ROANOKE, Va. — The Clean Show started in 1975. I first attended the Clean Show in 1977 and only missed a couple of shows during my 44-year working career. 

I have been asked over the years why I say, “The Clean Show is an essential event for all those involved in the laundry industry.” People have tried to point out that even with the speed of technology, two years is too short a time to develop meaningful improvements in equipment. I would counter and say that I have never failed to come away from a Clean Show experience without at least one idea that could result in a major improvement to my operation. 

The educational programs put on by the sponsoring associations provide a fertile ground for self-reflection and improvement. The discussions held during the day and late into the evening provide valuable opportunities for joint problem-solving activities. The wealth of industry knowledge that can be found at the Clean Show is unbeatable.

I have often advocated spending whatever time it takes to carefully cover the entire Clean Show and particularly all the small booths. Over the years some of my best finds have been found in this area. 

I stumbled upon a concrete floor resurfacing system at one of the last Clean Shows in Chicago that helped solve a significant problem for my laundry in Milwaukee. I stumbled upon the Laundry Loops company a number of years back and was able to use their product in a number of ways in my laundry in Roanoke, Va.  

I spent time at the SonicAire booth during my last Clean Show and became convinced it could greatly decrease my lint problem. After installation, I am glad to say the product works as advertised. 

I also spent time at two booths that had automatic bagging machines. Being at a healthcare laundry at the time, my challenge was to find a way to use this technology in my laundry. After working with our customers, the company now bags wash cloths, bar towels, cleaning cloths, yellow microfiber towels, green microfiber towels, blue microfiber towels and two sizes of flat microfiber mops. 

While both companies’ machines were impressive, we eventually chose the one we felt fit our operation the best. 

I have always spent time at all the textile vendor booths and must admit that my knowledge of emerging trends and available products helped me steer my healthcare organization into longer lasting, more energy-efficient textile products. 

Some products that I could see no practical application for when I was first introduced to them are now staples in my operation. The challenge, as always, is to keep an open mind and look for ways to adapt new products to your operation. 

After the Clean Show in Atlanta, I began the process of looking at a new productivity management system. The system we had was out of date and needed to be replaced. We purchased the system in 2003 and had operated it continuously until 2016. In computer technology, 13 years is a very long time. 

Unfortunately, my retirement date arrived before the company was able to purchase and install a new system. I did leave them with my strong recommendation, but the final decision was made by the new director.  

My point is that you can always come away with at least one product and several ideas to improve your laundry operation. Your job as a manager is to stay abreast of all the current developments in the laundry industry. Knowing what is new and looking for ways as to how they might apply in your operation is a key to continually improving your operation. 

Another valuable benefit of attending the Clean Show is the personal contacts you make. Take the time to meet as many fellow managers and laundry professionals as possible. Add them to your smartphones and discuss each other’s operations. 

There are no unique problems in the laundry industry. Any problem you might be having has already been experienced by someone else. The more people you can reach out to and ask for advice, the better off you will be. 

I use to tell my boss that I personally might not know the answer to every problem, but I had one of the smartest phone books in the country and was confident given a little time I could come up with an answer to any problem. I kept my smartphone book updated constantly and found the Clean Show a great place to renew contacts and make new ones. 

I have always looked at the Clean Show as an investment in my personal career and in my laundry operation. I hope you can see by this article that there is so much to see and so much to learn at each and every Clean Show. 

It truly should be considered a cannot miss event.