Talents on display
The Dallas Convention Center isn’t bad, Kreinbrook says. “There’s actually a little more room than I anticipated. Most are not too bad, but it’s hard get to dock on time.”
Louisville, which hosts the Mid-America Trucking Show, is also easy to get in and out of, but shows in Las Vegas and Los Angeles have more obstacles, Kreinbrook says. “Los Angeles is not a picnic.”
“Some places are real hard to work,” Dailey agrees. “They’re tight to get into. They design them for conventions but not for trucks.”
Still, Dailey prefers hauling tradeshow materials to household goods, which he did for many years before his knees started bothering him. “This is a lot easier,” he says.
For big shows and big clients, a driver’s trailer might be loaded with goods destined for just one show. Sometimes tradeshow loads are piecemealed like less-than-truckload hauls. Dailey says he often has booths destined for different tradeshows inside the same van.
“The loads pay good, and the weight is good,” says owner-operator Newton Shackelford, who does a few tradeshows every year for his carrier M. Hart Express. He says the loads really pay off – up to 30 percent more than comparable loads, and he gets better mileage and stays out of scale houses because the loads are usually light.
Shackleford says he rarely gets to see the result of his work, because he picks up and delivers another load while the show is going on. “I’m loading out of Dallas tonight and going to St. Louis. I’ll probably come back and pick it up this weekend, but I never know.
“I only see the show at Louisville when I take the time off. I can’t keep my truck off the road for a show because if my truck ain’t running, I’m not making money.”
Still, some drivers do make time to check out the shows they’re helping to transport. That opportunity is one reason Kreinbrook likes hauling tradeshow materials.
“I see a lot of different things at the shows, and I meet a lot of nice people,” he says.
Kreinbrook is a regular at MATS, where he takes time off to walk the floors.
Some drivers – especially ones who work for companies that display – stick around to see and work the show. Bob Ward, a veteran driver of 20 years, owes his current career to working the show floor for a company. Ward drove a flatbed over the road for United Van Lines before joining a small company in Minnesota, where he operated a show truck. He worked one MATS at Louisville and met someone with Roll-Tite, a company that makes tarping systems for flatbed trailers.
“They wanted to do a show truck, too,” he says. At first Ward was the company’s only driver, helping work its booths at shows. Soon, Roll-Tite saw sales promise, and Ward went from a driver and account manager to national manager of sales. Four years later, he’s a vice president in charge of sales and marketing for the United States. “I went a long way in a big hurry,” he says.
Now the company has five trucks and takes three to the biggest shows (it exhibits at five or six events every year), and despite Ward’s new position, he still pilots a truck to a tradeshow. “The hardest part is the setup and breakdown of the booth,” he says. “Dallas can be difficult because of the marshalling yards and the ramp up.”