Tennessee Ave., Paddock Hills.


Aquarium bent on hooking more
The dot-com revolution
Procter & Gamble stays in touch with customers with its Web site
Rug firm has it all covered
Rescues can use eatery leftovers
As prices fall, small businesses scramble
Britain likely to again reject switch to euro
Business notes
What's the buzz?