Interclean Memories with Peter Kwestro, about attending all the Intercleans since 1990 (even the Covid edition!), and the biggest changes since then.
As a current exhibitor of Interclean Amsterdam for over 30 years, Peter Kwestro has seen all the different events and products at this trailblazing trade show. In this episode of Interclean memories, he takes us on a journey from his first experience as an exhibitor at Interclean, to winning the Innovation Awards in 2022. He also shares the most memorable moments during the Intercleans he participated in and the biggest changes he’s noticed over the years.
Peter explains in general terms what Interclean means to him. "Of course, I have a purely business relationship with the show, but it also mixes with my private life because I have been working in the cleaning industry for the last three decades. I have really had a unique opportunity to witness the growth that Interclean has undergone. Back in 1990 there were five or six halls of RAI filled with the show, whereas now I think there are thirteen halls."
His very first memory with Interclean in 1990
Peter has attended an impressive fifteen Interclean shows, as an exhibitor for eight different companies. His journey starts in 1990, in which he was a newcomer to the Interclean scene and made his very first memory. “I was working for Nilfisk at the time, and they gave me a demo of a spyglass, which you could connect between the vacuum cleaning box and the actual vacuum. The assignment I was given was to show people walking around at the Interclean show to get the dust and dirt from the carpet into the vacuum cleaner. This is how it started. The evolution of Interclean has been extraordinary. If I compare how things were in the cleaning and hygiene industry when I first attended Interclean, to how they are now, the advances in products, innovations and approaches have been amazing.”
Restart of the cleaning competitions
Peter further reflects on his journey with Interclean when many years later he worked for Unger introducing Carbontec-poles in 2004 and was an exhibitor for this company at the show. “The owner of Unger also asked me if I could reintroduce the window cleaning competition to demonstrate the products. So, I did a whole tour through the Netherlands to find companies that were interested in participating, and the finals of the competition were held at Interclean while the water fed poles demonstrated on the outside of Hall 1. From that moment, we added another dimension to Interclean, because there are still people demonstrating their new window products there to this day.”
The COVID-edition in 2020
As one of the few, Peter can say that he has attended all Interclean Amsterdam shows from 1990 to the present without exception – even during a global pandemic! Due to the Covid situation, the 2020 show took place online, however Peter was the only exhibitor physically present at Interclean in an empty Europa Hall. “I agreed to be there, but I wanted the real robots with me. A robot is a product that you really have to experience to see how it works, which you cannot do from a screen. So, we arranged several versions of the robots from France, because obtaining them from China was impossible due to the lockdown of the country.” Many people don't believe him when he says he has never missed an Interclean. “Only when I show them a picture of me standing in an empty Europa Hall with my face mask on, on top of a robot, they believe that I was actually on the Online Interclean.”
Winning the Innovation Award of 2022
One of Peter’s highlights of his Interclean career was winning the 2022 Innovation Award for Smart Technologies & Digitalisation with the Scrubber 50 Pro from Gausium Robotics. “As a team we worked very hard to achieve this and our newest robot software was not even ready until two weeks before the Interclean show started. It was a mid- sized robot with all the abilities onboard. I can remember that the truck arrived and I raced to the office to try out the ‘Spot-Cleaning’ for the first time, and this was only one week before Interclean.”
Organised press conference on the booth
Peter’s next memory was straight after winning the Innovation Award, where he presented a new very compact robot at the booth. “The award ceremony was at 11 am that day and only a few hours later, we introduced Phantas, a new concept that had even more artificial intelligence onboard and was cloud connected etc. The press conference for the new robot was at 2 pm and we counted on maybe 25/30 people attending, something like that. But ultimately over 200 spectators came to the booth. My microphone was not powerful enough to talk to the people, so I had to step on a chair to really scream. I also saw some security guys of the RAI coming to check what was going on, because they never expected so many people to come."
The 3 biggest changes over the years
One of the things that changed the most is the dress code of the people on the booths, reminisces Peter. “In the 90s all the men were wearing ties with white shirts, and most ladies were scare dressed, even some in latex clothing sometimes. I think we’ve met a little bit in the middle now, as everyone is much more suitably attired than in those days. But that was just a completely different time and culture.”
Peter also feels that the role of women has changed dramatically during his attendance at the Interclean shows. “Some of the traditional producers even had models or hostesses on their booth with no knowledge of the products at all. Nowadays women have very senior roles and are very skilled in i.e. manipulating the robots. So, in this time things have totally changed and I think in a more equal and respectful way.”
“The ratio of national to international exhibitors is also totally different than it was in 1990. Back then I believe 90% of the suppliers were cleaning companies from the Dutch market, but today the representation is really international. So, Interclean evolved significantly from a local business to one that is almost completely international, and I have had the opportunity to see and experience all that.”
But one thing always remains the same for Peter: the beautiful weather during the Interclean show. "I always tell people to go on holiday the first week of May because every Interclean I’ve ever attended has had lovely sunny weather – and then there will be guaranteed nice temperatures in the Netherlands when they come back.”
Continuing to develop and surprise
For the next edition, Peter is already speculating about another surprise at the Interclean show 2024, but he is not giving too much away just yet. “Our team is constantly developing our robots further, and in one year’s time we will have some exciting new features to reveal, which I cannot tell you about now. We will surprise you with adding innovations to the market that you did not expect. The future of cleaning and hygiene will absolutely be part of it, and it will not only be in robotics. That is all I am sharing for now,” says Peter with an enigmatic smile.