MILAN, Italy — EXPOdetergo International 2018 was all about “famiglia,” and that means family. It was a real Italian family affair for laundry owners at this every-four-years show, staged here October 19-22.
This laundry equipment event was, in no particular order, stylishly dressy, brightly lit (almost to gleaming) and, yet, with an overwhelming family atmosphere, nearly carnival-like.
Booths and aisles were always busy with exhibitors talking to attendees, practically always in Italian, and also plenty of networking was going on between business associates, cronies and partners at in-booth back tables and side rooms.
And then in the mix, everywhere, were the family business owners, with their children along, balloons and gelato in hand, and parents pushing strollers; couples hand-in-hand; and multigenerational families taking in the bright show.
EXPO catered to the local Italian family owner for sure. In between the carnival feel, there were important equipment rollouts to the European market, ones that will eventually also be seen at the Clean Show in New Orleans.
The stylish EXPO locale sat far north of the center of Milan, an architecturally rich, yet upbeat city of fashion.
Inside the exhibit halls, equipment was showcased as richly as dishes of cold gelato on display behind glass.
A woman who owns a laundry operation in a town nearby Milan, walking the aisles with her family, says in broken English that she is, “Here to find a tunnel washer.”
With Italian colors of red and green festooned everywhere, almost everyone speaking Italian only, and the sounds and smells of rich expresso (which the locals just step up and order at coffee bars as “Cafe, uno!”), this show couldn’t have been mistaken for anything but an all-Italy and all-Italian affair. (Anyone sampling the rich gelato ice cream could attest to that as well.)
All told, 277 exhibitors, many local from Italy, stretched out their wares in roomy, carpeted booths across two spacious exhibition halls opened up and made to almost feel like one big hall. Over four days, 20,756 visitors from 113 countries made their way through exhibits in the Fiera Milano Exhibition and Trade Centre.
Well-known U.S.-based companies such as Dexter Laundry, Pellerin Milnor Corp., Whirlpool Corp. and more were here, along with the Italian firms and others, to show equipment, but also to have a presence in the European market.
As Matt Hericks, international sales manager for Dexter Laundry, points out, “We’re here looking for good partners.”
Rick Kelly, vice president of sales and marketing for Pellerin Milnor Corp., says this show is, “Very active with the first day commercial laundry. Trends in commercial laundry include people discussing ecological and automation which is still a relatively new concept.”
Speaking of new, Whirlpool Corp. showcased its newly rolled out Maytag Multi-Load Washer line in 65-pound for on-premises laundries (OPL) at the EXPOdetergo show.
“We have a lot of brand experience, strong marketing,” says Matt Conn, senior manager, commercial laundry product development and marketing for Whirlpool Corp. “We want to grow in the commercial laundry space.”
“We will serve commercial industrial markets such as hospitals, prisons and hotels,” adds Nick Koukourakis, senior product development manager for Whirlpool Corp.
Swiss company Datamars also showed off new technology at the show called Portal +, a thin radio frequency identification (RFID) tag.
“We want to make RFID invisible to the user,” explains Riccardo Mazzolini, general manager of Datamars. “We’re rolling this out here and at Clean ’19. We go to mostly laundry. We’re pilot testing it in Germany now and soon in the U.S. and U.K.”
In preparation for next year’s Clean Show, John Riddle, president of show organizer Riddle & Associates, and David Cotter, CEO of the Textile Care Allied Trades Association (TCATA), manned the Clean Show booth in Italy and passed out New Orleans-style plastic beads reading “Clean 2019.”
With that teaser for next year, I could end this show wrap-up with the word “Ciao!”
Which means goodbye. But that doesn’t describe EXPOdetergo, or this part of the world, where everything revolves around famiglia—it is, truly, a family affair.