It is a well-known established and scientific fact that vacuum cleaners hate me. These diabolical contraptions and I have a long, ugly history, and if I'd kept every one that bore the scars of my wrath instead of hauling them, one by one across the years, to the nearest dump, I'd have a mighty fine pile indeed.
Floor sweepers, "cordless brooms" (the irony kills me), canisters, uprights, fancy, plain, HEPA - you name it. I tried 'em all and fell in love, serially, with each model's features, simplicity, price - whatever. But, finally, the perfect storm:
Fall, 2005. My latest floor sweeper has coughed up its last fur ball. I am disgusted and disheartened. I seriously consider the sexy Australian model that specifically targets animal fur. But, the price, the price gives me pause. Plus, all those bells and whistles...I'd grown skeptical.
I stand in the aisle of famed Costco #1 - we are, of course, Home of Costco - and try not to let the drool hit the grey cement floor. But, I resist. Wow, that is a lot of money. And, with my history?
Then a sort of weird thing happened. While I was musing on my vacuum karma and how one can move into one's own appliance future in some sort of altered reality, real people experienced real tragedy in a real place - Hurricane Katrina hit.
Now, I listen to progressive talk radio and I'd been hearing David Oreck hawk his product for over a year. I'm generally immune to this kind of advertising but I couldn't help admiring his straightforward style and his adamant insistence about the warranty. I couldn't get away from how aggressively he stood behind his product. I admit it: I was impressed.
Then, Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast. Day after day, Mr. Oreck - now almost 80, by the way - came on the radio and described the devastation the storm had wrought to his manufacturing operations and, more pointedly, to his employees' homes. He talked about his plant and his employees and what he was personally doing to get his staff through this time.
I was hooked.
I figured, if I'm not going to buy an American product that I'm already interested in, that's made on the Gulf Coast while its being decimated, when am I ever going to put my money where my mouth is? Was it expensive? Yes. (but no more than that fancy Australian model) Did my money go to American workers? Yup. I pulled out the credit card and put in my order.
David Oreck flew bombers in WW2. He didn't own his own company until he was 40 years old. Even today, in addition to taping radio and TV ads, he flies, gives talks (pro bono) to budding entrepreneurs in college, and works. He serves on the board of a New Orleans school that he continues to give money to.
David Oreck is a lot of things. Father, grandfather, pilot, entrepreneur, donor. But, I'll never forget those commercials he spent money on during the dark days after Katrina when he didn't talk at all about vacuuming or dust, but instead talked about people and hope. He vowed to keep his manufacturing in America. He vowed to take care of his employees.
And, you know what? He did.
Plus, here's the great part: He makes a mean vacuum. The punchline to my story is that Mr. Oreck's vacuum is the best, by far, I've ever owned. I would swear that he has broken my curse. And, he throws in a canister vacuum to boot. Nothing fancy, no bells or whistles, just actual vacuuming that actually rids your house of dust and household allergens. How refreshing! Back to the bag system, but in a whole new way. We've gotten so enamored with HEPA, we forgot that capturing all that yucky stuff inside a sealed bag is, when it works, a good idea. And I'm a pretty severe asthmatic, so a decent barometer.
I've owned Oreck vacuums for nearly 3 years and am literally impressed every time I use them. Vacuums lead a hard life at my house - I pull them out every other day - and by God, these suckers just do the job no questions asked. There's no fiddly adjustments for carpet height or dirt intensity - they just vacuum. Yay.
We could use a few more David Orecks. And I can't recommend his products enough. If you're looking for a way to Buy American, he's your guy.