The Great American Trucking Show is all bright lights and goosebumps in the beginning. When you first walk through the glimmering hallways of the Kay Bailey Convention Center, you notice the Dallas skyline through the floor-to-ceiling windows to your right, and on the left, photos of past plays hang on the wall, highlighting the history of the building.
Then, there’s the escalators–which I totally forgot I was afraid of, seeing as how I don’t encounter them too much on my way to and from the Bloomington office. Nelson helped. He offered to stand a step below me on the way down, just in case I fell face first onto the scary-looking steel traps which would invariably diverge and lash out to grab hold of my shoelaces, rendering me pulverized meat in a slow agonizing death.
However, I have survived the escalators and I am A-OK, in case you were wondering.
Aside from the sweetly warm heat of downtown Dallas, I’d expect the slightly stormy weather near the closing of the show to envelop me in a sticky embrace, much like I’m used to in Florida, but, the environment is quite arid, to my liking, and once you roll down your shirt sleeves, you can find yourself quite comfortable in the frigid indoor area of the trade show itself.
The people are nice, here in Texas. Nicer than I thought. Most people go out of their way to offer up a nod and smile at any passersby, and when they decide to stop by your booth, they take their time looking through the marketing department’s carefully designed literature before scrunching up their eyebrows, hitching their glasses back in place on the bridge of their noses, and asking you questions.
I found that letting them ask the questions, instead of launching into a spiel right away helps. In one case, a lady with two guys in tow, asked, “Howdy. What’s your spiel?” Since I overheard her talking to her compadres about getting wifi for their truck, I simply said, “Oh, we don’t have wifi. This is satellite TV.” And she raised her arms, “See?” She had won the battle that day, preventing further confusion among her friends. I let her walk away.
But! A huge percentage of the people we talked to seemed generally interested in the product, and we even managed to sell a dozen or so, so the trip was well worth it, in my humble opinion.
I also had a chance to walk around the quaint little tourist town of Grapevine, TX one night after the show. I took a ton of photos of strange cactus (I was informed that the word’s both singular AND plural, there) and if you look carefully in one of the photos, you can see a mannequin of a man standing guard way high up in one of the bell towers, next to that Cotton Patch cafe with the unicorn mascot pointing the way toward justice for all foods fit for southern stomachs.
Long story, short. GATS was great. I met a TON of cool people and I learned a lot from Nelson, not only about Dealey Plaza, Lee Harvey Oswald, the World Trade Center, and various architectural marvels employing sound engineering in the form of bridge construction, but I learned about the relationship dealers have with customers and customers have with sales people, face-to-face. I also learned that there’s a difference between local truckers and long-haul truckers. HUGE difference—as far as selling our product goes. Oh, and it’s quite possible the first long-haul truck was made in 1939. Go figure!
The Great American Trucking Show was an eye-opener, to say the least, and I’m glad I had the chance to participate. Now, let’s see what happens at MATS next year, in March.
To be published in next month’s staff newsletter for KING…