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Will we see trade shows again?

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Tech Talk by Peter Mate
Peter Mate is owner and president of Planit Canada, a software and services company devoted to servicing the manufacturing industry. For more info email
I have so many pinch marks… Yes, it’s real. I sometimes feel like I’m trying to take a tight sweater off and I’m stuck…
The good news is that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Restrictions are easing… There’s talk about a second wave. Who knows…?
The one thing I do know is that this is not the future of mankind. We are not built to live in isolation or away from each other. So, what will some heavily crowded things look like going forward?
Will we ever see trade shows again?
If we do, will they be the same as before? I loved trade shows. It’s like your favorite holiday. You get together with colleagues you haven’t seen in a while. You catch up with customers, meet new people and mingle with other industry folks. It’s an opportunity to have a beer with friends and make new ones. When you have an interest in woodworking, an industry trade show is like a giant shopping mall full of really cool stuff!
Will people feel comfortable attending trade shows again? What about flying, hotels or crowded restaurants, seminars? I don’t know…

I do know that everyone and anyone that has been benefitting from trade shows is trying to find alternate ways to get exposure, drum up business and connect. Anyone else saturated with webinars? Don’t get me wrong, a webinar is a good way to share information, but as a human being, there’s only so much sitting-in-front-of-a-screen-listening-to-someone-else-talk-while-I’m-muted that I can handle.
There are new things constantly being developed. New machines, software, connectors and plenty of other advancements in the woodworking industry. How will woodworkers find them? Yes, you can search the internet and click on ads, but will it replace seeing those things under one roof in real life? Maybe? There are numerous online retailers that seem to be doing pretty well. I recently bought my last car online without seeing it in person. Online credit card deposit and all. Have I gone mad or are there others out there?
Is there a day in our future where woodworkers buy their next CNC online? Maybe.
I’m sure some machines have already been purchased online now that we know what we’re looking for. I think that’s more of a replenishment purchase. We had one, we know what we want, we buy it. What about when we don’t know? What about all the things we get to see and experience at trade events that we didn’t know and would have never searched for online?
I don’t know if trade shows will return as they were in the past, but I do know that we will always need to connect the people that want to learn, change, grow and progress with the people that create new solutions, products and services. There are some woodworkers that need to keep progressing and moving forward. We will find a way to keep these connections. It might not look like it has in the past, but hey; maybe we’ll find an even better way to connect.
Hoping to see you all soon with a smile on our faces and a beer in hand.

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