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Obituary: Ron Tilley

Published 18th June, 2019 by Neil Nixon

Obituary: Ron Tilley

C&M is very sad to report the passing of Prochem Europe’s founder and chairman, Ron Tilley, at the age of 88 years. A man of abundant charisma and wit, Ron built a highly successful career in the cleaning sector and with it, a company that was to go on to become one of the most innovative solution developers and a leading light in the training of the cleaning professional.

When Ron joined Servicemaster in 1959, the carpet cleaning industry barely existed. Shampoo crystallisation was the new technology - there was no such thing as a soil extractor, and no training was available. As a result of a back injury in 1962, Ron could no longer continue as a carpet cleaning operative and a new position of trainer was found within the company.

Under the auspices of his newly-formed Professional Chemical & Equipment Company Ltd, Ron set to putting matters right, and his courses on carpet, upholstery and floor cleaning held at the old Victory Club near Marble Arch in London on behalf of BICSc were enthusiastically received. These courses were not only benefiting cleaners by empowering them to do their jobs better and enjoy a better living, but proved highly formative in developing a presentation technique for Ron that was in itself a winning formula. Many years later, in 1998, Ron was to receive the first Lifetime Achievement Award to be presented by the NCCA in recognition of ‘outstanding services to the carpet cleaning industry’.

Prochem (the new found abbreviation for the company name) started up a technical help line and carpet manufacturers soon came to Prochem for cleaning advice.

A man with a keen eye on the interests and needs of the cleaner, Ron also set to work establishing associations with manufacturers to import hot water extraction equipment from the USA where the innovation had started.

In 1977, Ron’s son Alan joined the business and, in 1980, the company began the manufacture of chemical products at its premises in Kingston upon Thames. During the next 15 years products and formulations were developed and refined to meet the growing demand from its now extensive distributor network. In 1995, the company relocated to larger premises in Chessington where space became available for manufacturing expansion, storage, laboratory product development, and equipment sales and service. The new building also perfectly provided for a dedicated two-storey training facility which has subsequently seen thousands of trainees attend Prochem courses in a period of over 20 years.

Ron remained active at Prochem, continuing to train carpet, upholstery and floor cleaners well into his seventies.

The team at C&M send their sincere condolences to Alan, Peta and all Ron’s family, friends and colleagues.