Event Review: ISSA/INTERCLEAN 2016

Huge crowds attended ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America, the annual expo organised by worldwide cleaning industry association ISSA which was held from 25-28 October 2016 at McCormick Place, South Hall in Chicago.

“The last time INTERCLEAN was held in Chicago was 2012,” said ISSA’s Senior Marketing and Communications Director Lisa Richter. “A lot has changed in four years with the consolidation of the industry and the convergence of jan/san and office supplies, so this year’s event provided a unique opportunity for professionals in the [US] Midwest region to tap into the industry’s resources. The show included attendees from around the world, but it felt special to have it in our own backyard.”

Turnout was particularly strong, with a total of 16,637 visitors from 74 countries – a further increase on the 2015 figures. Exhibitor numbers were also up, with 740 companies showcasing their wares. Of these, 132 were new to the event and 20% came from a total of 28 countries outside the US. 

Both exhibitors and buyers cited the show’s sheer size and diversity as a core attraction and the desire to find innovative new products as the main reason for attending. First-time exhibitors were particularly impressed by the scale of the event.

“We had as many people visit our booth as we could physically talk to,” noted Mark Sisson, co-founder of ISSA Innovation Award-winning NanoTouch Materials. “We had to split up and talk to different groups just to handle the traffic.”

Broad appeal

Much of this growth can be attributed to ISSA’s efforts to attract new audiences – it has recently formed new relationships with several OP industry heavyweights such as TriMega and Independent Stationers, as well as OPI. Alongside the expo, a range of ISSA’s alliance partners also held events in conjunction with the show – the Healthy Schools Campaign presented the Green Clean Schools Forum while the Green Sports Alliance hosted its Greener Cleaning Workshop.

Further evidence of ISSA/INTERCLEAN’s appeal was shown by four key industry groups choosing to hold their annual conventions alongside the event while other associations from across Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region also participated.

Indeed, following the show ISSA and the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International (ARCSI) announced that they are to merge on 1 January 2017. “We couldn’t be more excited about this merger and the benefits, resources, and power it will bring to our membership,” said ARCSI CEO Ernie Hartong.

A series of more than 60 educational seminars, workshops and presentations by industry experts was held throughout the four days. All these culminated in the keynote addresses on the last day of the event. Heading the bill was Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak. His session, entitled Going for Great: A Moderated Q&A with The Woz and advice that “never is anything easy the first time,” was particularly well received.

The 2016 ISSA Innovation Category Award winners were announced during a keynote by former Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill called Never Quit. This awards programme included entries of more than 50 products and services from cleaning manufacturers and service providers, with distributors, wholesalers and others throughout the industry reviewing all the latest innovations and voting to determine the ultimate five category winners.

Overall, attendees rated ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America as an unmissable event. “You just can’t get this information in your office,” said Lisa McKinney, owner of Rochester Residential and Commercial Cleaning.

Next year’s ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America will take place from 11-14 September 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada, US. For the first time, it will be held alongside a US OP dealer group event – EPIC 2017 – which will take place from 10-12 September 2017 at the Bellagio, also in Las Vegas.