Investing in disinfecting gear pays off; company contributing to Rapid Relief Fund

An investment based largely on cruise ship business is now paying off handsomely for a local cleaning firm and the community despite Victoria’s empty cruise ship terminal.

Luv a Rug, which dropped “a pretty good chunk of change” on four Clorox Total 360 electrostatic spraying systems this year, has been overrun with work for the disinfecting machines over the last several weeks.

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And that has translated into thousands of dollars being donated back to the community through the Rapid Relief Fund.

“Our business is better than it’s ever been,” said owner Dusty Roberts, noting it’s likely a combination of the company being deemed an essential service, and a loyal customer base that has been stuck at home looking at things that could use a bit of cleaning.

Luv a Rug has also been renting out the high-end cleaning and disinfecting systems it purchased this year, which have proved a hit with businesses, homes and institutions.

Roberts said he invested in the machines — there are some Clorox Total systems listed for sale online around the $10,000 mark — when they saw the cruise ship industry first get hit with the coronavirus.

“We saw what might happen, it was on its way,” he said, noting the thinking was cruise ships pulling into Victoria would be looking for a deep cleaning and disinfecting program when staying in port overnight.

Roberts said the decontamination system sprays an electrostatic mist onto all kinds of surfaces from rugs and fabric to phones, point-of-sale systems, computers, desktops and furniture.

The systems is designed to disinfect in one step and will kill 99.9 per cent of bacteria within seconds and cold and flu viruses, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and norovirus within two minutes.

“We actually take care of cleaning and repairing wool rugs on cruise ships and we knew it would be [likely] that we would get a decontamination job if they came here,” he said.

But the federal government killed that idea when it shut down the industry in March.

So Roberts, instead of staring at a massive investment every day on his shop floor, started renting them out and offering non-profit organizations the free use of them. The response was overwhelming.

“The need has been huge. I could be renting these systems 24/7 and 30 days of the month,” he said. “I have a list of companies that want to rent them permanently.”

The work has kept the 24-year-old company hopping, while other small businesses have been struggling during the pandemic.

Roberts, who has been cleaning carpets and rugs since 1973 when he worked for his dad’s company, admitted he had been feeling a little guilty that they had managed to do much more than just keep their lights on.

So he decided to offer a “two-for-one with a bit of your love” rug-lover’s wash. The promotion meant customers would pay regular price for the first rug and instead of paying the company for the second rug they would pay any amount they wanted to the Rapid Relief Fund.

The fund, established by the Jawl Foundation, the Victoria Foundation and the Times Colonist, has been raising money to fund programs for some of the most vulnerable residents on the Island who are feeling a disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. One month after launching the fund is nearing the $6-million mark.

Roberts said the promotion has been very popular and “really got rocking” last week. “I think people are giving more than we are giving up,” he said, noting one customer donated $150 instead of paying $40 to have a second rug cleaned.

So far the initiative has raised more than $2,300 for the fund, though Roberts has a goal of raising “$20,200 for a better 2020.”

The promotion continues until May 29 or when Luv a Rug reaches its goal.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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