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Education and Networking Move to the ISSA Show Floor

Special keynote session celebrates 100 Years of ISSA and housekeeping Olympiads give it their all.

November 15, 2023

The second day of ISSA Show North America 2023 started with awards and congratulations at a special spotlight session celebrating the 100th anniversary of ISSA.

ISSA Executive Director John Barrett opened the session, thanking everyone present for their dedication and hard work. “You are doing something that truly matters in the world,” he said.

Barrett presented a slideshow of ISSA’s history, showcasing its founder Alfred Richter, who began the association in 1923 with seven distributor companies. He shared a black and white picture of ISSA’s 1949 convention, joking, “It kind of looks like the Rat Pack,” as a contrast to the current association, which is much larger with a diverse group of members. “Our members are literally the reason we exist,” Barrett said.

In 1967, the association rebranded as ISSA, the name it goes by now, and in 2004, it expanded to include building service contractors and in-house service providers. “Facility providers make up two-thirds of our membership and are the fastest growing group,” Barrett said.

Next, Senior Vice Presidents Jon Adkins and Kim Althoff took the stage to announce honorees, including three custodians from U.S. K–12 schools. The custodians—Richard Toomey, Rodney Essner, and David Jeffers—were named the grand prize winner (Toomey) and finalists of the 2023 Cintas Custodian of the Year Contest.

After the keynote session, show attendees eagerly flocked to the opening of the show floor, where they explored exhibits of the latest cleaning products and equipment and attended education sessions. At one session, sponsored by ISSA’s Hygieia Network, panelists explored how male allies can help their female colleagues succeed in the cleaning industry.

The panelists told the audience they have a responsibility to report any discrimination or sexual harassment that could be holding colleagues back. “As the Harvey Weinsteins of the world were doing what they were doing, a lot of people were standing by,” said Max Langenkamp, Cintas senior vice president of Human Resources and chief diversity officer. “When you see this happening, you have to confront it, you have to intervene.”

When asked about their wish list of resources for women in the industry, panelist Shannon Hall, Dustbane Products vice president of sales and marketing, spoke about the importance of mentoring, and panelist Brock Tully, segment vice president for Cleaning and Hygiene at Bunzl Canada, spoke about the courage to speak up against discrimination and harassment. Langenkamp said workers at the middle management could use more resources, as they often don’t receive as much assistance as workers in lower and higher levels.

Langenkamp stressed that the United States cannot meet its full potential in terms of labor growth until it accepts a diverse workforce with open arms.

In addition to this and other education sessions and networking opportunities on the show floor, the Mandalay Bay Convention Center also housed a lively competition Monday night. Housekeepers at several Las Vegas resorts participated in the 33rd Annual IEHA Housekeeping Olympics at the Michelob Ultra Arena.

Housekeeper Olympics 2023

Cheering crowds shook noisemakers, shouted into megaphones, and blew horns as their colleagues participated in three relay races that included making hotel beds, mopping floors, and vacuuming carpets strewn with colorful debris. “We’re the cheerleaders, the spirit group, we give off good energy,” said Michael Vargas as he cheered on his co-workers at the Luxor Hotel and Casino.

Cheering squad at the housekeeper Olympics 2023

Other participants included housekeepers at the Bellagio, the Cosmopolitan, Mandalay Bay, and Park MGM.

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