In this year’s teaser for its annual event — in the form of an e-mail blast — the International Carwash Association poses a challenge to car washers everywhere with the question: “You think you know The Car Wash Show?” The ICA, of course, obliges with an answer: “… Think Again!”

The association is right. While we all have set expectations of what the show will deliver and a broad understanding of the opportunities it will provide (education, exhibits, networking), it is impossible to know the show save by being there. Who knows which seminar holds the solution to a problem that has plagued you for so long? And how many new products and ideas will you encounter on the show floor that could help you gain a competitive edge and keep your business growth on track?

Many equipment/product manufacturers time the introduction of new items to coincide with a major tradeshow — and this is the largest one in the industry. You’ll be among the first to see these new products, to assess their value, and to engage in discourse with those who actually produce them. There is simply no other event that offers the opportunity to visit with so many vendors in one location.

Aside from introducing new products and potentially providing problem-solving seminars, the show also offers an innovative birds-of-a-feather approach to network programming. There are three concurrent receptions on April 22 for three distinct groups: emerging leaders, international attendees, and women in car washing. Friday, April 24, offers separate receptions for five different car-care business segments: flex/full serve, express exterior, self-serve/in-bay, c-store, and detailing. Finally, there is a networking breakfast on Saturday that doubles as roundtable discussions — again separated into distinct groups: flex/full serve, express exterior, and self-serve/in-bay.

“New” is not the be all and end all of the show, however. There are always workhorses from years gone by that deserve a second look or need to be revaluated. Sometimes old can be made new again with a simple adjustment here or an addition there. Don’t forget all the “old” friends and longtime acquaintances you’ll be meeting up with again to exchange ideas or, perhaps, just to reminisce. The show is also the venue for recognizing those who have excelled during the previous 12 months. Others have fun with the past. For a few years now, Simoniz, for example, has decorated its exhibit booth with nostalgia-driven items, including a ‘40s automobile.

New doesn’t always last long in the automotive world these days. Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that today’s innovation is tomorrow’s redundancy. It seems like only yesterday we were introduced to the capabilities of GPS accessories. Now their days are numbered. That’s the assessment of Ronald Montoya of the auto research site According to a report in The New York Times (February 22, 2015), Google (Android Auto) and Apple (CarPlay) are engaged in a battle for control of the car dashboard, providing maps right on the car’s main screen. They are also streaming music in-vehicle from their extensive libraries, endangering the continued existence of the MP3 player, and getting awfully close to killing off theCD player.

Better get to see what’s new while it’s still new — and in car washing, that means you need to know The Car Wash Show.