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San Diego: Perfecting Paradise, Copyright 1999 by Heritage Media Corporation


Chances are, if you live in San Diego or a neighboring community, you have seen one of Stanley Steemer's bright yellow carpet cleaning vans in your neighborhood, on your street, or parked right in your driveway.

Just how did Stanley Steemer become the "brand name" that is synonymous with carpet cleaning in San Diego? The answer is Steve Thompson, owner of Colt Services, Inc., d.b.a. Stanley Steemer San Diego. Thompson has built Stanley Steemer into San Diego's number one carpet cleaner and the largest carpet cleaning franchise nationwide.

Thompson grew up with Stanley Steemer. His stepfather, Jack Bates, was the original founder of Stanley Steemer in 1947. Did you ever wonder why "Steemer" is spelled with two "E's"? When the original steam cleaning equipment was operating, it reminded Bates of the old Stanley Steamer steam powered automobile. He liked the name, so he made it his own with a slight spelling variation to make it unique.

Thompson was introduced to the carpet cleaning business at an early age. As a teenager he liked to make money, so he would work with his stepfather, carrying in the buckets of water and hoses. He learned the business from the "carpeted" ground floor up. Thompson worked in the corporate environment of Stanley Steemer for several years and in the branch operations in various management positions. Stanley Steemer International began its franchise operations in 1972. Although Thompson didn't realize it at the time, the door to his future had just opened.

In 1979 when he was 21, Thompson began operating a Stanley Steemer branch office in San Diego with one truck and one man- himself. With the reputation of Stanley Steemer in his favor and endless hours of hard work, Thompson began to build his dream. In 1982 he incorporated as Colt Services, Inc. d.b.a. Stanley Steemer San Diego and purchased the San Diego franchise. Just as the name "Stanley Steemer" has a story, so does the name "Colt Services". As Thompson was building his business, each day he would give Bates an update. His stepfather would always tell him "It's a chance of a lifetime!" While doodling those words one night Thompson's corporate name came to him, Chance Of a LifeTime, COLT Services.

The San Diego franchise continued to expand. In 1983, Thompson purchased the El Cajon and Oceanside franchises. Two years later Stanley Steemer San Diego became the first Stanley Steemer operation to have sales in excess of $1 million.

Stanley Steemer San Diego continues to provide the finest service to their customers. They support the community they live in. Quality service, fair pricing and ethical business practices are key to their success and outstanding reputation. Thompson realized early on that his franchise had to meet the special needs of his San Diego customers. Not all cities are alike; the culture of San Diego called for new ideas. Same day service, price quotes by phone, emergency water extraction, 24 hour service, no hidden charges, and guaranteed customer satisfaction are all services provided. While the company has an aggressive marketing program, it still places great value on both the referral of satisfied customers and the loyalty of previous customers.

Employees that share Thompson's vision of "being the best" are a major factor in the success and growth of the company. Stanley Steemer has many long tenured employees who share their experience and expertise.

A day in the life of a Stanley Steemer Carpet Cleaner is rather unique in itself. As a customer you see a small part of their day. It begins very early to enable the crew to arrive at the first home by 8:00 a.m. Crewmembers arrive at the base of operations in Mira Mesa at approximately 6:30 a.m., don their red and white uniforms, then head out to the exercise area for fifteen minutes of stretching and calisthenics. On any given day, one crew may move more than 2,000 pounds of furniture and swoop a few thousands strokes with a 12-pound cleaning wand. The job requires them to be in top physical condition.

Before spending their first day on a truck, crewmembers receive extensive classroom instruction. Stanley Steemer realizes their Carpet Cleaning Technicians are "invited guests" in the homes and businesses of their customers. As guests they want to be welcomed back so they strive for perfection. Carpet and upholstery fabric identification, cleaning methods, spot removal techniques, water extraction procedures, safety, and customer service are but a few of the classroom topics. Their training is extensive, taught by industry experts. Stanley Steemer wants their customers to "rave" about their carpet cleaning service. The many thank-you letters and phone calls received each month are a testimony to the outstanding work performed.

With over fifty equipped vehicles and more than one hundred service technicians, crews travel all over San Diego County. It can be a long day so it takes a special individual to ensure it is a successful and profitable one!

As a company, Stanley Steemer is an enjoyable place to work. Picnics, banquets, barbecues and contests are all part of the benefits the employees enjoy. Stanley Steemer isn't just about carpet cleaning, it's about providing a safe and enjoyable work environment for the employees, taking care of their needs and serving the community.

Don't be surprised if you see Stanley Steemer employees selling newspapers on the street corner for the Children's Hospital Kids News Day. You may have been asked for a food donation for the Holiday Food Drive. Two crewmembers were also recognized for rescuing a child, accidentally locked in a car, on a hot summer's day. The employees are here to serve the community and their contributions continue to be numerous.

So, when you see that bright yellow Stanley Steemer van driving down the highway, take a moment to remember the dreams, the ambitions and the visions that have made Stanley Steemer a household word. If you need them, they will be there for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are more than just a business; they are a neighbor as well!

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