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Clean Show Report: Enthusiastic

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John Riddle
John Riddle, Riddle & Associates, gets association sponsors into place so they can cut the ribbon and open Clean 2011.

Bruce Beggs |

LAS VEGAS — The story after Clean ’09 in New Orleans was that while attendance had been down from the previous show, the quality of the attendees had been extremely high. The post-show message two years ago was about quality, not quantity.

The 2011 show in gaming mecca Las Vegas “held” on attendee quality and “raised” on total attendance, presenting exhibitors with a vibrant marketplace that had many of them feeling like they were on a hot streak.

Official attendance at the June 6-9 show was 11,200, up about 13% from two years ago. Attendees were rewarded with an expanded educational program and the ability to view and compare the products and services of 430 exhibitors showcased over 184,150 new square feet of floor space.

“The feedback I received was nearly unanimous,” says Clean 2011 Chairman David Cotter, CEO of the Textile Care Allied Trades Association, who spent much of the show walking the floor and speaking with exhibitors. “A consistent theme running through these comments was the high-level quality of attendees and their readiness to purchase.”

“Almost everyone we talked with—both attendees and exhibitors—had nothing but positive comments about the show,” says John Riddle, president of Riddle & Associates, the show’s longtime management company. “Based on exhibitor comments, people really came ready to buy.”

The show enjoyed its biggest crowds on the first two days, Monday and Tuesday, with many exhibitors remarking that Tuesday was the busiest day of the show. Clean featured several technological innovations, including an ability for exhibitors to use scanning technology to expedite the gathering of leads and sharing of product information.

The “steam area”—a large portion of the show floor with the steam service necessary to operate certain laundry and drycleaning machinery—drew large crowds seeking up-close glimpses of new drycleaning equipment and finishers.

“The Clean Show traffic was strong with drycleaners, both domestic and international, traveling to Las Vegas to stay on top of industry developments,” drycleaning management consultant Diana Vollmer blogged on AmericanDrycleaner.com during the show. “Everybody is playing the eco angle in all types of products. Green sells!

“Labor reduction and management continues to be the goal of equipment refinement. This is especially true in tensioning form finishers for garments of all types. Alternative solvents, chemicals to support them and machines to run them are a major theme.”

“I thought the show went well,” says Paul Mullen, vice president of sales for White Conveyors. “We had a very balanced grouping of visitors from both the industrial laundry industry as well as drycleaners. They appeared to be, in general, motivated buyers with either current plans to purchase [now] or in the near future.”

Even so, Mullen believes the show shouldn’t be run every two years. “Customers know about every new innovation instantaneously in today’s web-based society. The show is still more of a networking event.”

Liberty Computer Systems released a new scanning app for mobile devices. When combined with a Bluetooth-enabled laser scanner and connected to a wireless network, drycleaners can remotely rack orders, scan inventory and batch out delivery routes. President Rick Mugno called the show “excellent, best show in probably six years” and said without reservation that it was a good investment for his company.

“I think the show went very well, and attendance was great, especially from overseas visitors,” says Kathy Daniels, general manager of wedding-gown preservationist Foster-Stephens.

It was only the second Clean Show for Stahls’ Hotronix, a heat-press manufacturer with a 10-by-10 booth at a far end of the convention center.

“Orders taken at the show covered our costs, and we’re excited about pending orders in the near future,” says Mike Ryan, Stahls’ dealer sales manager. “Traffic was much higher than expected, particularly with our booth location. With this being only the second time exhibiting, we were surprised by our name recognition.”

Activity in the FRSTeam (Fabric Restoration Service Team) booth far exceeded expectations, says CEO Courtney Nicholas. “With limited territories left to fill for our restoration drycleaning franchise, the high level of interest and positive brand feedback was overwhelming.”

Word that the next three Clean Shows have been slated as three-day shows was warmly received.

“I always felt only a three-day show was necessary,” Foster-Stephens’ Daniels says. “The traffic on the fourth day is always bad. The expense of the extra day does not pay off.”

“We were busy at our booth each day (but not so much the last day),” says Liberty-Pittsburgh Systems CEO Kevin Weir, whose company introduced a plastic case for packing folded shirts while traveling. “I think shortening the next show by one day is good for us, but that call is best left to the big equipment guys, as they have the majority of the show’s investment and are looking to sell their equipment off the floor.”

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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