ISSA Show Canada

Recapping the virtual ISSA Show Canada 2021

You can watch the show's expert educational sessions on-demand now.
Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The ISSA Show Canada 2021 Virtual Experience was held on June 17, 2021. Over 900 industry representatives registered for the event, which featured high-quality educational programming that spanned all sectors of the cleaning and maintenance industry.

“It was our goal to provide timely and helpful information to all sectors of the Canadian sanitary maintenance and supply industry,” said ISSA Canada Executive Director Mike Nosko. “By vetting experts in all areas of our industry, we were extremely successful in presenting subject matter that provided multiple takeaways for all in attendance.”

With a theme of “Facing the Future Together,” some major discussion points common across all sessions were the importance of training frontline staff and the increasing emergence of robotics and automation in the cleaning space.

How Distributors Can (and Must) Accelerate Post-Pandemic Success

The opening keynote focused on Canadian distributors and the pursuit of a successful path forward in an evolving marketplace, and was in the form of an interview of Tom Gale, CEO of Modern Distribution Management, by Tom Fournier, president of the Shade’s Mills Group.

The session detailed many industry trends that have been accelerated over the past 15 months, including the ongoing competition with online giants such as Amazon and implementing successful strategies in a shrinking marketplace. According to Gale, those distributors who were close to their customers prior to the pandemic were the ones who have seen the most success during it.

When asked if the distribution market will see a shift to online selling, Gale emphasized “absolutely not.”

“Outside sales is critical,” he explained. “It’s what has got us to where we are today. We want face-to-face salespeople to maintain that personalized level of service. There should never be a shift to online sales because frontline relationships will never be replaced by the online space.”

The Challenges of Infection Prevention and Control from an Environmental Services Perspective

For the healthcare and environmental services audience, the Canadian Healthcare Housekeepers Association (HHA) sponsored a session detailing the challenges of infection prevention and control from an EVS perspective. Featuring infection control expert Mark Heller, MBA, Hygiene Performance Solutions, the seven pillars of infection prevention and control were reviewed, as well as the five “P’s” of environmental processes – protocol, people, process, product and performance.

Although the traditional trade show component was not present at this year’s event, innovative technology was still in the spotlight with multiple sessions detailing the most current products available to help front-line professionals clean safely and effectively to ensure the health of a facility and those who occupy it.

Impact of Automation and Technology on Facility Services and Building Operations

The ART of Cleaning (Automation, Robotics & Technology) education session explored how technology utilizing robotics and automated tools can partner with workforces to enhance productivity and expand deliverables for clients while maintaining profitability. Jon Hill of LaserClean Systems (LCS) reviewed how the latest technologies are helping facilities owners and service providers maintain a clean and healthy space. When discussing automation and robotics one of the main questions which consistently arises is whether less labour will be required with the use of cleaning robots?

“Definitely not,” Hill said. “Automation just leads to a re-deployment and better use of labour in the field. Autonomous cleaning machines still need people. They need to have water and cleaning chemicals added; they have to be moved to each location, and they have to be assisted when they hit hurdles. Robots, by no means, are perfect.”

Sponsored sessions

ISSA Show Canada sponsors also had an opportunity to present their most innovative wares to the show audience. Clorox Professional provided a deep dive into its electro-static sprayers, while Charlotte Products demonstrated how the invisible can be made visible with the Optisolve surface cleanliness tool, and Scandinavian Building Services sponsored an informative session on creating an analytics-driven quality assurance program.

Moving Forward in a Post-COVID World

Closing out the ISSA Show Canada Virtual Experience was a keynote featuring a panel discussion with six of Canada’s leading building service contractors. Moderated by ISSA Canada Building Service Contractor (BSC) Council Chair Ken Hilder, the session touched upon the experiences of BSCs during the pandemic, and how they see the market changing post-COVID. Topics discussed included training, shared workplaces, chemicals and equipment usage, establishing cleaning protocols and more.

Russell Hay, of Scandinavian Building Services, outlined the importance of training and how the company was constantly providing training to frontline staff as more information about the coronavirus and COVID-19 became available. Additionally, Hay detailed Scandinavian’s robust pandemic plan when it came to cleaning and disinfection protocols, and frontline health and safety.

Yiannis Boutsalis, of Impact Cleaning Services, provided information on cleaning the “black sheep” of any facility – the washroom.

“Washrooms are the Area 51 of any facility,” Boutsalis said. “Everyone knows what’s going on in there, but no one wants to go in.” Although washrooms occupy two per cent of a facility’s space, they require 90 per cent of time to clean. Boutsalis went on to outline the scope of cleaning in the washroom space and what the future of washroom cleaning may look like in the post-COVID world.

Next up was Tony Raposo, of GDI Services Canada, who outlined how his company embraced automation, and the experience of utilizing robotics and technology in the cleaning process. According to Raposo, automation will play an extremely large role moving forward as many companies look for efficiencies.

Gavin Bajin, of ServiceMaster, provided helpful information on how COVID changed cleaning protocols in the shared workplace space. According to Bajin, one of the most positive results of the pandemic has been a new awareness by facility owners and managers who now have a higher knowledge of the importance and value of clean.

United Cleaning Services’ Michael Kroupa emphasized the importance of training frontline staff to not only ensure their safety but also those who are visiting the space being cleaned. Training was especially important to United as the company was heavily involved with cleaning in the grocery space during the pandemic. Kroupa’s closing message was “learning and development should be viewed as a crucial part of business, not a nice-to-have element.”

Wrapping up the Panel Discussion was Philippe Mack, of Bee-Clean, who discussed SMART buildings and the increase of technology to enhance the customer experience. Mack also stressed that as much as technology will play a large role in the future, the human element will be just as important.

Looking ahead to 2022

All recorded sessions are now available on-demand at

ISSA Canada is excited to announce that it is looking forward to reconnecting with the industry next year when ISSA Show Canada will once again be an in-person event. The 2022 trade show and education conference will take place June 8 and 9, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, ON.

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