The Warps And Wefts
A personal account involving Ken Snow and how he affected the rug cleaning industry and those around him. Including yours truly.
By Tom Monahan
The first Moore in-plant operation I ever saw was at Hagopian in Oak Park, MI.
On occasion, over the years doing business, I would take some of my rugs to Hagopian. It was usually the big ones that I didn’t want to mess with in my small place or didn’t have time in the schedule to offer a decent turnaround.
During these infrequent visits, it was often that Ken Snow, the president of Hagopian Cleaning Services, would take time to chat with me if we caught sight of one another. For me, it was mesmerizing to watch the Moore Roll-A-Jet rug washer and wringer in action. I enjoyed the conversations with Ken Snow along the way.
Both certainly made an impression on me.
You might as well say that Hagopian and Ken Snow were partly responsible for inspiring me to buy a Moore Roll-A-Jet in the first place. I was fascinated with the Moore in-plant rug cleaning system for production cleaning. Much later, as time went on, I decided to ramp up my rug business and go more automated.
The hunt begins
Here is how I think the story gets interesting and ironic.
I went on the search nationwide to find a used Moore machine. I eventually found a refurbished Moore Roll-A-Jet that was in top-notch condition and fully renovated by Ron Moore of Elkhart, IN. It was now being offered for sale while in storage location in southeast Michigan.
Thus, my nationwide search led me — of all places — to my very own backyard. The seller was a competitor and family member of the Hagopian’s in Detroit. Specifically, it was Ken’s father-in-law’s brother, Steve Hagopian.
Shortly after I bought the machine in 2004, I began to search for a commercial building for my new rug cleaning adventure. In 2005, I installed it in a newly leased location. Before our grand opening many months later, I added some modifications. I then invited Ken to see my automated rug cleaning plant. This occurred one morning after he joined me for breakfast in Ann Arbor, MI. I subsequently gave him a personal tour. It was my way of returning the favor as he did for me many years earlier at his place.
Battle of the plants
Little did I realize then how this would start the advertising battle that would commence for months for the Ann Arbor marketplace! I did not have the financial resources to sustain such a challenge. Additionally, I failed to follow and implement the business plan created to attempt to sustain the huge overhead of my newly renovated 12,000 square foot operation.
Therefore, I retreated back into a 1,200 square foot facility in my backyard in an effort to avoid complete financial ruination. Gratefully, my landlord released me from my lease without penalty, and that assisted me to get back on my feet. Ironically, my landlord was a neighbor of Edgar Hagopian, Ken’s father-in-law, in the same neighborhood.
In the fall of 2006, when I was disengaging from the location I had sent up, I went to Las Vegas to the Connections trade show in an effort to peddle some of my equipment. This is where I saw Brian Hanna and Ken Snow. I approached Ken to see if he had interest in buying my equipment for a back-up machine before I moved it out of the building to go into storage to await a buyer. He declined.
Later that year, after I had closed down that facility and put machines into storage, I asked him to consider allowing me to show off his working Moore Roll-A-Jet to a prospect that was coming in from overseas to potentially buy mine. He gladly gave me permission to take him through his plant. I suppose he was especially glad to allow me to do so since there was real hope that my machine would find a home far away from Hagopian’s empire. It worked! My machine was sold overseas and soon headed to Denmark.
Some might say that, initially, it was Ken that gave me a vision to get a Moore and then, subsequently, he helped me to sell it.
Another change of plans
The full irony occurred in August of 2012. I concluded the deal to buy the Moore Company from the Ron Moore himself.
Thus, starting that year, my relationship with Ken Snow’s company changed again. It took on a new dimension. He was not a just a competitor but became my client as well. His Roll-A-Jet needed parts and would eventually need an overhaul.
Notably, the change was evident when Ken graciously accepted an invitation to be a featured speaker at Centrum Force’s Rug Summit 7. He was scheduled to share how to succeed in business even in a tough economy like southeast Michigan. I would have enjoyed hearing that content developed in person by him. Ken was a good speaker and knew his accounting well. All attendees converging in Columbus, OH for Rug Summit three years ago this September were looking forward to it as well.
However, it was not to be.
My last conversion with Ken was just a few weeks before he died from cancer. In his intimate phone conversation with me, among other things, he apologized for not being able to keep his speaking assignment. He was really looking forward to developing a relationship with me moving forward. I agreed it was something I was looking forward too as well. You might say the foundation to a relationship is how it weaved together. In our business relationship, our lives seemed to overlap like warps and wefts.
And now today…
On September 28-29, Rug Summit 10 will be at the very location where his office was. The very same Moore machines that inspired me years ago can be seen still, but now with all the improvements made by our company Centrum Force. His memorial stone, and inscription of dedication on it, is obvious for all to see at the front entrance. Here is a picture of it: