Industry Leaders Forum: Garth Michalson, Cleanstar

Garth Michalson, Managing Director, Cleanstar

How was 2021 for Cleanstar? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

2021 was an interesting year for Cleanstar balancing normal everyday business with the challenges of trading in a Covid-environment. That said, 2021 was the best year on record for Cleanstar/XPOWER.

The main challenge has been keeping up with product demand. Over the past year there has been a massive increase in costs of raw materials. When you couple that with extraordinary increases in shipping costs, the likes of which have never been seen before, together with shipping capacity shortages, the pressures on price as well as on supply lines has been a massive challenge.

Given the nature of the pandemic and associated lockdowns, the way in which cleaning was normally carried out had to change which brought with it some challenges, especially in terms of finding alternative products that allowed new levels of cleanliness to be achieved.

Therefore, finding new products when you are strapped to your desk can be quite challenging. Amongst many new products we released, the introduction of what we believe to be the best air purifier in the world, Rensair, has bought on a lot of exposure and credibility for us.

Is there an achievement that you’re particularly proud of from the past 12 months?

There have been many moments in 2021 that have made me proud. The challenges imposed on everyone running a business in these times have been plentiful.

I am proud of my staff who have helped our great result achieved having to adapt quickly to the new trading environment, new products, and at the same time maintaining our excellent service levels for which we are known.

It was wonderful to be able to help our customers through their challenges as well where together we were all able to achieve great outcomes.

What will be the immediate focus for Cleanstar in 2022?

HEPA air purification is our immediate focus with our hospital-grade Rensair unit and our XPOWER Air Purifier Scrubber. We strive to offer all of Australia and NZ better air indoor quality.

Never before has the spotlight shone so brightly on the importance of good indoor quality. Not only is it a key part of the risk mitigation strategy, but it also makes for more productive environments too.

Are there any new brands or products to be launched in 2022?

Bonnie Bio, which is our new compostable range of bin liners, council bags, dog poop bags straws, gloves, and cutlery, is an exciting new product for us.

Our focus is to help in the elimination of plastic product in Australia. Of course, we have a few other new initiatives on the go which we will release and announce to the market in due course. We’re never sitting still at Cleanstar!

What are the major opportunities you foresee for Cleanstar in 2022?

Dealing more with industries such as the healthcare sector, education, government, transport, and hospitality when it comes with categories like air purification and general hygiene, with cleaning equipment and products of all types. The pandemic has helped open new doors for us which is exciting.

How do you see the cleaning and hygiene market evolving in 2022?

There will be more focus on personal health, hygiene, and air purification in environments such as office buildings, schools, aged care facilities, hospitals, retail centres, hospitality venues, transport, as well as and general work and living spaces.

What the opportunities and challenges you see for the wider market in 2022?

The main challenges is product availability and the rising cost of goods, without a doubt.

Unfortunately, everybody in the supply chain right through to the end user is going to have to become accustomed to paying more for their products when they can get them.

Plenty of opportunities abound for us. With our large range of products and a significant investment in stockholdings, in times like this where supply of stock is challenging, we are cementing Cleanstar as a major and trusted Australian brand, with great products, continuity of supply and service.

What is one issue in the cleaning industry that you would like to see addressed?

Better standards of cleaning in general. The pandemic should be a message to all industries that hygiene (whether it’s air or surface) is of utmost importance, and we need to be consistent with our standards and keep them high.

Do you have a message for the cleaning community?

Now more than any other time the importance of being more professional through good work practices, work ethics, and the use of quality cleaning equipment and product is paramount. This will lead to better productivity and greater revenue streams through more effective cleaning. Investment is key.

This article first appeared in the January/February issue of INCLEAN magazine. 

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