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Positive Attitude Is All That, at Clean ’19

Clean Show in New Orleans: Jazzy, hot ‘music’ to fabricare industry’s ears

CHICAGO — Let’s get the basics out of the way: Was Clean ’19 in New Orleans a success?

Yes. Positively.

So positively!


Because all the exhibitors and drycleaning attendees over the four hot, steamy, muggy days in the Crescent City, that I talked to at the show, told me so in a resounding way.

Clean ’19 was a jazzy ‘jam-session,’ if you will, where our fabricare industry manufacturers and show attendees came together to lay down some upbeat vibes all their own. And they did, man, they did!

The convention center was nicely air-conditioned and kept the approximately 430 exhibitors and 11,000 show attendees, per Clean Show management (and those numbers are being finalized), quite cool — and that was wonderful when the heat index outside was 110!

What made Clean ’19 a big success?

….For that we’ll take some comments:

“Having a positive attitude makes a difference not only in your sales, but in your life,” says early morning (before the doors even opened) first day speaker at Clean ’19, Bruce Hamilton, author of No Bad Days. He set the tone.

Those words would prove true over and over, in many subtle tones and bold notes, all during the Clean Show, which concluded yesterday, held at the Ernest Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

Brian Harrell, drycleaning owner of Shores Fine Dry Cleaning, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., exemplifies that idea when he pauses later that first day and says to me with delight on his face, “I’m on a mission, and I’m finding everything I’m looking for here at the Clean Show.” Then a pause, “Great show!” He exclaims, then continues up the busy aisle with a grin and a great attitude.

Attendees brought their energetic, vibrant ‘tudes to Clean ’19, and made business connections and learned new things in many ways: at the booths, by chatting with each other at events and in the aisles, and at the great educational sessions, which were hosted by the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI) and the other show sponsors across all four days.

Bobby Patel, owner of Kona Cleaners and a partner in the BeCreative360 web design company, gave a talk on Marketing Then & Now to a standing room only packed house session later the first day.

“I came from India. I started out as an owner knowing nothing about dry cleaning,” he says, deep voice filling the session arena.

He grabbed everyone’s attention.

“At first I walked around just trying to understand the business. Changes were needed! I remodeled my store; my business started going up!”

Pens are starting to write and the glow from cell phone screens are popping up by the dozens.

“Deal with negative feedback right away,” Bobby says. “That’s the biggest thing I do. Do whatever it takes. If the customer says the price is too high, I give them a full refund, whatever the cost. Put your ego in check and fix the problem! Don’t remove that negative post. Make customers happy. They’ll remove it themselves.”

You can hear a pin drop.

Patel changes the tone seamlessly: “I found out what ‘Kona’ meant and so I put in a fish tank right in my store — it calmed down the customers who were pissed off at me!”

The audience roars. And I mean ROARS!

“Make lobbies fresh and clean,” he says. “Update graphics. We clean military uniforms free. You’re doing good. And it’s fantastic goodwill. Make protecting your reputation your #1 priority!”

Attendees taking notes like crazy. Bobby is a sensation at Clean ’19!

Two young drycleaning owner waiting in the long line to talk to Patel afterward, finally got their chance. I was keeping an eye on them and hanging nearby and could hear them. They say: “Incredible Bobby!” Their faces are lit with excitement. “We’re new to the business. So many great ideas.”

“Come by the booth later and we’ll talk,” Patel smiles. “I’ll help you with anything you need. Anytime. I’m so glad to!” They leave on a cloud!

That scene was so far over the moon in positive attitude vibe that it gave me chills. So much goodwill here in fabricare. And it carries to the show floor all that day and throughout all four days in so many ways.

The exhibitors and sponsors were happy with the show and a little over the moon as well.

Count among them: Bill Odorizzi, Wes Nelson and Yusuke Uchikoshi at Sankosha; Steve Henley at Realstar; Mike Leeming at Parker Boiler; the Schwarzmanns, father and son, at A.L. Wilson; the Kelly family at My Shoe Hospital; John Buni at CleanCloud; Stephen Langiulli at Columbia/ILSA; Mark Jones at SPOT; Stuart Ilkowitz at Trevil USA; Stucky and Jeff at Poseidon; Marcelo at Fabricare; Tim at GreenEarth; Darrin at Firbimatic; and also the folks at NCA, White Conveyors, Garment Management Systems, Cleaners Supply, Tide, Itsumi, Cleaner Business System, Leonard, Royal Basket Trucks, Hi-Steam, Starchup, John at Air World; and of course show sponsors DLI, TCATA, TRSA, CLA and ALM, and so many, many more. I could go on and on.

The Clean ’19 upshot: sales were made, seeds of ideas were planted, and that groove beat of fabricare connecting in quality ways was so very positive indeed!

The Clean Show also wished a very happy retirement to longtime show manager and friend of all of us, John Riddle, with a warm, loving and also tearful sendoff into that happy land of golfing and fishing. And we are introduced to the new show owners Messe Frankfurt and new show manager Greg Jira! “The new John,” as they said, in a smiling, upbeat transition. And we also met new DLI president Dennis Schmidt who takes over for outgoing DLI President Leland Waite.

Drycleaning owner Craig Bamburg from Naples, Fla., came over to me one day, saying, “I just wanted to say hello, I read your magazine, love it, and I’ve been an owner six months. I love everything about dry cleaning and I’m here to learn and to buy. This is the place. The sessions are very educational and the show is awesome!”

And with a brisk handshake and a big warm beaming smile, and him happily juggling a bag full of Clean ’19 show goodiess he has collected, off he goes with a wave to see more, and talk more, and learn more!

That is a positive attitude!

That was Clean ’19!

(Note: Make sure to read my full show article coming in the August print issue (not July, as it was at print while the show was going on) of American Drycleaner, which comes out the first week of August!)