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AGP – expanding retail in Brexit London

AGP’s Anna and Pawel...

AGP’s Anna and Pawel…

Brexit is not going down well with the British service industries. As if running a contract cleaning business in the capital wasn’t tough enough?

That’s why Prochem distributor AGP Cleaning in west London is reigning in its contracting arm to concentrate on selling janitorial supplies.

London is a tough place to operate in: getting staff, keeping staff; and then there’s the perennial issue of parking!

But, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, AGP has lots going for it despite the challenges.

Two key success factors come to mind; the drive and determination of directors Anna and Pawel Wodzinski, and the business’s location.

“Anna’s gone from strength to strength as a dealer and has a fabulous showroom with our products on prominent display,” says Prochem sales manager, Phil Jones.

That showroom is located in Shepherds Bush, on a major thoroughfare out of the city via the west-bound A40.

“There are very few cleaning supplies businesses with retail premises in this part of town,” says Anna.

“Our customers value having a local source of quality materials, somewhere you can walk into, get some great advice if you need it, and walk out with the solution for your needs.”

Anna started in the cleaning business in 2001. In 2008, she opened the shop to sell janitorial supplies while Pavel concentrated on the contracting side of the business.

Concerns over the prospects for contracting in the face of Britain leaving the EU have led to a recent drive at AGP to increase business levels in the retail business.

It’s a successful mission, with orders up threefold in just three months, says Anna.

“We’re seeing increased footfall in the shop as well as more business being generated from our online e-commerce platform,” she explains.

“We have a wide range of customers, from restaurants, pubs and clubs to offices and other commercial premises as well of course as carpet cleaners. This is a strong catchment area for both commercial and domestic business.”

Prochem is a principal supplier to AGP.

“We can source from a wide range of chemicals with lots of specialist lines that appeal to discerning customers seeking quality first, price next”, says Anna.

“Prochem machines are also popular here and we had recent successes with Steempro and Galaxy portable extractor sales.

“Plus we get a lot of support from the team at Prochem who are always ready to share knowledge with us.”

AGP’s janitorial business employs two staff in the shop backed up by two vans managing deliveries.

The shop is now opening on Saturdays, too; “things are going well and the demand is there if you are prepared to step up and meet it,” says Anna.

AGP Cleaning Supplies
124 Askew Road
London W12 9BL
0208 743 9213

When a great solution just Gels!

There’s nothing quite like the look on some people’s faces when a product works and solves one of their long-standing problems, is there?

Prochem experienced just such a moment recently when the team turned out to conduct a demonstration of a Prochem Polaris large area carpet extractor.

While we were setting out machine and solutions, the contract manager pointed out a black sticky mark on the carpet and suggested “not to bother trying to get that mark out of the carpet as it had been there for about two years and will never come out!”

Now, we love a challenge – and E840 Citrus Gel rarely fails to deliver.

So, as the mark felt slightly greasy, we started with a small application of the solvent-gel direct from the bottle onto the mark (below).

While the larger corridor area was being cleaned by the Polaris, the Citrus Gel was gently breaking down and dissolving the greasy mark.

It was left for ten minutes, before the extractor was wheeled into position and the mark was slowly extracted.

As the machine passed over the area, the customer stood shocked – wide eyed, as the bitumen backed carpet tiles became mark-free (below).

Such a great moment!  So, a quick reminder: we’re talking here about a solvent spotter, formulated to deal with greases, waxes, paints, Blu-Tack, gum and many other oil-based stains.

It’s safe and effective, especially when dealing with sticky stains on carpet tiles, quite often with bitumen backings.

Most liquid solvents could, but not always, cause the bitumen to bleed back to the surface and create a permanent black tar-mark. Citrus Gel fixes them.

It only requires a few minutes of working-dwell time to help dissolve and loosen the sticky, greasy mark and can be rinsed out with a suitable carpet extraction machine afterwards.

At the end of the day, it’s either 10 minutes of dwell time and job done, or the customer buys a new carpet.  We think the latter will be the solution that finds favour!

Faster cleaning for major new pool complex

One of the UK’s largest public swimming pools is to be cleaned using Prochem-supplied scrubber drier technology.

The opening of a new leisure centre in Morden Park, Surrey last month sees in a major upgrading of wet area floor management geared to improving cleaning outcome with decreased user downtime.

At six lanes with a total length of 25m, Morden Leisure Centre boasts one of the largest public pools in the country, its diving pit fitted with a movable floor to a depth of 3.7m – an exceptional facility shared with few other centres in the UK.

Relocating the centre team from its original 1967-built pool facility coincided with a review of cleaning practices. Tasked to both cleaners and to lifeguards on-site, this had been carried out by washing, scrubbing and mopping wet areas.

(Left to right) Jon Ewing (Prochem Area Sales Executive), Korina Chappell (Senior Recreation Assistant, MLC), James Davis (General Manager, MLC) and David Vincent (Managing Director, Thorne Cleaning Solutions Ltd, Prochem distributor)

Faced with a considerably larger space to clean at the new centre, assistant manager Matthew Breckon sought a faster, more effective solution for cleaning floor areas surrounding the pools and in its three changing rooms.

Morden Leisure Centre janitorial supplier Thorne Cleaning Supplies recommended the Prochem LW46 hybrid floor washer/drier.

This advanced cleaning machine can work up to 1500 sq m per hour from corded or battery power supply with recharging from complete discharge in only three hours.

Lightweight and manoeuverable, it scrubs and dries to the wall along its side and in front, drying on each turn.

“The machine ticked all the right boxes for the team working at the new centre,” says Matthew.

“It’s a truly effective solution to our needs, both for managing straight runs of floor, and conversely in the changing rooms where cleaning between benches would otherwise have been be fiddly and time-consuming.

“We have eight lifeguards and three cleaners now and Prochem helped us with the use of the scrubber drier at a dedicated training day.”

Powermate – your pal in faster carpet cleaning

Powermate 1200 in action...

Powermate 1200 in action…

When cleaning web site and magazine Tomorrow’s Cleaning put Prochem’s 2018-introduced Powermate 1200 up for its 2019 Awards, we were curious as to why this super-wand should be perceived as particularly worthy of the accolade. So we asked sales manager Phil Jones …

“If you look at what we have launched this year that achieves fast and fuss-free cleaning, it would have to be the Powermate,” says Phil. “It’s not that it’s big and in your face. It’s the opposite: compact and very effective.

“It’s drawing attention because it’s resolving the core carpet care challenges of the day:  unknown stains, heavy soiling, and household users trying to remove stains themselves before seeking professional help.

“Identifying the carpet fibre/type before qualifying stains and their removal, is always a major issue, so find out as much information as possible about the stain,” says Phil.

“Tell the customer the carpet needs more than a clean, in fact that it needs restoring to set the customer’s expectation and advise that certain stains may only come out when cleaned professionally, involving perhaps extra time and specialist treatment products.

“Prochem has been offering successful free workshops to contractors to deal with this ongoing issue, to demonstrate general carpet cleaning techniques and stain removal methods, plus making the point about the importance of recommending a maintenance plan is, particularly in commercial applications.

See-thru cleaning head – watch that soiled solution go!

See-thru cleaning head – watch that soiled solution go!

“After all, you’re keeping carpets cleaner for longer and quite often reducing costs and customer likes that.

“These sessions also give us scope for communicating the latest on carpet fibre development and how to identify different materials: at the high end of the market for example you can find vegetable waste fibre in carpet. And you don’t want to be wet/steam cleaning those!”

“A technology  like the Powermate is inevitably going to be deployed in high traffic areas where you find increased soil levels.

“Pre-treat with a suitable prespray, leave the soiled area for up to five minutes, turn on and run an extraction pass using a carpet rinse detergent with it, and the challenge is over.”

With self-levelling cylindrical 2500 rpm brush, 12” high-impact vacuum head and 25 ft. power cable, this unit does away with back strain from constant wand passes and scrubbing, while tripling cleaning times.

Attachable to any extraction cleaning machine, the Powermate sprays solution while the 1/12hp electric motor powers a mechanical Tynex roller brush that agitates and breaks down heavy soiling, with waste sucked back into the machine’s tank (a see-through front plate even enables you to watch the soiled water being extracted).

Winter Tips – nipping the freeze in the bud

It may have been one of the milder years here in the UK, but let’s not be fooled – Jack Frost has been showing his face, and snow’s been sighted on the high ground!

So, it’s worth bearing in mind that machines and accessories as well as chemicals left in un-garaged vans and out-buildings can be vulnerable to extreme cold.

In fact, given how pumps and brass valves are so prone to freezing and fracture during the cold weather, it is sound practice to bring your equipment under cover wherever possible.

The smallest amount of water can expand under freezing conditions and crack equipment, the consequent damage necessitating expensive repairs and equipment down time.

You can prevent water freezing inside your machine by adding an anti-freeze solution; just don’t forget to flush it out before you clean carpet or upholstery!

To avoid a blown heat exchanger, try adding anti-freeze to your truck mount unit or use a thermostatically-controlled heater inside the van. As with a portable, you would still need to flush the system before using the unit to clean.

Wands and hand tools are the most common items damaged by cold conditions. They are often left in vans their valves and pipework have very small diameter bores, so even the smallest amount of water will cause a lot of damage. Take them indoors, if possible.

And don’t forget, many chemical products are also sensitive to extremes of temperature.

Particular care should be taken to ensure that chemicals are not allowed to freeze in the back of your van or lock-up.

Freeze/thawing of chemical products can affect their stability and performance. At the end of the working day, store your chemicals indoors in a cool, dry location at a temperature above 5C, but below 30C.

You don’t want to find the following morning that your carpet cleaning solution is now an icy solid!

Anti-freeze protection for machines: our guide

Just as you use antifreeze to keep your van running through the winter, so you can protect truck-mounted extractors from freezing up.

To introduce the antifreeze, start up the truck-mount with the auxiliary pump turned off.

Now switch on the solution pump and then attach the open-ended hose and bleed off half of the water box volume.  Next, disconnect the open ended hose and add 2 litres of antifreeze to the water box.

Run the engine for 10 minutes to allow the antifreeze solution to circulate. Finally, switch off the solution pump and turn off the unit.

To remove anti-freeze from your truck mount, start up the machine ensuring the auxiliary pump is turned off.

Switch on the solution pump, attach the open-ended hose and bleed off the system until the water box is empty (catch the antifreeze solution for re-use).

Now, switch on the auxiliary pump and flush the system until no antifreeze is present. Finally, switch off the solution pump, remove open ended hose and turn off the unit.

Job done!

Happy 10th Woodridge!

Party-time: Sarah and Lucy get celebrating in London!

Party-time: Sarah and Lucy get celebrating in London!

… meanwhile, an hour or so up the A40 from AGP Cleaning (see previous story), another 10th birthday party has been chalked up, this time for Prochem distributor, Woodridge Cleaning Supplies.

As with AGP, this Piddington, High Wycombe-based enterprise has been selling Prochem products for the past decade after being set up by former colleagues, Lucy Woodisse and Sarah Plumridge.

Says Prochem’s Phil Jones: “Sarah and Lucy have a great business on the go here. They’ve recently sold a few of our Bravo Plus machines and a lot of chemicals.”

Says Sarah: “We’re delighted to have reached this milestone. Lucy and I have spent the past week thanking each and every one that has supported us, both customers and suppliers.

“Prochem were with us from the off. We’d bought the brand in our previous employments, so we knew all about the products – our repeat sellers are Extraction Plus, Multi Pro, Crystal Green, Fibre & Fabric Rinse, and Citrus Gel.”

Lucy and Sarah together field over 20 years’ experience in distributing cleaning solutions: they formed their own business after a spell finding out both how to do it – and how not to.

“I think we both realised we had learned pretty much all we needed working for others and that it was time to take that leap of faith and do it for ourselves,” says Sarah.

When a warehouse with offices on the village’s North Estate adjoining the A40 road came up, the two jumped at it.

Over 90% of their business comprises contract cleaners, but they also supply to end users such as schools, colleges and pubs.

“We have a small showroom and people are more than welcome to come and buy from the counter – many people still like to purchase like this,” remarks Sarah.

Lucy and Sarah are clearly great networkers; the vast majority of their business is repeat and sourced from far and wide.

“We run three vans and sell and ship to Southend, Birmingham and Poole regularly and go into central London. One of our clients has over 600 sites to be serviced – and we have fabulous drivers that really know their job.”

Schools, leisure centres, colleges, offices closer to home also keep the six-strong team at Woodridge busy, working on further expansion – and another celebration in 2028!

Train – for no strain, no pain!

2019 beckons and with it, change and challenge. Make sure you’re up to it and make training a resolution for the New Year.

Prochem has published 2019 training dates for courses being held at the company’s Training Academy in Chessington, Surrey.

The company is a foremost commercial provider of training offering a selection of industry-approved training courses designed both for the newcomer to the carpet cleaning industry as well as the seasoned professional looking to refresh skills or find out what’s new in cleaning best-practice.

Two-day carpet cleaning courses are being held February 5/6th, April 30th/May 1st,, September 17/18th and November 26/27th, with One-day carpet courses taking place on January 22nd, February 26th, March 26th, May 14th, July 16th, September 3rd, October 29th and December 3rd.

Upholstery courses are on February 27th, May 15th, September 4th, October 30th and December 4th.

Hard floor cleaning courses take place March 12th, June 25th, September 10th and November 19th.  And stain removal courses are on March 27th, July 17th and November 12th.

Unable to get down to Chessington? No problem!

The Prochem Training team takes the show on the road next year.

The company has One Day Carpet Cleaning courses held in Leeds on March 5th and Manchester on October 1st as well as a Stain Removal Course in Manchester on October 2nd.

Says Prochem sales manager, Phil Jones: “Being trained helps you sell. It boosts operator confidence as well as skills and capability.

“There isn’t anyone passing through our courses who doesn’t acknowledge they’ve benefited from the experience.”

More on Prochem Training 2019 here

Gone into a house just to clean the carpets? Spare a thought for the settee!

Upholstery tends to get neglected more than carpet for some reason – a lot of cleaners walk around sofas and chairs fixated on the floor, and when the job’s done, go home. 

Says Prochem sales manager, Phil Jones:

“Nearly every Prochem carpet course in the past few months has been fully booked with candidates looking to start in the cleaning business, but too often that’s where many stop.

“They seem to think that cleaning carpeted areas is the be-all and end-all. But a lot of clients are looking for a cleaning company to engage to clean both carpets and chairs or sofas. That’s an income stream lost to another contractor.”

Working around a sofa or chairs can be less energetic than running around a house or office cleaning carpets and upholstery and is a simple string to add to your cleaning skills and service offer.

Most fabrics are fully wet-cleanable and cause little or no more trouble than many carpets. A simple acrylic-weave office chair in a waiting room, for example, is one of the easiest to clean.

A polyester corduroy 3-piece suit from a local sofa centre can be similarly treated and cleaning requires only a slight variation on products.

At the top end, fashionable sofas may require a little more experience, knowledge and a more understanding use of cleaning detergents, but they are all cleanable.

“Training can open that knowledge to you,” Phil emphasizes.

“You’re getting the answers to questions like ‘Do I currently clean all the sofa or all three hundred banqueting chairs with hot water extraction? Have I identified the soil levels correctly?  Do I actually need to extraction clean the sides or back of the sofa or all those chairs’?

“Think of the time you could save if you knew the answers,” he says.

His point is that if identified correctly, the sides or back of the sofa may only require a light spray of prespray and then a gentle rubbing with a clean terry towel to remove the small amount of soiling.

A percentage of the banqueting chairs may only require a quick, light clean.

The heavier soiled areas such as the body contact areas (BCAs) or the chairs with most spills/soiling would correctly require extraction cleaning.

“Consider the potential time saved,” says Phil. “Most candidates that come on a one-day Prochem upholstery cleaning course gain something very useful – confidence.

“Having that sets you on course for achieving more on-site, pleasing the customer and making more money in the process!”

Check out your upholstery training opportunities on this link

Qs & As

Your questions answered …


I look after a few blocks of student accommodation at a local University and I am attempting to get ready for the Xmas holidays. Last year I remember having issues with, shall we call it, excessive festive celebration, as the students broke up. I had to deal with corridor carpets that had been assaulted by vomit and drink spills. I had an awful time trying to get rid of the smell. Can you pass any words of wisdom?


It’s the season to be merry! We all like a drink but it can always lead to problems. Have you considered trying Prochem A275 Fibrefresh? It is a biological deodoriser that digests organic material including vomit, urine, food residues and the like while providing a pleasant fresh, odour absorbing fragrance over the surface. It can be diluted 1 part product to 2 parts water as a general digester or used 50/50 with water on those heavier contaminated areas before using your machine to rinse out. If the area under treatment is particularly problematic, then Fibrefresh can be applied and then left to work and dry. It is also very useful in care homes and council waste disposal areas, such as bin compounds in apartment blocks.


I’m going to clean a faux suede sofa for a customer next week. What do I use? Can I wet clean it or do I have to dry clean it?


OK firstly, what is it? Faux suede is a material made from polyester microfibre that’s woven into a thin, soft, but very tough plastic fabric. It is very popular and subject to the normal pre-cleaning tests, is fully wet-cleanable.

I suggest using B108 Fabric Restorer as a pre-treatment, and especially on the body contact areas (BCAs). It has a slightly higher pH than B107 Prespray Gold but this will help dissolve heavier soils and it can then be rinsed out with B145 Fab Clean.

This combination will be suitable for such a fabric and give a very good clean and result.


Brandy butter is always tasty on Christmas pudding, but can prove a nightmare on carpet or upholstery.  How do we go about removing it?


Use E840 Citrus Gel, then scrape or absorb the residues out. To clean afterwards, use B107 Prespray Gold, which will remove the greasy soil.

Prespray Gold is a specially formulated, high concentrate professional strength pre-spray cleaner for upholstery fabrics.  It is also a WoolSafe approved maintenance product for wool carpets and rugs.

Finally, rinse extract using B109 Fibre & Fabric Rinse.


Entrance area and hall carpets get really wet if we have a lot of rain and snow and  they pick up all the soil that people trudge in. Have you got any tips for dealing with these problem areas? Not just mud and slush, oil from parking areas and even de-icer salt and grit winds up in these.


Good winter question! If you clean these areas first they should be almost dry by the time you finished the rest of the house or office building. Soil may have already wicked back up the damp fibre, so if the result is not entirely satisfactory now is the time to go over them again.

Towel them off or use a rotary and soil-sorb bonnet for larger areas to prevent more soil wicking up to the surface, and dry off excess solution.

If the carpet is synthetic, go for S710 Trafficlean as the pre-spray (S709 Multi Pro for wool) and put plenty down, working it well into the pile with a brush.

If there is a lot of asphalt track-in, try using B845 Citra-Boost as an additive.

Excessive de-icer salt track-in will probably cause discoloration as it can affect dyes. Try rinse-extracting the affected area with B109 Fibre & Fabric Rinse.

Don’t forget to recommend the use of barrier mats – prevention is always better than cure and good professional advice will always gain you kudos with your customer!

THE CLEANING SHOW 2019 – join us!

Visitors to our stand, previously

Visitors to our stand, previously

The Cleaning Show returns on March 19th to 21st 2019 at ExCeL, London and Prochem as always, is going to be there!

This is the UK’s largest dedicated cleaning and hygiene event and we are always pleased to see so many of our customers and partners visiting.

It’s probably because this is more than just an exhibition: there is a conference and a series of other features that attract thousands of contract cleaners, facilities managers, healthcare estate managers, hospitality, leisure and retail managers, public service providers, local government and distributors to this bi-annual event.

We are on Stand G15 – more news to follow on what we’re bringing to the party this year!

… and Be Of Good Cheer!

Finally, as we approach the end of another year, all of us here at Prochem would like to take this opportunity of wishing you and yours’…

The Best of the Festive Season and A Very Happy New Year!

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