New Orleans to Host Laundry Industry’s Largest Trade Show and Convention

The Crescent City, The Birthplace of Jazz, Mardi Gras City, The City That Care Forgot, America’s Most Interesting City, Hollywood South… and, of course, The Big Easy.

New Orleans is referred to by several different monikers. However, from June 20-23, this sultry southern town nestled in the Mississippi River’s crescent will be best known to laundry owners simply as the host of Clean Show 2019.

Now in its 42nd year, the Clean Show is returning to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for the first time since 2013. Vended laundry owners and other textile-care industry professionals from around the world will gather to discover the latest and most innovative technology, products and systems their industries have to offer. In fact, Clean is the largest textile-care exposition in the world featuring working equipment and extensive industry education.


Brian Wallace, President/CEO of the Coin Laundry Association, provides a brief overview of what to expect at The Clean Show this year.

Learn More and Register for Clean 2019

The last Clean Show, held in Las Vegas in 2017, was named one of Trade Show Executive’s “50 Fastest-Growing Shows” of that year. The show was honored in all three categories of the awards competition: net square feet of exhibit space, number of exhibiting companies and total attendance. Clean ’17 attracted more than 11,000 visitors and 481 exhibitors to Las Vegas.

Over the years, the show also has moved with the times, developing a strong social media presence as well. Attendees and exhibitors can receive updates on the upcoming event, registration information and show facts on Clean’s Facebook and Twitter pages. And, as social media continues to play an expanded role in today’s communication, the Clean Show increasingly interacts with attendees, answering questions on its various social media platforms to better engage with its followers.

According to Clean Show statistics, 94 percent of attendees are business owners, executives or managers. And, every other year, the show brings those individuals face to face with hundreds of industry exhibitors.

Earlier this year, Messe Frankfurt – an international trade show and event organizer based in Germany – purchased the Clean Show from its five sponsoring associations. As part of the acquisition, the trade organizations have agreed to maintain their close involvement with the show.

As with past Clean Shows, the 2019 event is sponsored jointly by the
Coin Laundry Association; the Association for Linen Management; the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute; the Textile Care Allied Trades Association; and TRSA, the Association for the Linen, Uniform and Facility Services. And these sponsors will be providing attendees with several hours of educational sessions, in conjunction with the trade show.

For vended laundry owners, the CLA will be covering such topics as:

  • Laundries Connecting Communities
  • Social Media: Marketing and Measurement
  • CLA Connect LIVE: Interactive Idea Exchange
  • Laundromat Lifecycles: Planning for the Future
  • Wash-Dry-Fold 2.0: What’s Next for Full-Service Laundry?
  • Introduction to Laundromats for Investors
  • Top 10 Secrets First-Time Laundromat Owners Must Know

This year’s show attendees should be careful not to get too bogged down in strictly work. After all, tourism is the economic force that drives New Orleans, and the city has always responded with great hospitality, great music, great food, great atmosphere and fun unlike any other host city.

[In next month’s issue, we’ll take a closer look at some of the restaurants, clubs and must-see attractions The Big Easy has to offer Clean Show attendees.]

Down to Business

Although there are definitely more than enough non-laundry distractions to fill your every minute while in New Orleans, 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:

Jeff Hooper
Salem Laundry Company
Salem, Mass.

Number of Clean Shows Attended: I’ve been to every Clean Show since 1991, except for the most recent one in 2017, due to a scheduling conflict.

I always like to see old friends in the industry and hear what they’re up to, as well as making new acquaintances at the show. Of course, taking a look at the new equipment on the market is helpful. And getting to speak with the top executives and techs for the different manufacturers is invaluable.

I’ve enjoyed every Clean Show I attended and have always left happy that I made the trip. It’s the only place where I can see every manufacturer and compare each of them. I can ask questions directly to those in the know and those who can give me the correct answer.

Brian Brunckhorst
Advantage Laundry
Dublin, Calif.

Number of Clean Shows Attended: Eight

There are three things that are at the top of our list this year for Clean. First, there is no other place where you can directly compare manufacturers’ equipment at the same time. We always look forward to seeing the latest technology in the self-service laundry industry. As we continue to expand our operations, we specifically will be looking at washers, dryers and payment systems.

Second, and almost as important, we’re excited to participate again in the LaundryCares Foundation’s Free Laundry Day. These are great events, which allow us to give back. What’s more, this year’s event will highlight childhood literacy – reading is such a critical step in the learning process for children, and we love that our industry is promoting literacy through laundromats. In fact, we’re in the process of putting literacy centers into our stores so that we can reach families in our local communities, too.

Third are the educational seminars. They are always interesting, and we always learn something new. And just picking up one little nugget of information, can pay for the entire trip… and then some.

Of course, we love the networking with fellow laundry owners, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. And the CLA always throws the best party during the show.

Over the years, there are so many highlights. Aside from personal accolades – such as being named CLA Member of the Year in 2013 and having the Golden State Coin Laundry Association named the Affiliate of the Year in 2013 – I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to speak at several Clean Shows. I love being able to impart some of the knowledge I’ve learned over the years to others, and I’m grateful for this industry, which has forever changed my family’s future.

In addition, some of the best deals on equipment can be hammered out at the show, because exhibitors are running show specials. I’ve saved so much on past purchases that it makes going to Clean a no-brainer, if new equipment is in your future.

The Clean Show will help you run your business smarter through its free educational seminars and the new products on display. Running a better business comes down to systems and education. Being able to improve your business system, either through technology or education, reduces the time you need to spend working in your business. This means you can spend more time working on your business – developing marketing, social media campaigns, etc. – and increasing your bottom line profit. And that frees up your time to do the other things in life. For me, I love to travel, spend quality time with my family and volunteer for organizations that are important to us. The Clean Show has helped me do this.

Len Bazile, Jr.
Dirty Laundry Linen Service
New Orleans

Number of Clean Shows Attended: Two

We entered the industrial laundry market in 2015, and we’re excited to see what’s new on the large-scale side. In the past, we ran a commercial operation out of one of our vended laundries. Back then, it was interesting to see what was new from the industrial side. However, now that we are in the industrial market, it’s even more exciting that we could potentially purchase some of these new technologies.

In addition, I think the leadership and business seminars serve both the vended and industrial laundry markets well.

Albert Bingenheimer
Neighborhood Laundromat
Midlothian, Va.

Number of Clean Shows Attended: Two

I’ll be interested to see the latest technological innovations for payment systems and wash-dry-fold management, as well as remote management tools. Past show highlights for me have been finding additional revenue opportunities with regard to vending and wash-dry-fold services, along with staying current on the evolution of payment systems and technology enhancements for business management.

The Clean Show helps me to calibrate my management plan, with respect to other industry leaders. There tends to be a reluctance to change within this mature industry, but our customers are definitely changing.

Remodeling and investing in my business has really paid off for me. And technology platforms in our industry are changing rapidly. I’ve been waiting for a leading platform to emerge before choosing a payment system.

Jay Johnson
Monroe Laundry Company
Snohomish Laundry Company
Snohomish, Wash.

Number of Clean Shows Attended: Three

We have four owners at our company, each of which has a unique discipline used to manage the business. Two partners are technical/construction/maintenance-oriented. They spend time at the Clean Show learning about new equipment, infrastructure systems and maintenance tricks with various vendors – especially those involving washer/dryer equipment, lighting, heating/water systems, reclamation systems and so on. The other two partners have store operations, marketing and personnel interests. As a result, they will spend much of their time on POS systems, payment systems, retail products, maintenance supplies, etc.

Especially rewarding at Clean have been the opportunities to meet and network with our fellow laundry owners from various parts of the country. Keeping up with the technologies is perhaps the second most important reward for attending. The personal relationships developed with our manufacturer/distributor are enhanced during our show visits. Our normal horizon includes strictly the four walls of our physical locations and the market forces impacting our specific marketplaces. By contrast, the Clean Show’s networking opportunities and trade show add an expanded perspective that’s not typically available. The lessons learned, the stories shared and the exposure to the “next big thing” are worth every penny spent of attending the Clean Show.

Our trips to the Clean Show have helped us research POS software and develop a respectful relationship with equipment manufacturers, including shared troubleshooting. Also, Clean Show workshops have helped us with our media management/advertising, as well as research of security/alarm systems, new payment systems and other business tools.

There’s something about being buried in an industry trade show that reinvigorates one’s personal attitude and, if nothing else, makes one feel like they’re “on top of it.” If you don’t attend the Clean Show once in a while, you have to ask yourself: “What do I don’t know I don’t know?”

Paul ‘Paulie B’ Russo
Mr. Machine
Glendale, Ariz.

Number of Clean Shows Attended: One

New equipment is of interest to me. I like to stay current on all of the new features. Also, I like to meet other laundry owner friends of mine who I’ve met over the years on the CLA’s online forum.

Despite the fact that I’m an industry veteran, with 41 years of multi-store ownership in New York City, I enjoy not only discussing all things laundromat, but I enjoy learning new things and brainstorming with my other ’mat buddies.

The Clean Show keeps me current on all of the advances, new developments and tips from other vets in the industry. Plus, I enjoy helping industry newbies.

Heidi Thorsen
Lunar Laundry

Number of Clean Shows Attended: Three

Personally, at this year’s show, I will be looking at card/mobile payment systems. I also enjoy meeting the suppliers we use online and talking with new vendors.

To me, the most important aspects of the show are the educational sessions, the small group gatherings, our distributor’s party and the CLA’s networking events. I’ve found that by speaking with other owners I can get the most helpful information.

At past shows, I’ve learned new techniques for our wash-dry-fold business, the best choices for laundromat seating, pricing strategies, marketing ideas, uniform options and more – all from talking with other store owners. I’ve discovered that operators in my area don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing information; however, on a national level, most owners are open to discussing real numbers and trends without fear of direct competition.

In addition, I enjoy looking at the drycleaning booths on the trade show floor, to see all of their clever new gadgets – and to thank my lucky stars that I don’t have to work that hard in the laundromat industry!

Peter H. Mayberry
Anytime Laundry
Omaha, Neb.

Number of Clean Shows Attended: One

I look forward to seeing all of the new items coming onto the market, as well as being able to take deep dives into the equipment. With the manufacturers having all of their high-level representatives in attendance, it provides the unique experience. You can get answers to every question you may have about nearly anything. There is nothing better than being able to make a list of questions or concerns and then get everything on that list answered in great detail through the course of a few days. Being able to physically look at the specific product while your questions are being answered also is invaluable.

With that said, the real highlights for me are the relationships I’ve made. It’s wonderful to be able to talk to so many people who are in a very similar situation as me, or have been through a similar situation. No matter what you want to do – whether it’s to run one store and keep a day job or build 100 stores and develop a regional brand – the chances are very high that there is someone in attendance who has already done whatever it is you want to accomplish and who has already charted the road map. Even more surprising is that most people are fully willing to share that road map with you.

The key to this show are the people you meet and the wealth of knowledge those people possess. There is no situation or circumstance that you are dealing with or will deal with that someone else at Clean hasn’t already been through.

Dave Menz
Queen City Coin Laundry
Amelia, Ohio

Number of Clean Shows Attended: Three

I’ve never been to New Orleans, so I’m definitely looking forward to the visit. Specifically at the show, I always look most forward to networking with the industry’s leading operators. Beyond that, I enjoy the educational opportunities and seeing the latest advances in technology for our industry.

Probably my biggest Clean Show highlight was learning about the opportunities in pickup and delivery at the show in Atlanta in 2015. To me, it was eye-opening and, in fact, life-changing.

The Clean Show provides so much industry-specific knowledge that I always come away a more knowledgeable store owner than when I arrived. I’m kind of an information junkie, so I can never get enough.

Paul Hansen
Hanco Enterprises Inc.

Number of Clean Shows Attended: Three

When planning my trip to the show, I always try to have a prime objective. For instance, one time I was looking to add ozone to one of my laundries, so that was my main focus. I learned all I could about the technology, the manufacturers and how it could help my business. As a result, during a scheduled retool, I ended up adding an ozone system to one of my stores. At another show, I was looking mainly to investigate various POS systems and pickup/delivery apps.

I also enjoy networking with others in the industry. Hearing about other owners’ ideas and business operations is always helpful and has certainly helped me continue to make sure I’m on the leading edge of the industry.

Michael Finkelstein
Associated Services Corp.
Danville, Va.

Number of Clean Shows Attended: Seven

I’m excited to see many of the presentations and seminars, which look very interesting and helpful. Of course, I’m also looking forward to seeing the latest equipment on the market, as well as getting together with other laundry operators and those in the industry to see what’s new with them.

There are so many new programs and changes going on these days with the CLA and the LaundryCares Foundation – more in the last two years than at any other time since I’ve been in the industry. I like seeing the continuing evolution of the vended laundry business. Each time I attend the show, I learn something that helps me stay ahead of the curve. It definitely helps me run a better business.

In fact, I recently spoke with someone who currently isn’t in the industry but is considering it. My advice to him was to join the CLA and go to the Clean Show in New Orleans. I told him the most successful operators will be in attendance and that he would gain a lot of perspective on the laundry business.

Ken Barrett
Washin Coin Laundry
Golden Springs Laundry Company
Anniston/Oxford, Ala.

Number of Clean Shows Attended: Two

Each year I attend the Clean Show, it’s even better than the previous event. This is due to the fact that the longer I’m in the business, the more I learn and the better questions I ask. At my first Clean in Atlanta in 2015, I spent most of the time just walking around looking at what is possible in this industry and the related industries. I was able to meet many people who I had corresponded with online – other owners, as well as the Coin Laundry Association and PlanetLaundry staff and Board of Directors.

By the time I attended the show in Las Vegas in 2017, I had a list of questions that I wanted to ask various manufacturer techs, in order to better understand my equipment and its capabilities. I also was able to speak with manufacturers of ancillary equipment that I had seen advertised.

I’ve also attended nearly all of the training sessions. From each one, there’s always something I can implement in my business operation or marketing plan. These sessions have a great mix of information for new owners, as well as experienced operators.

The best part of these shows has always been talking with other owners. I’ve met many great people who are willing to talk about their business struggles and to offer suggestions or a push off the fence.

I’ve found that many newer operators feel they don’t have anything to contribute when they’re around veteran owners. But they’re seeing the business from a different perspective, and if they’ve been owners even for six months, they have many answers to the questions of someone who has just bought a store.

I don’t think it’s possible to attend the Clean Show and not become a stronger operator because of it. After meeting people in person who you’ve “talked with” on the CLA’s online forum, you can dig deeper into industry topics. At the most recent Clean Show in Las Vegas, I was on the shuttle bus back to the hotel and saw someone I knew but had never met in person, yet we were able to talk like old friends.

For first-time attendees to the Clean Show, remember that you have something in common with every other laundry owner you will meet in New Orleans. So, walk up and say hello. I’m willing to bet that most of the people you meet at the show will want to talk about laundromats as much as you do.

Learn More and Register for Clean 2019
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