Clean Show Greatest Hits

Kevin Marois

Everyone is looking for an edge: Something to differentiate their business to make them more successful. A product or service that would bring in more customers. Where would you find something like that? The Clean Show in Atlanta next week!

I’ve been thinking about some of the greatest hits from past Shows, things that have helped my business and our customers’ businesses.

Let the hits roll on

Many years ago Kreussler and Miele introduced something new called wet cleaning. No one believed it was possible to wash wool. And now, 25 years later, most equipment manufacturers have wet cleaning products and most cleaners are doing some wet cleaning.

Twenty years ago the big seller for dry cleaners was tensioning equipment. The new machines had a multitude of clamps and moving parts. They would stretch the garment slightly and then steam/dry it. Suddenly a less skilled operator could put out quality work without much training.

A couple of Shows back there was a big introduction of assembly conveyors that would put all the pieces of an order together, tie them in a bundle and then bag them. Everybody started thinking about all the labour they could save.

Solving the solvent riddle

It seems almost every year there is a new solvent introduced. And every year another one ‘disappears’. Some didn’t deliver what they promised. Others proved their claims and have lasted. GreenEarth and SolvonK4 are two proven ‘mature’ solvents. If you are still using perc, you better consider your options. SolvonK4 is all my company has been selling for the last 10 years. You may like using perc, but do your customers look down on you because you are?

Do you remember Urine-Off? It came out a few Shows back. There was a lot of hype. People were rolling their little purple Urine-Off ‘suitcases’ all around the Show. We even saw them going through security at the airport. It was an enzyme-based product that worked with water and time to break down and remove even cat urine. I think it worked well, but you don’t see it any more.

Technology to the rescue

Point-of-Sale (POS) systems make huge advances every year. I don’t work directly with them, but I know that at every Show there are new features. Systems today will automatically text your customer when the order is completed and racked. People love technology. They love to be able to track their order and the option to come sooner if their order is ready. Does your system do that? Maybe your competitor has a big advantage over you.

Look at the lowly conveyor. Boring, right? What about the self-serve kiosks that your customers can access 24/7? You load the orders into the conveyor and walk away. Your customers can access their garments any time they want without having to interact with anyone. How much does that save in wages?

Speaking of money …

I don’t remember what year it was, but coin machines have made huge advances. It started with card control systems. Now you can start the washer/dryer with a payment from your phone. And you can go have a coffee – the machine will text you when it is finished. If someone opens a store like that next door, you might be in big trouble. (Hmmm. If they are no longer ‘coin’ laundries, what do you call them?)

Machines for coin laundries can now monitor water levels and report if there is a problem with the drain or inlet valves. The controls can be programmed to give different pricing on special days or times. Better not let your competitors get ahead of you.

So what else can there be?

What will we see at this year’s Show? Faster presses. Wi-Fi enabled washers that can be programmed and diagnosed remotely. There are sure to be more advances in POS systems.

Just because something is at the Show doesn’t mean you have to buy it. But it does mean that you better be aware of it and see what happens. You may be competing with it soon.

There have been lots of exciting events at the Clean Show. Remember when George Jefferson was at the Cleaner’s Supply booth? And you could get your photo taken with him.

Or the Show in Dallas when it snowed and the roads were almost impassable, because Dallas only has about 10 snow plows for the whole city. There have been lots of good receptions over the years. The DLI/TACATA receptions, CLATA’s Canadian reception, and meals with customers and suppliers.

I am looking forward to the Show and I’m excited about some new opportunities. Hope to see you there.

Kevin Marois founded Calgary-based Integrity Mechanical in 2003 to service plants in western Canada. He writes on issues related to equipment, its purchase, maintenance and use. You can reach Kevin at or via his website

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