LAKEMOOR – It’s not every day a business owner from McHenry County receives an invitation to work inside the room that held President Barack Obama and his national security team during the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound.
So, David Meintz, a textile cleaner and restoration specialist in Lakemoor, can’t blame himself for initially overlooking the email that presented him with such an opportunity on New Year’s Eve.
“He put it out earlier in the week, and I kind of blew it off because it was New Year’s Eve and we had plans,” Meintz said. “But then I was like, ‘Wait, this is a chance to work in the White House.’”
The email Meintz nearly missed was from his mentor Chris Howell, who runs Colorful Carpets and services the Washington, D.C. area.
Howell invited Meintz and three other carpet cleaning and restoration specialists from across the country to the White House to treat carpets in the West Wing and Situation Room on New Year’s Eve.
Meintz, who owns Clean Bee Cleaning and Restoration and the Cleaning Studio in Lakemoor, said he was taught by Howell to use a treatment process called “ColorClean” that restores the original coloring of carpets and oriental rugs. The process helped Howell secure the carpet cleaning project in the White House, Meintz said.
He described the experience as surreal, especially since Meintz visited the nation’s capitol only one other time for a work function.
The Situation Room, a restricted area in the ground level of the West Wing featuring conference rooms for intelligence and emergency services, is where Obama and his national security team watched the successful raid that killed al-Qaeda’s top leader in May 2011.
Dating back to the John F. Kennedy administration, presidents and their national security advisers often have used the room to oversee foreign crises and missions.
Meintz strictly cleaned the carpets throughout the Situation Room, as federal agents monitored his every step – even when it was time for a water break, he recalled. He and the other specialists applied the ColorClean process to carpets in common areas throughout the West Wing and restored the coloring.
The treatment process uses dye that matches a carpet’s dominant color and applies it through the cleaning solution during cleaning. It helps diminish the “dinginess” in older carpets, Meintz said.
During his visit inside the West Wing, Meintz also made sure to note his surroundings since they had to give up their phones after entering the building. He spotted mail dropboxes with the labels “president” and “vice president” on it and took note of original building features.
“It was phenomenal. I had a sense of excitement but also felt privileged that I was afforded the opportunity,” Meintz said. “I consider it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”