IFAI Tent Show Report – Daytona Beach
A Speedy Start to 2022
It seemed ironic that in Florida, on Monday January 16, sunny weather in the high 50s and low 60s weather exactly matched the weather at November’s MATRA Tent Show in Connecticut! And the second day too! But by Wednesday Daytona moved ahead and swept into the lead by being sunny and warm, and Thursday won the day with temps in the middle 70’s.
The state of the IFAI show is good! More than 50 tent industry exhibitors were here with their latest tents, equipment, flooring, furniture, and accessories. The show appeared to be as well populated as 2019’s event in Orlando, but notable this year were quite a few new attendees.
Meeting of friends
As always, IFAI delivered an easy camaraderie that attracts people to catch up and relax a little bit between busy seasons, while also picking up on the latest and greatest tent technologies and taking in some serious education.
A huge storm threatened the eastern side of the country a couple of days before the show, and this affected quite a few flights into Daytona. Sunday setups were delayed by a wind and rain. So it was all the more impressive how all the major tents and most of the smaller units were completed on Monday.
While a group of talented duffers took off for Tuesday’s chilly golf event, a large block of attendees buckled into their seats and started their engines for the many training sessions offered on that day and Wednesday. Safety, organizational efficiency, and other topics ran simultaneously. A very well attended, all-morning structure and pole tent raising event was introduced this year to teach best practices to those who are new to the tent installation business. Tent OX took its own opportunity to train a number of new customers who either picked up machines at the show, had just received them, or were awaiting Spring deliveries. And just prior to the show, we were videoing a lot of new material for Tent OX first-timers to help them operate at maximum efficiency.
One of the several Wednesday education highlights featured a session with Jim Reyen of Eureka! Tents and Brian Richardson of L&A Tents. They two traded hugely funny verbal jabs while imparting a lot of useful information in Wednesday session named “Providing excellent customer service in chaotic times.”
Jim also shared the stage with George Smith from Mahaffey Fabric Structures, where the pair received the IFAI’s Tent Rental Division 2022 Wodetzki Award, named for Bruce Wodetzki, founding member and first Chairman of IFAI’s Tent Rental Division, MC’d by the inimitable Brian Richardson of L&A Tents.
Popular Indycar veteran Hinchcliffe speaks at Wednesday luncheon
James Hinchcliffe is not only a hugely popular Indycar racer. He became a bigger household name in 2016 by racing into the number two position in the 2016 season of Dancing With The Stars! Hinchcliffe tells a compelling story of a number of career-stopping challenges to a successful career, including a nearly life-ending 2015 crash at Indianapolis Speedway. He credits his refusal to quit and a continuous effort to seek new opportunities as the reason his career continues to flourish. His message was an inspiration to all of us in the tent industry who have endured our own significant challenges over the last two years.
Tour of the Tents This year’s tour was only slightly more strenuous as we walked on one of the biggest parking lots IFAI has been able to contract for in years, and tents were more widely spread out than usual.
Party on the Pad and show takedown
There’s nothing like the Party On the Pad, held Thursday night in a very attractive area in front of the hotel and near the many shops that make up the Daytona 1 complex, itself directly across the street from the track. When Friday dawned, and crews put on their hard hats and made the tents disappear. Tent OX ran around as quickly as it could to pull stakes and L&A Tents stayed to fill all the stake holes. A word of thanks to the Daytona Hotel for being excellent hosts. This venue was an excellent choice by the IFAI TRD leadership team. Hotel staff was friendly and even helped us to arrange the following shot with their #77 NASCAR machine!