Overlooking Shilshole Marina, outside Seattle’s metro area in nostalgic Ballard, I had the opportunity to talk to the founders of Thomsen’s, Inc, Chris and Jackie Thomsen. Chris Thomsen is a tall silver haired man who retired from the escalator and elevator industry as a 40+ year guru. Jackie Thomsen, an experienced businesswoman, is the retired owner of an electrical contracting company. They explained they started Thomsen’s because of grave concerns about the safety and health of people riding escalators, especially children, who are particularly vulnerable.
National safety codes require holding the handrail to be safe from unexpected stops, lurches, and falls. Unfortunately, almost everyone instinctively knows how filthy these handrails are and simply refuses to touch them. Worse, very little, if anything, is done to clean them. Without the required handrail usage, U.S. escalator accidents result in over almost 40,000 emergency calls every year and 30 – 40 deaths… yes, deaths and severe truly gruesome injuries! Jackie and Chris put their knowledge and business skills together to make filthy escalator handrails clean enough people would hold the handrail and be safe. This became their mission.
Beginning in 2015, Jackie and Chris ultimately developed the World’s Most Comprehensive Escalator Handrail Cleaning Systems. Their crown jewel Maestro unit is capable of cleaning, disinfecting and conditioning escalator handrails to hospital clean without shutting the escalator down. The process also adds years of life to the handrail. Their hand-held units are used for the same purpose on regular non-moving handrails, conveyers, and surfaces.
In late 2020, Chris and Jackie asked some highly experienced businesspeople for help. They incorporated as Thomsen’s, Inc. in February of 2021, brought all manufacturing back to the U.S.A., and became a “Woman Owned”, “Made in America” and “Global Sustainable Trade” (GST) company. Using the impact of Covid shutdowns, Thomsen’s, Inc. developed sales operations throughout the U.S., the EU, UAE, India, Hong Kong, and is getting ready to enter Canada and Australia. Recently Thomsen’s became the only escalator handrail cleaning and disinfecting solutions approved for use on escalator handrails by Semperit, one of the world’s largest escalator handrail manufacturers! Thomsen’s focus became: Test, clean and verify, THE THOMSEN WAY!
To prove THE THOMSEN WAY! worked, in 2021 a scientifically accepted portable testing instrument, called an ATP meter, was added to THE THOMSEN WAY! process. Measuring the RLUs (Relative Light Units) of bio loads on surfaces, it measures the relative filthiness on any of the surfaces people touch in 10 -15 seconds! With a proven accepted way to find out how filthy handrails and high-touch surfaces actually were, with or without “cleaning” or UV light, Chris Thomsen and the Thomsen Team started testing all types of surfaces. 2 years later, Thomsen’s, Inc. had documented truly horrifying results!
(For reference, the relative RLU count of a pile of pure doggie doo is 4000 RLUs. Hospital Clean is 0 – 80 RLUs)
• Escalator handrails have measured as high as 25,000+ RLUs, averaging 1000 – 4000 RLUs.
• UV treated handrails tested no better at 1000 – 3000 RLUs!
• Dr. Gerba (aka Dr. Germ), Thomsen’s Science Advisor and world renown disease specialist:
1. Rated escalator handrails as the third filthiest thing you can touch!
2. Determined, 80% of disease is transmitted by human touch.
• Escalator handrails are filthier than toilet seats and handles and bathroom door handles.
Additionally, Elevator/Escalator Service Providers, the only people allowed by code requirements to perform escalator/elevator work, are ignoring their responsibility to annually clean the internal escalator handrail rollers as part of their annual maintenance programs and/or during an escalator handrail replacement process.
As testing continued, and continues to this day, Thomsen’s proved it wasn’t just escalator handrails that were filthy, BUT VIRTUALLY EVERY HIGH-TRAFFIC HIGH-TOUCH SURFACE IN PUBLIC SPACES – tables, benches, counters, seats, grab rails, touch pads, keypads, ATM/cash machines, elevator buttons -– in airports, trains/subways/light rail/monorails/buses, cruise lines, sports venues – arenas, stadiums, malls and retail stores, parking garages and commercial office buildings. Based on actual testing, all high-touch high-traffic areas are filthy and spread disease.
Thomsen’s is reasonably certain these industries are the best large scale disease super spreaders ever built. This occurs week in and week out, exposing millions of people every day to countless diseases… not just Covid, but Norovirus, Salmonella, Campylobacter, E-coli, Clostridium difficile, Rhinovirus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, Polio, remember Monkey Pox, the seasonal flu, the common cold, and now the Candida Auris fungi! For the most part no one accepts responsibility for the health and safety of the very people these industries depend on for their business, the public. This new liability could be staggering! As if millions of deaths from Covid wasn’t staggering enough!
Cleaning filthy surfaces, like escalator handrails and other high-touch surfaces, using The Thomsen Way, produced hospital clean results in a few easy steps! Thomsen’s, Inc. had not only achieved their goal, but had also created a new business category, Thomsen’s Clean Touch Technologies. Thomsen’s is now the world leader in testing, cleaning, and verifying surfaces we touch are sanitized, not just escalator handrails! With these tested and verified results, Thomsen’s is helping business reduce potential liabilities by protecting and saving lives one sanitized public surface at a time.
In August of 2023 The Maestro received GBAC’s STAR Certification scientifically validating The Thomsen Way! claims of usability, practicality, safety, and efficacy. The Maestro is everything the Thomsen’s hoped it would be. Additionally, because of Chris’s efforts, the Washington D.C. ASME A17.1 Codes and Standards Committee will approve a new 8.6.81 Escalator Handrail maintenance code, requiring regular escalator handrail cleaning to save and protect people’s lives from this silent health threat while prolonging handrail life and reducing replacement costs.
For 2023 and beyond, Thomsen’s Inc. continues to educate the public and mass people moving industries, business, and escalator users on THE THOMSEN WAY! Using the same old excuse, “We’ve never cleaned them before, why should we clean them now?”, is over. Instead of being the problem, THE THOMSEN WAY! “Test, Clean and Verify” solution is here!
FAILING TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC, THE VERY CUSTOMERS THESE BUSINESSES DEPEND ON, IS DEADLY, UNCONSCIONABLE, INEXCUSABLE, AND A BETRAYAL OF THAT PUBLIC TRUST!
CLEANER – SAFER – HEALTHIER! THE THOMSEN WAY! WHY TOUCH ANYTHING LESS? !