Interview with Des Fulcher, Founder of NICE

This week on the Newlife blog, we’re pleased to welcome Des Fulcher, founder of NICE (National Institute of Cleaning Education). Des has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the cleaning industry and we managed to catch up with him as he prepares to launch the NICE to the industry.

Des Fulcher of NICE

Can you give us an introduction to how you entered the cleaning industry?

I spent approximately 15 years working with a leading health & safety distributor in the UK, which was on the fringes of the cleaning industry crossing many different sectors, this included my specialist knowledge of the food processing industry which we have quite a large proportion of in East Anglia. This lead to being ‘headhunted’ into one of Nationwide Hygiene Supplies largest founding members as Group Business Development Manager, giving me a ‘baptism of fire’ (and water, appropriately) experience initially managing their depot and business in London, dealing with FM giants such as Carillion (both Health and Defence divisions at key sites in or around our capital city) and the Royal Veterinary College amongst many others.

What inspired you to set up N.I.C.E?

The first version of NICE was inspired after seeing a BICSc membership regeneration meeting in London, after realising we had no independent training providers in East Anglia that could bring their schemes to a market place which seemed woefully neglected in respect of adult education for the cleaning industry. After seeing the damage BICSc and BICS Business Services have created more recently a new version of NICE is being developed, aiming to afford individuals and businesses a better informed choice for adult education, including giving clarity with pricing and performance with a unique ‘rating system’

How has the recession affected the cleaning industry does business?

From what I have seen companies have cut budgets and hours of staff in an attempt to maintain profits, switched on people are starting to realise better ways of doing things, Lean process is something the UK is following behind the USA with now.

Why do you think the US is so far ahead in the cleaning industry?

To begin with I believe the Americans have a much bigger market, plus appear eager to innovate and develop equipment to do a better job, some of that I’m sure is to improve operator health and some to do a better job in less time (freeing up time to use the same amount of staff for more contracts, and minimise or remove health risks)

How can we improve the quality of cleaning overall? Particularly in offering new methods, training and staff education?

The quality of cleaning overall needs addressing in many respects, simply saying ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ isn’t good for anyone. New methods, training and staff education needs to be taken on board and fully supported at the highest level in any company, noting this does NOT mean stick operatives on Government funded NVQ’s, QCF’s or Apprenticeships hoping that does ‘your bit’ for the industry and staff – remember the saying ‘you don’t get ‘owt for nowt’ well here it speaks volumes!

Where do you see the future for cleaning in the UK?

If I had a crystal ball I’d answer that easily, but a parting thought is cleaning is quite often a critical service for just about every walk of life, ask yourself the question: Who is more important in an operating theatre, the surgeons or the cleaning staff? – infections kill more people than surgeons do…….

On the 11th July NICE will launching its first FREE seminar (details here) exposing the key aspects of Lean Cleaning, at Aylesford, Kent. Supporting the event will be: ProTeam, The Cleaning System, Sidewinder Vacuum Tools and Vikan.

N.B. – Other benefits to be included are , ways to improve operator health, improving Indoor Air Quality and making your cleaning business more efficient!

For more information or to reserve a place send a direct e-mail to:

You can find NICE on the web at or on  the NICE LinkedIn Group

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