FIBER-SHIELD INDUSTRIES INC. CELEBRATES 40TH ANNIVERSARY
Q&A WITH FOUNDER MANNY VICKERS
Fiber-Shield's founders Connie and Manny Vickers have grown the company from a start-up in 1979 to a global leader selling millions of dollars annually in high-performance applied carpet and rug protection products.
YAPHANK, N.Y. -- An industry pioneer in the development of on-site applied soil and stain repellent treatments for carpeting, area rugs and upholstered furniture fabrics, founder Manny Vickers is not resting on his laurels as Fiber-Shield Industries Inc. celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
Instead, Vickers is looking ahead to technology that would have been considered science fiction when the company was founded in 1979. Think new "super repellents" that are human-friendly nanotech, self-cleaning and do not shed their soil and stain repellent properties, while being environmentally safe and VOC compliant.
The Fiber-Shield Industries Inc. staff lines up on either side of company founders Connie and Manny Vickers ((sixth and seventh from left) outside corporate headquarters in Yaphank, New York.
In 1979, Manny and Connie Vickers worked out of their home in Queens, New York. They started the company with $500, and as investments go, it was a good one: in 2016, sales of Fiber-Shield Industries' high-performance products reached an estimated $3 billion in global sales at retail since the company's beginning.
An accomplished research and development chemist, Vickers has personally invented hundreds of formulations -- first by himself, and, later, with the assistance of his laboratory staff -- many of which are still in use today. What's more, the company pioneered the formulation and warranty programs of Retail Applied Fabric treatments for furniture stores.
In this exclusive RugNews.com interview, Vickers explains how his company's success is tied to anticipating the needs of the market and developing safe new technologies that will be profit-boosters for carpet and rug dealers.
Manny Vickers and one of his chemists at the Fiber-Shield Industries Inc.'s laboratory, where the new KARPETCRYL® carpet and rug treatment was developed for dealers and aftermarket cleaning companies.
What prompted you to get into this business?
MV: The desire to build a better mousetrap. Forty years ago, we launched the first air curing fabric and carpet soil and stain repellent product that repelled oil and water-based stains, and dried in less than 10 minutes. We also pioneered fabric soil and stain repellents for the furniture industry with our distributor-backed warranty system.
Did you know that carpet treatments would be such a lucrative market?
MV: Yes. All the reports from architects, interior designers, and industrial designers were predicting strong growth in all forms of carpeting in 1979. We listened and acted accordingly.
What has been the biggest sales success for Fiber-Shield?
MV: Our water, soil, oil and stain repellents for a variety of different surfaces. Our newest cleaner, FAST-KLEEN is a WOW! It is totally green and works like nothing else when it comes to removing stubborn spots and stains from carpeting.
Which of your inventions/formulations are you most proud of? Can you share why?
MV: Actually, all of them, because we did not copy anybody else. We originated our formulas to be the finest performing, environmentally-compliant products on the market today.
What has been the biggest or most notable change in the industry since 1979?
MV: We started in 1979 as a consumer of our own products because we applied these products to customer's premises. Two years later we began to produce products for use by our distributors under our trademarks as well as private label.
A demonstration shows a carpet sample treated with KarpetCryl® super-hydrophobic carpet and rug treatment helping liquid bead up upon contact.
What have been the most significant game-changing treatments you've developed?
MV: We developed the safest aerosol soil and stain repellent formula which is still in use today. We also developed specialty environmentally protective water, soil and stain repellent formulations for the automotive, glass, leather, masonry, paper and allied industries.
Viscose and Sisal carpeting are popular again and we developed products specifically for these, and the market has welcomed them because they worked. We have also developed an environmentally-friendly, green, water-based cleaner, including the delivery system, which cleans both oily and watery stains from carpets that are water-cleaning safe.
Made-in-the-U.S.A. with the latest bag-on-valve spray delivery (also available in squirt bottles), the new Fast-Kleen by Fiber-Shield is a high-performance, water-based super-quick cleaning answer to the toughest spots and stains. Sprays at any angle, including upside down.
What inspired you to create your Viscose and Sisal treatment products?
MV: Our Viscose and sisal water repellents are standalone products. Our inspiration came from listening to the needs of the marketplace and developing products that would actually work better than anything else that we tested.
Chemists at Long Island, New York-based Fiber-Shield Industries seek new ways to lead the market with competitively priced, state of the art high-performance products.
What is next on the horizon?
MV: Other than discovery anti-gravity properties? We will focus on keeping up with meeting new challenges, such as providing water, soil and stain repellents for new fabrics and carpeting. We want to always lead the market with the best performing water, soil and stain repellent products.
How are you helping carpet and rug cleaners address issues such as VOCs?
MV: By doing constant research on new and existing regulations regarding VOCs, and making sure that our products meet those regulations. Also, our products have been independently tested in 2005 and again in 2019, after the standards of testing changed, and these test conclusively found no PFOS, PFOA or any other PFAS compounds in our formulations.
What can the industry look forward to as you head into your next decade?
MV: New super repellents that are nanotech AND human-friendly, even easier cleaning, and do not shed their soil and stain repellent properties for many years. New ways of treating carpets that do not require the use of solvents, or spraying, and and yet still perform to the highest degree possible and provide peace of mind and high customer satisfaction, as well as a substantial profit center for carpet dealers that will enhance their bottom line in good as well as bad times.
With corporate facilities in Long Island, New York, and over 3,000 customers, Fiber-Shield Industries' has come a long way since its founding in 1979 in the home of Manny and Connie Vickers.
COMPANY AT A GLANCE:
FIBER-SHIELD INDUSTRIES, INC.
President and COO: Manny Vickers
CEO and vice president: Constance Vickers
FIBER-SHIELD INDUSTRIES TIMELINE
-FSI launches environmentally green FAST-KLEEN, which cleans carpet and rug spots and stains.
-FSI introduces KARPETCRYL® SISAL STAIN REPELLENT, a super-hydrophobic treatment for carpets and rugs.
- FSI announces worldwide debut of KARPETCRYL® VISCOSE
- FSI launches SUEDECRYL® super-hydrophobic leather and suede soil, stain and water repellent.
- FSI announces that all its super-hydrophobic products have been certified free of all PFOs, PFOAs, PFAS, or PBDEs (based on 2005 and 2019 independent lab results).
-FSI's sales of proven, high-performance products have earned more than an estimated $3 billion in global sales, at-retail, since its beginnings in 1979.
-FSI introduces KARPETCRYL®, a super hydrophobic carpet and rug treatment for industry professionals, in multi-formats, including aerosol.
-The company launches a new Nano technology glass treatment that harnesses the effectiveness of the company's super-hydrophobic research.
-FSI introduces first 100% water based, water repellent coating for glass.
-Fiber-Shield Industries introduces a water based, scratch-resistant glass coating.
-FSI certifies their fire retardants to be PBDE free.
-FSI certifies their textile protection soil and stain repellent products to be PFOA free.
-The company launches leather soil and stain repellent and maintenance products.
-The company certifies their textile soil and stain repellent products to be PFOS free.
-The company creates its 100th B-to-B soil and stain repellent product.
-FSI begins development of super-hydrophobic coatings.
-FSI develops the first air curing water-based textile soil and stain repellent for on-site furniture applications.
-Manny Vickers chairs the Steering Committee of the Joint Industry Fabric Standards Committee (JIFSC) for the next 6 years.
-FSI produces the first Automotive paint sealer that provides corrosion resistance, high paint gloss and extreme longevity.
-FSI produces first on-site fire retardant that does not change the hand (or, feel) of textiles.
-FSI pioneered Retail Applied Fabric treatments to furniture stores.
-Manny Vickers, with his wife, Connie, launches Fiber-Shield Industries, Inc., with a $500 investment.