As_The_Saws_Turn Jim Obermeyer
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As The Saws Turn: Our Unique Industry

by Jim Obermeyer

We’ve all been diving back into this business headfirst, nearly drowning in the work that has been thrown our way in the last few months. I think it is time for us to come up for air and try to catch our breath. And while you are doing that and thinking about what has been happening as we all get used to the fast-paced world of tradeshows again, take a moment to consider these: 

Things You Do At Tradeshows That You Would Never Do Anywhere Else:

  • Spend $10 for a 12 oz. bottle of Aquafina
  • Wear matching polyester clothing
  • Chat with 500 total strangers in 72 hours
  • Debate the existential meaning of portable, modular and custom
  • Complain about how much it costs to vacuum 400 sq. ft. of carpet
  • Be convinced a 15-minute conversation will lead to $500,000 in new business
  • Assemble a 3D structure that costs somewhere between that of a new car and a McMansion in three days, only to disassemble it three days later
  • Hang your dress shirt in the bathroom with the shower running for 30 minutes to steam out the wrinkles
  • Guard your giveaways like a momma bear (Day #1), and beg show labor to take them away in bulk (Day #3)
  • Judge people based solely on their name badge
  • Sneak off to the bathroom just to find a quiet place to work
  • Convince your boss that the 300 fishbowl leads are new clients clamoring for your product (and not the iPad giveaway)
  • Have accounting panic because you just maxed out your credit card on one transaction … perhaps the drayage bill?
  • Spend 3 days with 100 of your best friends and not speak to or see them again for 362 days
  • Hide in a storage closet to scarf down a day-old scone because you’re starving (and were out too late the night before)
  • Fly from the Midwest in January to Las Vegas, Orlando or New Orleans and NEVER leave the hotel/convention center complex
  • Reintroduce yourself to the same person three times
  • Buy a gaudy new belt in the casino shop for $165 after forgetting to pack one
  • Take a Lyft to Lowe’s and Target and Walgreens at 8am because your client forgot something they need for the show
  • Let someone point a scanning device or smartphone camera in the general vicinity of your chest and crotch—repeatedly
  • Explain, once again, to your family and friends that it is a business trip and NOT a vacation

You know there’s at least some on this list that you have done, if not all!  But it’s just who we are and what we do. And unless you’re in this business, you probably wouldn’t get the humor. So as we kick off another year and(hopefully) watch our industry continue to rock on, do take some time to catch your breath and enjoy the ride.

See you on the show floor.

Jim Obermeyer has been in the exhibits and events industry for 40 years, both as a corporate tradeshow manager and exhibit house owner.  He can be reached at jobermeyer903@gmail.com    

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