Memory Talks with Michel de Bruin: A journey of connections and innovations
“Interclean has always been an important event in the cleaning and hygiene industry, transforming over the years into a platform for networking, knowledge sharing, and product innovations,” says Michel de Bruin, a seasoned professional with 35 years of experience in the cleaning industry. In our latest Interclean Memories, we delve into his experiences and reflections on the evolution of the show since his first visit in 1990. From the initial impressions to witnessing changes in exhibitor dynamics, innovations, and the shift towards a global networking event, Michel takes us on a captivating journey through the history of Interclean.
The early days: visiting for a first job
The first time Michel encountered Interclean was as a visitor in 1990. Back then, the show was much smaller in scale compared to today. However, even at that early stage, the event left a lasting impression on Michel. “I was visiting for one of my first jobs at a cleaning company. I remember I went with my boss, and I remember thinking it was a big and impressive event,” Michel recalls. “The exhibition changed my preconceptions about the cleaning industry, revealing its significant importance and size.”
From visitor to participant: the first challenge
In 1992, Michel transitioned from being a visitor to becoming an exhibitor. He represented MGS Clarke, a company selling American cleaning machines. “I was 24 years old and joined MGS Clarke as a salesperson. At the show I had to demonstrate the cleaning machines. That year we had a stand in Hall 1, and the transparent roof generated excessive heat. I had to demonstrate cleaning the floor, but because the floor was very hot, the machine kept breaking down! I remember it was very unprofessional, but we couldn’t do anything about it!”
Photo: Michel de Bruin then and now.
Unity and connections: the Interclean spirit
Since then, Michel has participated at Interclean many times on behalf of various companies. “One remarkable aspect of Interclean that has remained consistent, is the sense of friendship and unity amongst exhibitors and participants,” Michel recalls with a smile. “The lively interactions, the willingness to help each other, and the creation of lasting friendships make Interclean feel like a reunion where industry professionals can reconnect every two years, fostering a sense of belonging and shared experiences.” During the day exhibitors and visitors engage in business, but it doesn’t end there. “In the evenings, we often meet up at the bar, and this adds an entirely new dimension of friendship and enjoyment to the event!”
A memorable experience: racing the show floor
One of the most memorable and fun experiences at Interclean for Michel was the races they had on the cleaning machines. Back in the days, he recalled how they showcased cleaning machines like scooters for cleaning floors, and they would race each other through the exhibition halls. It became a friendly competition between exhibitors, and it added a sense of excitement and friendship to the event. The races also attracted the attention of visitors, who enjoyed watching the spectacle of cleaning machines being used in an unconventional way.
Not to forget: the Thursday herring feast
One cherished tradition at Interclean that Michel fondly recalls is the Thursday herring feast. “On Thursdays, we always serve herring at our stand. It became a popular gathering spot for colleagues and visitors,” Michel reminisces. “It is heartwarming to see the stand filled with people from all different countries, coming together to enjoy this Dutch delicacy. Some internationals like the herring, while others have mixed feelings about the taste. It sparks engaging conversations and adds a cultural exchange to the show!”
Expanding horizons: international exposure
As Interclean continued to grow, it attracted a more diverse international audience. Michel describes how the exhibition became a melting pot of cultures, connecting people from all over the world. “Interclean’s expansion beyond Amsterdam marked a significant turning point,” Michel reflects. “Attending Interclean in China, Poland, and Turkey, I witnessed the industry’s globalisation and the increasing diversity of exhibitors. The event in Amsterdam has also become a global stage for companies. Every year I meet people from all corners of the world, it is truly such a culturally diverse event!”
Transformation into a knowledge platform
Over the years, Interclean has undergone a significant transformation, evolving into a knowledge platform rather than just a sales event. Today, it serves as a stage for businesses to display their innovations, share expertise, and establish relationships with customers and peers. “The focus has shifted. It is not just about selling products anymore, it is about showcasing your brand and your latest innovations. It is about building your network and learning from other players in the industry,” states Michel.
The importance for young professionals
Having dedicated 35 years to the cleaning industry, Michel emphasises the value of Interclean as an individual learning experience for young professionals. “The trade show offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the industry, learn from industry leaders, and witness the latest innovations,” he says. “Interclean had a profound impact on my career, contributing to my knowledge and network within the industry.”