For me, the initials stood for I am Missing That Show.
But as I started thinking more deeply about this piece, I began to change my mind.
The world has changed so much since the last show in 2018. COVID killed big exhibitions for two years and they are just beginning to reconfigure themselves for a lingering COVID world. Train stations near my home are half-filled these days. Downtown Chicago has lost its allure with the threat of violence looming every evening. The Chicago Police Department cannot fill its ranks, but the Bears opening game the Sunday before IMTS is being played at Soldier Field, a stone’s throw from McCormick place. It will be filled to capacity.
I had personally decided many months ago that I wasn’t attending IMTS. It seemed like most of the folks I asked whether they were coming said “no” or “I doubt it.”
The reasons were what you might expect.
“It’s not worth the money.”
“Many of the traditional exhibitors are not showing.”
“The internet and Zoom have replaced it. I can see what I need to see on YouTube.”
“Nobody from abroad will come because of vaccination restrictions.”
These rationales are all partially valid reasons to stay home, but as I’ve thought more about it, and pulled up memories from IMTS shows in the past, I’ve decided that the show is still vital for me, even if my knees and ankles will scream for ice when I head home.
Above it all is talking to the people. It’s a conversation with the guy from Louisville who is staying near where I live and taking the Metra train wearing his credentials. He will talk about his 20-person machine shop and the sudden influx of work from the mining industry.
It is connecting with the salesperson from Citizen who wants to show me the latest improvements in Swiss lathe machining and hopefully tell me he has been enjoying my writing for years.
It is meeting the third generation of a family I’ve done business with for 40 years. The family sold out to a private equity company a few years ago, but they still own a piece of the company and run it.
I’ll be waiting for that serendipitous moment when something totally unexpected connects with something uniquely Lloyd and 2 + 2 will equal 11. If I show up at IMTS, I know it will happen. If I save my knees and don’t challenge my bad eyes, I know I will miss that special moment that might change my life.
Monday night, I will attend the IMTS cocktail party and dinner downtown for the Machinery Dealers National Association (MDNA). I’m fearful I won’t recognize a lot of the attendees and many of the people I know will look terribly old. My brother Jim will be there, I imagine, who I see infrequently since we dissolved our partnership.
At the dinner in 2018, I talked to a Chicago dealer over a Coke, and it culminated in us buying a Hydromat from him a couple weeks later.
It’s IMTS. It’s a special opportunity to meet people face to face, voice to voice. You don’t get that many chances in life to do that today.
I don’t want to lose the amazing moments that I know will happen. It would be such a mistake to miss them, just because some people told me that it wasn’t worth the effort to show up.
Question: What are the best moments you’ve had at IMTS?