The End of an Era and On with the Show(s)

The recent news of Don Friese’s retirement from C.R. Laurence is the end of an era and a monumental change to the glass and glazing industry, which he has influenced for so many years. With his retirement, the North American glass and glazing industry will lose one of the most remarkable business leaders with a truly exceptional career. Don proved the American Dream to be true by starting as a young man with only $125 in his pocket and building a global multi-million-dollar business. It was an honor for me to work in the same industry with him and serve him as a customer, battle with him as a competitor, and to meet him personally during various occasions. I truly respect his impressive achievements as entrepreneur and influencer, and though Don has retired, his legacy will certainly continue for many years to come.

But as the industry continues to move on to the beat of Don’s legacy, so does this year’s busy show season with a back-to-back GlassBuild America and glasstec, and a whole lot of marketing dollars spent in good faith. For me, this six-week period in September and October is especially treacherous because Bohle exhibits at both GlassBuild America and at glasstec, which takes place just a stone’s throw away from our corporate headquarters, so obviously it’s a big one. 

With that in mind, I wanted to share some helpful experiences and approaches when dealing with trade shows and planning in general: 

  • Organization and communication. We’ve done the “wait until the last minute” approach before and it’s never successful. Getting together and game planning months in advance is the way to go. In those sessions we plan out our theme, the products we’ll focus on, the look of the booth and so on. The real trick is figuring out how to balance the staffing of the booth while making sure we have enough coverage from the inside team.
  • Patience. You will need it by the bucket load. In planning for these events, you will be bombarded with emails and calls from all different areas. You need to calmly review and make sure you are staying on top of the important ones and not the daily pitches that are trying to sell you any old mailing list or freight quote or hotel block. 
  • Enjoy the moment. Honestly my favorite part is when the show doors open and people work their way to our stand. I love catching up with customers and industry connections, but really enjoy introducing people to our products and services. This year in Vegas was very busy for us, but I did take a step back and admire the folks I work with as they were engaged with customers and enjoyed a deep sense of pride for what was accomplished in our show effort.
  • Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. You’ve spent months getting ready; you’ve spent a ton of money. Now you have to make sure you spend the time and effort in the follow-up. After you complete a long week at GlassBuild, you’re tired and swamped the moment you get back to the office, but you have to drive through it. Same goes for the upcoming time following glasstec. Make sure to have a team of people who do not let opportunities pass you by.

In the end, if you can be proactive overall, you can drive through the show efforts and keep everything else in your world on track. By the way, if you are attending or exhibiting at glasstec, please come by our stand for a coffee or a beer and say hello!  I intend to be the one standing there organized and patient, enjoying the time and preparing for eventual follow-up.

Gareth Francey is the president of Bohle America, a supplier of glazing & handling tools, hardware, consumables, and machinery, for all levels of the glass industry. Francey has been with the Bohle organization since 2001 and led the American division since 2010. Contact him at gareth.francey@bohle-america.com.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.

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