Relics of a Different Age

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Scott WebbA generally upbeat trade show season has been entered into the industry log; a lively AC show provided a particularly strong infusion of enthusiasm and positive expectation for the coming season — and for the rapidly evolving pool and spa industry as a whole.

In the midst of all this positive change and forward thinking, I was struck by the strange vestige of a by-gone era that cannot remain much longer. Specifically, the exhibitor move-in shakedown.

One exhibitor told me that, to build and perfect the company’s trade show booth back at HQ, then break it down and ship it to the loading dock outside the convention hall, it cost about $4,000. It cost nearly twice that much for the union to simply fork-truck the booth through the overhead doors of the convention hall and re-erect it.

By rule and law, during the setup phase, the company was no longer allowed to touch its own property. It had to pay absurd sums for people unfamiliar with the booth to assemble it in the productive moments between mandatory coffee breaks.

There was a time when America could afford this type of nonsense. There was a time when there were cush jobs for high pay and work days that started late and ended early at the bar. When, in certain places and under certain conditions, you could charge much for very little, year after year. But as we all know, those days are as dead as Caesar, and as gone as the great Roman republic.

Yet still, like the crumbling pillars of the Forum, we still find relics of that old civilization amid our rapidly changing economy. We still encounter little pockets of easy money where someone makes a whopping salary for moving boxes from one spot to another, simply due to some outdated government fiat.

This was tolerated when money came to everyone a little bit easier — that made it easier to pass it along. But people aren’t going to put up with that much longer. Five, maybe 10 years from now, these types of jobs will be nostalgic curiosities, right there with the glaives and shields of the old Roman phalanx, under glass in a history museum.

Scott Webb

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