Cleaning & Restoration Breaking News

ISSA/INTERCLEAN Exceeds Expectations Despite Lower Attendance

October 26, 2009
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Lincolnwood, IL, USA, October 23, 2009-ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America 2009 drew the highest number of first-time attendee companies in recent years, which, combined with a turnout of the industry’s elite distributors and facility service provider (FSP) companies, created a strong selling environment in a challenging year, say many exhibitors. To see what attendees had to say about ISSA/INTERCLEAN during the event, visit

While the number of people dropped about 9.5 percent from 2008, the number of new customer companies visiting the show for the first time reached 28 percent. This increase was further confirmed when more than 83 percent of exhibitors surveyed indicated they had met new contacts at this year’s show, and more than half said they generated new business.

“Our experience was very positive and better than we thought it could be,” said first-time exhibitor Paul Offutt, general manager of Sonic Scrubbers. “Our CEO said this was the best tradeshow he’s participated at in over 40 years.”

The event, hosted by ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, and its alliance partner Amsterdam RAI, took place in Chicago, IL, October 6-9, with 14,248 people registered.

Not only were the top customers in attendance this year, but the industry’s leading suppliers also were present with more than 600 companies exhibiting. Special recognitions taking place during the show included the awarding of 20 Best Customer Service Awards to exhibitors, as voted on by their customers in attendance. The program allows customers to acknowledge those companies that go out of their way to accommodate visitors who stop by their booths.

The 2009 Best Customer Service Award winners were: DCL Solutions, JohnsonDiversey, Spartan Chemical Co., and Urine Off in the Chemicals category; Intelligent Products, Inc., Georgia-Pacific Professional, Kimberly-Clark Corp., and KlenzCorp International in the Disposables category; Advance, Advanced Vapor Technologies, Viper North America, and Windsor Industries in the Power Equipment category; Expanded Technologies Corp., Morton Salt, Rubbermaid Commercial Products, and Unger Enterprises in the Supplies category; and Activeion Cleaning Solutions, American EPAY, Cleaning for a Reason, and The Weee in the Other Products, Services & Technology category. To learn more about these and other exhibitors at the show, visit

“We are very pleased with this year’s results, as we exceeded our expectations in a challenging year,” said ISSA Executive Director John Garfinkel. “Multiple exhibitors who participate in tradeshows in many industries told me this was the best event they’ve been at this year. They also seemed pleased with the number of quality decision-makers and the number of new prospective customers they met.

“While it was an appropriate management decision for our manufacturer, distributor, and contract-services members to control the number of people they brought to the show in this challenging economy, the top managers and decision-makers from the major players were present, which ensured a solid event,” added Garfinkel.

“All of our distribution partners and key end-users from different segments that are decision-makers were at the show,” said Greg Moore, national sales manager for 3M. “We’ve been able to get to the right people with the right message and develop good action items to follow up on.”

Several top executives also stated that the tradeshow is the most efficient way to meet large numbers of their customers in a single venue when compared with going to multiple cities to visit customers at a time when travel expenses need to be closely monitored.

“ISSA is the premier show-it’s bigger and gives us more exposure than other shows where we exhibit,” said Mike Julo, CEO for Direct Mop Sales. “We saw a good mix of contractors, distributors, and in-house providers. Getting in front of so many people for this price is a low cost for the exposure we got.”

In fact, all U.S. states and Canadian provinces were represented among attendees, with 20 percent of participants hailing from the West Coast, despite the show having just been in that region last year.

Garfinkel noted that each city ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America visits brings a unique mix of attendees, as was seen this year in Chicago. Orlando, FL, next year’s location, historically attracts a strong mix of customers from the South and East who do not travel to the show when it is in other parts of the country. “If we can apply the same innovative marketing techniques and strong business value that drew attendees this year, we are confident that we will produce a successful show next year that will once again deliver new opportunities for our exhibitors,” said Garfinkel.

Thanks to the work of ISSA’s international offices and partner Amsterdam RAI, ISSA/INTERCLEAN also drew visitors from 64 countries outside of the United States and Canada. Many exhibitors specifically commented on the high number of contacts they made with Latin American customers, which ISSA attributes to the expanded reach the association has developed over the last year with its Spanish-language electronic newsletter and Web site,, and many new relationships it has built to prepare for the 2010 Latin American event next June 9-11, in Cancun, Mexico.

Further making ISSA/INTERCLEAN 2009 the “Who’s Who” of executive events was the support of many distributor marketing groups, with 60 percent of distributor attendees identified as belonging to one of these organizations, many of which held their own events in conjunction with the show this year.

In the FSP arena, many veteran attendees were on hand to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the International Executive Housekeepers Association’s co-location of its annual event with ISSA/INTERCLEAN. New alliances with the Building Service Contractors Association International-which will co-locate its convention with ISSA’s in 2010-and the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association also drew big-name customers to the event for the first time this year. These groups bring the largest retailers and institutional and industrial end-customers from around North America.

Another indication that this year’s show attracted the right people-people looking for solutions-is the fact that ISSA’s own educational product and business-tool sales during the event were up more than 20 percent over the past few years.

“We saw a strong interest in everything from cleaning times and workloading tools to general business-advice books from some of our key speakers,” said ISSA Member Services Director Anthony Trombetta. “Plus, many of our workshops, ranging from technical training to organizational management topics, had to have more seats brought in to accommodate people who continued to sign up on site, causing us to hit max room capacity.”

Tuesday’s main educational-conference day hosted many packed rooms, with sessions covering sales, customer trends, and leadership and environmental topics drawing the largest crowds.

Attendee feedback also mirrored that of exhibitors, with many people saying the educational sessions were on target with their needs. Others said there were too many to select from and wished they had had more people available to cover all of the seminars.

“The consensus among the people I talked to this year was that the education was outstanding and absolutely spot on,” said Eric Bates, IEHA president-elect. “ISSA hit it out of the park.”

Another popular addition to this year’s event was the ISSA Green Connections Center, visited by more than 80 percent of the distributors and FSPs in attendance. This area featured live product demos and discussions every half hour right on the show floor. It also offered a Green Product Showcase of the latest innovations in environmentally friendly, science-based, and health-focused technology.

Special Recognition Prior to the event’s keynote address by Donny Deutsch, ISSA recognized 78 exhibitors who had supported the association for more than 40 years consecutively, with the longest support coming from companies that have been with ISSA and its tradeshow for 64 years. At this year’s show, three new companies joined this prestigious group, known as the Star 40. The newest members of the Star 40 club are: Impact Products LLC; Theochem Laboratories, Inc.; and Quest Chemical Corp.

At the same time, ISSA was pleased to attract 89 new exhibitors to the show this year. While several represented traditional cleaning products, others brought new product groups, such as lighting, safety, and maintenance, and still others were technology companies and business services. Many of these exhibitors were located in the new Facility Maintenance Pavilion ISSA created to help attendees more easily find these nontraditional exhibitors. The pavilion was opened in answer to the request of more than 45 percent of attendees surveyed in 2008 who were looking for noncleaning solutions when attending ISSA/INTERCLEAN.

ISSA also presented three professional awards during the week: The Jack D. Ramaley Industry Distinguished Service Award recipient was Mattie Chinks of Avmor Ltd., Laval, QC, Canada, for exceptional service to the industry, the association, and its members; the Manufacturer Representatives’ Distinguished Service Award recipient was Don Lees of Big D Industries, Inc., Oklahoma City, OK; and the YES Industry Special Achievement Award recipient was W. Grant Watkinson of Coastwide Laboratories, Inc., Wilsonville, OR.

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