Ten Takeaways From the 2018 Convenience U CARWACS Show

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Ten Takeaways From the 2018 Convenience U CARWACS Show

By Kelly Gray, Octane - 03/12/2018
Convenience Store News Editorial Director Don Longo (right) discusses foodservice opportunities for Canadian c-store retailers with session moderator Tony Chapman.
Convenience Store News Editorial Director Don Longo (right) discusses foodservice opportunities for Canadian c-store retailers with session moderator Tony Chapman.

TORONTO The Convenience U CARWACS Show 2018, owned and operated by Convenience Store News parent company EnsembleIQ, scored another success in Toronto as Canada’s leading showcase for the quick-service retail, gas bar and car wash sectors.

Hundreds of people attended the event held March 5-6 at the Toronto Congress Centre, scores of businesses exhibited, and thousands of operators across the country now stand to gain from the discoveries made at this year’s show.

Here are the top 10 takeaways from the event:

1. New Product Innovation

From beverages to confectionery to snack foods, major manufacturers highlighted new product introductions. Just a few examples: Coca-Cola Canada’s five new Diet Coke flavor entries, Lay’s new Poppables lowfat snacks, and Nestlé's enhanced lineup of Kit Kat bars like Tiramisu and Green Tea flavors, as well as frozen Oreo and Chips Ahoy line extensions. For those craving novelty, The Convenience U CARWACS Show did not disappoint.   

2. Big Tobacco Makes a Change

Tobacco companies showed off their drive to survive by responding to cigarette health concerns with new vapor products that take the heat and tar out of nicotine enjoyment. 

3. Stronger, Faster, Higher

Car wash bay door challenges could be a thing of the past given the innovations of entry system manufacturers displayed at the show. Want strength in a new door? One manufacturer showed off a new vinyl exterior barrier where the fused seams could hold the weight of four technicians.  

4. Presentations That Delivered Top Business Intelligence

On day two, business strategist, author and marketing guru Tony Chapman led a blue-chip slate of presenters through a morning of insights. He asked: “How can operators achieve the attention of customers in this ‘Age of Noise’?” Answers came from industry experts, including Convenience Store News Editorial Director Don Longo; Convenience Guru Russell Large; RBH’s Peter Luongo; Scott Negley of Dover Fueling Solutions; and occupational health and safety expert Kirsi Henry.

5. Righteous Replenishment

Who knew there were so many kinds of rolling papers and cannabis accessories? We do, because we went to The Convenience U CARWACS Show and discovered natural hemp papers with their own filters, blunt wraps, and virgin unbleached joint twists. There was a wealth of suppliers at the show to help retailers prepare for “Weed Sunday,” aka July 1, when Canada’s government suggests it will legalize cannabis use.  

6. Scents Make Cents

One car wash vacuum company (among several at the show) showed off how its product could not only get at the dust and grime in car carpets, but also then add a refreshing scent after the clean to provide a total package to improve automobile interior environments.

7. Prime Ministerial Lampooning

Just when you thought Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was funny enough, Justin-Canada has introduced a line of lighthearted novelty products, such as T-shirts, air fresheners, stickers, beverage containers and cheeky figures, poking fun at the popular PM’s push for cannabis.

8. Car Wash Legends in the Making

More than 100 car wash industry professionals packed onto buses for a tour of Southern Ontario’s newest vehicle cleaning sites. The tour took in Brampton’s Esso/Circle K on Mavis Road to show off MarkVII’s Choice Wash XT. The next stop was Pioneer’s redeveloped Ancaster location where Belanger’s low RPM “Duo-scrubbers” use Spin-lite technology to increase contact time on vehicles for cleaner cars. Lastly, the group inspected the newest Valet Car Wash. Located in Brantford, Valet’s new site features eight detailing bays, as well as a 125-foot tunnel that uses equipment from Sonny’s. So far, the new location is on track to clean 130,000 vehicles in its first year. 

9. Gains in Gas Dispenser Technology

Attendees were pumped to discover the evolution in fuel dispensers. Wayne, OPW and Nation Energy Equipment competed for the attention of operators with the latest in new line dispensing technology that enhances forecourt conversation, site safety and business data.

10. Aisles Packed Shoulder to Shoulder

For two afternoons, the parking lots at Mississauga’s Congress Centre were filled with attendee vehicles. Inside, the show was a collective buzz of excitement as throngs moved from booth to booth. The energy was palpable and the smiles on the faces of attendees spoke volumes.

Kelly Gray is the editor of Octane, a publication of Convenience Store News Canada. Octane is the only Canadian publication focused on the car wash and petroleum industry. It is targeted toward independent car wash operators, new car dealerships and other key industry players. 

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