Final thoughts from Tom Crockford

25th of November 2011

ECJ's Scandinavian reporter Tom Crockford writes his final column.

This is my final column as this magazine’s Scandinavian Correspondent. After over 12 years of commenting on the professional cleaning scene in this part of Europe, I have decided to retire. I do hope a replacement can be found soon.

Scandinavia has long been a pioneer of new methods and innovative cleaning products, and it is important there is someone to regularly report on the region’s activities for this fine publication. If you, or someone you know, might be interested in assuming this role, please contact Michelle Marshall (

In my first article for the June/July 1998 issue of ECJ, I commented on the rapid expansion of daytime commercial cleaning in Sweden. The concept was motivated by cost factors and made possible by advances in the cleaning machinery, most notably in the rather significant reduction in noise levels. Today, daytime cleaning is an accepted and well established fact.

Another part of that first article was devoted to the trend for contracting companies to expand into other service areas than just cleaning. This too has become an established part of the business strategy of the larger contractors, and it is now quite typical for them to be offering security, catering, estate management and many other services. So what can we expect to happen during the next 12-plus years?

Well, my crystal ball cannot be relied on to give any sure-fire answers but I would guess that not too much will change. The economic situation throughout Europe is likely to remain difficult over the next few years and this will, of course, have some effect. Corporate contracts for office cleaning may be tightened – meaning smaller margins as competition for fewer contracts increases. On the other hand, I envisage the public sector cleaning to do less in-house cleaning and increasingly outsource this work.

Which reminds me of an interesting scene I witnessed recently in Riga, Latvia. Visiting a school there, I noticed at the end of the school day a number of the more senior students carrying mops, brooms and other assorted cleaning accessories. When I enquired what was going on, I was told that students, who were being disciplined for being late or for whatever reason, now had to stay after school and clean the building.

It struck me as a truly innovative idea – school cleaning costs were obviously reduced, and it was a highly productive means of disciplining the youngsters. Far more so than having them write ‘I must not be late for school’ 100 times, or whatever the alternative punishment might be.  Maybe the idea will catch on!

Before I close this column for the last time, I would like to express my gratitude to all those people within the Scandinavian professional cleaning community that have been so helpful to me in this work. There are really too many to name, but I must mention Bengt Jödahl who has been very active in SSEF, the Swedish Association of Cleaning Contractors and who was always ready to pass on advice and information. Also, my good friends at Nilfisk-Advance in Denmark, who kept me up-to-date with the latest trends in equipment development.

Finally to Michelle and her editorial staff, a big thank you; it has been very easy and a real pleasure to work with you. Good luck to you all.


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