What The Rockwell Show Tells Me

By Ted Dieck | Shows & Trips - Notes - Rockwell AF | Nov 15, 2021

The Rockwell 2021 Automation Fair in Houston made the important statement that we’ve got work to do, and we intend do it.  This industry fully expects to grow. 

The Automation Fair hasn’t held its show since 2019.  Knocked out by last year’s COVID-19 regs, Rockwell doubled down on caution and pre-cautions. 

You may recall my article, prior to the show.  I was wondering what kind of convention would ask for a vaccination, a mask, and social distancing. 

Well, here’s my answer…


The Chicago version of AF tends to be much bigger.  But Chicagoland has been misbehaving, recently. 

To me, Houston is the better location. 

I’m certain the last minute “OMG, it’s a pandemic” message didn’t help attendance numbers. 

That said, the folks who came to the show were there on purpose. 

To my untrained eye, this was a smaller event, with just OK turnout. 

But the attitude was positive, and the energy was solid. 

Looking For Answers

The biggest reason I went to the show was to get a read on the industry.  I wasn’t doing a study of the economy.  I was checking on my friends. 

Keep in mind, shows are full of sales reps.  And in this environment, sales reps see nothing but opportunity. 

The flip side of this excitement:  We’ve got a strangled supply chain and a ridiculous labor shortage.  

The Bottom Line

It’s definitely possible to write new business.  Fulfilling a contract may take a while. 

Advantage goes to the stable company that can sustain its efforts without getting rattled under pressure. 

At The Heart Of It

On the last day, I asked around about the positive attitudes at the show (there were even start-up companies exhibiting, if you can believe that.)  

And we compared that with visibly damaging policies in the world just outside the convention center. 

Houston, after all, has a real interest in US energy policies.  And 100,000 illegals a week are coming north, a mere 1,000 miles away. 

Here’s The Explanation We Settled On

Engineers fix things.  It’s a big reason the industry is optimistic. 

If you want to build something positive, that’s fantastic. 

If you prefer to mess things up and then ask an engineer to fix it, that’s OK, too.  

Either way, the engineer gets paid.  -TD