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Back in February, the International Carwash Association® (ICA) announced plans for a show outside of North America. The Car Wash Show Europe™ will take place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on Oct. 5-7, 2015, at the RAI Exhibition Center. After the ICA announcement, questions arose and many wondered if it will replace the U.S.-based show and whether people in North America were expected to attend or exhibit. To answer all of those questions, we turned to ICA CEO Eric Wulf and ICA Board Chairman Gary Dennis, who filled us in on the details and why an overseas show was deemed necessary.
Dennis said that Amsterdam is a world-class exhibition city, “and will be a good choice for our first show.”According to Wulf, while Amsterdam is truly one of the world’s greatest cities, the location isn’t as important as the overall strategy. “The ICA has always endeavored to be the ‘big tent’ of the industry,” he said. “We represent vendors as well as operators. We serve independents as well as petroleum sites. Now, we’ll be focusing on Europe as well as North America.”
Wulf said the European market is very exciting. “The tunnel segment in Germany and the Netherlands is familiar to some, but I have to say that the self-service, or ‘jet wash’ segment, as one example — is just as interesting.” One of the things he is most excited about with this new endeavor is being able to provide “a vehicle for North Americans to get new ideas and develop new networks.”
According to Dennis, there is without question a need for a professional, industry-focused event in Europe because one doesn’t currently exist. “There are tradeshows that incorporate carwashing as a component, but these are typically produced by organizations that are not committed to our industry. We are producing the first pan-European trade show that will incorporate education and networking opportunities specifically addressing the carwash industry.”
Just as the North American Car Was Show™ is open to the world, so will be the European one, said Wulf. “But,” he said, “given the marketplace, we do expect to mostly attract European suppliers and attendees. From a North American perspective, we know that more than two-thirds of our vendor members already sell internationally.”
Wulf said that not all of the vendor members use tradeshows as a channel to the market, but some of those from North America who do use the tradeshow format have already reached out about participating.
“They see this show as a targeted and differentiated opportunity to meet new prospects,” said Wulf. “But actually, it’s those companies that haven’t exhibited overseas that seem most interested. The Car Wash Show Europe will provide them with a show more tailored to their needs and allow them to do business with someone they know well — the ICA.”
Along with the exhibitors, the show will also offer educational seminars and networking events for attendees, according to Dennis.
The carwash industry is evolving and we must evolve with it, said Dennis. “Our entire industry benefits when carwashing becomes more professional around the world. Successful trade shows allow us to provide new and expanded products to our members. Consequently, an operator in Kansas can benefit from a successful European tradeshow. Further, more and more of our vendor members are doing business internationally.”
According to Dennis, similar to the U.S. in the past, many entrepreneurs are entering the carwashing industry, not only in Western Europe, but also in many Eastern European countries.
Dennis added that “there is a divestiture trend among the corporate oil/gas operators. These trends are emerging but the signs are very clear. These new operators will need services that our tradeshow provides: Access to vendors, networking, and education. We expect to attract attendees from a fairly wide geographic area.”
So far, it’s been, “exceptionally positive,” according to Wulf. “Operators in Europe seem particularly keen on the idea of having an event ‘of our own’ that is focused on carwashing, with a pan-European focus.”
Dennis said he is personally very excited about holding a European show and believes that it is a seminal event in our association's history. “A carwash show by the industry, for the industry, is likely to draw the best quality attendance for vendor members giving them more direct access to compete internationally. We also have many international members of ICA, both vendors and operators, who have longed for an event of this type. The response thus far has been overwhelmingly positive.”