We had the chance to sit down with Sean Kemper, of Kemper Industries, to tap into his knowledge of the cleaning process. For more than 30 years, Kemper Industries has combined chemical expertise and innovative thinking to manufacture quality cleaning compounds for the hospitality, industrial, and marine markets. Are you wondering what cleaning solutions are the right fit for your housekeeping needs? Read below for the full interview.
Tell us more about Kemper Industries. How has the company evolved over the years?
CCI Industries was established in Daphne, AL, in 1976 by a local papermill chemist. CCI operated mainly as an industrial chemical company with one distributor. My father, Bob Kemper, purchased the company in 1994 and continued running the business, adding another distributor in Pensacola, and changing the name. I was in Chicago, working as District Manager for Kay Chemical, a division of Ecolab, when my dad called and asked if I would come back down south to build Kemper Industries' distribution chain. I was ready for a new challenge and accepted the opportunity to grow the family business. I believe it was 2004 when this journey started!
You do so much work with the vacation rental industry; how did that come to be?
My primary goal at the time was to grow distribution in our backyard. Kemper was one of only a few manufacturers in LA (Lower Alabama), so it just made sense. Liberty Linens was one of the first distributors I partnered with; they were a solid family-run business deep-rooted in linens for the vacation rental companies along the Gulf Coast. It was a great fit, and we built great relationships through the years.
From odors to sticky floors and carpet stains to hard-to-clean marble, I found I enjoyed helping our short-term rental partners with solving their most difficult cleaning problems. We joined VRHP in 2006 and instantly fell in love with the industry. From that point, we built distribution along the Southeast, Florida Panhandle, Outer Banks, Virginia Beach, and even out to the great Northwest.
Are there "must-have items" you suggest every housekeeping department utilizes for their standard cleaning products?
Yes. Keep it simple. Of course, I recommend Kemper cleaning products but regardless of brand, you need a glass/multi-surface, degreaser, and acid-based cleaner. If you have these three products, you can overcome almost any cleaning obstacle.
When you understand the chemistry of cleaning, it makes sense which product to reach for based on the job. For example - when I conduct training, I educate on the importance of the pH scale. This industry seems to hate acids, but they are your friend. You'll never clean a mineral stain with a degreaser. This type of stain requires an acid, and safe acid-based products are phosphoric based, with a pungent odor. But if you move past the smell and embrace the chemistry, they do the job!
You work with property managers all over the country. Do you find different products are needed based on the destination?
Of course. Every region and climate is different. Some properties have hard water, some have mold, there are wood floors and natural stone – this is why working with someone who understands your particular situation and needs is so important. Most recently, I had the chance to work with someone in Hawaii on bamboo floors.
With COVID, there has been a renewed focus on cleanliness in the industry; what new products have you developed to help with the rigorous cleaning standards now in place?
It's a three-step process. We focus on air, surfaces, and fabrics, covering all aspects of the property and preventing guest cross-contamination. It's not necessarily the development of new products but, more importantly, proper use of existing ones. We have formed ETI Solutions as our consulting arm of the business to provide top notch service through education, training and innovative products for our industry.
Does Kemper Industries work with housekeeping managers to ensure their teams safely use the products you supply them?
If you're safe, we're all safe. My goal is to help standardize our industry much like a national chain/brand. There's no reason we can't hold ourselves and our properties to high standards while maintaining what makes the vacation rental market unique.
What is one piece of advice you would share with housekeeping teams as they look for ways to improve their cleans?
The right products and processes make all the difference. Many over the counter products are watered down and simply not effective or cost-efficient. Combining quality cleaning chemicals specifically designed for the hospitality industry with proper equipment and training can actually save you money by bringing most jobs in-house.
Stay tuned for more cleaning best practices from Kemper Industries!
Check out Breezeway’s Inventory Management features (launching soon) to stay on top of your cleaning supply levels and help your housekeepers prepare for each job!