Thank you, FABTECH!

By | Shows & Trips - Notes - FABTECH | Sep 16, 2021

Against all odds, FABTECH 2021 pulled off a real, live event this week. And God bless them for doing it.

For four days (SEP 13-16), the premier show of the manufacturing world fought its way back from a pandemic-inspired hiatus. It took some serious will power —and some excellent messaging— to do that.

There were some wildly mixed signals, going in.

The Thrill of Chicago

Possibly, the biggest challenge was the location. The show was held in Chicago.

This is not your father’s Chicago.

Last year, Chicago hosted riots and looting along Miracle Mile… the very location of most convention hotels.

This year, the weekend before FABTECH, Chicago police said 60 people had been shot, seven fatally. That’s a fairly normal weekend in Chicago. Really.

A Chicago-based show director told me there was no way FABTECH would be held this year.

Meanwhile, a Florida-based display builder was churning out equipment for exhibitors in the very same show.

The future was not obvious.

Mixed Mask Messaging

The show did go on, with Chicago regulations firmly in place. Especially the mask thing.

All this, just days after packed college stadiums across the country featured shoulder-to-shoulder, bare-faced football fanatics.

Very strange.

The Victory

Bringing FABTECH 2021 to life was no small accomplishment.

At a time when most shows have gone virtual, FABTECH could have easily turned their event into a series of kitchen table Zoom-casts. They didn’t do that.

Reality still has its place. As long as heavy equipment is bigger than your Florida condo. As long as you can still feel the floor shake on every cycle of a stamping press. You can’t do this show on your iPad.

I want to acknowledge the flat-out bravery of the organizers, who stared down bizarre concerns and obstacles. This event is a major assist for the folks invested in bringing production capacity back to the United States.

It’s not lost on me that next year’s show will move to the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. I think that’s going to be an improvement. They say it’s scheduled for November 8-10.

I look forward to being there.