March 02, 2018 at 4:00 pm | By Hillary Gavan
Beloit Daily News
SOUTH BELOIT – Stacey Friedl-Burger may have been a bit of a dark horse when it came to the family business. While her two brothers – and later two step brothers – were busy working in her father’s carpet cleaning business Stacey would be the one getting a quarter to clean the truck.
That would all change in the fall of 2017 when Stacey became the third generation owner of Society Cleaners, with her four brothers and son rooting her on. The business offers carpet and tile cleaning to residential and commercial customers.
Stacey shared a little bit about the new direction the businesses is headed in and its deep history in South Beloit.
Her grandparents, Al and Helen Friedl, started the business back in 1937 on Blackhawk Boulevard as a dry cleaning business. It was a fixture in the community operating out of a shop attached to a small apartment. In 1974, Stacey’s father, John Friedl, ran it as Society Carpet Cleaners, just when carpets were growing in popularity and more permanent-press fabrics were making dry cleaners less in demand.
“My dad had the corner on the market,” Stacey said.
Stacey’s twin brothers, Andy and Art Friedl, grew up in the heyday of the business – the 1980s. When they weren’t scrubbing carpets, they were going on family vacations in the signature red Society trucks or driving them to high school. They saw carpets in all conditions, with a few “surprises” left by pets and sometimes even floating on water during post water damage. Despite challenges, customers loved chatting with the twins often supplying them with chocolate chip cookies or even full dinners.
But the carpeting cleaning business lost some steam when John Friedl passed away in 2010, although stepmother Jackie tried her best to keep it going. When Jackie unexpectedly passed away in September, all the siblings got together and decided to re-launch the business – this time with Stacey at the helm. Having worked as a receptionist for 20 years at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, she was a bit of an unlikely candidate for working in a shop. She decided to take on the business anyway and hasn’t looked back. The business changed its name back to Society Cleaners in January and has been attracting new customers ever since.
“This business is about more than the financial aspect, it’s keeping alive our heritage. I really want to see Society go 100 years into 2037,” Stacey said.
Employees consist of her four brothers, her son, Mathew Loveridge, and technicians, Kyle Floyd and Nolan Bosetti.
Stacey said she’s been working to learn every aspect of the business, and is researching how to modernize it more. She spends her days working in billing, ordering chemicals and going with the guys on jobs to learn the ropes.
“When push came to shove, I was up for the challenge,” she said.
Society offers traditional truck-mount steam cleaning or oscillators. She will be changing up deodorizers to new and trendy smells. Ninety-nine percent of the business is due to kids and pets’ damage to carpets, Stacey’s brother and business adviser Art Friedl said. Stacey and Art said they are appreciate of how supportive customers have been of the business’s resurgence and they are working to improve customer service even more as word of mouth is the best way to build business.
Stacey said the best part of the business is working with all her siblings together on it. Art said he is proud of Stacey and she is the perfect one to lead the business into the future.
“She’s doing a great job. She has a great personality and knows how to talk to people. She is willing to learn everything in the business,” Art said.
“It’s a carpet cleaning business to everybody else,” Stacey said. “But to us, it’s family.”