When a young John Riddle, now 78, wrapped up his career as a professional baseball player, having spent time with the Orioles and the White Sox, the next season of his life stood before him; a series of incredible professional accomplishments to be achieved.
Since 1981, through his management and production of the Clean Show, he’s invested his time and his talents into the gathering of folks within the Textile Care Industry and all associated with it. And though his career would be illustrative and take him down a variety of paths, it would eventually lead him to become a celebrated spirit within the textile care community and the friendly face of a global industry.
From professional player to producer and manager of the international Clean Show, a common theme ran through the professional career of Riddle’s life: he brings people together. This year’s Clean Show in New Orleans will be his last official production, but his impact upon the community has changed the way corporations and individuals within the industry work together. His work is the foundation of many longtime relationships and partnerships.
“I always like to do things that are creative,” says Riddle. Throughout the course of his career, he has owned nearly a dozen businesses, worked as Director of Sales for the Atlanta Braves, served as a Consultant for the Association of Music Merchants, and headed the Convention and Visitors Bureau for the City of Atlanta. Whether it’s coordinating the hasty setup and breakdown of bleachers at a NASCAR event without leaving a trace, or pioneering new ways for companies to purchase tickets for sporting events, Riddle understands event management and interpersonal relationships. He also has an extraordinary ability to match that understanding with his inimitable organization skills.
Riddle’s involvement with the show began in its earliest days, only three short years after the major industry associations came together for a trade show event. Already an expert in the textile care industry, he also became an expert in show management. Expanding his knowledge further, he developed a keen understanding of how the advancement of machinery technology has changed the business of how garments are cared for. And all the while he’s been at the helm, it could be said that he’s been the one helping to foster deep relationships across the industry’s moving parts. Through the Clean Show, manufacturers and merchants, dry cleaners, and distributors come together to celebrate the collective work of the textile care industry.
Mr. Riddle has been associated with the Clean Show for 38 years, dating back to 1981. This year he’ll be as busy as ever, walking the floor of the convention center, attending to any number of details, welcoming exhibitors and guests. “I’ll miss it,” he says.
“I’ll miss the excitement and the activity around the show. But I’ve made a lot of great friends here, lifelong friends.” And as a man who seems to have lived a life without idling, it’s doubtful that his retirement from the Clean Show will lead him to a season without work. Riddle looks forward to spending time with his grandchildren. He looks forward to some rest from the daily heavy-lifting managing such a large-scale production. He looks forward to consulting work. “I’m certainly not going to ride off into the sunset and tie my horse off in the barn,” he laughs. But he will, in true Riddle form, continue to nurture and build relationships in his retirement. “It’s time to spend time with my grandchildren,” he says.
We at M&B are glad for our friend John. And we’re thankful for all he has meant to us over the years. He’s been pivotal in the progression of our industry, and because of his work and creativity, we are better. We wish him all the best in his retirement and look forward to our continued friendship.