In an attempt to answer the concerns and frustrations that many distributors have expressed about opening ISSA membership to end users, John Garfinkel, executive director of ISSA, spoke at four official expansion forums during ISSA/INTERCLEAN in Chicago last month: one before the International Custodial Advisors Network (ICAN), one before The United Group, a distributor buying group based in Monroe, La., and two that were open to all ISSA members.

While there was good discussion at forums sponsored by ICAN and The United Group, attendance at the open forums was abysmal.

“There were either three or four of us there that weren’t employed by the ISSA,” says Barry Gore, president of General Floorcraft, Paterson, N.J., and one of the open forum’s few participants. “The average distributor doesn’t care as much about ISSA membership as he does about opening up the trade show. They probably see it as a done deal already, and they think their comments don’t mean much.”

Garfinkel has two alternative theories that might explain the expansion forums’ poor attendance: “It could mean that most distributors are OK with end-user membership, so they didn’t come. But, more than likely, it’s because we also had 14 expansion discussions at our district meetings.”

The entire ISSA membership (both manufacturers and distributors) will vote on end-user membership in 2004. Currently, ISSA has not set a specific date for voting to occur.

Throughout the year, ISSA district meeting attendees were surveyed, and results showed that 95 percent of manufacturers and 82 percent of distributors were in favor of membership expansion. Still, the low attendance at open forums designed to discuss such a hot topic puzzles Garfinkel.

“Aside from those survey results, I’ve received some e-mails and letters, particularly from distributors, who are concerned about how we’re doing this,” says Garfinkel. “While I answer each of those, I don’t understand why they don’t come to these opportunities for open dialogue.”

Although expanding ISSA membership to end users is the issue on the table, some distributors say that the 1999 decision to open the trade show to end users was more significant in their eyes.

“I went to the first ISSA trade show that included end users in Chicago in 1999,” says John Gibson, president of JCO Supply in San Marcos, Texas, who began his membership in 1980 and left ISSA shortly after the decision to open the trade show to end users. “I saw manufacturers stop talking to distributors and literally turn to end users to talk about selling direct. Why would a distributor go to a show where he’s in competition with the exhibitors?”

In attempting to produce a trade show that reaches the entire U.S. cleaning industry, Garfinkel says that the ISSA is following the lead of every other major industry. “If you look at the top 200 industry trade shows in the United States, we are the last to bring the end customer to the show,” he says. “In fact, ISSA ranks in the top 100 industry trade shows, and we’re by far the last to open up our trade show in that category.”

ISSA leadership wants to model the annual U.S. trade show after its European version in Amsterdam, which has experienced widespread success.

“The ISSA/INTERCLEAN show in Amsterdam will draw 30,000 visitors and works extremely well,” says Garfinkel.

However, there may be limitations in modeling the ISSA’s U.S. trade show after its European counterpart, says Gore. “The European cleaning show is a different kind of market,” he says. “Yes, there are a lot more [end user] attendees, but they don’t have nearly as much buying power. You have a lot of small one-person companies at those shows. That’s what a lot of contractors are.”

If distributors have concerns about end-user membership, they are encouraged to contact ISSA, says Garfinkel.


Graffiti Study Results
The City of Portland recently sponsored a study of graffiti removal, which was carried out by the Center for a New American Dream, Reading, Pa. The Center’s approach was to rank frequently used graffiti-removal products in five categories, from least hazardous to most hazardous. According to Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development, the study offers valuable information on sustainable removal. The study is free to the public and is available at the Center’s site.

G-P Considers Sale
Georgia-Pacific Corp., Atlanta, recently announced that it is exploring strategic alternatives for its building products distribution business, including a possible sale. The building products distribution business, which is separate from the building products manufacturing segment, had net sales of $3.77 billion in 2002.

NYC Seeks To Go Green
New York City officials recently announced the creation of a sustainable building competition to showcase how green building principals can be incorporated into existing and new building stock. In addition to the city and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), other partners include the American Institute of Architects, Earthpledge, the New York Department of Environmental Protection and the Museum of the City of New York. All entries must be submitted by January 15, 2004. Visit for details.

Clean Bathroom Bill Passes
The California legislature passed Bill 1124 that requires school districts to make clean bathrooms a priority when using state funds from a restricted facilities maintenance account. The purpose is to ensure that the washrooms are functioning and meeting local hygiene standards.


Truvox International, Southampton, U.K., a manufacturer and supplier of floor machines and escalator cleaners, recently announced the acquisition of Cimex, a specialty floor cleaning machine company.

Simultaneously, Truvox announced that the sole importer of Cimex machines into the United States is Todd Jordan of Jordan Power Equipment Co., Tallmadge, Ohio, who will do business as Cimex USA.

Truvox is also seeking to build up on its existing Cimex distributor network with the appointment of new high-caliber distributors in key geographic markets.


The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), announced in late October that a final rule on contract unbundling has been published in The Federal Register.

“Today’s action will help provide more federal contracting opportunities for small business,” said SBA Administrator Hector Barreto on October 20. “When contracts are bundled together and small businesses are excluded from federal contract opportunities, our country suffers.”

Contract bundling refers to the practice of combining smaller contracts into one larger contract to simplify the contracting process and contract administration, a practice that became widespread in the mid-1990s.

The new rule in The Federal Register cleans up regulatory loopholes that once excluded smaller companies. Smaller jan/san distributors who have failed to secure accounts with government buildings in the past should now encounter fewer obstacles.

In the October issue of Sanitary Maintenance magazine, the Editor’s Note stated that Alex Monteith, president of Quaker City Paper, York. Pa., “demonstrated his commitment to his employees by selling them half the company.” Technically, Monteith did not sell employees the company because he did not own the company. The company was sold by Paul E. Newcomer, the owner of the firm since 1957 and now CEO of Quaker City. However, Monteith did help in promoting and facilitating the transfer of ownership from Newcomer to Quaker City employees.