SC Johnson has been manufacturing cleaning chemicals and supplies for well over a century. Samuel Curtis Johnson founded the company in 1886 in Racine, WI. In addition to SC Johnson’s consumer product line, the company also has a long history in the industrial and institutional (I&I) market. While SC Johnson spun off its professional business in the late 1990s, the company made its return to the market in 2016 and decided there was no better place than ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America to announce its reemergence.
“We launched our first product in the professional market in the 1930’s,” says Fisk Johnson, SC Johnson chairman and CEO. “We eventually spun-off the division in the late ‘90s with the idea at the time that it would be better off as a free-standing entity. We’ve taken a circuitous route since then and have always maintained a heart and a passion for this category. As a company, we’re absolutely thrilled to be back in the I&I market and were excited to announce the launch of a new SC Johnson Professional line at ISSA/INTERCLEAN 2016. We think we can bring a lot of strength to this business with a deep knowledge from our consumer side and a strong commitment to innovation, quality, and service, which are vital in this sector. We’re excited to see the opportunity for growth for us.”
Destination for Decisions
Whether it is announcing a return to the I&I cleaning business or showcasing its latest innovations, ISSA/INTERCLEAN has always been an obvious destination for SC Johnson. “I’ve been in the professional cleaning industry for a bit and when you look at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN trade show, there is no question that it is the preeminent vehicle for connecting with decision makers not just here in North America, but across the world,” says Mark Miller, vice president and general manager global professional markets for SC Johnson Professional. “You can connect on a face-to-face basis with all of your business partners across the entire distribution channel and see the latest technology that is poised to come into the market. Plus, in recent years, ISSA has done an absolutely fantastic job of presenting the industry with a wonderful education program at its show.”
A jansan industry veteran, Miller has exhibited and attended numerous iterations of ISSA/INTERCLEAN through the years, both in North America and abroad. He notes that there is definitely a difference between the trade shows in the United States and across the pond. “The Amsterdam show [ISSA/INTERCLEAN Amsterdam] is really a different animal from the North America show,” Miller says. “First, from a superficial level, you can drink wine while walking around on the show floor in Europe. Plus the Amsterdam show also has a coffee bar. It has a more relaxed, informal vibe compared to the North America show.”
Another difference Miller has noticed between the two regions is what the shows focus on. “The European business is more equipment centric, and the North America business is chemical centric,” Miller says. “Part of it is a matter of perspective. In Europe, cleaning is viewed more as a profession instead of a job. That attitude changes the way you deliver solutions to customers and the amount of time you put into the training, equipment, and education of the workforce. In Europe, they don’t mind training; they’ll put more into educating their workforce because they don’t have the turnover the United States often has.”
Miller says the show floor itself has also changed over the years. “One development that has come across in the last decade or so at the show is that the booths themselves have really opened up dramatically,” he says. “Years ago, the booths used to be very stand alone, almost walled cities. Now that designers have opened up their floor plans, it’s made not just the booths, but the show floor itself lighter and more welcoming. It’s now easy for attendees to see what’s happening, and that’s been a great improvement overall.”
Sweat the Small Things
SC Johnson puts a lot of time and effort into developing its booth presence. “Sometimes it feels like a project that never ends,” says Miller. “For a show in October, we’ll start planning around January or February to ensure we get it right. The first thing we do as an organization is decide the message we want to present and the impact we want to have. By comparison, putting up a booth on the show floor is relatively easy. Understanding what you want to deliver to attendees and being consistent with that throughout the show is the real trick.”
Getting SC Johnson’s message out to show attendees requires an intense focus for Miller and his team. “For us, it really comes into play with the little things,” he says. “We try to consider a lot of minute details, such as how do we greet people? What products do we put in front of the booth or at eye level? How do we best train the booth staff? We always take a lot of time planning all those touch points. It’s easily a 10-month effort. The actual booth itself is closer to a seven- month process including designing and revising. Of course, we always have to understand the dimensions and the restrictions of the exhibition hall.”
The time invested in developing and delivering a targeted message to attendees is critical to a successful show according to Miller. “Some exhibitors judge their success on the number of leads they get or meetings they host,” he says.
“For me, it’s a little softer; I want to know how many connections did we make? What impact did we have on the people we talked with? Did we talk to the right people? Every show we always have a message we want to deliver, like for example, in Chicago [at ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America 2016], we wanted to get the word out about our return to the I&I market.”
Reflecting on the last show, 2016’s edition was very successful for Miller and SC Johnson. “One of the greatest things about going to the most recent show was we had the chance to re-enter the market with a very specific mission,” says Miller. “When our company looks at the I&I market, we see an enormous opportunity to be a driving innovator in this market. ISSA/INTERCELAN North America provides a phenomenal platform for all exhibitors to get the word out and connect with the most important leaders in our industry—not just last year, but on an annual basis.”
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 edition of ISSA Today.