To Go or Not to Go…

Kevin Marois

The Clean Show is coming! If you are going, you are probably getting excited. It you are not going, you are already tired of hearing about it.

Every two years I write a column trying to convince people to go to the Clean Show. I have finally decided if you need convincing, it’s probably a waste of money for you to go.

Let me tell you why I am going to the Clean Show this year. There are three main things that Paula and I want to accomplish at the Show this year. We are looking for something new, we want to educate ourselves and we look forward to meeting old and making new friends.

Something New

We are looking for new equipment, supplies and new ways to process and package garments. If we keep doing what we have always done, we will get the same results that we have always got.

There are new garments now that have to be processed differently. We want to see new ways of doing things. Maybe we can find a machine that will save labour hours. That would be a big help to our customers. So we are looking for something, anything that will help our customers succeed.

We are all familiar with supply chain difficulties. So we are also looking for third and fourth options when our primary sources have shortages.

I also have a shopping list for some of our customers. We have a number of customers who called to say they are not going to the Show, “But while you are there will you look for one of these…?”

Old dogs knew good tricks

Our industry is losing information. Every year experienced and knowledgeable cleaners and technicians retire BUT THEY ARE NOT BEING REPLACED. New operators are content to press the Start button and walk away, hoping that everything turns out okay.

The machines are simpler to operate, but in some ways that means that the operator can be “simpler”, too. You no longer have to understand what is happening inside that machine.

Before computer controls, an operator manually moved switches for each step in the process. The operator had to understand exactly what was happening and how long this step should last. He also knew how to modify the cycle, depending on the garments being cleaned. Today’s operators are familiar with the Start button and the Open Door button.

So I am going to the Show to learn everything I can. I have been jotting down questions for months now. There are things I need to learn. And I am going to do it. I can pass that information on to my Techs so that we can become better experts in this industry.

Education is expensive. You can either write a cheque for a customer claim, or you can write a cheque and take some training. The choice is yours.

Education is work, but that’s fine. Everything worthwhile is. The Clean Show has many seminars and opportunities for one-on-one questions with a whole range of experts who are eager to share what they know to make you a better operator.

Comparing notes

One of the things I look forward to is the relationships, friendships gained over the years with sales reps, other business owners, and educators. As we talk, we can encourage and help one another. We all face the same problems.

You can’t talk to your competitor about the problems that you are having. But you could talk to someone from the other side of the country.

The Clean Show is an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. It’s lonely at the top. It’s nice to find someone who has the same problems as you and can commiserate with you. Someone who has been through those things and knows how you feel.

Normal is gone

You may think things are finally getting back to normal. That is a delusion. COVID may be over but normal is gone. It’s a new world.

Think of Clean as a springboard to launch the latest version of your business. Things have changed and your business needs to change too.

I care about my business and I care about my customers. If there is anything I can do to improve my business, I am going to do it. And if I can help my customers improve their businesses, then we can both succeed.

So I don’t know if you should go to the Clean Show. If you aren’t going for the right reason, it might be a waste of time and money. One final reason why I am going, because there won’t be another Clean Show for three years. I don’t want to wait that long to see something new, learn something fresh, and shake hands with those I’ve come to value in the industry.

You shouldn’t, either.


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 office@imicanada.ca or via his website www.imicanada.ca

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