They’re the first to come and the last to leave

by: Bryan Kuhn | Pemba Serves Field Rep

Thank you.

Really it’s a simple phrase, and we do use it often – but there are times when the simple mention doesn’t do it justice.

I’ve been on the vendor side at #ORShow before. Winter shows, summer shows, an SIA and a couple buy group shows for measure. I’ve seen first hand all the hassle, stress, and impossible tasks involved with getting a show to run smoothly in that 20×20 island. I’ve had crates delivered 2 hours before the clean floor deadline, mystery power outages the morning of opening, a 15 hour Vegas to Salt Lake redeye flight from hell, and put in those 18 hour days back to back to back because there are only 2 of you for a brand at the show.

On the representative side of things, an Outdoor Retailer event is actually pretty painless. We come in, go to our sales meetings, go to the show, give support in booths, meet with our retailers, partners, and friends, and then we leave. We guzzle free coffee, eat free lunches, and drink free beer.


We miss all the chaos, the frantic set-up, the weary tear-down and agonizing wait while the GES crew wheels in shipping crates one at a time in a seemingly random manner. Vendor days are longer than anyone else’s day – they are in the booths straightening, vacuuming, and preparing for each day before we all sail in, partly caffeinated and still a little bleary from the previous evening’s events. While we wander off to find the shortest line for the coldest beer at 4pm – really, people, the show goes until 6 and we really SHOULD be working – vendors are handling the lookie-loos, the wander-bys, and trying to deal with the partially inebriated, over-stimulated crowd with utmost patience.

After we’re already on our flights to wherever we call home, they are packing away every display, boxing every fixture, wrapping up lights, and making sure nothing went missing during the week. In summer, the air conditioning is off for set-up and take-down; because the big bay doors are open, and the hot desert outside air is rolling in. In winter, the heat is off and you can see your breath before you even have the 6” pegs off the wall.

Yet, they manage to pull it off. And the best vendors manage to do so with a smile, a grin, a joke, and a general all-is-well vibe. They’re the ones keeping it rolling, making sure that whenever we look up from a table in search of a thumb drive pre-loaded with paperwork, we have it. When a prototype product makes its way around the booth to show off, we have it handed to us. A quick confirmation of an order received last week in the frenzy, nodded in our direction when we need it. “Hey, what do you need?”, “Something I can do to help?”, “So-and-so dropped by a few minutes ago, here’s their info…” are all music to our ears.

So to all our colleagues at PETZLLEKI,and Adventure Medical Kits, to all the friends we work with and who make this one of the best industries to be in: Thank you for all your efforts and hard work. We can’t say it often enough. We’re proud to represent you, and humbled by your incredible generosity. We look forward to coming back again to both work with and hoist glasses with you. I hope that if you can come visit us, we can be as generous and as helpful as you are. The standard is certainly set high.

One response to “They’re the first to come and the last to leave

  1. avatar David Sweeney

    I’ve seen OR before the doors open. It’s crazy. A lot of folks work Real Hard to make the magic happen. Thanks to everyone that makes our Bi-Annual Gathering such a great thing. So Thankful to have a great gig in a great industry.