Sunday, April 4, 2021

What could possibly go wrong ?

So.....yes, I am moving my shop. I have been saying this since about this time last year but as of a few days ago I have signed the rental agreement and have paid the first month's rent. Do I have a key yet ? -no. Has the place I'm moving into been fully vacated ? -That's a no as well. Long story- the previous renter is very old and has been moving very slowly-if at all to get his 40-odd year's of accumulation out of the space. He asked for a few more days to clear out what he wanted to keep and I said that as long as they have not changed the lock he can get his stuff out-until today. He asked for three days and I gave him three days. I'll have to do many dump and recycling runs to get the place empty enough for me to move into. The landlord let me slide on the security deposit if I do all the dump runs myself and take the place as-is. 

Now this would be a full enough plate just by itself as I also have decades of accumulation in my shop to move. Fortunately , my last move in 2018 resulted in 4 truckloads of stuff getting donated , recycled or taken to the landfill so I won't have that to worry about. The thing that makes this move a bit daunting are the many more bicycles and boxes of parts that have come my way since I started renting the present shop.  Also, a new huge free-standing  loft was constructed for this shop and it will have to be dismantled and moved and re-built. 

But the real wild card is this: On the last two hard bike rides I have done I have experienced some new chest pain- not really horrible, but new. It only happened when I was doing a threshold effort up a long steep climb. I talked to a doctor and he said "Stop riding hard and get a stress test ." This I have done , along with other tests. The result is that I now go in on the 12th for an angiogram to see if I have blocked arteries and need a stent or two. The good news is that this is a very quick procedure and I'm likely to bounce back in a few days. The wild card is not knowing the extent of the problem, or even if there is any real problem as I have no other symptoms. I can still ride comfortably , although I have definitely slowed down to avoid giving myself a coronary. At 65 , I'm not alone in having a health issue like this. Plenty of people half my age have gotten a stent. The timing of this issue though could not be more poorly timed. I'll have one week to do dump runs and then, without even starting my move I'll be going into the cardiac unit for the procedure. It has to be done but hell......WTF ? 

So..........I should have a pretty good crew to help me with the move, although I might miss some days. This happened last year when I fell off a ladder and got a concussion and missed 4 days of the final part of the shop move. Will I pull this move off successfully ? I hope so.....I just hope that the doctors pull off their job successfully and that they don't have much of a job to do. Of course, if I die on the table there's a good chance that your frame will be delayed significantly.......

hope to see you all on the other side of this one- it could be way worse-I caught this issue ver early I think. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Again ??

With a build list longer than ever, a pandemic and a crazy busy time in the bike business, what could be more unwelcome than another shop move ? Yes, after less than three years I am moving the shop down the road, not very far- back to the same building I was in before. Crazy ? -Yes.....but this actually might turn out to be a good thing. As luck would have it, a place in my old building that has about 40% more room and about 40% less rent is opening up. The person with whom I'm sharing my current shop with has decided to move out so I must leave as well. The current land lords have given us the green light to leave even before the lease is up. Less rent, more room ........why would I complain ?-  Let me count the ways.....

Upon moving into the current shop I had pared down my junk and extra bits to a nice level and created a pretty good working space. Never mind that it had no natural light, poor ventilation and was very much a depressing concrete crypt that cost much more than any shop I had ever rented- I managed to make it work. Now that it has been a couple of years in this space I am somewhat used to it but winters in this cold unheated bunker are not something that warms the heart, the feet or anything. I am now 65 and thought of this time in my life to be the point where I take on less work and try to slow down a bit. This is definitely not the case in 2021. I had my busiest year even in 2020 and 2021 looks to outpace it already. I should be grateful for all the work that is coming my way-and I am, believe me-but during this surge of activity it must all grind to a halt while I transport my garbage heap a couple of blocks away. I have not even seen the new shop yet- there's real promise that it might be the best space ever and that the new lower rent will help me in my quest to get to a less busy week but really, with the added pressure of losing weeks of productive time during the move and also the prospect of having more room and a better work flow means that the temptation to buckle down and bust ass in these times of plenty is a compulsion I might have trouble shutting down. There are over 60 frames on my list right now- slowing down and smelling the flowers will not get these frames built.

So there it is- the September years workathon-shop disembowelment tour 2021. I'll try not to fall off a ladder this time and I'll do what I can to make a real nice place to work out of the next space. I never did have a grand opening of the last shop- I doubt that I'll have a grand closing of it, either. There won't be a grand opening of this shop- Covid makes that pretty much a non-starter. So......just like most of the big events in my so-called career, this one will take place with little or no fanfare, no press releases, no parties, just a few more dump runs and donations to the various bike charities around town. Wish me luck- this move will probably be the last big one-but that's what I said about the last one. It is just that this time I really feel that I do not have a decade of full time work left in me......all things come to an end at one point or another and even though I am still going full-tilt in 2021 I know that I am already feeling my limits physically and mentally. I have now too much stuff to keep track of and a capacity to do so that is shrinking steadily. I promise to do my best ...........again.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Out of the attic and onto the road

Right about the time I was building my first frame I bought a used Bianchi frame , supposedly from the late '50's. The idea to search for one was spurred on by Ross, the guy who taught me how to light a torch and then gave me some guidance when I was building my first two frames. Ross told me how he had one of these old Bianchis and that it was the greatest bike ever.
If I remember the story right, Ross was on a ride on the Bianchi and crashed really hard. He was next to a small river so he went to the water to clean himself up and was out his wounds. When he got back up to the road his Bianchi was gone. He told me that he really missed the bike and the experience of losing it that way was really traumatic.
After Ross told me how magical his old bike was, I made it my mission to find one. Luckily, someone working in the shop where I worked knew of one somewhere near Fresno that was sitting in a garage of an old retired frame builder. I was told that I could buy it for $ 75 but that it didn't have a fork. I had my friend pick it up for me and then began the search for a fork. Fortunately, I worked in a bike shop-a really busy one and I asked everyone if they knew of a fork that was proper for this bike. After about a year I was able to buy one for $ 40. It wasn't totally straight and it did have a dent in one of the blades but I knew that finding another one would be nearly impossible.

Next, I had to find the illusive Bianchi Headset that was exclusive to that brand and was no longer in production. I would up finding a low-end Bianchi that had been crashed but still had its special headset. This crashed frame was free as it was pretty worthless , except of course for the headset. Now all I had to do was to strip the parts from my other bike and build up this Bianchi and ride it. Ride it , I did......many miles. I put a Campagnolo triple on it and made it into a touring bike and rode from Denver , Co. to Calispell, Mt. , crossing the continental divide about 11 times. It remains the longest bike tour I have ever done and the bike never failed me- no flat tires or mechanicals I even had my tent fall off the front rack at high speed- I ran over it but didn't crash .......the bike was very stable .

About 1985 I lent the bike to my girlfriend for a few years as she really liked the way it rode, even with the crooked fork. She gave it back to me when I gave her another bike that I had built. When I got the Bianchi back I raided some parts from it and it would up hanging from a hook up until last September. I decided that this Covid time would be good for fixing up all the old project bikes in the shop. This bike is the one I have had the longest and might be the pick of the litter. I finally did fix the dent in the fork and aligned it- the bike is about a straight as it will ever be and riding it with no hands is no longer a death defying feat. Instead of putting on the hodgepodge of parts that came off it from the first time I built it , I went up into the loft of my shop and took out all the parts that were relatively correct for a bike of this time period. I didn't want to just get it rolling again- I wanted to honor it by making it what it originally was, a late '50's racing bike for 20-year old amphetamine-jacked professional European bicycle racers. While I was not able to preserve the chrome on the frame and fork, I was able to get the correct decals and took photos of the bike before the paint was stripped so that I could place the right decals in the right places.

Here are some of the shots of the bike before the restoration. Just so you all know, I had resisted repainting this bike for decades-I really loved the old patina and original decals. The years have not been that kind to this frame and if I had not done the repaint I think I would have been signing an early death warrant for this old treasure. Purists will probably be insulted by the lack of chrome and the powdercoat finish but hey- the color is correct and it will protect the bike from the elements better than anything else I could have had done. I'm not trying to win first prize at the Eroica bike show-I'm only trying to show some consideration for a half-century old bike that was possibly the best of its day-and as I like to say, "An old bike that was good in its day is still a good bike".


Saturday, May 2, 2020

The long wait

Back when I had only been in business for a few years a fellow came by on an old bike wearing a white tee shirt and no real cycling clothes. He asked if I could do some non-bicycle related soldering jobs for him. I said yes, and a few days later he showed up with some small pieces of metal to be soldered together. The work was very delicate but I was able to do it to his satisfaction. This began a friendship that lasted a few decades.
Not much later , I moved my shop from my garage to a place across town that was pretty close to my friend's workshop/home. He invited me over to see his fleet of bicycles. When I got to his house I saw a pretty impressive array of bikes from the '30's up to the late '60's. There were bikes hanging from the roof, bikes leaning everywhere and hardly room to walk through the house. This was maybe 1993-things only got more crowded with bike stuff as the years wore on. For some reason , my host told me that he might have a nice older frame that I could restore in my size. He usually looked for stuff that would fit his 6' frame but I guess in a weak moment he bought the carcass of a 1960   55 cm Girardengo bicycle. For those that don't know cycling history, Constante Girardengo was Italy's first big cycling champion-his time was around 1910-1920. After he retired from racing he licensed out his name to a bicycle company and later to a motorcycle company. The bike my friend had was probably from about 1960 and was in pretty sorry shape as the photo shows. I asked how much he wanted for the frame and he said $ 40.00. I said "great, when can I pick it up ?". This is when the long wait began. My friend said that the frame was buried deep in storage and it might take awhile for him to dig it out.
The years went by and in late 1996 I moved my shop back to the west side ,closer to my house. My friend would stop by periodically, some times on an old bike, some times on a mountain bike that I had put together for him out of parts from a warehouse sale. Every time I saw him I reminded him that I was still interested in the Girardengo. Every time he would tell me that it would take time for him to find it. After a number of years I stopped asking-the decades went by.
 A few years ago , my friend got diagnosed with cancer and began a long period of treatment. He went in and out of being able to work and his visits became less frequent. In the fall of last year I got a call from another friend to let me know that my bicycle hoarder friend was in hospice and might not live much longer-if I wanted to see him I had better do it soon. I gave him a call.
 When I showed up to the hospice ( which was very near his home ) I was treated to a great visit and many great stories. We shared memories of a mutual friend , another bicycle history buff who had just passed. It was a great visit. It was at this time my friend said that he had given his bicycle collection away-a friend of his had a big piece of property out of state and was willing to bring a huge truck and take everything away. Even though I was sad to hear that his entire collection was gone, I knew that he had needed someone to deal with it as it would be a monumental amount of work to find all the bikes and get them out of the house.
 A few weeks later I had another visit with my friend, this time I got there just as he was starting dinner. I told him about a restoration I was doing and that I needed a few older parts. My friend told me that he had everything I needed but that it had probably already been hauled away- I told him not to worry-I was in no hurry to complete this restoration- the bike was something I had inherited from yet another old bike enthusiast who had died a couple of years back. I sat and traded stories with my friend for a couple of hours. This would be our last talk.
 About five weeks later I called my friend- there was a strange unfamiliar voice on the voicemail message that said to call another number. I called the number and talked to the person who my friend had instructed to deal with the dispersal of the rest of his worldly goods-He had passed just a couple of weeks after out last visit. The man on the phone told me he had a bike that I should have, my friend's main bike- the one that he used to ride over to my shop. It was too big for me but the man insisted that I have it.
When the bike was delivered to my shop, the man- a very close friend of my departed bike hoarder-looked at my shop, heard about the history of my business and told me that he needed help dealing with all the old stuff at my friend's house. It turned out that there was still a lot of older bike frames and parts there. I agreed to help him and he said that I was welcome to take whatever I wanted out of the massive pile of bike parts.
The first day of many that I would spend cleaning out my friend's old house we went into two storage sheds that were filled to the roof with all sorts of old bikes, parts and other items. After a couple of hours of digging, I saw a black frame in bad shape that looked about my size. I had already told the man in charge of the estate about the  $ 40.00 Girardengo that I had never gotten. As soon as I got the frame in the light I realized that I had in my hands the very frame that my friend had intended to sell me 27 years ago. I asked the man if I could have the frame-he said by all means , so I put it in the back of my truck, along with an assortment of older parts and frames.
I would continue helping with the estate for a few more weeks but always was thinking of what I would do with the Griardengo-I wanted to honor the memory of my friend and the passion he showed for older bikes. His knowledge of bicycles from 1920-1960 was very deep - I wanted to make the Girardengo ride again with all the correct parts.
In the photos you will see the newly restored Girardengo- not having been ridden for probably a half a century. Now it is rolling with everything as it should be with the exception of some modern rims and a fairly modern seat post. I had to align the frame and fork and was fortunate to find some decals on the internet. As of now, I think I have about 40 miles on it. I imagine that if I had not gotten the frame it would be in the landfill by now.
So it turned out to be very true what my departed friend said- " It might take some time for the frame to get dug out of storage ." While I would much rather have my friend still alive , at least I have this bike and our mutual history to remember him by. Every time I go out on a ride on this bike I thank my friend- In life he provided me with some great bicycle history lessons. In death, he unwittingly made good an a promise of a $ 40 frame that he knew would be a good project for me to take on.

Monday, June 10, 2019


This last couple of years has been very difficult for the generation of frame builders who started in the '70's. Brian Bayliss, Dario Pegoretti and Roland Della Santa have all passed away. Brian and Dario didn't make it into their '70's- Roland was 72. Now as of last week my former partner in Schnozola bikes Bruce Gordon has died- this one really hits me hard as I had gotten to know bruce over the last 13 years pretty well. He had a reputation as a fairly abrasive character but that was just how he was on the surface. I got the feeling that he cared about what he and other builders did intensely- he would bristle at the news that another brand name based on an old artisanal name was being re-packaged to sell goods mass-manufactured in the far east.
Bruce's almost militant defense of the small builder and 'people that actually made their own shit' got him many followers but also got him into scraps with some major industry figureheads. Bruce didn't care- he was going to be the standard bearer for handmade goods , even if he alienated people who could have helped his career or lost him customers. Bruce had seen many good builders who late in life after decades of hard work wound up with nothing-no retirement, no way to sell their brand or goodwill that they had worked their lives to create. Frame building was to him an under-valued job that required dedication and laser focus. It made him angry to know that he and his fellow builders would do the job they cared about the most and wind up old, broke and bitter.
No matter how negative on the outside Bruce may have seemed, he still had a sense of humor about life and the craft he spent his life doing. When things slowed down for Bruce in the last 5-6 years I approached him about a project I was wanting to do. It would be an attempt to build a kosher bike. There's no practical reason for it-it was a schtick-kind of a joke involving two older frame builders crating a brand-"Schnozola". To my surprise , Bruce went along with the plan-I would do most of the building and Bruce would do braze-ons, final alignment, powder coating and frame prep. We made a total of seven of these bikes. My goal with this project was not just to make a funny joke in a world of serious frame crafting but also to get Bruce back in the public eye-he seemed to be getting increasingly isolated in his shop with less and less business coming in.
I'm not sure if the project helped Bruce gain more clientele but he seemed to be having a good time building the bikes and showing them at NAHBS. Bruce didn't have to be Bruce at the show-he could be one of the two-man team of Schnozola. People were not sure what to make of the bikes and the premise they were built on but the result was Bruce going out into the public and being present.

As of last week I had talked to Bruce on the phone and he was making plans to fly to Chicago to see his 97 year old mother. He talked to his mother on the phone daily, some times more than one call per day. Bruce also told me of his plans to travel to Amsterdam next year-he had been to France the last two years and wanted to try something different. Now it looks as though he will not be making those trips and we will not get to hear the stories he would no doubt tell afterwards. Now it is up to his work and his community to tell his story. I doubt that he will be forgotten by anyone who knew him and his work will live on.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A death in the family

I have been delaying writing this post as the whole idea that Roland Della Santa is gone has been hard to accept. I can't say I was a close friend to Roland but he did show up in the pit at the Nationals and would treat me like a long lost friend - he would tell me stories that had me laughing hard enough to wonder if the UCI officials would kick me out of the pit area. That is the common thing that all of Roland's friends remember about him- his ability to hold court and tell stories about racers and racing that were brutally honest, unbelievably funny and the kind of stuff that would be hard to forget.
This disarming humor hid to a degree the level of excellence as a craftsman that Roland posessed. Most people upon meeting him might find it hard to connect the guy telling the funny stories with the guy who made Greg LeMond's first serious road bikes- the same guy who set the standard in the early '70's for American custom built frames- the same guy who year in and year out was an advocate for talent in American bicycle racing who had a keen eye and a very benevolent approach to nurturing talent when he saw it. He was not just a frame builder- he was behind the scenes a real supporter of the sport of road racing in the US when enthusiasm in the general public for bicycle racing really didn't exist yet.
The first time I met Roland was maybe 1993 at Interbike in Las Vegas. A shop owner who was a dealer for my frames and Roland's as well had set up an early morning ride through the desert surrounding Las Vegas with myself, Roland and George Mount. I didn't know that Roland would be conducting a non-stop monologue during the 90 minute ride.....I knew of his frames but I didn't know the man personally. This introduction was in a way perfect as it was on the road with only a few people- on bicycles riding at a pretty good clip, away from the trade show that we all pretty much hated but needed to participate in. It was one of those little windows of sanity in a weekend of trade show misery. I don't think I'll ever forget it.
The next time I remember talking to Roland was at NAHBS # 2. There was a party in the host hotel bar and I had put together a band to play in the restaurant. While the band was on break I went to the bar and sat down next to Roland. I wanted to ask him how he got started in frame building. I wondered if like most of us in the '70's he had some sort of mentor to teach him the basics. It turns out that Roland pretty much figured it all out by himself. I was amazed- his building style really spoke to his Italian heritage and the level of execution made me think that he had been at Masi or had worked with one of the more prominent Italian frame shops. This was not the case- turns out that Roland might have been the smartest of all of us, having deciphered the way to build at the highest level all on his lonesome out in Nevada.
More recently I would be in the pits at the CX nationals and I would see an older guy walking up to me with the style of cycling hat I had not seen in maybe 40-odd years. It took me a minute or so to realize that this guy talking to me was the same Roland I had seen year earlier. I listened to his stories for a few minutes before I figured out who I was standing in front of- it had been a decade since I had seen him and we had both aged significantly. This was the Reno nationals and I should have put two and two together-I should have known immediately as soon as the stories started flowing- I guess that I was too caught up in my own drama of getting my pit space ready for the upcoming race where I would have to be ready to support the riders on my team.
As soon as I realized that this was Roland I dropped what I was doing and shared some great minutes with him- we had similar duties as frame builders and race team directors ( or in my case ,  mis-director...) so we definitely shared a few laughs about the things that we had dealt with trackside at events such as the one that weekend. People would come through the pit and immediately recognize Roland- he had a lot of friends there. For someone who's involvement in cyclocross was minimal he nonetheless was a person who many people gravitated toward . I stood aside and watched the parade of notable racers who came into the pit to chat with Roland who was only there to sightsee and connect with a few friends.
Roland was a big part of a generation of frame builders who started their craft in the '70's when really nobody in the US was aware of any domestic custom bicycle frames. It was about as obscure of a job in a sport that hardly anyone cared about. It is obvious that Roland cared about the sport enough to elevate it almost single handedly , building bikes for riders that would become the first Americans to shake up the world cycling scene. It all emerged from his small shop- the bikes, the riders, the culture. He created something much larger than his craft or himself and the impact has lasted many years.
There is unlikely to be another Roland Della Santa and I am very glad to have known him . His works will no doubt live for a very long time and his impact on American bicycle building will endure.
The last time I saw Roland was at the most recent NAHBS, just last March. He was the same old Roland, funny as hell and able with a few sentences assess the entire weekend in a way that was both insightful and hilarious. I was really glad that he was there- I was participating in the show for maybe my last time so connecting with Roland was a real treat. By that time Interbike had folded and the CX nationals would be moving on to another part of the country so I was unlikely to cross paths with Roland again- Learning of his passing hammered home the fact that the generation of frame builders from the '70's were not going to be around much longer- some of them will live on in their works and Roland is great example of that enduring nature of his impact.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The gift that keeps on taking

Another NAHBS is in the books. Yes, I was there- maybe you missed my display. Seems like many people did but that's not really a problem for me. I don't have big expectations for this show as I'm not the kind of builder who fits into the show aesthetic of 'art-bikes'. I have nothing against these bikes but I build 'bikes'.....maybe you might have seen one.
For 2019 I made big plans as this year marked about 40 years since I had built my first frame and 31 years since I went full time with this craft. Notice I say 'craft' rather than 'art'. I know art and what I do isn't art. I did see some art at the show- most notably a bike called 'Dear Susan' from the UK. This was not just a fancy design or paint job- this was a for real artistic statement that rolled. There was a lot of hidden meaning in many of the features of this bike. I'm still thinking about it- I'm not sure that many people got what the builder was trying to express but that isn't the point- the bike was an expression whether anyone gets it or not.
My bikes are not an artistic expression but more of a marker-a few bikes to show where I began and what I am doing now. Just like the art bike, I'm not sure that many people got what I was trying to say but like I said about the Dear Susan bike, that isn't the point. For me the point is what I do is a service, a craft. I have learned how to do my craft ( and continue to learn) so that people who get bikes from me can benefit from all that I have learned over the last four decades. That amounts to probably more than half an average life time.......
Over the years I have had many blunders but triumphs as well. I did win two ribbons at this show, one for a CX bike and one for a gravel tandem I built just because I thought the world needed one. These two bikes were the only ones out of the six in my booth that I bothered entering into any of the competitions. Am I proud of getting an award? Well, maybe more proud than someone who didn't get one but not much. The award is pictured above. Notice that nothing has been written on the award. This is pretty much how all the ribbons I saw looked. There's no indication of what kind of bike , the actual ranking of the bike ( 1st,2nd or 3rd ) and no builder name. This is the award that is supposed to signify that the judges carefully assessed mine and other bikes and made the determination that my bike was one of the top-3. Which one ? Hell if I know- I was not told. I can go onto the NAHBS site and find out but while I was at the show I had no idea what to tell people other than "Hey, I got this ribbon ".
During the show there were periodic announcements over the PA system that nobody could understand. Seemed like the people organizing the show didn't feel the need to have PA speakers anywhere near my booth or any of the booths in half the show. When they called me up for my award I didn't hear it. Luckily, a volunteer came to my booth and told me to get my tandem and go to a holding area where other finalists were waiting. Wait we did- all the while my booth was empty, I had to use the bathroom and was clueless as to what was going on. I was surrounded by people feeling exactly as I did.
After the awards for the tandems I was told it was time for the CX bikes award. They called my name but I had a tandem to roll back to my booth and my CX bike was across the whole expo. I had no idea that I was a finalist in the CX division until that moment. I had to run back to my booth and get the bike. The awards were held up for a few minutes while I did this- it was nice that they were willing to wait. While the CX award was happening , my tandem was supposed to be getting photographed- this was not happening as I was on the award stage listening to a judge tell folks about how great the three bikes on the stage were. This was awkward for me but I rolled with it. Hell, I didn't expect to win anything- I was only at the show to display some stuff that I really wanted people to check out in person rather than just see it in photos on facebook or anywhere else.
After the awards I settled in for the last hour of the second day of the show. I really didn't want to be at the next day but I really had little choice. Being cooped up in a convention center for three days with bad air was making my throat raw. The standing on concrete was starting to really hurt my back- these shows come at not only a financial cost but they are physically hard on you.
The saving grace for me was the social aspect of the show- seeing people who you rarely get to see- other builders, old friends and customers. One guy came all the way from the Manila to see the show and to thank me for some decals I sent for his 1992 olympic track bike that he scored from ebay. I got to spend much of the time with Bruce Gordon, my former builder friend and mentor. I got to see Jeremy Sycip, probably my most significant apprentice who has eclipsed me in many ways. I got to see some former team riders, other people who started building frames because of coming to my shop. That part of the show was really the best part.
Did I get to see much of the show ? Not really....I never do. I get about 15-20 minutes in the morning to try to see bikes and people but I seldom see the folks in their booths as they are trying to do the same thing as me. I can't really say that I saw much of anything. What I did see was a show with less builders and more parts suppliers. This means that the show is changing. I was told by the creator of the show that this is a change brought on as ' The builders do not support the show'. Funny, I thought that the show was for the builders. What hand built bike show would you have without them ? And why are they not supporting the show ? Maybe it is because 1. Many of them cannot afford to be
there . 2. The loss of productivity is crippling to their ability to stay on schedule . 3. Building special bikes for the show can drain the finances and time of an operation that has very little profit margin.
For me this signals a disconnect between the creator of this show and the very builders he wants to have exhibiting. The reason for this disconnect is plain to me- while the show is great, probably the best one of its type, it is not structured or run in a way that benefits the builders. The show has become a way for the boss of the show to make a living, which he deserves for creating and running such a show. What this does however is to take the emphasis away from the show being a service to the very builders it is supposedly promoting. To a large extent it is draining for many of the builders financially and time wise.
I came back from the show on the verge of a cold and with a seriously painful back. I also came back to the reality of a large backlog of work that in no way was a result of the show . Over the weekend I did get three orders - one over the phone and two by email.....none of them had anything to do with the show. Time will tell if anyone who saw my display at the show will place an order . The show touts that media from all over the world will be there- honestly, I did not see the media presence as in years past-even at the very same venue. I know that the show cannot control who shows up and who does not media wise but this might indicate a bit of a lapse in promotion. If the ribbon is an indication , I am probably right. So now I have these two ribbons- possibly the least personal and thoughtful awards of my career-to display.....where ? They say nothing except "Finalist". I guess one could call this a 'participation award '. I guess the lost time and seriously herniated bank balance could also be considered a participation award. "Thanks for displaying, "Finalist " sure and see us again in the future- our future depends on it, even if yours does not".