Chris Barton-Harvey has been a part of the Elite organisation one way or another for twenty-seven years, giving up a ten year career in a senior retail sector management position to join Elite and the carpet cleaning industry.
The decision was driven by his need for a sea change…
“As store manager at a busy supermarket I was used to working sixty-five hour plus weeks and twelve hour days, and having over 65 staff reporting to me. The only problem was, I was missing my children growing up. When (business partner) Tom asked me to look at going into partnership with him in a carpet cleaning business I realised it was time for a change, and an opportunity to take on a career that would allow me to see more of my family.” explains Chris.
Tom explained to Chris how the Elite approach and system was different and unique, and so – persuaded – they both took up an Elite franchise in 1988 and, although many things have changed in the interim, haven’t looked back since.
Chris now runs the Mandurah operation and he also joint owns the Elite state franchise for WA with Tom (Tapley), but previously both he and Tom ran different franchise areas. At the beginning Chris took on the Bunbury franchise – located two hours south of Perth where he had lived and worked – without having any existing connections with the town at all, plus going into head-to-head competition with one of the biggest carpet cleaning operators in south west WA. Tom and Chris took on more franchise areas as they grew and at one stage ran five different franchises in WA.
Although they can also cover flood damage work and are an accredited flood damage restoration business, most of the work they do is carpet and upholstery cleaning, and the bulk of this is residential work.
The Mandurah operation does a lot of work with retirees and in retirement and lifestyle villages in the area.
One of Chris’s operators, Mark, is particularly popular with the customers…
“Mark has been with us for over twenty years and in that time he has become very popular with our customers. He is very courteous and very thorough and on rare occasions when he misses something, he is quick to go back and fix up any issues. When Mark was away we arranged for some of our other operators to do his regular jobs and in several cases they were turned away at the door, with his customers happy to wait until he was back. At one point we had 42 customers who had specifically requested him for jobs. I couldn’t say for certain, but I think we have a candidate for the most popular carpet cleaner in Australia!” jokes Chris.
Outside Mandurah, the Perth city market is not so retiree-focused and there is a greater range of floor coverings there, including hard floors, for which Elite now offers a few new services, such as strip and seal and tile and grout work.
When he’s not involved in the world of carpets, upholstery and floors, Chris is a keen traveller and an avid reader – biographies in particular – and enjoys going to shows like the Fringe Festival when they come over to Western Australia. He also supports the West Coast Eagles. Oh well.