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Management And Training

International cleaning industry trade shows

September 19, 2010
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As you vacuum, sweep and dust, or supervise those who do the cleaning, others in the industry are traveling the world displaying and viewing the latest tools, equipment, and chemicals that you’ll soon be using on the job.

Going international
Over the last 10 years, the cleaning industry has grown into an international business that reaches around the world.

In recent years, the barriers have come down and now people who are involved with cleaning are beginning to talk and do business with one another.

You can credit the Internet, the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA), and a growing interest in health and sanitation with raising the visibility and importance of cleaning around the world.

Much of the equipment and supplies we buy aren’t made in the United States or by the companies that sell them.

The floor machine or microfiber mop you use may have a well-known U.S. manufacturer’s name on it, and the colors may be familiar, but chances are it’s made by another company in a far-away land, then imported by the company with brand name recognition.

Although some U.S. companies still manufacture their own equipment and products, the list is shrinking by the day for a variety of reasons.

It is not uncommon to find that the products and equipment we use are manufactured in Italy, China, Mexico, and other countries.

There are international trade shows for the cleaning industry in more than half a dozen different countries.

ISSA/INTERCLEAN Amsterdam, however, stands tall compared to all the others.

The Amsterdam show is held every two years and is the biggest and best of all the shows.

This year it was held on May 6 to 9 at the RAI Exhibition Hall.

Almost 70 percent of the 23,923 people who attended the show were from countries other than the Netherlands.

Some 630 companies from 40 different countries exhibited at this year’s show.

Overall, it was a great show, though attendance was down slightly from 2006.

If you would like copies of the PowerPoint presentations from the educational offerings at this year’s show, visit:

The next ISSA/INTERCLEAN Amsterdam show is scheduled for May 4 to 7, 2010.

Visit for more details.

There are many other industry trade shows held in the U.S. and internationally each year.

Most are targeted at specific industry sub-segments, such as wood floors (, carpet cleaning and fire restoration (, stone flooring (, carpeting and other flooring (, building service contractors (, health care ( and, cleanrooms (, and concrete and coatings (

If your interest is in cleaning equipment, such as floor machines, autoscrubbers and pressure washers, the premier show for cleaning equipment is the Pulire show in Verona, Italy.

The Pulire show is held every two years, with the next show scheduled for June 9 to 12, 2009.

Pulire also sponsors shows in Moscow, Mumbai, India, and Singapore (

The ISSA/INTERCLEAN Group has shows scheduled for Mexico City, Macau, China, Warsaw, Poland, and Las Vegas (

Other groups have shows planned for Beijing, Birmingham, England, and South Africa.

One traditional concern about attending international shows is cost.

Traveling abroad is expensive due to airfares and the exchange rate for the dollar.

The dollar has lost value on the international scene, be sure to take several credit cards and expect to be shocked at the cost in euros vs. dollars for a room, taxi, food, etc.

The exchange rate also has a tremendous impact on the import and export of equipment and products and must be factored into purchases.

If you want to purchase products for import, in most cases you will have to purchase items in shipping container size quantities, and there may be issues with taxes, shipping costs, duties, and quality control.

With all these concerns and possible problems, one would wonder if it’s worth the hassle and risk.

The answer is yes.

Businesses import and export products every day.

It’s not impossible, it just takes practice, patience, and a good agent to help you through the process the first couple of times.

The biggest and best show in the U.S. is the ISSA/INTERCLEAN show, which is held in Chicago, Las Vegas, or Orlando each year.

This year the show is being held in Las Vegas on September 8 to 11.

Regardless of your position in the cleaning industry — business owner, sanitary supply salesperson, supervisor, manager or janitor — ISSA/INTERCLEAN is one event you don’t want to miss.

Here, in one place, you will be exposed to all the different sources of equipment and the people behind the scenes that make the cleaning industry one of the best opportunities for income and advancement that exists today.

The U.S. version of the show is a little different from the international shows in that it includes a large educational program with seminars, presentations, and workshops for distributors, building service contractors, and facility managers.

The show is open to anyone who wants to attend, although a fee is charged based on association membership.

Visit for more information.

Make the connection
If your interest is carpet cleaning or fire/water damage restoration, the best show of the year for you is the Connections Convention in Las Vegas on September 23 to 25, 2008.

Visit for more information.

One of the larger regional shows in the U.S. is the New Jersey Sanitary Supply Association “Supply Line Show,” which is held every other year.

The program includes seminars, networking opportunities, golf, and over 300 exhibit booths.

If you are not yet ready for one of the bigger shows, this is a great show to start with. For more information, visit

What you need to know
At this point you might be asking yourself: “What difference does this make to me?

“I clean two floors of a building and then I go home.

“What takes place in Amsterdam, Mexico City, or Las Vegas doesn’t affect me.

“I don’t see why anyone would drive 50 miles, let alone fly half way around the world to look at floor machines, mops and floor finish.”

As our world and that of our customers changes, it is important that we continue to hone our skills and increase our knowledge in order to remain competitive in the market.

Since there are few formal certification and academic programs available in the cleaning industry, most training comes from on the job experience, manufacturer courses, and through self initiative.

Attending an industry trade show provides opportunities for networking and learning that you won’t find anywhere else.

It may be hard to believe, but we are fast approaching the day when you won’t use a mop to clean the floor, and once the work is done, you or someone else will test the surface to determine if the soil that you can’t see has actually been removed.

It’s also important to understand that most of the cleaning innovations that we are seeing today were not developed in the U.S.

Most new cleaning products and processes show up in Europe three, five, or even seven years before we get them here.

If you want to see, touch, or buy what you’ll be hearing about and using to clean floors and buildings a few years from now, you have to attend the international trade shows.

If your business is selling cleaning equipment and supplies, you need to know what you’ll be selling and competing with a few years down the road so you can be ready to deal with what your competition will be.

William R. Griffin, president of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc. in Seattle, WA, has over 25 years experience in the cleaning industry as a cleaner, consultant, and educator. He is the author of the Comprehensive Custodial Training Manual, How to Sell and Price Contract Cleaning, How to Start and Operate a Successful Cleaning Business, and other books and manuals as well as hundreds of articles regarding cleaning, maintenance and self-employment. For more information
visit or 206-849-0179 or
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