It’s true that not all textile shops are messy. And I suppose “messy” is relative and depends upon your definition of the word. But I think we all know a messy textile screen shop when we see one.

I visited many textile screen shops over many years, and of those quite a few were what I think most people would rate as messy. As a result I included a janitor as one of the thirty-nine characters in my book, Characters Who Can Make or Break Your Small Business.

The worst example that comes to mind is the the ink room of a large shop in Toronto that’s no longer in business. It’s hard to know how to describe it other than to say that it always looked like a rainbow had exploded in there. I can see how you’d get ink all over the buckets, the shelves, and even the floor. But how do you get ink all over the walls?

And ink is not the only issue. What about spray adhesive? Simon Clifford of Tekmar once told me about servicing an item of equipment in a shop in California where there was so much overspray on the floor that the company dog that had been lying watching him work, couldn’t get up. Then there’s lint that can accumulate until it becomes a fire hazard. It actually happened in a shop in Vancouver where they had a lint fire that ran through the place like one of those gunpowder trails they lit in old cowboy movies.

If your shop sounds a bit like what I’ve just described, consider this excerpt from the Janitor chapter in my book: “I can’t think of a single circumstance in which janitor-free premises would boost staff morale or give a small business an edge over the competition. I wouldn’t have thought that anyone else could think of one either, but unfortunately cleanliness and orderliness remain concepts not fully grasped by many small business owners, who may never know the positive effects a janitor can have on their business.”