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The Northeast Regional Carwash Convention (NRCC) is celebrating a milestone this October 19-21 in Atlantic City, New Jersey; the show’s 20th birthday. Walt Hartl, the Show’s chairman and district manager of Hoffman Car Wash, recently sat down with Professional Carwashing & Detailing to tell us what exhibitors and attendees can expect at this year’s expo.
Professional Carwashing & Detailing: How will the NRCC recognize this year’s milestone?
Walt Hartl: We have some special things planned to tie in the NRCC’s past, present and future. I think there will be something there for everyone; whether you have been in the industry for the last 20 years or are brand new to carwashing.
We will be kicking off the convention with the opening night reception held in the Water Club’s spectacular indoor pool. This evening promises to be an event enjoyable to all and should set the tone for the rest of the convention.
PC&D: What will this year’s show include that’s different from the others?
WH: We have several topics that will specifically target ways operators have coped with the changing economic climate, ways they have changed their business models to cope with changes in their markets.
Topics such as how to streamline your business operations and looking for new opportunities within your business are always important but I think now more than ever operators are looking for that edge to keep them ahead of the economic curve. I think this is a positive thing, getting operators to look at their operations from a new perspective, a fresh set of eyes, can help all of us run our businesses better.
PC&D: How has the show evolved over the years in terms of the number of attendees, the size, the topics, etc?
WH: I have been part of the NRCC convention process since my first NRCC convention in 1990. It has grown immensely in both size and scope. The thing that continues to impresses me is the willingness for operators to share with each other. The topics continue to evolve including more and more emphasis on technology and its impact on the carwash industry, but there is always the common thread that runs through all the seminars, keynotes, early birds, etc. through the last 20 years, service and quality.
Our 20th anniversary celebrates many achievements; industry growth, the devotion of our committees, associations, our suppliers and attendees.
PC&D: What do you think will be a major theme or topic of discussion at this year’s show?
WH: I think the seminars on how to operate in today’s market will be very well attended. I also think the follow-up seminar on the customer loyalty or unlimited programs will be very interesting. There was a lot of conversation at the last convention about this topic and I think many operators are interested in hearing the experiences of the operators who shared their stories at the last convention.
I am also looking forward to participating in a panel discussion at the early bird session and learning from my fellow operators in an open forum how they have made changes to the way they do business. In the long run I think that this economic downturn can have a silver lining, if we as operators look more closely at even the little expenses and find ways to manage sharper, cleaner and leaner when the economy turns around (and it will) we will be in better shape as long as we continue to practice “sharpening our pencils” as we look at our businesses. Remember: “everything matters.”
PC&D: Given the current state of the economy, how are you encouraging owner/operators to attend?
WH: By offering educational seminars, and a trade show floor filled with professional vendors and suppliers who want to work with this industry.
I remember one of my college classes when a professor told the class the best time to advertise is when things are bad. When sales are down don’t cut your ad budget, increase it. Since my earliest NRCC convention I had the philosophy that if I walk away with one good idea, which paid for the trip, I have yet to be disappointed.
To borrow a line from Tom Hoffman Sr. founder of Hoffman's Car Wash (who has been in the industry for 44 years), “I’ve learned I still have a lot to learn.” If you attend the NRCC you will take something back to your operations that will make you a better operator. The networking opportunity to get answers to your questions is unequaled.
PC&D: What does the future hold for the NRCC?
WH: We are excited to be moving to a new home for the 2010 show. After several years at the Borgata, we have outgrown the facility and are looking forward to moving the show to the newly remodeled and expanded Trump Taj Mahal. The NRCC board recently had the opportunity to tour their new first class facilities.
The seminars will continue to grow and be driven by the trends affecting our industry. The expanded show floor will allow the NRCC to accommodate even more professional suppliers to display their products to the carwashing industry.
The bigger area will also allow for all the vendors to be on the main show floor and have additional space available for vendors who want to expand their booths. The facility’s new loading area will make it easier for our supplier friends to more easily be able to move their products and equipment on to the show floor.
The NRCC board feels that we are taking a step forward in our ability to fulfill the mission of the NRCC which is to bring the best the carwashing industry has to offer to the carwash operators in the Northeast.