Trade Show Etiquette

  Trade show etiquette: you would think these following observations would be common sense, but apparently not to everyone. As industry members and exhibitors at numerous trade shows throughout the year I have observed or been “victim” to some of the incidents mentioned below and I’m sure some of the other industry people reading this can also relate their own stories.  These are not the norm, but they do happen every year at one show or another. …and why they still surprise me after 12 years of trade shows, I have no idea.

At one of our larger shows I came on the floor early, before the show is open to the dealers.  The aisles are deserted and quiet except for the distant vacuum running at some unknown booth.  I am still a good distance from our booth but can see the corner of it down the end of the aisle.  Someone comes around the corner and walks into our booth.  Not a problem….I finally get down there and walk into the booth and it is our competitor with our product in hand, checking it out.   Upon seeing me, and I his logoed shirt, he doesn’t say a word to me, puts the product down turns and walks out.  Hello…I’m about 6″ from you….at least an awkward acknowledgement of my presence would have been good.  Now there is nothing wrong with checking out the competition, and nothing on display that would justify worthy of what I term “industrial spying.”  So my point is instead of sneaking around before or after show hours, be up front about it, come in and visit our booth, ask questions even, we’d be happy to talk to you.   After all, we are all in the industry, making a living the same as you are.

The same goes for product that goes missing after hours.  It’s not about the dollar amount, it’s the principal of the matter.  I’m not saying this is by competitors necessarily.  But when recently at a smaller Distributor show I had another smaller competitor checking out our product during set up and I was “incognito” helping the reps at an adjacent booth.  Darned if the next morning before first day of show opening, I come in and there hangs an empty peg!  Gee, maybe had he lifted the peg too, it at least may not have been so obvious….. 

We’ve had packages mangled by  people trying to get, I don’t know, some replacement parts from the package.  Had they simply asked I would’ve given free replacement parts for what they apparently so desperately needed.  I’d save them the time and effort it took for them to destroy my sample packages there for display purposes!

As an exhibitor, don’t try to schmooze freebies from other exhibitors.  Lots of exhibitors while visiting others’ booths sample items, etc.  If they are offered, fine, but don’t go around with your hand out with that intent.  That just makes you look cheesy in my opinion.

Act professionally.  How you present yourself , not just in dress but in actions, reflects on your company. The show hours can be long and hard on your feet….and we all get exhausted.  An adjoining booth had couches and plush side chairs and I glanced over to see a younger rep dressed in a very nice suit, for their company lounging sideways with his legs thrown up over the arm….just kicking back texting away on his cell phone.

Be considerate of your colleagues working the show with you.  We all work hard and after show hours some of us play hard, some harder than others.  Provided you aren’t meeting with customers for dinner, etc. after the show, that is your time.  But make sure you “answer the bell” in the morning. 

Think about the image you are projecting when hiring local help….cough, sputter…. ummm especially in Vegas.  Yes, I’m referring to “booth girls” Vegas style.  I understand having attractive girls handing out your literature but…when they are obviously not dressed appropriately, (and that was putting it mildly in this instance), and honestly I don’t think they added to their business conducted at the show.  I mean really…. ?  If you do employ them, at least have the courtesy to keep them in your booth.  We had a booth across from us and the girls were in the aisles, almost in our booth, and I did not want anyone mistakenly thinking we had hired them.  AHHH!

Lasers have become quite popular in the industry, whether on guns or tactical flashlights or affixed to scopes.  Yankee that I am, I found myself at my first trade show solo in the Southeast.  Mid-day I look down to see a laser aiming on my chest.  I’m thinking that isn’t cool at all.  The much older gentleman in the booth across the aisle is giggling.  I jokingly told him that wasn’t too funny, don’t be doing that.  The guy did it again about an hour later and kept chuckling.  He was amused…me, not so much.  Ok the third time it happened, I calmly walked over there and told him quietly if he didn’t stop that “I’m going to open up a can of whoop a– on you…and I’m pretty sure I can take you too!”  I figured he might understand that language.  It seemed to do the trick.

In hind sight you have to laugh at some of these things and others you have to just shake your head in disbelief.  I’m sure we all have horror stories or pet peeves from the road to share.  Just remember to treat fellow exhibitors and colleagues the way you would like to be treated.  A little common sense and decency goes a long way.


HIVIZ Exhibiting at EPIC Outdoor Game Fair, Douglasville, GA

SCI (Safari Club International) and Quail Unlimited are hosting the first annual EPIC Outdoor Game Fair this September 23-25th in Douglasville, GA at the Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club.

Touted to be the largest Game Fair of its’ kind in the Southeast, the event will include shooting, fishing, archery, falconry, dog events, fly-fishing, boating, ATV riding, equestrian events, live music, seminars, and professional instruction.

Their mission is to “bring together a diverse range of outdoor enthusiasts to build a framework for understanding our passions.  This understanding will bridge the separation between activities and build a larger social network to support responsible use of natural resources and the roles we share as sportsmen and sportswomen in land use and conservation.”


Villages will be set up featuring the different events.  The Shooting Village will have Sporting Clays walking course, designed by Marty Fischer

Marty Fischer, course designer Foxhall Sporting Grounds


Five Stand and Wobble Trap sponsored by Beretta.  Airgun Range sponsored by Crosman. and a Handgun area sponsored by LaserShot.  LaserShot will provide handgun and hunting simulators to test your skills.

For tickets and a complete list of events go to  The Game Fair is designed to encourage families, youth, and individuals to actively engage in outdoor sporting activities through education, participation, instructions and competition.   So come join the fun and visit us this September at Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club!

Tough Enough to Wear Pink: Babes With Bullets Ladies Action Pistol Camps

Babes with Bullets Intermediate Camp:  I am a  four time returning alumnus to the BWB Camps .  Smith & Wesson is their primary sponsor.  HIVIZ Shooting Systems provides the sights on the Smith & Wesson M&P9L pistols used for training.  In conjunction with the sights we also provide scholarship funds for ladies who may not otherwise be able to attend the camps on their own.  I have experienced the first time camper through the more experienced competitors attending camps. 

Babes with Bullets and other women who believe the Constitution
Chicago Tribune
Babes With Bullets

Enjoying my first experience, I was anxious to bring my then 22 year old daughter who is not a shooter, to the second camp.  My goal was not to turn her into a competitor but to thoroughly familiarize her with handgun operation and safety.  These basics are drilled into you at the beginner camps through close supervision and lots of hands on time with the pistols.  Secondly, and maybe most importantly, my goal for her was to build her self-confidence.  Myself I consider very fortunate to work in the gun industry and having had some excellent mentors along the way.  These facts along with some independent women in my life, have shaped who I am.  But I see many women that do not have this; would never attempt a camp like this; and just plain don’t think they can.  It means something to these women who may have a low self esteem to push the envelope in their lives.  There is a great sense of accomplishment, a renewed self-confidence for many of these women after attending the camp.  They realize they “can do” and I truly believe this spills over into all aspects of their personal lives.  I saw this change in my daughter and know this was one of those “life enriching” experiences not soon to be forgotten.

Daughter and Instructor Judy Wooley at the Montana camp May 2009

Besides the sport being totally enjoyable, at the intermediate camp where most of us had some level of experience in competitions, we focused more on honing our skills, reinforcing basics and control that will give you the means to advance in USPSA,

For me it was stance, grip, trigger control to work on and then putting that together with stage analysis and movement for a smooth run.  It was learning to trust my skills and start pushing myself for speed and accuracy.  Yes, there is room for improvement!  Practice, practice, ….and more practice. 

The sport is exhilarating and I find such a sense of satisfaction when you know you ran a stage well and that adrenalin is still flowing!

Instructors: Kay Miculek, Judy Wooley, and Deb Keehart showing off their sponsor shirts at the Steamboat Springs Camp, May 2011.

Lastly, I can’t say enough about the top notch instructors; their collective experience and most impressive records in the sport!  Included among the instructors are two-time IPSC World Champion/nine-time USPSA National Open Champion, Kay Clark Miculek; and nine-time USPSA Limited Champion, Lisa Munson. How lucky are we to participate in a course like this?!

What’s on Your Bucket List?

Dedicated to Matt..

Ok..we all get busy with everyday life and before you know it another 5 or 10 years have slipped away.  What happened?!

I enjoy a little adventure and got into the discussion with one of our reps.  He said “you are always doing all kinds of things”…. and he seemed impressed.  My response was, “Don’t you have a bucket list?” We’re the same age…and I told him I’d go to work on it for him, after all everyone should have a bucket list!

I had a persistent “nudge” nagging me to get my scuba certification and have since been at it for four years now.  I honestly would never have pursued this without my shooting buddy’s little nudge.  What an experience like no other it has been! 

Following are a few:  I want to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in Alaska when they are most brilliant in the winter.

Northern Lights

 I want to see the volcanoes erupting, and hike through the lava tubes in Hawaii.

I want to zipline in Costa Rica!
(I actually might have a travel buddy for this one lined up).
Diving with the manatees on the Crystal River in Florida!
(Plans in the works!)
I want to see Machu Picchu , the Lost City of the Incas, in Peru and hike to top of Huayna Picchu above the city.  I want to follow the Inca Trail from Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu!
I want to go to Pamplona, Spain for the running of the Bulls! …..ok, maybe I just want to be in one of the balconies overlooking the streets where they run the bulls. 
Adventure: YES…  Pain and possible death: NO!
I want to try hang gliding from the sand dunes! …possible soft landing should this adventure go awry!
Sooooo……Matt, I’m your “NUDGE”!
I may not get to everything on my list, but it’s constantly evolving…and hey, these are the things that keep your dreams stoked!

….And We Don’t Even Sell Fishing Products!

RSR….enjoying a little R&R….
It was my last stop on the week long work journey and I just had to take the last day to relax and try my skills (or my lack thereof), at fishing on the Gulf about 55 miles out from Boca Grande Island. 
The day before was spent visiting with RSR Group,,  in Winter Park, FL by Orlando.  I met with the Buyer for our line and their Sales Manager.  Again more account analysis and product reviews….no big game decoys staring me down here!  I have to give the RSR guys this much, they both go that extra mile partnering with HIVIZ and it shows.  I don’t quite know how to describe it, but their upbeat attitude and energy is addictive.  How could I not enjoy myself and squeeze in one day of R&R with these guys?
So how did we do?  The Rep from Murski-Breeding Sales, thought it was a slow day fishing.  After all, we headed out early morning following a nasty squall and some rough water.  After slamming rather harshly across a few close swells, several rods and one Sales Manger became temporarily airborne with not such smooth landings!  Eventually we traveled past the storms and had beautiful weather.  Lots of red grouper and red snapper were caught.  I had one timely miss getting out of the water with a 6′ plus shark swimming by the boat!  I won’t go in to why I was hanging over the boat…  Until the day was done, the four of us had a great time. 
I don’t accomplish my job alone.  It doesn’t get done without buyers like I have at RSR, Ellett Bros., and Henry’s, and most importantly the Reps at Murski-Breeding!  You guys are awesome!

Corporate Side of the Outdoor World…Ever Feel Like You’re Being Watched at a Sales Meeting?

Yes, it’s bad enough when the buyer is grilling me and I turn to see this guy intensely scrutinizing my every move during one of those “high level corporate sales meetings”.  As you can see the business in the outdoor industry isn’t all suits and bluetooths.  I never know who or what I’m going to encounter while on the road…. part of what I enjoy here.

Recently I made a week long, three distributor stop plus one distributor show trip through the Southeast.  Prepping for the sales meetings a few weeks in advance with account analysis, samples, and compiling my sales presentation booklets, I think I am now organized.  I spent some time with Ellett Brothers in Chapin, SC,  These guys are wonderful to work with!  Ellett’s has been in business for 78 years and actively supports the industry and recognizes the rise in women in the shooting sports and their committment to encourage their dealers to take time to be supportive with this growing customers base.

I like to know what our distributors are involved with, the same as they want to know who and what their vendors are all about.  So yes, I guess someone there, besides our silent friend in the corner, was scrutinizing me.  It’s great to be “in” the industry, but more important to be involved.  Don’t miss out on opportunities to get involved in the industry, whether it is writing, competing, hunting, or teaching! 

Rocky Mountain Regional ICORE Match

Tony Phan, Rich Wolfe, John Bagakis, and a few other sponsored shooters at the match.

Another of my enjoyable spin offs from my core job is participating in shooting events like the ICORE (International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiats)  match just a few weeks ago at our local Weld County Fish & Wildlife Range

We shot eight stages and a minimum of 230 rounds for the match.  I shoot a Smith & Wesson, model 627, eight shot, common in competitions.  There were about 40 men and 4 women signed up to shoot.  I ran through the stages and then came back to my post as a Range Officer for one of the stages.  I don’t think I impressed anyone with my scores, but had a fantastic time and it was a great group of shooters!
After the dust had settled, and I mean that literally as it was a bit dry and dusty on the plains of Colorado that day, we set up for the awards and prizes.  Now usually I sit next to all the people who draw free firearms and other great prizes while I get a key chain.  Ahh…..after six plus years at competitions, it was my turn!  I won a C-MORE scope, and a Cobra FS .380 pistol.  I mention this not to gloat, but to send out thanks to sponsors of these matches.  HIVIZ receives numerous requests throughout the year for sponsorships and, as empassioned as we are about the sport, try to contribute where we can.  Remember to send a short note of thanks to sponsors, it goes a long ways.

The Corporate Side of the Outdoor World