It’s Show Time: A Preview of Clean 2017

By Bob Nieman, CLA Member posted 04-27-2017 13:37

The Laundry Industry’s Largest Trade Show and Convention to Celebrate Its 40th Anniversary in Las Vegas

VegasStrip617.jpgIn 1977, six professional associations got together to host a collaborative convention and trade show for the textile care industries. This inaugural event, which was held in Chicago, was officially dubbed the World Educational Congress for Laundry and Drycleaning.

Over the years, that show – which has evolved into the world’s premier exposition for the laundry and garment care business – has become more popularly referred to as, simply, the Clean Show. In 2017, the show will celebrate its 40th anniversary on June 5-8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“This is a true milestone for the Clean Show,” said Clean 2017 Chair Mary Scalco, who serves as CEO of the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, which is one of the show’s sponsoring organizations. “The show has grown over the years to become one of the country’s top 100 trade shows. Clean 2017 exhibit sales already are ahead of each of the last four shows and registration also is up for the same time period at previous shows. Las Vegas is always a fun place to visit, too.”

Named among the Trade Show News Network’s top trade shows, the Clean Show is the largest textile care exposition in the world that features working equipment. In fact, Clean used more steam than any other trade show in the world; the equivalent of nearly 100 drycleaning plants is built on the exhibition floor.

Show attendees include store owners, plant operators, technicians, institutional laundry managers, distributors, consultants and buyers. In addition, according to show surveys, more than 94 percent of the attendees are business owners, executives or managers. And this biennial event has moved with the times technologically – with the internet and social media playing an ever-increasing role in communication, promotion, registration and housing. Attendees and exhibitors can receive updates about the upcoming show on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

These days, the Clean Show is sponsored jointly by five trade groups: the Coin Laundry Association, the Association for Linen Management, the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, the Textile Care Allied Trades Association and the Textile Rental Services Association of America. And, in 2017, those sponsors will be providing more than 30 hours of educational sessions in conjunction with the trade show; these presentations will include topics such as training, business management, and environmental issues.

Viva Las Vegas!

CS1_May17_624x358px.jpgIt’s only fitting that Las Vegas serve as the site for the Clean Show’s 40th birthday party. Although several U.S. cities have hosted the show throughout its 40-year history, the “Entertainment Capital of the World” holds the record for the most Clean Shows hosted, with this year bringing that total to six. In fact, Las Vegas – the largest city in Nevada, nestled in the Mojave Desert – is one of the top three destinations in the U.S. for business conventions. And with good reason.

Hotels on the Las Vegas Strip are among the most elaborate and exotic in the world. And the Clean Show’s official hotels will enable exhibitors and attendees to enjoy the camaraderie of others within the industry at some of the city’s finest lodgings. The official headquarters hotel for the Coin Laundry Association is Vdara; other official show hotels include Bally’s, Caesars Palace, Flamingo, MGM Grand, Cosmopolitan, Westgate, Paris, Tropicana, Renaissance and Wynn/Encore.

Traveling down the five-mile Strip in the desert can be exhausting by foot. Most hotels have entertainment, food and casinos on site or within a short walking distance. To explore more of what Las Vegas has to offer, there are several transportation options while attending Clean 2017.

From McCarran International Airport, you can catch a taxi or a transportation shuttle to your hotel. The Las Vegas Monorail is another great transportation option that connects many hotels on The Strip. It travels from MGM Grand on the south to the SLS Hotel on the north – with stops along the way at Bally’s/Paris, Flamingo/Caesars Palace, Harrah’s/The LINQ, Westgate and the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Monorail is $5 for one ride, $12 for an unlimited one-day pass and $28 for a three-day unlimited pass.

On show days, the Clean Show will provide a complimentary shuttle between most of the official hotels and the convention enter. The shuttle runs approximately every 15 to 20 minutes.

What To Do

Looking for things to do in Las Vegas, beyond the convention center? From major attractions to some of the best shows and restaurants in the world, Sin City is full of amazing, make-your-mouth-drop happenings. So, be sure to make some time to explore this year’s host city:

Place your bets. With one foot in the past and one in the future, the 50-year-old Caesars Palace remains an icon of classic Vegas decadence. Caesars is one of the last old-school properties remaining, and few Las Vegas casinos can match it for atmosphere. However, before you hit the table games, poker room or baccarat pit, bone up on the subject; the Gamblers General Store in Downtown Vegas has a library of how- to gaming books, as well as gifts. If poker’s your game, head to the Bellagio, where you might see some of the world’s top players in action, or to Downtown’s legendary Golden Nugget where you can match your skills with anonymous, grizzled veterans who look like they haven’t left their seat at the table in decades. If you’d rather stick to slots or video poker, head to the Palms or the off-Strip Gold Coast or Circus Circus, both of which offer great people-watching opportunities and glimpses of Vegas’ vintage past.

See the world. Many of the more preposterously themed hotels in Vegas pay homage to notable locales around the world that would seem tacky anywhere else than here. You want Paris and the Eiffel Tower? Try Paris Las Vegas. Venice? There are gondolas and a St. Mark’s Square at the Venetian. Head to Bellagio for a replica of Italy’s Lake Como. The Big Apple? New York New York has the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Central Park and more.

Get into the ‘spirits’ of Sin City. The most striking thing that sets the Strip’s bars apart from most watering holes elsewhere is the sheer number of bottles. Cocktail connoisseurs should head to the Downtown Cocktail Room, where specialty drinks are rated on a level of 1 (“very approachable”) to 5 (“advanced palate”). Wine drinkers should set their sights on Aureole, where the bottles are housed in a four-story wine tower that requires harnessed “wine angels” to retrieve them. Speaking of angels, if you like to imbibe while taking in a view from the heavens, visit the Level 107 Lounge on the 107th floor of the Stratosphere, with a smattering of signature cocktails, top-shelf liquors, and beer and wine. On the other end of the heaven-hell spectrum (and conveniently located just a few blocks down the Strip) is the Peppermill Fireside Lounge, with its cozy fire pit and world-famous 64-ounce libation, the Scorpion, which is said to pack quite a sting.

CS2_May17_624x358px.jpgVisit an offbeat museum. The one-of-a-kind, often terrifying Atomic Testing Museum pulls back the curtain on the Nevada Test Site and the state’s history as a nuclear-weapons guinea pig. Downtown, organized-crime buffs will love the Mob Museum, which details the mafia’s involvement with Sin City’s rise. If you want a visual tour through Vegas history, head to the Neon Museum on the north end of the Strip, where signs, lights and other Sin City architectural artifacts are preserved. Aficionados of old-school arcade games should visit the peculiarly beautiful Pinball Hall of Fame, where you can admire – and play – more than 150 operational pinball machines.

Dine mountainside on the Strip at Steve Wynn’s man-made wonder. From the outside, the Wynn Lake of Dreams looks like a small, tree-covered hill, but inside the resort, maverick mogul Steve Wynn has created an Alpine-like getaway, complete with a 150-foot mountain, 40-foot waterfall and old foliage repurposed from the site’s original Desert Inn golf course. Enjoy an evening meal on the terraces at SW Steakhouse or Lakeside, or a cocktail at Parasol Down, and watch as the lake comes alive in brilliant hues, with the aid of more than four thousand lights, holographic images and music for a diverting multimedia experience.

Tour the Strip for less than $10. Ride one of the city’s pimped-out double-decker buses that troll the Strip all the way to Downtown and back. Known as the Deuce, these buses come cheap at $6 for a two-hour ride or $8 to hop on and off all day. Twenty bucks will get you a three-day pass.

Rise above the Stratosphere. There are two reasons to follow Las Vegas Boulevard as far north as Sahara Avenue. One is Bonanza Gifts, which claims to be the “world’s largest gift store,” and offers a pleasantly kitschy ride back in time to the Route 66 era. A very different ride is in store if you head north along the boulevard to the tower where all the shrieks are coming from. Stratosphere, the tallest building in Nevada, has at its summit a quartet of thrill rides: Big Shot, X-Scream, Insanity: The Ride and SkyJump – all as terrifying as they sound.

Have an adventure. If betting your life’s savings on “red” on the roulette table isn’t heart-pounding enough for you, go to where the real thrill-seekers hang. A trip to Vegas no longer automatically means an indoor vacation in smoky, windowless buildings. The desert surrounding the city offers ample opportunity to get away from the hotel-casino action and create some white-knuckle adventures of your own. Want your own Top Gun experience? Visit Sky Combat Ace where you have a chance to fly your own two-passenger plane. If actual “hands-on-the-controls” sounds a little too interactive for you, the stomach-churning drops on the zip-lines at Flightlinez Bootleg Canyon might serve you better – you only need strap yourself in and ride. Other adventures abound, whether you prefer simulated combat experience, like the sort provided at Battlefield Vegas, or tearing through the desert basin on an ATV.

Take in a water-based show. The most eye-catching attraction at the Bellagio, a supersize, all-American Italian villa, is the signature dancing fountains. The geysers – more than 1,200 in all – are nestled in the eight-and-a-half acre lake in front of Bellagio on the Strip. They erupt every half-hour beginning at 3:00 p.m. and every 15 minutes from 8:00 p.m. until midnight. Consider the fountains a free appetizer for Bellagio’s main attraction: Cirque du Soleil’s most sophisticated show, O, comprises more than 70 swimmers, divers, aerialists, contortionists and clowns performing acrobatic feats around a pool/stage containing 1.5 million gallons of water.

Go on a bar crawl. There’s no shortage of deeply off-kilter places to raise a glass in Las Vegas, but the Mermaid Bar & Lounge at Silverton is the most extraordinary. Sip cocktails in the company of silver-finned fish-women – the Mermaid Lounge features a bar that faces an underwater tank populated by its aquatic namesake. If mermaids (and a few drinks) don’t put you in a Las Vegas state of mind, nothing says “Sin City” like a Polynesian hallucinations and a headful of rum. You’re likely to find both at Frankie’s Tiki Room toward the northern end of the Strip, a colorful, local dive that will open a whole new Vegas dimension for you. If going off-Strip is too outré for you, enjoy your weirdness in safer but endlessly fascinating watering holes like the Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan.

See a show. There is no easier way to let the fun flow over you than taking in a show while in town. With eight Cirque du Soleil shows and dozens of other options around the area, hitting up one of the city’s production shows is one of the most popular activities for Vegas visitors. There are plenty of excellent choices, including Blue Man Group’s rhythmic take on alienation at the Luxor, or Penn & Teller’s magic secrets revealed at Rio. Or catch the smash-hit Four Seasons musical, Jersey Boys – one of the city’s most enduring Broadway shows – at Paris Las Vegas.

Take a break from the Strip. Suffering from sensory overload? Rancho Drive, northwest of town, offers a different side of old Vegas. Take the bus as far as U.S. 95 to the historic Las Vegas Springs Preserve, a huge site given over to botanical gardens, nature trails and museum exhibits. It takes a while to adjust the eyes to the unwonted green. If you’d like to push farther into the wild, head out to Mt. Charleston, just 30 miles northwest of the city. The summer months afford brilliant hiking trails in a climate much cooler in Las Vegas.

Hang with the Downtown crowd. Fremont Street, east of the Strip, is Vegas’ new and evolving hip, urbane neighborhood. What was once a blighted and dangerous stretch of road has become home to gobs of trendy bars, restaurants, shops and even independent bookstores as Downtown is reinvigorated. Swill cocktails at the Beauty Bar or the nearby indie-rock joint Griffin. The recently reopened Atomic Liquors – which used to host viewing parties on its roof for atomic-bomb test-detonations – is ground zero for where old Vegas meets new.

Lounge around. Lounge acts have been a staple of Las Vegas entertainment since the original paint was drying on the Flamingo. No doubt the pinnacle of Vegas lounges has long since passed, but there are still many “lounging” options around the city. That means you’ll want to edify yourself at one of these local institutions. At Harrah’s, head to the Piano Bar for Peter Vallee’s not-to-be-missed Fat Elvis impersonation, or, for the more upscale-minded among you, the vibe at Lily Bar & Lounge at Bellagio is like a low-key nightclub. The part-Elton-John-owned lounge Fizz, right off the casino floor in Caesars Palace, feels intimate but not crowded, and is an excellent spot to view some amazing artwork – displayed on every visible wall inside – while grabbing a cocktail.

Don’t go hungry. Las Vegas’ days of cheap, uninspired buffets and shrimp cocktail are long gone. (For the most part. You can still get an excellent shrimp cocktail at Du-Par’s in the Golden Gate.) Dining options here rival the finest culinary cities in the world, due in large part to the influx of celebrity-chef-helmed restaurants over the last two decades, beginning with Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in 1992. In the years since, Joël Robuchon, Nobu Matsuhisa, Daniel Boulud and many other top-kitchen contenders have opened one or more restaurants here, including L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Nobu, and DB Brasserie. Menus range from high-end steak-and-seafood to unparalleled Asian dishes to pitch-perfect Italian, French or Indian offerings – and everything else besides. The rising culinary tide has lifted diners’ boats across the Vegas Valley, as the increased competition has stepped up the food game in all corners of the city, with even the lowliest strip mall housing a potentially amazing restaurant. If you want to get away from the larger, more crowded establishments, you can’t go wrong at Thai heaven Lotus of Siam or Downtown’s breakfast and lunch joint, Eat.

CS3_May17_624x358px.jpgGetting Down to Business

Although there are more than enough non-laundry distractions to fill your every minute while in Las Vegas, the real reason you’re making the trip is to enhance your business. For potential investors and newcomers to the vended laundry industry, we asked some Clean Show veterans to share their thoughts on this major event:

Jim Whitmore
Sunshine Express Laundry Center
Gloucester, Mass.

My business is going well and all trending is positive – and Clean 2017 can help me build upon my marketing efforts. I’m interested in seeing anything new, as well as meeting and networking with friends and associates. Specifically, I’ll be searching out anything that can save me energy or time.

Clean 2017, as with all of the past Clean events, is a great opportunity to make yourself known to the people who can help you the most in every aspect of your enterprise. Be there!

Bob Meuschke
Family Laundry II
Kansas City, Mo.

I go to the Clean Show for two reasons. First, as president of the Mo-Kan CLA, I go to be able to report back to our members, regarding all of the newer products and latest industry trends. Of course, I also go for myself and my own business – I’m always thinking of new directions in which I can take my laundry.

Marty Mullican
Owasso Express Laundry
Owasso, Okla.

For our business, the Clean Show advantage is that everything is on display, all at once, side-by-side, with industry/product experts on site to answer every question. Looking for new or better laundry bags? There will be six to eight different sources, all with samples that can easily be compared. Make your choice and get a “show special” deal. Want to compare and contrast water heating systems or looking for a new change machine? They will all be there with actual models on display and factory experts to answer any question. Looking for a wash-dry-fold POS system – see and try them all, same-day, back-to-back.

The educational sessions also are very worthwhile. Lastly, for the vended laundry owner, the first time you walk out onto the show floor and see a bigger-than-giant commercial tunnel wash system in operation – it’s mind-blowing!

We’re refining and optimizing our wash-dry-fold process and will be looking at everything from specialized chemicals to packaging to process. Most of the commercial laundry suppliers we use will be there, and we’re looking to compare different products at the show side-by-side. We’ll make sure to capitalize on those “show special” deals, too. Participating in the Clean Show helps us make better business decisions and save time.

In addition, this is the first year we’re taking our store manager. In terms of professional development, she needs to see everything the industry has to offer. The Clean Show is a great place to see new and better ideas in vended laundry. The show helps laundry owners and operators think outside the box, and see new and different ideas.

There is so much to see and experience. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Sort of like going to Disney World, it’s best to have a plan and a list of the things you really want to spend time seeing and digging into. And, of course, wear comfortable shoes!

Megan Willette
Saint Peter Laundry Co.
St. Peter, Minn.

I’m a single-store owner, open two and a half years. I’m looking to get a discount on a couple of new laundry carts, as well as to look at seating options of a certain size. Furthermore, I surveyed my customers, and they told me I need to offer water in my vending machine, so I will be looking at vending machine options as well.

I also love Las Vegas and am bringing my son and daughter along so that we can have some fun – and so that they can better understand my business.

Daniel Sofranko
Perfect Wash Express Laundry Center
Newport Beach, Calif.

For me, it’s more than just the new and exciting machines and intricate displays the show has to offer, the Clean Show is a great opportunity to catch up with the people behind the businesses we deal with, or to meet the people on the other end of the phone or email. I also have gotten to know quite a few other laundry owners during my short tenure in the industry, and the Clean Show in Las Vegas will be a terrific chance to “catch up.”

Of course, the CLA always offers a dynamite lineup of educational sessions that get the mental juices flowing with new information or innovative ways of looking at old ideas. I’m looking forward to the “Drycleaners & Laundromat Owners: Partnering for Future Profits” and “Doing Well by Doing Good: How Laundromat Owners are Giving Back” sessions. I enjoy getting out of my daily routine and climbing back above my business to touch up or expand the big picture.

This year, my fiancé and parents will be attending their first Clean Show. I’m looking forward to introducing them to the industry from the inside.

Beverly Blank
Beverly’s Concierge Laundry Services
Los Angeles, Calif.

I will be looking for and becoming familiar with a host of ancillary services that I can promote to my laundry-owner clients who are looking to increase their bottom lines. I’m looking forward to checking out the latest equipment to enlighten my clients who want to provide fluff-and-fold services. And I’m looking forward to networking with other like-minded laundromat and drycleaning operators who want to share their successes and challenges.

Andy Merendino
Suds Yer Duds
Carneys Point, N.J.

I’m going to Clean 2017 to discover ideas for dealing with new competition and ways to combat the “free dry” model. I’m also interested in security and sales ideas for unattended stores, new ancillary products, cost-effective advertising ideas, and energy-saving and solar options.

John Henderson
Liberty Laundry
Broken Arrow, Okla.

This will be my fourth Clean Show, and I’m looking forward to it. In the realm of equipment, I’ll be looking for a commercial flat iron, as we are interested in expanding our services to do a better job on tablecloths and other linens. We’re taking over an 800-square-foot lease space that became available next door to one of our three stores, so we’ll now have the room.

However, to me the best parts of Clean are the networking opportunities and just plain having fun with friends and family. Those CLA parties are legendary!

Ken Barrett
Washin’ Coin Laundries
Anniston/Oxford, Ala.

This will be my second Clean Show. When I first got into the industry, I couldn’t make the first few due to scheduling issues, but now I schedule around the Clean Show.

This year, I’m looking forward to meeting more owners in person and spending time just talking about the business and discussing ideas. Although I don’t have any major projects in the planning stages right now, I like to walk the aisles and see what’s new. I usually have a list of questions for the factory technicians that deal with the various equipment on display. And, of course, I will be attending most of the seminars as well.

Bill Bakos
B&D Laundry
Ocala, Fla.

As someone who’s been in the business for 26 years, I have only two things to say. First, if you’re not already a member of the CLA, join now. And, second, attending the Clean Show is a must. I guarantee it’s worth your time and effort – and you may even learn something.

Mark Murray
Adrian Fabricare Center
Adrian, Mich.

When I go to a show, I enjoy the educational programs the most – particularly any roundtable or panel discussions, where I can spend time in a room with operators, hearing about their views on a particular topic. That way, I can select the subject and learn from other operators and their experiences.

Of course, looking at all of the new equipment and meeting with old friends is definitely fun, too.

Dave Menz
Queen City Coin Laundry
Amelia, Ohio

The best advice I have for owners is to attend as many seminars as you can. They are packed full of information that can only make you a better operator. Also, don’t be afraid to ask tons of questions at the booths – there’s a lot of knowledge out there, so don’t leave without it.

We are primarily interested in getting three things from the Clean Show: building and strengthening relationships within our industry, obtaining and researching information regarding hybrid payment systems, and researching drop-off POS systems.

The knowledge we gained from the last few Clean Shows has taken our organization to another level. We plan to continue our upward trajectory with the knowledge we gain from this one.


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