ABC Compounding Co., Inc. was founded in Atlanta, GA, by business partners Armistead, Belleisle, and Cooper in 1950. Over the years, the company changed hands and is now a privately owned family business that manufactures a variety of janitorial products under its AERO house brand and for private-label. The company joined ISSA in 1954 and has been attending and exhibiting at the association’s annual North America trade show for
The association’s trade shows always have been a big draw for ABC Compounding. “Before the Internet, nobody knew when you launched new products,” says Walker. “And that’s still a big reason, why they go to the show once a year—to see what’s new in the industry.
“I basically grew up in the business. I remember the first ISSA trade show my father took me to when I was 12 or 13. With all the freebies being given out by exhibitors, for a kid like me, it was like going trick-or-treating on Halloween, going from booth to booth, loading up on the giveaways.”
Rick Butera, director of marketing for ABC Compounding , has been in the jansan industry for more than three decades, and has attended ISSA trade shows for just as long. “I’ve been to every show since 1982,” he recalls. “I come every year because our industry changes considerably through the year due to consolidation. The show is crucial as it helps us to develop customer relationships and meet with people in a nonthreatening environment.”
Walker agrees with Butera’s assessment that the annual show is the place to see new products and meet new clients. “Everybody in the industry is all under one roof,” says Walker. “We get to see new technology and it also is a place to see our customers. Sure we see our clients independently during the year. But at ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade shows, we have the opportunity to sit down, have meetings with the presidents, the decision-makers we might not see all the time. ISSA/INTERCLEAN is our prime opportunity to have good meetings with the key stakeholders.”
A good week at the ISSA show can take months of planning for ABC Compounding. “Goodness gracious, we start planning hard for the trade show at least six months out,” says Walker. “Travel reservations are made; we discuss what products to bring to the show. We break out previous booth layouts and get feedback from sales people on how to increase booth traffic and make it more welcoming. We’ll hold meetings on graphics we want to change or keep. At ABC Compounding, we don’t have a full time trade show person so 15 or so people chip in to get us ready in addition to our regular work. And then you’ve got to make sure it all arrives and is set up for the show.”
A longtime ISSA/INTERCLEAN exhibitor, Butera knows a thing or two about having a successful booth.
“Don’t make your booth a static display,” he suggests. Make it interactive so people have something to do. Do whatever you can to create activity, which gets the crowd curious and more likely to stop by. The more people you can get in your booth, the better show you’ll have. Displays are boring; people walk by and keep going down the aisle. Make your booth exciting and interactive, make it happen!”
Walker echoes Butera’s tips and also has insight on the optimal location for a booth. “If you’re exhibiting for the first time, you would want at minimum a 20x20 island or peninsula booth so you stand out a bit,” says Walker. “But be careful you don’t go too big. Start small your first year, leave yourself space to scale up every year. Find the booth size and budget that gives you the best return on investment.“
Not only do Butera and Walker have helpful advice for exhibitors, but as long-time show participants, they also have a few tips for first-time ISSA/INTERCLEAN attendees. “Wear comfortable shoes!” says Walker.
“You’re going to be walking all day on concrete. Don’t go to the show planning on breaking a brand new pair in. In my years of attending, I’ve seen way too many sales people show up with brand new shoes and have blisters on their feet all week.”
Proper footwear planning is only part of the prescription for a perfect ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade show. “Try to preplan as much as you can,” advises Walker. “Scope out who you want to see well in advance.’ Before you go, ask yourself if there are specific people or companies you want to see. Secondly, figure out what areas of your business you are looking to grow. ISSA/INTERCLEAN is THE one time to see everyone in the industry. So if you think you’re going to walk every aisle and see every booth, there’s no way you’re going to make it through the week. There’s just only so much time in the day.”
For more than 60 years, ABC Compounding has been a part of ISSA/INTERCLEAN. With the successful trade show strategies that Walker and Butera have developed, there’s no reason that trend won’t continue for the next six decades.