Despite a challenging economy, ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America 2009, held in the association's headquarter city of Chicago from Oct. 6 through 9, exceeded expectations and drew the "Who's Who" of distributors, contract cleaners and in-house cleaning professionals. While attendance declined 9.5 percent from 2008, the show still drew the highest number of first-time attendee companies in recent years.

"While it was an appropriate management decision for our manufacturer, distributor and contract-services members to control the number of people they brought to the show in this challenging economy, the top managers and decision-makers from the major players were present, which ensured a solid event," says John Garfinkel, ISSA executive director, in a news release.

Overall, 14,248 people registered for the event, with the number of new customer companies visiting the show for the first time reaching 28 percent. In addition to the large numbers of distributors and end users who were new to the show, a number of manufacturers were also exhibiting for the first time Ñ of the 600-plus exhibitors, 89 were new. The show also had an international appeal with visitors from 64 countries outside the United States and Canada.

New to ISSA/INTERCLEAN was the ISSA Green Connections Center, visited by more than 80 percent of the distributors and end users in attendance. This area featured live product demos and discussions right on the show floor. It also offered a Green Product Showcase of the latest innovations in environmentally friendly, science-based and health-focused technology. Other highlights from this year's show included motivational speeches from former NFL coach Mike Ditka and keynote speaker Donny Deutsch.

ISSA presented numerous awards during the week. Mattie Chinks, president of Avmor Ltd., Laval, Quebec, Canada, received the Jack D. Ramaley Industry Distinguished Service Award for exceptional service to the industry, the association and its members. Don Lees, president of Big D Industries Inc., Oklahoma City, Okla., won the Manufacturer Representatives' Distinguished Service Award and W. Grant Watkinson, president of Coastwide Laboratories Inc. (part of the Staples Inc. family), Wilsonville, Ore., was honored with the YES Industry Special Achievement Award.

Twenty Best Customer Service Awards were given to exhibitors, as voted on by their customers in attendance. The 2009 winners were: DCL Solutions, JohnsonDiversey, Spartan Chemical Co. and Urine Off in the Chemicals category; Intelligent Products Inc., Georgia-Pacific Professional, Kimberly-Clark Corp. and KlenzCorp International in the Disposables category; Advance, Advanced Vapor Technologies, Viper North America and Windsor Industries in the Power Equipment category; Expanded Technologies Corp., Morton Salt, Rubbermaid Commercial Products and Unger Enterprises in the Supplies category; and Activeion Cleaning Solutions, American EPAY, Cleaning for a Reason and The Weee in the Other Products, Services & Technology category.

Next year ISSA/INTERCLEAN will take place Nov. 9 through 12 in Orlando. Tony Blair, former prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has already been announced as the keynote speaker.