Why should you come to the trade show? It’s the most comprehensive collection of the lessons from the past, the practices and successes of the present, and the outlook for the future of the industry and your business as part of it.

How fortunate I feel to have spent my life working to bring “clean” the awareness it deserves. In the early years, I often felt like a one-man show. I was often on the road giving presentations, writing books and appearing on television – all the while running several cleaning-related businesses back home. I even attended my first ISSA convention alone.

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Once I got there, though, everything changed.

There, on the massive convention floor was everyone and everything about the cleaning industry in one glorious package. I thought I’d died and gone to Janitor Heaven. I began attending ISSA conventions back in the Jack Ramaley era, but would return many, many times to give presentations, network, attend presentations and serve as a spokesperson in the booths of well-known companies such as Eureka and 3M, among others.

What ISSA provided then and continues to provide now is something I think many of us fail to fully appreciate. Their annual gatherings offer an instant introduction to an entire industry. It would have taken me years to connect with all of the people I met during my first ISSA convention. I left having learned about better tools and methods for growing my businesses. It gave me a strong foundation to go forth and sell the value of “clean” to the world.

An important mission of any association is to establish and promote cohesiveness among its members. Many organizations and associations have come and gone, but ours has been enhanced thanks to all the volunteers who unselfishly wade through all the pitches to select only the best for inclusion in the ISSA convention, both on the floor and in the classroom sessions. You truly feel that cohesiveness when you’re attending an ISSA convention. Rather than speaking badly about their direct competitors across the aisle, business representatives on the floor always respect each other. Everyone is cordial and helpful. This is pretty rare at an industry trade show.

Being almost eighty years old, I’ve known most of these companies since the 1950s. Over the years, many of their names have changed as a result of mergers with larger companies. It’s a touch sad, but a small price to pay for progress. I’ve also seen businesses passed down to the next generation. I miss Marvin Klein in the Portion Pac Booth, but his son is there carrying on, which is great. I also remember one of ISSA’s most loyal vendors, the Consolino family, the dad and a line of sons, always on the front row at every session they could make.

I have been able to preserve much of the history of our industry and ISSA through the nationally prominent Museum of Clean that I founded in my hometown of Pocatello, Idaho. Center stage in the museum, visitors will find Danny, the seven-foot-tall, four-hundred-pound sculpture armed with a stainless steel mop, a five gallon bucket of wax and a cap with ISSA proudly emblazoned on it. Danny was donated to the museum by the Holtzman family and John Garfinkel. Danny’s presence gives me a chance to explain to visitors that our industry and ISSA are second to none!

Among the exhibits, visitors will also find a couple of Charlie Rich’s square buffers. Good old Charlie, he spent his life trying to convince us that oscillating buffers had a place in floor care. I hope he is looking down from Janitor Heaven and can see that his cause is now being taken seriously, thanks to the attention this idea has received at ISSA shows.

A few years back, my friend “Clean Gene” of White Coast Supply, and one of ISSA’s biggest champions, stopped by the Museum of Clean. What a treat to reminisce with him about all the annual conventions we’d attended together. There we sat amid the many exhibits that serve as a tribute to “clean” and the amazing industry that has grown up around this noble concept. As we prepare for this year’s convention, it’s important to remember that ISSA is and always has been YOUR association just as the Museum of Clean is YOUR museum. They are here to serve you and help you value the past, learn from the present and prepare for the future. 

Don Aslett is founder of Varsity Facility Services and The Museum of Clean. Known as “America’s #1 Cleaning Expert,” he is a sought-after media source, popular speaker and bestselling author.