Another show come and gone. My 40th I believe as my first was in 1971 and I have only missed two since. I have watched the “show” go through a fairly stagnant stage to one of full speed ahead to a time of forlorn faces and pessimism to this year’s cautious optimism.
Though this year’s show was very nicely organized and looked good, I have to believe that the number of exhibitors and floor space rented has gone down substantially since the heady days. Unfortunately, it was our perception that the attendee numbers were down as well this year. We were very busy on Wednesday morning, relatively steady in the afternoon, slightly less on Thursday am and really dead on Thursday afternoon. The last hours of any and all shows are pretty slow so not unexpected. However, last year it seemed we were a good bit busier throughout.
Sometimes we question the value of the show and the substantial cost, especially for the number of end-user customers (Superintendents) that “touch” our booth and/or personnel. However, we also consider the national show to be our international distributor meeting as we see a majority of those folks who bring our products to the marketplace, in the US and throughout the world.
I am not so sure most have any idea what goes into putting up a booth, so thought I would share our efforts. Three days ahead of the show (this year Sunday) three of our people will fly in to begin the process of taking the product and displays out of 8 crates and 2 pallets. Monday am two more will fly in as the set up continues and the rest of us on Tuesday to help with final arrangement of products and preparation for our visitors. We bring Tom and Gary who run our manufacturing operation for their production and materials expertise, Dawn as she is in communication with so many of our dealers on a regular basis, Dan and Scott who head up our sales and marketing and know many if not all of our dealers personally, Mike who primarily handles international affairs, and finally, me – I hand out the mints.
The trade show hours average 10 hours a day and none of us are out of the booth for personal time except for a short lunch (usually a hot dog) and bathroom visits. It makes for a long time on one’s feet and our backs will further attest to it.
At the end of the second day, tear down begins with what we call the Velcro symphony, so named from the cacophony of pop up booths being stripped of their panels. It takes us (all 7 of us) roughly 5 hours from start of tear down to shipping labels on crates. This year we got our crates in relatively short order and thus not having to wait for them got us to a beer and pizza about an hour earlier than normal.
Once back home the work begins. Following up on inquiries, product information, requests, as well as delving into product ideas presented and improvements suggested. It’s truly exhausting but there is a sense of excitement to it all as well. Till next year in Orlando.