The truck show: There’s nothing else quite like it
May 1, 2012
It’s that time of year again: truck show time. And having joined up with the rest of the Truck News gang at the biggest of them all in Louisville, I’m very pleased to say that it would appear that our industry is showing genuine...
It’s that time of year again: truck show time. And having joined up with the rest of the Truck News gang at the biggest of them all in Louisville, I’m very pleased to say that it would appear that our industry is showing genuine signs of an upturn in fortunes. It’s been long overdue, but it’s here at last.
Most manufacturers had new products to unveil, some had complete trucks, and some had major component upgrades, all of which are good for us, whether we drive, operate, own or just have a fascination with trucks.
You can read all about the trucks and the rest of the new products elsewhere in the magazine, I want to focus on the people who attend these shows.
No other industry has an event like a truck show. They may have conferences – usually at a fancy country club or in Las Vegas – but those are more about getting together with old friends and having a good time. Most of the good times come after the work part of the day ends, too.
Yet at a truck show, the trucks and trucking itself are the main reasons people go.
For the same reasons people visit other trade shows, like boat shows for example, they come to see all the new things on show and to dream a little about what they would spend their money on if they struck gold. While people play on boats as a hobby, we truck to earn a living.
Of the estimated 70,000 people who visited MATS this year, the overwhelming majority of them were there as fans, the majority of those work in the industry, and many of them, as I did, stopped off while under a load.
The parking lots were overflowing with trucks. Some were staying for the duration of the show, and some were making a mad dash around as they only had a few hours there.
Every single one of them was excited to be there, and they had all taken time off work, just to be around trucks.
I took some time to visit with my fellow show-goers and some were there to see the show’n’shine, others to keep on top of the new technologies, others still had no reason to be there other than just being there, and each and every one of them had a smile on their face that you could only remove with surgical instruments. I know, I was one of them!
One thing that made me smile more than any other thing was the show’n’shine section; there were over a hundred trucks and every single one of them was a work of art. Many were there from the manufacturers of such exotic machines, to showcase the talents of the builders, but the majority of them were working trucks.
The standard of finish and the attention to detail was breathtaking; this is a very dedicated group of people. Again, no other industry does this. There may be people who take pride in their jobs and their tools, but I’ve yet to see a construction worker with a chrome shovel, or an office worker with a drop visor on their monitor. If such people do exist they would be very quiet about it, but in trucking we celebrate it.
As I said earlier, I was under a load while at the show. The organizers had wisely provided ample parking for big trucks and the parking lots were soon reaching bursting point. I arrived mid-morning on the first day and only just squeezed into a spot. My neighbours had been there since the night before and were planning on staying until the show finished at the end of the weekend. What really stuck in my mind about this was that even though we weren’t in marked bays, everyone was parked nice and neat and there were no bags of trash dumped out of windows, a stark contrast to most truck stops.
Many people came with their families; it gave them a chance to show the important people in their lives some of the best parts of the industry. Little kids were walking around wide-eyed, just as I had when I was a kid, wishing they could be like Dad.
Now that’s a wonderful thing to see. There were also business reasons to be there. There were many conferences, some about new products, some were educational, with respected members of the industry speaking.
There really was something there for everyone and I would bet good money that not one person came away from the show unhappy with what they’d seen.
This is a worldwide phenomenon. I’ve attended truck shows all over the world. Some are big arena deals like MATS, some are more ‘Mom and Pop’ and focus on the custom trucks, but each and every one of them has the same atmosphere. For once in our lives we can walk around with our heads held high, proud that we are truck drivers.