This year, the Northeast Regional Carwash Convention will mark its 30th anniversary. In this interview, Professional Carwashing & Detailing (PC&D) caught up with one of the key organizers of the event, Mike Benmosche, 2019 co-chairman, to discuss the convention’s past, present and future.
PC&D | Can you briefly describe the origins of the NRCC and any details about its early years?
MB | In 1988, a group of Connecticut operators coordinated a meeting at Mory’s, a private club adjacent to the Yale University campus, inviting the participation of several other East Coast carwash associations to brainstorm on a regional carwash show. In 1989, the Northeast Regional Carwash Convention (NRCC) held its first event in Newport, Rhode Island, attracting just over 300 attendees. Fifty booths were sold and represented in a floor space consisting of 6,000 square feet (a few rooms of a hotel). It was a modest launch of a venue that was designed to offer a regional option closer to home, so Northeast operators could enjoy many of the benefits derived from attending the larger national show.
The idea to create this alternative was the brainchild of a handful of representatives from the four Northeast associations: Car Wash Operators of New Jersey, Connecticut Carwash Association, New England Carwash Association and New York State Car Wash Association. The concept was for each to host (i.e. bear the leadership responsibility of managing the event) on a revolving year basis aided by a management firm hired by the board of directors comprised of a maximum of three delegates from each association.
Over the years, this format has afforded the NRCC’s continued growth and success by providing a wealth of knowledge from individuals with varied industry backgrounds, years of experience and a passion for carwashing. Since that first show, we have become one of the most prominent regional carwash conventions in the country. We now attract more than 320 booths and anticipate roughly 1,800 attendees to the Atlantic City Convention Center, where we now use nearly 85,000 square feet of exhibit space.
PC&D | Please provide some background on this year’s keynote speaker, John Roush, and why he was selected to deliver this year’s Keynote Address.
MB | John is an Ohio-based carwasher who, 11 years ago, began a branding enterprise named Moo Moo Express Car Wash. Sixteen locations later, he continues to successfully grow and perpetuate his business model. I met John a few years ago through one of our associates. I then heard him speak at an ICA meeting, candidly telling his story of success, and I felt it was a message worthy of sharing.
I believe the board agreed that our audience would benefit in several areas touched by his experiences. He seemed to embody the true entrepreneurial spirit that drives many operators to think outside the box to reach higher levels of performance. We also believed that hearing directly from an industry leader, not so different from our attendees, would resonate favorably. During our educational programming, our goal is to have each participant walk away with great ideas and implement some of them at their washes.
PC&D | What are you most looking forward to this year at NRCC 2019?
MB | I have attended this show for more than 22 years, and without exception, the most enjoyable feature to me is the networking. Seeing old friends and meeting new ones continues to be an exciting element of being at the NRCC. I always find myself having a good laugh, and I always come away learning something new. I am retiring this year, so it will be an especially important show for me. I have some very fond memories of this show and industry, and I look forward to making some more in September.
PC&D | What changes have been made to enhance the attendee and exhibitor experience?
MB | We have made some minor adjustments to speed up our registration processes, as we switched over to a new vendor in 2018. The 2019 process should run smoothly, but we do encourage everyone to register online at least a week before the show at www.nrccshow.com to avoid any lines. Your badge will be printed and ready for pick-up with pre-registration. But, if you do decide last minute to attend the show, there will be registration computers on-site — which we have never used before — and staff to help with that process.
When we moved the exhibits to the Atlantic City Convention Center, we also moved all our education there as well, so we are under one roof to make it more convenient for our attendees and vendors.
After each show, the board meets before heading home to discuss ideas to improve the show’s overall experience for our vendors and attendees. We have also formed a Vendor Advisory Committee that includes vendors from different-sized companies to give us feedback on their overall experience and where we can improve. We also use our own observations, as well as feedback from other vendors and attendees, at this wrap-up meeting to improve upon our product.
PC&D | Does the NRCC have any future plans or changes that attendees should know about?
MB | A few years ago, we moved our show floor to the state-of-the-art Atlantic City Convention Center. We had outgrown our previous floor space and wanted to grow and expand our show by giving our vendors what they needed to bring in more equipment and better showcase their equipment and services. We plan to continue this growth over the next few years to give our attendees the biggest, best regional show we can produce.
Although we are very happy with our Atlantic City venue, as we have gotten our largest turnout in this market, the board is continually exploring other venues and at some point may decide to move the event. There are a lot of factors involved in that, but know that the board is dedicated to doing what is best for our vendors and attendees while keeping costs down and attendance up.
Please don’t hesitate to contact one of us with your thoughts or comments on the show. We welcome them.