It's showtime!

Jan. 1, 2020
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend. Come inside!

“Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend. Come inside!”

In 1974 when I first heard those lyrics from Emerson, Lake and Palmer, I thought they were referring to the excitement of a live ELP concert. Over the years, however, I’ve become convinced that they were talking about Industry Week in Las Vegas. And guess what — it’s time again for the show that never ends.

This year’s Industry Week was my 31st consecutive year of attendance. Thirty-one years of Big I, AWDA, SEMA, Pacific Automotive, TIA, AAPEX, AIA and several other shows whose names I can’t recall. Believe me, there were stretches in those 31 years when I became pretty cynical about attending the event and the city that hosts it. But I keep going back, and I think I’ve figured out why.


Industry Week is kind of like the weather. Everyone complains about it, but nobody does anything about it. If you’ve attended any of the functions encapsulated by the event, you’ll know what I mean. People love to trash it! Wherever two or more are gathered I hear grousing about how Industry Week has “outlived its usefulness.” Or how oppressively expensive it has become. Or about how the event should come around only every other year. Or it should be shorter, or longer, or someplace else; they shouldn’t let the low-cost country companies in; or the cab lines are outrageous, and on and on.

You will get no argument from me about the expense. But the cost has much more to do with the location than with the show. The cost of show real estate and other fees paid to our associations has only increased modestly; it is the cost of everything else that is escalating. Just check what I call the “Bud Light” index. Back in the 80s, a Bud Light was a buck in most casinos, compared to around $8 today. That will give you some perspective.

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Or instead of the weather, maybe the show is like Christmas. One of my really old friends asked me if I remembered when we were kids, how long it took for Christmas to come around? Now it seems like I just got done taking the lights down and it’s time already to put them back up. Bah, humbug! They should only have Christmas every other year! Alternatively, they could have it once a quarter and I could just leave the lights up.

Let me give you my theory of what’s really going on. Industry Week represents different things to different people and different objectives for different companies. For the specialty market, SEMA represents the excitement of what’s new and what’s hot in the world of speed and appearance. Almost what Fashion Week in New York is to the clothing industry. AIA is a vibrant opportunity for global trade. AWDA is about education and a chance for principals to sit eye-to-eye and resolve issues and AAPEX is networking and deal making. Because of the breadth of shows and events (including some I neglected to name) that comprise Industry Week, there is real value in attending.

Last time I checked we were still a free-market economy. (These days I check more frequently.) No manufacturer is required to exhibit and no reseller is required to attend, but every year they build it and every year they come. If there were no value in it, this would not be the case.

If you took the time and spent the money to attend AAPEX, it’s because you get something out of it. Sure, it’s fashionable to diss the show and pretend you’d rather be anywhere else. It’s a free country (I check on that frequently, too). So, hopefully we all left the whining and grousing at home this year and gave Industry Week its due for the value it provides.

“Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend. Come inside!”

In 1974 when I first heard those lyrics from Emerson, Lake and Palmer, I thought they were referring to the excitement of a live ELP concert. Over the years, however, I’ve become convinced that they were talking about Industry Week in Las Vegas. And guess what — it’s time again for the show that never ends.

This year’s Industry Week was my 31st consecutive year of attendance. Thirty-one years of Big I, AWDA, SEMA, Pacific Automotive, TIA, AAPEX, AIA and several other shows whose names I can’t recall. Believe me, there were stretches in those 31 years when I became pretty cynical about attending the event and the city that hosts it. But I keep going back, and I think I’ve figured out why.


Industry Week is kind of like the weather. Everyone complains about it, but nobody does anything about it. If you’ve attended any of the functions encapsulated by the event, you’ll know what I mean. People love to trash it! Wherever two or more are gathered I hear grousing about how Industry Week has “outlived its usefulness.” Or how oppressively expensive it has become. Or about how the event should come around only every other year. Or it should be shorter, or longer, or someplace else; they shouldn’t let the low-cost country companies in; or the cab lines are outrageous, and on and on.

You will get no argument from me about the expense. But the cost has much more to do with the location than with the show. The cost of show real estate and other fees paid to our associations has only increased modestly; it is the cost of everything else that is escalating. Just check what I call the “Bud Light” index. Back in the 80s, a Bud Light was a buck in most casinos, compared to around $8 today. That will give you some perspective.

PAGE 2

Or instead of the weather, maybe the show is like Christmas. One of my really old friends asked me if I remembered when we were kids, how long it took for Christmas to come around? Now it seems like I just got done taking the lights down and it’s time already to put them back up. Bah, humbug! They should only have Christmas every other year! Alternatively, they could have it once a quarter and I could just leave the lights up.

Let me give you my theory of what’s really going on. Industry Week represents different things to different people and different objectives for different companies. For the specialty market, SEMA represents the excitement of what’s new and what’s hot in the world of speed and appearance. Almost what Fashion Week in New York is to the clothing industry. AIA is a vibrant opportunity for global trade. AWDA is about education and a chance for principals to sit eye-to-eye and resolve issues and AAPEX is networking and deal making. Because of the breadth of shows and events (including some I neglected to name) that comprise Industry Week, there is real value in attending.

Last time I checked we were still a free-market economy. (These days I check more frequently.) No manufacturer is required to exhibit and no reseller is required to attend, but every year they build it and every year they come. If there were no value in it, this would not be the case.

If you took the time and spent the money to attend AAPEX, it’s because you get something out of it. Sure, it’s fashionable to diss the show and pretend you’d rather be anywhere else. It’s a free country (I check on that frequently, too). So, hopefully we all left the whining and grousing at home this year and gave Industry Week its due for the value it provides.