Textile Services Association chief executive Murray Simpson asked me to say a few words at the Scottish Conference on a newcomer’s initial perceptions of the industry. Fair enough; I’ve been here for six months now. And, of course, I’m complimented that he thinks I have something worth hearing.

Murray’s invitation led me to think that it’s been a fascinating time to join the industry. In my half-year I’ve toured the Clean UK exhibition at Wembley, cruised around the enormous Clean ’01 show in New Orleans, listened to speakers at the TSA’s World Textile Rental Congress, visited manufacturers and suppliers and spoken to numerous laundry and drycleaning people. I don’t think I could have chosen a better time to get to know the industry.

So what have I learnt? Well, early on I was told that this is “a very friendly business”, a comment I’d heard about every industry I’ve worked in. I took it with a large pinch of salt, cynicism being a prerequisite of a journalist’s character. But, in this instance, it’s true.

Never before have I been invited to a manufacturer’s plant with the express wish that I should not write anything as a result of my visit. My host could not have made me more welcome as he sought to educate me about his business.

Never before has an industry stalwart handed me his company’s internal technical “bible” – the collective knowledge of years of experience – in order that I might read it and be better informed.

Never before has an MD made last-minute arrangements for me to attend an association dinner, and then gone out of his way to introduce me to as many people as possible and make sure I have a good time.

None of this was necessary, expected or done, I suspect, with any other motivation than generosity. Heartening, isn’t it? I think so.

Before joining LCN I was launch editor of a weekly publication for the mobile phone business. And you’re right, it could not have been more different. The comparison between the two industries is interesting.

The mobile market is fast moving, high profile, the most advanced technologically in the world (and advancing more rapidly than any other) and it’s glamourous. Its main players are the biggest companies in the world, bright young men and women with multi-million-pound venture capital funding and the highest-paid fat cats you’ll find. In short, it’s everything the textile care industry isn’t.

But, there’s a but. Everything that makes the mobile industry a journalist’s dream, makes the business itself a nightmare. Vodafone and the other networks have astronomical debt, even by their standards; the technology bubble has burst; and out on the high street consumers are no longer stampeding to buy their first mobile phone, they’re putting off getting a new one.

Much as we may be in love with mobile communications, we’ll always need clean clothes. And when the love diminishes, we’ll still need clean clothes.

Business-to-business magazines rise and fall with the industries they serve. It’s not only for commercial reasons, however, that I’m glad I’m with this business.