NEW ORLEANS — Clean ’09 is now one for the books. A few companies didn’t exhibit, and many took out smaller booths. Attendance was also sparse compared to previous shows. Officially, 9,902 people registered and 412 companies leased about 193,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space.
Onlookers blamed it on the global economic downturn. “Nevertheless, we were very pleased with the turnout,” said John Riddle, president of Clean’s show-planning firm, Riddle & Associates. “Much of this drop was because participating companies sent fewer people than in previous years.”
For its part, the firm did a great job of getting showgoers to the convention center with frequent hotel shuttles. The air-conditioned minibuses were a blessing; at 8:00 in the morning, New Orleans was a humid 85°F, and you can imagine how hot it can get by the time the show closes at 5:00 p.m.
Those who attended saw a few nice additions and a few new exhibitors. Cleaver Brooks, for example, returned to the drycleaning market with a new, high-efficiency boiler for small operations after specializing in industrial boilers for decades.
Cleaners Supply doubled the number of consultants available in its Consultants Corner, and show patrons appreciated the opportunity to grill the experts and listen to their suggestions. And the show’s educational sessions were livelier and featured a more international focus.
Crowds gathered at the Clean Concepts, Hi-Steam, Sankosha, Trevil and Unipress booths for tensioning demos. GreenEarth brought out a new concept in laundry that uses 90% less water. Adco brought out an attractively packaged new line of “green” home laundry products for counter sale.
Lots of advanced point-of-sale (POS) systems were on display, often integrating with automatic sorting conveyors that are getting interest from more drycleaners. And a number of new systems and strategies traded on environmental friendliness, promising to save water, utilities and packaging.
With the lower number of attendees, exhibitors had time to talk one-on-one with people who had questions about their products. Clean ’09 could be characterized as a laid-back show, and the relaxed attitude still seemed to produce a lot of sales and leads, even though the oblong convention center could be a challenge to walk.
One good thing about New Orleans, though, was that hotel prices were not as steep as they have been in the past — the economy is poor and the city is still on its way back as a destination. The cuisine is reasonably priced and delicious, and everyone seemed eager to make the show a success.
“It was the smoothest Clean Show ever,” Riddle said. “New Orleans was prepared and hospitable. We couldn’t have asked for better cooperation from everyone involved, and it helped make the show a success.”