Tales From Two Cities

Jan 6, 2022

As you’re reading this, I’m in Louisville, Kentucky for the 2022 edition of the Archery Trade Association Show.

Although just getting started, this trip is already considerably different from what I anticipated only a couple of days ago. For example, I never expected to be here this early in order to avoid a winter storm advisory along I-65. Guess I shouldn’t really be surprised, my first ATA Show saw me stranded me in Indianapolis, Indiana for two days because of an honest-to-goodness blizzard.

No one at the IRS has ever accused anyone claiming ATA Show expenses as an excuse to go someplace warm during the winter.

In December, I envisioned an ATA Show inside a Kentucky Exposition Center where masks would be an absolute requirement for entry. I also anticipated vaccination cards, or cards and a valid negative covid test. That’s because Kentucky had taken a very hard line at controlling the spread of covid whenever possible. It didn’t make their governor very popular, but it kept their statistics down lower than most of their neighboring states.

The KEC is a state-facility, and masks are required in all state buildings. But it seems that without an accompanying executive order, that rule’s a toothless tiger.

So, all KEC workers will be required to be masked, and the “masks required” notices are still posted, but there’s apparently no real enforcement.

Consequently, I’m not expecting to all attendees to comply. For the record, I’m taking- and wearing- masks, but that’s due to my medical history. If you’re planning on attending and not wearing a mask, that’s copacetic with me.

But do everyone a favor and keep your opinion on masks to yourself.

Even at this late date there are still companies and buyer groups quietly spreading the news they’ve decided -last minute - not to attend. Tuesday night we got word that two more companies were staying home. We’ve also learned several major retailers’ buyer teams wouldn’t be there, either.

So here’s a question that it seems no one’s willing to ask (I will): did the news of the ineffectual mask mandate help or hurt attendance?

No way to know, but the show will go on…and we’ll be there to cover it. We’ll even be there ahead of the Winter Snow Advisory.

In December, I’d also expected Las Vegas to be wide open for SHOT Show 2022. But that’s absolutely not the case, at least not today.

Las Vegas is not be the place to decide you’re not going to follow a mask mandate.

The Nevada Gaming Commission, Clark County and Las Vegas officials aren’t about to risk their multi-billion dollar businesses -again- because people don’t take precautions during a pandemic. They’re serious about safety precautions. They’re also not planning on tolerance to scofflaws.

SHOT Show will definitely have a mask mandate. It will be enforced.

There’s even a “ladder of escalation” in place for offenders. Warnings, fines, and either removal (for individuals) or shutdowns (for booths). If there’s “mass non-compliance,” the entire SHOT Show could be shutdown-for a day- or in its entirety. The same rules are in place for all the trade events in Las Vegas the week of SHOT.

Tuesday night’s announcement by Beretta Holdings that they’re suspending participation in large-scale gatherings like SHOT was big news. We know they’re not the only company that won’t be in full-scale attendance, but we believe they should be the ones to make those announcements, not us.

But it’s important to note that the reason Beretta gave for canceling travel wasn’t SHOT Show; it was the rapid growth of the coronavirus nationwide. That includes areas around Beretta Holdings’ facilities around the country.

Many companies have instituted stringent controls to try and keep coronavirus out -in order to keep their facilities running. In many instances, they’re working.

Company officials are again taking enhanced measures to keep them running. Those include re-instituting travel bans and limiting access to their facilities.

Not everyone agrees with the measures suggested by government officials. After their waffling about rules, vaccinations, boosters and now trying to “manage” the virus, we’re all entitled to be skeptical.

But I get not fooling around over the safety and well-being of employees. Taking steps to protect them may infuriate the people who have continued to ignore the virus, but in most cases the ones who protest the most have the least to lose. Like me, they’re primarily responsible for themselves -and possibly family members.

Fiduciary responsibilities, however, don’t stop with “don’t spend money foolishly.” Bosses have responsibilities that include acting in the best interest of the company and its owners. They’re being prudent, not submissive. Not taking precautions -whatever the issue- is a recipe for business disaster.

Many people believed -or hoped - that much of the uncertainty that plagued 2021 would magically disappear when we put out a new desk calendar.

Instead, it seems we’re still in the business of cataloging even more unexpected situations- at least in the near term.

With all the uncertainty, it’s tough to look much further down the road.

But we know that there’s always opportunity in uncertainty. We just need to look for it.

We’ll keep you posted.

— Jim Shepherd