Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Traveling with "The Show".

On the off chance that anybody noticed I haven't been posting lately, I thought I might share where I've been. The last week and a half has been a hectic blur. Of the past eleven nights I've spent eight in hotel rooms. It's been fun but it's also great to be home and sort of settled, again!

This doesn't actually have anything to do with motorcycling except for the fact that it's how I support my habit.

As you might have gathered by now, I am a manufacturer's rep. Specifically in the door, hardware, and security field. My boss is under contract with a large corporation which owns half the hardware world. Seriously. They own something like 150 companies around the world. We represent around two dozen brands.

The corporation has organized a traveling show they call the Mobile Innovation Showroom. With the economy being the way it is, people aren't traveling to regional trade shows like they used to. So we are now bringing the goods to the people. It's really a class act. Corporate bought a big rig and stuffed it full of our products. The truck is making the rounds of the United States. We had it for a few stops.

At each location we have invited end users, architects, and distributors to attend. A fancy hotel is picked at each stop and the truck is in the parking lot. Inside the hotel we set up rooms for workshops, eating, and a product expo. After taking a tour of the truck the attendees visit the product expo then move onto presentations and other events.

My job has been to conduct truck tours along with my cohort Brian. We ran a hundred people a day through the truck in groups of 8 to 10. Each tour is a half hour long. Fifteen minutes up one side of the trailer which showcases all the electronic goodies, and fifteen minutes down the other side which showcases design and life safety items. I work one side while Brian works the other. Whoever is working the electronic side hands the group off to the one working the design side. Right about that time a new group enters the trailer on the electronics side. It's quite the process.

Our job is to generate excitement for the products. Once the group leaves the trailer they are turned loose in the product expo to ask questions and find out more about the products they've just seen. Conveniently, the product expo has a lot of the same items on display as the trailer does. Besides generating excitement, our task is to stay on time. The whole schedule depends on the tour timing. If we get bogged down so does everything else. It's fun but draining. Not to mention hard on the voice. My experience as a motorcycle instructor comes in handy for that part.

I'm pleased to say we rocked!

Anyway, here's some snapshots I took during the rush.

The truck is awesome. The trailer has a slide-out on one side which nearly doubles the inside space. In the next few photos you can see the trailer both inside and out.

The man in the photo below is Lester, the corporate genius in charge of product development for the electronic side. We had a lot of corporate bigwigs showing up and tagging along on tours. No pressure, mind you!

Actually, this guy is pretty down to earth. One night we all went to supper at a sports bar. Lester was sitting on my left. He ordered sauteed shrimp with a green salad. Which was on the menu, surprisingly. Then Lester asked for blue cheese crumbles on his salad. The waitress gave him a funny look. I said to Lester, "Dude, you're in a bar!" He saw the humor and laughed. Damned if they didn't come up with the crumbles! It will take a bit for me to live that one down. By the way, I ordered a California Burger with onion rings to go with my Black Butte Porter beer. That's proper bar food!

Those doors on the left are full sized doors hanging in frames. They actually open and close. It's amazing!

This is a neat little chamber at the front of the trailer. To the left inside is our full hurricane rated door assembly. To the right is a system for school classroom security with a pane of glass that turns opaque when a switch is flipped and puts an electric current through it. At the back is a fire exit assembly that lights up in the dark, has a voice command directing people to the exit, and fires off a cone shaped green laser beam for navigational purposes in a smoke filled room. By the way, the trailer was designed with a way to fill this small room full of smoke for the purposes of demonstration. The exhaust system doesn't work all that well so we used smoke in a can. Taking folks on a tour of a smoke filled trailer probably isn't the best PR!

We stayed at some first class hotels. This one had a waterfall in the restaurant.

We were forced to endure great buffet spreads. Here is my cohort Brian refilling his fuel tank after a grueling morning of playing tour guide. The big tray to his right is heaped with sliced meat of several varieties for making sandwiches. Behind him is a table burdened down with desserts. Of course, in order to make sure the table didn't collapse, we had to help eat some of the desserts.

At one of the hotels there was a big Aflac meeting in a room next to one of ours. Yes, they actually do "quack" once in a while.

This was at a Hilton Hotel in Bellevue, Washington.

In the photo below the guy is a regional director for the corporation. His territory is pretty much everything West of the Rockies. I don't feel the pressure. In fact, I harrassed him about being such a preppie!

The gal is from Denver. She works for an electronics company that we partner with for software interfaces in our equipment. Her company had a table at the product expo. Interestingly, at our suppers she would sit either next to me or across from me. I would like to think it was my manliness and magnetism that drew her to me. Mostly, though, I think it was because she was so far from home and alone and wanted the security of a father figure. Either way, she is great company and as sharp as a razor blade.

As if the late nights, early mornings, and hectic days of the traveling show wasn't enough, Brian and I peeled off afterwards to man a booth at a vendor show for the school facility managers throughout Oregon. You might think Brian is just showing the effects of a really tough schedule. In reality, I asked Brian to act naturally for the snapshot. You are actually seeing his natural state!

Friday brought a chance to be home for a bit to gather some things up the weekend. After Ryan's Daddy picked him up, Katie and I headed for Portland. Two more hotel nights. I conducted some "train the trainer" sessions over the weekend. Talk about a glutton for punishment, I guess. It was a pretty rewarding two days so well worth it.

I hadn't seen Ryan for almost a week and was having baby picture withdrawal. There was time for a quick photo fix, fortunately. More like a quick snapshot but the expression was cute. I guess he was glad to see me, too!

I'm hoping life will settle down and be more or less normal for the next bit. It's time to get back to motorcycle stuff again!

Miles and smiles,



Conchscooter said...

Generating excitement about doors would have me stumped, I confess.I'm trying to imagine a skit involving John Cleese, a dead parrot and a door.Or Brian lifting his shirt for jack riepe.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear IronDad (Dan):

I apologize for the caliber of Triumph rider your blog has been recently attracting. I would have been amazed by this display, and delighted to see the systems your company has developed.

I an thrilled that business has picked up to the degree that you are able to sustain a road show. My carrer had begun to pick up as well, and then a volcano brought international travel to a standstill again.

Still I am twice as busy with stories these days (than I have been of late), and I am raking hay while the sun shines.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Steve Williams said...

I always liked the Doors. So not to worry.

And not to worry about not posting. After awhile it gets real comfortable. I have been sitting on a BMW post for weeks now, trying valiantly to live up to the high standards BMW riders like Jack "Twisted Roads" Riepe set when speaking (and writing) about those lofty contraptions.

I do have 18 final pictures for the post.

Your pictures continue to improve. When you can make interesting pictures at a trade show you know you have arrived...

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Orin said...

The picture of Ryan just screams "Caption Contest"...

Scootin' Old Skool

irondad said...


I find that using the same words I use to describe the FJR works well. Sleek and sexy. Shiny and fast. Gorgeous and sensuous. Fun to ride. Okay, maybe not that one.

Sensuous wood doors, you ask? Have you "felt up" a great wood veneer lately?

Thanks for gracing the blog with a comment. Despite the jab Jack took at you. I'm glad to see some things haven't changed while I was away!

Take care,


irondad said...


Thank you for commenting. I'm glad things are somewhat picking up for you. Pretty soon the volcanic ash will be gone from the sky, leaving plenty of room for your blown "smoke"!

Take care,


irondad said...


You totally get how doors can make music, don't you? :)

As to the lag in blogging: what sort of worries me is how little I missed it, truth be told. In some ways it seems easy and tempting to put the blog to bed.

Thank you for your kind words. Compliments like that mean a lot to me coming from you.

Take care,


irondad said...


I hadn't really thought about it, but you're exactly right. Hmmmm.....

Take care,


Dave said...

Did some one say captions?

Ok Grand Dad Dan does doors like Hank Hill does propane ; ) : )

bobskoot said...


I'm not a handyman but I can see the possibilites of all that hardware and doors. I think it is great to be able to go on a tour to show it all off. Too bad about having to eat all of the food though. It's not like you had any choice in the matter, after all, it was just sitting there . . .

Wet Coast Scootin

Krysta in MKE said...

Welcome back. Yes, I noticed your life interrupted your posting.
What a cute shot of the baby!

And I LIKE that atrium!! I can see frisbees, ping pong balls, superballs, paper airplanes, maybe even an RC plane... all sorts of fun toys enjoying the protected airspace.

bluekat said...

Very classy truck-display! The designer in me loves it.
What a crazy, busy time you've been having, but it looks like they kept you well fed...gotta keep the energy up ya know.

Ryan looks like he's giving you a raspberry :)
He's getting very expressive.

Lance said...

Dan, that trailer set up looks very cool. If I were an end-user, I would certainly appreciate what you and your company are doing to "bring the product to the people."

Nice pics, and glad you are doing well, despite the buffet spreads. I am sure you will manage!

Chris Luhman said...

Dan, that is a neat trailer. ASSA makes some really cool locks too.