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THE SHOW MUST GO ON
from Harold Welch
April 12, 2011
During the late 60's and 70's Measurex exhibited at the TAPPI trade show. At the time the event occurred very year and traveled to different cities. New York, Chicago and Atlanta were frequent sites. I was usually the one that provided the setup and hardware support at the show.
I believe it was in 1974 that the show took place at the elegant Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. This was the year that Measurex introduced the 2000 System. We had secretly installed a system Vancouver WA. It wasn’t perfect, but it was measuring and controlling. Even most of the salesmen weren’t told about the new system until the show. .
The introduction was intended to be a big splash and a lot of money and effort was invested. The display booth was extravagant with a false floor, fancy walls, recessed lighting and lots of illuminated signs. The booth materials took up far more of the moving van space than the system itself. During the three day show, a couple of girls were hired to help attract customers into the booth. One of them turned out to be Suzanne Somers. I still remember her comment about the system. “The operator station looks like a gas pump ”.
To support the effort there was a marketing coordinator, Ed Vopat, and software and hardware engineers on site. Ed was working at least 16 hours a day during the show.
Other expenses included a fancy marketing meeting in Miami Beach to introduce the 2000 system to the Measurex salesmen and a Yacht. The Yacht was previously owned by one of the presidents. I think it was Truman. It was big enough to have several staterooms. Ed’s plan was to take some mill and company management and their spouses out for a cruise. They were entertained with such things as music, food, wine and gambling. “Measurex” Monopoly money was used and prizes were given to the winners.
A full sized wooden model of the 2000 operator station was placed on the fantail (Back) of the yacht. It was covered with canvas which was tied to the deck. The canvas hid the unit until the appropriate time. The top of the canvas was fastened to some large helium balloons. Ed commented,”When it comes time to unveil the 2000 station, I’ll cut the lines holding the canvas to the deck and one of two things will happen. The canvas will float up into the air revealing the operator station –or- the boat will sink”
Ed hired some hostesses to help with the service during the cruise. Unfortunately and unknown to Ed, these hostesses were prepared to give far more personal service than the usual waitress. This didn’t go over very well with the spouses.
Among the first few 2000 sales were systems in France, South Africa and Australia. To say the least, this was a support nightmare.
Unlike the TAPPI show the CPPA show stayed in one place. It occurred every year in Montreal and until the late 70’s it was at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.
Salesmen were always in and out of the booth during the show. They tended to go to talk personally to their customers or go to the hospitality suite. One time at the CPPA show, Dave ended up alone in the booth. He wasn’t happy about having to deal with several visitors by himself. He put out a memo saying. ”While I appreciate your confidence in my abilities, there will be a schedule to ensure that the booth is manned at all times”
The QE was an elegant but older hotel, and eventually the CPPA show moved to a newer Montreal hotel. (I don’t remember the name).
This hotel had a lot more space for the trade show and a much larger lobby. There was even evening entertainment in the lobby. One night there was a singer accompanied by her husband on the piano. Dave and a few salesmen were at a table talking about strategy for the show and potential customers and listening to the singer. The next morning, Dave encountered the piano player in the lobby. I happened to be right behind him. Dave commented to the man,”I enjoyed your wife last night”. After a long pause the husband said”So did I”.
I enjoyed supporting the trade show. They attracted a lot of customer interest and most times, things went right. That’s why these events stand out in my memory.