Super Sealing Power
"People think that store-applied sealants on their sofa or their wall-to-wall carpeting will protect them from stains, but most sealants only repel liquid and dissipate after a while," Malin says. "Our treatments resist dirt and oily substances as well as liquid. They also last longer and offer the advantage of personalized spot removal service if there is a difficult stain that you cannot remove."
Applied with pressure sprayer tanks similar to those used by exterminator services to ensure even coverage, Sealmaster's proprietary sealants make stains easier to remove by reducing fabric absorbancy. In one vivid demonstration of the treatments' effectiveness, Sealmaster sprayed one area of a school's carpeting with its sealants, left another area protected only by the carpet manufacturer's commercial stain barrier, and then bombarded both sides with months' worth of glue, whiteout, markers, coffee, soda pop, cookies and other school dirt makers. The side sealed with Sealmaster's process came dramatically cleaner, with less effort, than the commercially sealed portion.
Sometimes, the results surprise even Malin. Case in point: a five-inch circle of red ink spilled on a client's cream-colored wool carpeting. "We told him it probably wouldn't come out, even though the carpet was sealed," Malin recalls. "But after our technicians worked on it, it was barely noticeable. Without our treatment, the carpet would have been ruined."
Malin is a former elementary school teacher whose first business venture was a hot dog stand that she owned with her husband in the mid 1970s. In 1979, seeking a new challenge she took a sales job with a fabric care company that combined her natural talent with her interest in design.
"I grew up in a very small house on Chicago's North Side, and I used to look at the tall buildings on the Outer Drive and wonder who lived there," Malin recalled. "Suddenly, here I was in the city's penthouses, and I had the opportunity to see the work of Chicago's most influential designers. That's when I knew I had found my niche."
As a result, when the time came to move on, she decided to stay in the industry. Joined by several co-workers, including chief spotter Les Brissette, she opened her own fabric care business in 1987. Within six weeks, she had snared a contract to seal and maintain the carpeting and upholstered furniture in the professional suite areas of Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital.
Since those early days, Sealmaster has expanded its treatments from carpets and upholstery to wallcoverings and window treatments, cars, boats, RVs and motor homes. In addition to sealing, spotting and cleaning services, the company offers antimicrobial treatment that kills bacteria and sunblock treatment that resists fading from bright sunlight.
Each treatment is customized to match the proper sealant to the needs of the specific fibers and situations. After treatment, the company leaves the customer with special spot removers designed specifically to work with the sealants for do-it-yourself cleanups.
Malin now has a staff of 15, including eight full-time technicians, and her own building in Northbrook's Sky Harbor industrial park. Her husband handles the financial end of the business, and their daughter, Lisa, joined the firm after graduating from college four years ago.
"Most people use our sealing services because they'd rather pay for an annual treatment than replace 2,500 square feet of carpeting prematurely," Malin says. "With the high price of furnishings today, this is a service that fills a need in the marketplace, and that is the reason for our success."