Whew. Traveling from Des Moines to Chicago and back in two days is a lot of road time. (About 13 hours worth in a 48-hour period, if you’re curious.) So why did the Laser Resources sales team turn into road warriors for a couple days last week? Well, because of the Olympics of the printing industry: PRINT 13. If you missed our last post on what PRINT 13 is, catch up quick by clicking here. In a nutshell, PRINT 13 happens once every four years in Chicago and it features all of the biggest players in the printing industry putting their latest and greatest technologies on display for the first time. We couldn’t miss THAT, right?
We didn’t want to have all of the fun ourselves, so we invited our customers out to join us in Chicago. In fact, if customers met with us in person or gave our name to a brand representative at the various booths, then they were entered to win an iPad mini! (Check our Facebook page for the winner, as we’re still waiting on a few lists from manufacturers.)
The groggy sales team meets at Dave’s house near Altoona, Iowa. We are tired. It is dark. But we know we must get an early start in order to get to Chicago by noon. We load up into 3 separate cars and hit the road. One last member of our team overslept and is now frantically “booking it” to try and meet up with us by the time we hit Davenport. God be with him.
We hit Walcott and the World’s Largest Truck Stop for some coffee, snacks, and a bathroom break. Amazingly, our final team member has caught up with us and climbs into one of the cars, clearly exhausted. We press on into Illinois.
After a long ride through western Illinois, we have made it to McCormick Place in Chicago. We all stretch out and check in to the hotel before going on a hunt for some food. We settle on a very popular quick-serve Italian restaurant in the lobby and stuff our faces with pizza and paninis. Then, we huddle up and head toward the big show.
After looking around the mammoth exhibition hall, we are given a fantastic tour by Konica Minolta executives David Cody and Alison Seltzner. We take a peek at Konica Minolta’s newest machines and technologies, including a new line of production digital presses. We also take in a presentation about the brand new KM-1, an inkjet production press set to hit the market in 2014. It was about the size of a small house… we were impressed!
The members of the sales team split up and go to different exhibitor’s booths around the show. We see our partners at Pitney Bowes and I take in some educational sessions at the Marketing Pavilion. Back at the Konica Minolta booth, the exhibitors are serving free cocktails toward the end of the day, and we figure we can have just one, right? We also run into our friend Jon Baller at the Xerox booth!
The show closes up at 5:00, so the sales team all heads back to the hotel to change for a dinner at Ditka’s Steakhouse. When we meet in the lobby to leave, we find that the line for taxi’s is about a 45-minute wait. For a large (and hungry) group likes ours, we could be in trouble. An entrepreneurial party bus driver sees our group of 11 and offers to take us to dinner in his bus. Avoiding the lines AND getting to ride through Chicago in a party bus? Count us in!
We arrive at Ditka’s and have a fantastic dinner. Several members of the sales team swear that their prime rib was the “best they’ve ever had”. We also enjoy looking at all the sports memorabilia on the walls and quoting “Hurricane Ditka” from the Saturday Night Live Superfans skits.
After dinner, we decide to walk to an Irish pub called Fado. For those in the Chicago area, you should check it out! It is a unique bar that was shipped to the United States from Ireland, piece-by-piece. We meet up with Jon from Xerox again and some of our customers join us for a fun night talking and laughing.
We all meet up in the lobby to check out of the hotel and grab some breakfast. A few members of the sales team have early morning meetings with customers that are also attending PRINT 13.
As we begin Day 2 of our experience, we are treated to another great product tour from representatives at Canon. We see impressive new technologies like the DreamLabo 5000 and the Canon Niagara press, which is another inkjet production press slated to be released in 2014. The theme of this show? Inkjet is in and off-set printing could be on its last legs.
After a Chicago-style pizza lunch and another stop at the Pitney Bowes booth, our team is ready to beat the big city traffic and head home. We have to wait or a few members of the team to finish up some tours with customers, but then we all meet back in the lobby and jump back into our 3 cars. On the road again!
We survive the traffic, but we wouldn’t want to do that every day! We are all happy to live in a place like Des Moines, where you can be anywhere in or around the city within 20 minutes. We stop in Walcott again for a healthy selection of dinners from Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, or Taco Bell. We will start our diets tomorrow.
We have made it home! 2 days, 650+ miles on the road, and lots of great educational experiences later, we’re back. And reporting to work at 8:00am on Wednesday!