ISSA Educational Session/Workshop Speakers Ready To Share Their Knowledge

By Harrell Kerkhoff Maintenance Sales News Editor

Educational sessions and workshops will be in abundance during The ISSA Show North America 2023, scheduled for November 13-16, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, in Las Vegas, NV.

Session topics for this year’s event include the latest in cleaning-related regulatory and sustainability issues, tech trends, distributor strategies for personalization and ecommerce growth, customer service guidance, employee diversity strategies, how to measure the return on investment of indoor air quality, how to hold employees accountable — and much more.

Maintenance Sales News Magazine recently spoke with seven of the over than 90 educational session presenters who will be at this year’s ISSA Show. The objective was to learn more about the many educational opportunities available at the event.

Punk Rock Principles To Power Your Business

Overcomplicating the cleaning process can lead to confused and frustrated employees, with work often not properly being completed. Such is the message that will be discussed by Jonathan Lorbacher. He will present,Keep It Simple, Stupid: Punk Rock Principles To Power Your Business,” from 1 to 2 p.m. on Monday, November 13.

“The cleaning industry is full of perfectionists who tend to overcomplicate things. That makes for great cleaners. However, it can make building a business much more complicated. I’m hoping to offer attendees a different way to look at the operating procedures in their businesses by providing a glimpse into the world of being a touring punk rock musician,” Lorbacher said.

Formerly a touring guitar player and vocalist in the punk and hardcore music scenes, today Lorbacher is the operations manager and an owner of Town & Country Cleaning Services (, in Pittsboro, NC.

“While it may not seem parallel, much of what I learned living in a van on the road has actually been formative and helpful as a cleaning business leader. In both worlds, the show must go on — no matter what. And, in both worlds, preparedness is key. My goal is to take something that often feels like an afterthought, and put it into its proper, important place …. while sharing how living on a dream, eating ramen with five guys in a van, and hoping to get to the next city helped me see just how vital the (afterthought) really is,” Lorbacher said.

He added his seminar is designed to get attendees asking practical questions about their “training, sales, and onboarding processes” related to clients and employees.

“That sounds like a lot to cover. Yet, I think there is a decent amount of overlap in the thought process that we use for building our operating systems. Moreover, there are principles that can, and should, guide us in how we design our procedures. There are many times where we build processes in our business and never stop to think about whether they are actually functional under the daily grind. Instead, I want to help people make them bulletproof,” he said. “Often, that means simplifying and eliminating dead weight.”

Lorbacher has been involved in the cleaning industry for nearly seven years as an operations manager, and is now transitioning into an ownership role of a house cleaning company.

“My wife Karah and I have nine children, and I spent about six years actively playing music on the road and recording in a hardcore band. In each of those parts of my life, it has been vitally important to look at everything with a very pragmatic lens. It either works, or it doesn’t,” he explained. “On the road, more complexity often meant greater chance of disaster onstage. In my home life, more complexity often leads to more chaos. Even in the house cleaning business, too much complexity means I wind up with disappointed clients or employees. Or worse, it pulls me away from my family, who I do all of this to support.

“Because I’ve compressed a lot of that experience into a few years of my life, I’ve been able to learn a lifetime of lessons in a short amount of time. Many of us are naturally ‘big ideas people,’ but we struggle to get things off the ground. My unique life experience has forced me to develop the ability to get things done well, even when resources and time are severely limited. Hopefully, I can prevent others from having to learn the same hard lessons that I have experienced.”

When asked what the main goals should be for people when they attend educational seminars, such as the one he will conduct, Lorbacher responded that, “One of the most valuable things I take from other sessions is the ability to learn from someone who has grown his/her company in a way that I aspire to in the future. Many of these sessions will push us to grow. Some of them might even make us bristle, if we are being honest with ourselves. That’s healthy. It’s important to be open minded. The thing you rebel against during an educational seminar might be the very thing that changes your business next year. The ISSA is full of brilliant people and ideas. If you automatically think you are the most brilliant person in any room, we probably need to find a new room.”

He added the cleaning industry can be exciting and feels it’s a bit like the Wild West — with pioneers introducing innovations and new processes to the field. For a cleaning professional, choosing to ignore continued education is really choosing to get left behind.

“There is so much good information and so many great ideas out there. Only a fool would squander the opportunities in front of him/her,” Lorbacher said. “(When attending educational secessions) Write it all down. Record it. Take pictures. That’s all fine and important, but you also must go a step further. Quickly engage with the information. Review it. Talk about it with a coworker. Think about what it might look like to implement. Make some plans.

“If all you do with the information is take notes, you’ll forget it. For me, it’s important to go over everything a week later, after I am home, and life is back to normal. It’s very helpful if you can put the information in proper context.”

Lorbacher also recommends ISSA Show attendees do more than just attend educational sessions.

“Obviously, I believe seminars are valuable. I signed up for one myself. Yet, the most lasting value from a show often involves the friendships that can be made while at the event. It’s incredibly powerful to find a group of people you can later reach out to and who know EXACTLY what you are dealing with,” he said. “Some of the greatest lessons I have received during an ISSA show have come while sitting with a couple of new friends over a glass of scotch. We begin talking about the things we are all struggling with, things that are working for us, and bouncing ideas off each other. That experience is invaluable.

“Having someone sit across the table from you, who gets what you are trying to accomplish, is truly a magical experience. It’s like catching lightning in a bottle. It’s also great to have someone, after the show, be available when you hit a creative wall or have a technical problem. It’s like having an ‘easy button’ to push. Running a business is hard, but you don’t have to run it alone.”

Cracking The Human Code

Finding good candidates to hire within the cleaning industry continues to be difficult in the wake of the global COVID pandemic. Employee turnover is high, while the talent pool seems to be going dry. There is hope, however, according to Jonathan Porter-Whistman, ISSA speaker and CEO of and He specializes in aiding clients in constructing efficient teams, tailored to the unique requirements of their businesses. His targeted approach mitigates the anguish and disappointment that often result from recruiting incompatible talent.

Porter-Whistman’s session, “From Hire to Growth: Cracking the Human Code,” is scheduled for 11 a.m. to noon on Monday, November 13. The speaker is the best-selling author of “The Sales Boss,” and his companies have won CNN Money, Global Entrepreneur Week’s Top 50 High-Growth Companies, and South-by-Southwest’s Top 5 awards. As an entrepreneurship instructor at Harvard’s Innovation Lab, he’s taught high-potential companies how to build commercialization teams, and believes in the power of human potential to tackle the world’s biggest challenges.

“One of my objectives is to show how cutting-edge AI is revolutionizing the way we understand human behavior, leading to better performance, longer retention, and a happier and more productive workplace. I also show how to get close and personal with the five core truths about human behavior that will transform a company’s financial performance, drive success and help provide a competitive edge in today’s fast-paced business environment,” Porter-Whistman said. “Attendees will also view results of the largest data study ever completed pertaining to what leads to better cleaning technician job performance and tenure.”

From the beginning of his career, Porter-Whistman has been building his own businesses from the ground up. His first business was a cleaning company which he sold for seven figures two years later. Based on that experience, he will reveal two bonus tips: How to never lose a customer for price; and how to keep competitors out. His work with technology and human potential helps driven entrepreneurs build a team that matches the size of their vision, amplifies their company’s positive impact on the local community, and gives them personal freedom.

Porter-Whistman’s story is one of overcoming adversity in both business and in life. He was raised in a religious cult, and for over a decade spent 1,000-plus hours annually knocking on the doors of strangers. Breaking free of the cult, but using the lessons learned, has helped him provide a positive impact for people and companies. Besides becoming a CEO and a recognized expert in the entrepreneurial world, Porter-Whistman is also an outdoor enthusiast who has hiked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago, a foot journey that starts in France and traverses the Pyrenees Mountains.

“When it comes to attending educational sessions, it’s always good to be exposed to new ideas and point-of-views. Nothing ever stays the same. If you are not learning you are becoming more irrelevant each day,” he said.

Porter-Whistman advises those attending seminars to focus on at least one positive concept he/she learns at each session that has the potential to change his/her life and/or business for the better.

“Write it down and then send an email to yourself with a time-delay send of three weeks,” he said. “That way, you’ll remember it after the hustle of travel is over.”

Trends In I&I Cleaning

The Industrial & Institutional (I&I) cleaning sector is a highly diversified and growing market. That is due, in part, to the recurring nature of its products and services as well as increasing governmental and regulatory requirements involving hygiene and cleanliness. Speaking about the sector during the ISSA Show will be Laura Mahecha, director of the I&I cleaning practice for Kline & Company (, an international consulting and market research firm.

Mahecha’s topic is, Trends in I&I Cleaning: Survey Results from End-Use Decision Makers,” scheduled for 9 to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, November 14. She will provide attendees first-hand feedback from professionals who are responsible for purchasing cleaning products for their facilities. Topics/issues covered will include usage of cleaning products, shifts and trends over the past few years, important purchase factors, trends in purchase channels, online buying habits, sustainability, and expected future changes. Also included will be results from recent surveys involving floor care, surface care, and air and carpet cleaning products as well as I&I hand care items such as hand soaps, hand sanitizers, and hand cleaning wipes.

Mahecha has worked in market research for 27-plus years. During her tenure, she has authored and managed multiple studies involving market research, analysis, and survey and sample design, while also writing for the I&I industry. Her group produces in-depth market studies on away-from-home janitorial, hand care, foodservice, laundry, and nonwoven products — such as wipes and mop heads. In her role, Mahecha designs structured end-user surveys, manages a team of consultants that conduct in-depth industry interviews, analyzes the results, and presents the findings to clients. She has contributed to numerous articles and speeches for international and U.S. trade conferences, publications and presentations including ISSA, INDA, and Happi magazine. Her work has also been published in the journal Nature.

When attending educational seminars, such as the one she will present, Mahecha said it’s important attendees try to better understand different markets from a new perspective. That includes learning — from an objective source — about market trends that they may not have considered, while also confirming/verifying trends that may be familiar.

“I would also recommend taking notes, asking questions, reviewing slides after the presentation, and potentially scheduling a follow-up meeting with the speaker to discuss company-specific issues/needs,” she said. “It’s very important for cleaning professionals from multiple segments — such as research, manufacturing, distributing, and BSCs — to come together and share information, knowledge, and insight. The result is an industry that uses best practices to continue to maintain safe and hygienic facilities.”

Mahecha will also speak from 2 to 2:30 p.m. on Monday, November 13, as part of the Hot Topics: The Cleaning Products Workshop 2023, being held in conjunction with the ISSA Show North America. The workshop is a joint session sponsored by ISSA and the Household and Commercial Products Association (HCPA).

The Sustainability Initiative

ISSA – The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, with its 10,500-plus corporate members supporting over 100 million cleaning personnel around the globe, has launched a member-led sustainability initiative. The initiative’s goal is to assist ISSA members when responding to sustainability requests from customers, as well as to help members implement sustainability, efficiency, social equity, and other related business strategies in their organizations.

Sharing more information on the sustainability initiative during the 2023 ISSA Show North America will be members of the Reporting Work Group led by The Ashkin Group ( President Stephen Ashkin. Acknowledged as one of ISSA’s top contributors to the professional cleaning industry in its 100-year history, Ashkin is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and a leader of the Green Cleaning Movement, where he is often thought of as the “Father of Green Cleaning.” Among Ashkin’s other titles is Executive Director of the Green Cleaning Network, co-founder of Green Cleaning University and CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, LLC.

Ashkin will participate in two sessions during this year’s ISSA Show North America, both held on Monday, November 13. They are, “ISSA Sustainability Council Session No. 1 Discussion: Sustainability Education & Training For The Cleaning Industry,” from 11 a.m. to noon; and “ISSA Sustainability Council Session No. 2 Panel Discussion: Sustainability Reporting Tools For The Cleaning Industry,” from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

“The first session will highlight the progress being made within the sustainability initiative, relative to education and training. That includes the anticipated launch of a new program titled an Introduction to Sustainability. We will also discuss various educational tools that are designed to help ISSA members respond to customer requests that involve sustainability and to help them implement sustainability strategies within their own organizations. And, we will discuss how to differentiate between ‘green’ and ‘sustainable,’” Ashkin said. “The second session will focus more on sustainability reporting. It will involve current requirements, both in the United States and around the globe, related to government regulations, as well as requirements from investors, employees, and communities. We will also discuss what kind of information company officials should capture, and then what to do with that information to help them become more profitable.”

Ashkin added that help is especially needed by small- to medium-size companies, as it relates to sustainability reporting.

“These reporting requirements can be incredibly complexed. It works well when large companies can have an entire staff, an entire department, or can hire a consultant to work on such reporting, something that is beyond the reach of many smaller companies,” Ashkin said. “It’s the goal of ISSA to help small- to medium-size companies find, and then use, the right information that allows them to participate in the sustainability initiative.”  

Two other goals of the sessions involve helping company leaders better see how sustainability can fit into their companies’ set of priorities, as well as address common objections surrounding the sustainable topic that often come from customers and/or co-workers.

“Various aspects of sustainability — such as ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) — have become hot-button political issues. There are people with strong feelings about those issues,” Ashkin said. “Therefore, it’s important to help company leaders prepare for properly addressing such topics with others — including customers, prospects, and fellow employees — rather than having a ‘deer in the headlight’ reaction.

“ISSA is not a political organization, rather it’s a business association. The reason ISSA is involved with the sustainability initiative is because various members care about the topic, and want to help others with their sustainable needs and desires. Based on our experience doing sustainability reporting, I can say without hesitation that sustainability is good business and this is the real driver for ISSA — good business and assisting its members.”

Ashkin has worked with hundreds of companies in all business sectors as it relates to sustainability reporting. That includes not only manufacturers, distributors, and service providers involved in the cleaning industry, but also companies outside of the industry including hotels, schools, commercial real estate, etc.

“That experience has given me a good sense of what really is important for each of the different sectors when it comes to sustainability, and what company leaders are looking for when requesting information,” Ashkin explained. “It’s all about helping companies, and the entire industry, become more successful through better ways to compete, better ways to help employees and better ways to help people who clean facilities for a living.”

When attending educational session, such as the two involving Ashkin during this year’s ISSA Show North America, he recommends attendees to become active participants. That includes taking notes and photos of presentation slides.

“It’s also good to meet with speakers after their presentations and ask for their business cards,” Ashkin said. “That provides opportunity to follow through on future objectives. When it comes to sustainability reporting, in particular, there is a lot of information to take in. It’s therefore important to connect with the people who can help you avoid mistakes that companies often make, when it comes to a sustainability initiative.

“I would also recommend people to get involved, such as joining the ISSA Sustainability Committee. Don’t just be a fan in the stands, but get on the team, be a player, network with other people, and learn from them. Frankly, it’s good business.”

For those looking to connect with Ashkin at the convention, he suggests stopping by ISSA’s Sustainability Hub to meet with him and other members of ISSA’s Sustainability Committee. For anyone interested in learning more about the ISSA Sustainability Committee, visit: Ashkin said the application is free and takes less than 10 minutes to complete.

Strategies For eCommerce Growth

Gaining the confidence to implement and/or grow ecommerce for a distributorship often involves understanding and optimizing B2B eCommerce platforms, developing a proper strategy and roadmap, team development and building a successful strategy for customer adoption. Helping ISSA Show attendees with this process will be Jay Schneider, Founder and CEO at B2B-Squared ( Schneider will discuss, “Creating a Distributor Strategy for Personalization and eCommerce Growth,” from 11 a.m. to noon, on Monday, November 13. 

“My passion is helping B2B companies, including manufacturers and distributors, navigate current market disruption to become leaders in the digital customer experience. As architect of the Digital Commerce System (DCS) and B2B Merchandising™ framework, it’s my goal to provide companies a framework for channel strategy, implementing digital platforms, market leading customer experiences and more,” Schneider said. “I know a lot of distributors today either have ecommerce or are looking at ecommerce. My session is focused on helping people understand all that goes into creating a personalized customer experience as it relates to digitalization and ecommerce. That includes recognizing a true focus, lining up the best data and using the right tools that are available to create a personalized experience for a company’s customer base.

“It’s also important to ask and find answers to: How can we get current and potential customers to better use our ecommerce platform? How can we grow our ecommerce site? How can we make the overall ecommerce experience a good one for all involved?”

Schneider explained a key element to ecommerce is finding, and then using, the right type of data. That involves understanding what data a company currently has available, and what additional data needs to be collected.

“Content is an important part of data. It’s important to know what messaging involving that content should be changed, and what messaging can be automated to allow people to better see things that are applicable to them. It’s also important to have the correct tools in place to properly measure how everything is working within a company’s ecommerce platform,” he said. “That includes being able to answer the question, ‘Are people actually engaging with our ecommerce platform, and if so, how?’”

Schneider will draw on his experience within the entire digital commerce ecosystem, including CMS (Content Management System), ecommerce, PIM (Product Information Management), and Search and Digital Marketing. That experience includes being an ecommerce project, implementation, and adoption leader as well as a traditional and digital media expert. He has launched numerous print/digital publications, events, content initiatives and digital communities.

Schneider views himself as a digital evangelist, successfully enhancing product and strategic content for clients and internal purpose. His experience includes the successful launch/re-launch of four companies and 15 brands in media, marketing, and consulting, and has managed groups involving sales, content, and administrative functions.

“I have spent the last number of years consulting with distributors and manufacturers on how they can take the success they’ve experienced with their traditional businesses and move into a digital leadership position,” he said. “I always find that no matter the industry, the people who are truly invested in the future understand the next level of success. That’s how they find future revenue and profit.

“To move forward in this digital world, the winners will be the ones who create a good digital experience for both their new and existing customers. From that perspective, it becomes critical to understand how you, and your company, will succeed in such a world.”

Schneider recommends that this year’s ISSA Show attendees focus on one or two key elements per session — allowing each session to become less about concepts and more about applications that can be applied within 30 days. When it comes to his own session, it’s Schneider’s hope attendees will realize that with the right training and support — and no matter the size of their companies — they too can create a more personalized ecommerce experience for customers.

“It doesn’t take a massive amount of investment, just some foresight,” he explained. “Success with ecommerce has more to do with methodology and purpose than it does technology.”

Legendary Leadership

Gaining insight into proven leadership principles that are designed to boost staff performance, satisfaction, and retention will be discussed during the ISSA Show session Creating Leadership That Is Legendary,” scheduled for 12:30 to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, November 15. It will be presented by Alonzo Adams, president of Alonzo Adams Coaching (

Adams said attendees will learn how to foster loyalty, accountability, and a sense of shared purpose during his session.

“I will provide guidance on optimizing organizational culture, structure, and clear communication to drive results. Attendees can expect to leave with a comprehensive understanding of legendary leadership principles, a sense of inspiration, and practical tools to elevate their leadership skills and make a meaningful impact in their organizations and communities,” Adams said. “Included will be techniques and strategies for developing strong, inspirational leadership within organizations. Topics will include cultivating a compelling vision, leading by example, empowering teams, overcoming obstacles, and celebrating wins. Attendees will also receive concrete tools to motivate, align, and guide their teams to excellence.”

Session subjects will include:

  • Vision and Purpose: Understand how legendary leaders develop a compelling vision and a sense of purpose that inspires their teams to follow them passionately.
  • Effective Communication: Delve into the art of communication that legendary leaders mastered, including powerful storytelling, active listening, and conveying a clear and compelling message.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Learn how legendary leaders navigate complex emotions, build strong relationships, and connect with the hearts and minds of their followers.
  • Resilience and Adversity: Explore how legendary leaders faced adversity, setbacks, and challenges with unwavering determination, turning obstacles into opportunities.
  • Leading by Example: Discover the importance of integrity, authenticity, and setting the right example for your team, drawing from the experiences of legendary leaders.
  • Empowering Teams: Gain insights into how legendary leaders foster a culture of empowerment, trust, and collaboration within their organizations.

“A key goal for those attending my session should be to actively absorb new perspectives and actionable techniques. With focused attention and thoughtful reflection, attendees can gain knowledge and skills to improve their leadership and better support their teams,” Adams said. “To properly retain the information presented, I advise attendees to take notes on concepts and solutions that seem most relevant to their situation. Discussing insights later with colleagues and developing plans to implement suggested approaches can further cement the learning. Referencing materials and reviewing key points after the convention is also helpful.”

Adams has over three decades of experience as a successful business owner, entrepreneur, and thought leader.

“Throughout my career, I have founded and managed multiple businesses in various industries, serving as both president and chairman. My journey has provided me with firsthand experience in building and scaling businesses, leading diverse teams, and navigating the ever-evolving challenges of the business world,” he explained. “As a business coach, I’ve had the privilege of working with numerous leaders and leadership teams across different sectors. My role as a coach has allowed me to collaborate with individuals and organizations facing a wide range of challenges, from struggling with growth and development to overcoming obstacles that hindered their progress.”

Adams is a big believer in educational sessions, such as those being presented at this year’s ISSA Show North America. In general, he feels the main goals for people attending such sessions should be:

  • To actively absorb new information, perspectives, and skills that are directly relevant to their work and professional development.
  • To identify specific insights and techniques they can be put into practice after the seminar to drive improvements.
  • To gain renewed inspiration and motivation to continue growing their capabilities and advancing their careers.
  • To exchange knowledge and ideas with other attendees from across the industry.

“Education is so critical for cleaning industry professionals as the field is constantly evolving. Seminars allow leaders to keep pace with advances in technology, safety standards, regulations, customer expectations, and best practices. Knowledge fuels the continued development of expertise, capabilities, and judgment required to lead with excellence in a dynamic industry,” Adams said. “My secession at ISSA will equip attendees with practical leadership techniques to uplift their organizations, empower their people, achieve operational excellence, and ultimately, deliver superior service and value to their customers.

“I look forward to sharing my insights and experience to help cleaning industry leaders maximize their impact and influence.”

Overcoming The Contract Cleaning Conundrum

Competition is fierce — for both business and labor. Contract cleaners need to stand out from the competition to avoid a “race to the bottom” of price when bidding on business. At the same time, the labor market has never been more challenging. The “Great Resignation” is real, and arguably no market has been affected more than the professional cleaning sector. How do you overcome those challenges? According to Matt Serra, CEO at Mulberry Marketing Communications (, the answer is by building your brand, positioning your business as a leader, and making employees feel valued.

Serra will speak on, “The Contract Cleaning Conundrum: Boosting Business and Building Employee Loyalty,” scheduled for 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Monday, November 13.

Attendees of this session will learn:

  • How to effectively position your business as a leader within your target markets.
  • Simple strategies and tactics that your team can execute to help you differentiate your business and build brand awareness.
  • Tactics for fostering employee loyalty and engagement.
  • How to promote employee successes and milestones externally to position your business as a leader within your community and drive recruitment.

Serra has more than 20 years of marketing and communications experience within the cleaning industry. He is CEO of Mulberry Marketing Communications, a full-service communications agency that implements marketing and communication campaigns for cleaning industry brands across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. From BSCs to distributors to manufacturers to associations, Serra has helped numerous businesses within the sector build their brands, position themselves as leaders, and grow their businesses.

“The cleaning industry is critical to society. Cleaning professionals are at the forefront of infection prevention, and they also help protect business’ brands by creating clean, welcoming, and hygienic environments. However, society doesn’t necessarily see the profession in such a light,” Serra explained. “By being innovative and staying informed, cleaning professionals can help drive the industry forward, while also protecting the reputations of people and organizations.”

While attending any educational session, Serra recommends attendees freely ask questions and to not hesitate with follow-up requests.

“I hope attendees of my session will take away something valuable that helps them manage their contract cleaning businesses and win in a competitive environment,” he concluded. “I welcome anyone attending my session to reach out to me for additional information. It’s important for people to continue gaining skills that help them solve business problems, whatever they may be, and to foster professional growth within their careers.”

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