LONG BEACH, Calif. — Though many California communities have been hard-hit by the mortgage-lending crisis and slowing economy, most exhibitors and attendees were pleased with the California Cleaners Association’s (CCA) Fabricare 2008 show.
“The show has been a great success,” says newly installed CCA president David Suber, owner of Perfect Cleaners in Los Angeles. “Our maintenance seminar had more than 120 people. It was also held in Korean, which proved to be popular. Today is Sunday, and there’s floor activity and quality people.”
Though official figures aren’t yet available, the show was clearly somewhat smaller in floor space and attendance. The curtains at the rear of the hall were closer than they had been at the 2006 show, booths tended to be smaller, and rush periods didn’t last as long. But things could have been worse.
“It’s been the same story around the country,” says Tom Medlin, national sales manager for Realstar USA. “Attendance has been off. The economy is in a downstroke, and sales have been sliding somewhat. But this show has actually been pretty good — better than I thought it would be.”
Most operators in Southern California have already upgraded drycleaning equipment to meet new Air Quality Management District (AQMD) regulations, but new processes were still a big draw. Perc alternatives DrySolv, GreenEarth, Rynex and Solvair appeared, alongside many wetcleaning systems.
“We’ve had good traffic and a lot of interest from people in attending a demonstration,” says Jamie Mayberry, vice president of marketing for Solvair. Unveiled at the CCA show two years ago, the hybrid drycleaning system is now installed in eight locations around the country, including Park Woods Cleaners in Stockton, Calif.
Always a star attraction, tensioning equipment drew small but attentive crowds. “Attendance is way down,” says Trevil America president Stuart Ilkowitz. “Ordinarily, we’d have 50 people watching demonstrations.” Sankosha’s Bill Odorizzi says his booth was “really busy,” however, with cleaners looking for labor-saving equipment such as a new double-buck and bagging machine.
With so much interest in educational seminars and incremental improvements, Fabricare’s outing this year proves that even in hard times, dedicated operators are willing to invest time and money to make changes that can help them survive the downturn and be stronger when the market improves.
“I think that cleaners are concerned about their utility costs and looking for ways to run more efficiently,” says John Kelleher Jr., vice president of Kelleher Equipment Supply in Long Beach. “Fewer people are buying, but more people are learning how to run a better drycleaner — which, in the long run, will be good for the industry.”