I had heard from distributors for many years that attending ISSA/INTERCLEAN Amsterdam was the best way to see the newest innovative products and learn about future trends. Last month I had the opportunity to attend this show myself. Personally, it was an amazing experience and provided a fresh perspective on this industry.

Even though the products on display were among the most cutting-edge I’ve seen, U.S. distributors can feel reassured that their American-based vendors aren’t being left behind. Besides using the show to expand into international markets, many U.S. manufacturers were there to ensure they were keeping up with industry trends.

“There is a lot of innovation here from a floor machine perspective. It’s important for us to keep a finger on the pulse,” says Meryl Cook, director of marketing, Trojan Battery Company, Santa Fe Springs, California.

Walking the show floor, one can easily spot the differences between the U.S. market and the rest of the world. For example, mopping trolleys are much bigger business abroad; hand sanitizing is primarily an American hand hygiene solution; and steam cleaning is so popular globally that it warrants its own pavilion.

As the industry becomes more international, it’s important to notice these differences and see if and where there are places for American trends — and that was an important reason for U.S. suppliers to exhibit. For example, backpack vacuums, which are widely used here, are catching on in other countries.

“It’s good to see more backpacks [at the show] since Europe is a canister market. It’s nice to have reassurance that we’re moving in the right direction, but we wouldn’t know it if we didn’t come here,” says Kristina Schardijn, national account manager, ProTeam, St. Louis.

Of course it’s not just American companies looking to spread internationally; many foreign manufacturers are hoping to crack the U.S. market. I spoke with many exhibitors looking for U.S. distributors. When ISSA/INTERCLEAN comes to Chicago this October, distributors should check out the international pavilion to see if any of those vendors are looking for business.