No camo

Canadians make fun of Americans for wearing camo in social settings. We probably shouldn’t do that, but it’s hard when you see, oh, kids in church, for instance, or people at auctions. To us, when you go to an auction you try to be visible so your bids don’t get missed. Camo, of course, is intended to confuse and distract the eye so you are less visible. I am thinking that’s why camo now comes in pink.

However, let’s face it. Making fun of camo-wearing Americans is a cheap shot. We can make fun of them because, basically, we don’t need camo in social settings. We just fade away into the wallpaper. If you ever go to a party, an auction or church and come away unable to say how many Canadians were there, you get my point. We are the yellow light at an intersection — largely unseen and seldom looked-for. However, if you ask travelers at that intersection whether there was a yellow light, they will say, “Of course. I mean, there must have been. You can’t really have a traffic signal without one, can you?”

Kerry Knudsen

Kerry Knudsen

So it is in business. I shared a cab some years ago on a ride from the Shanghai (OK, Pudong) airport to an event hotel with a father and son from a Nova Scotia floorcovering retailer. I have to admit, I was surprised to see them that far from their physical and cultural homeland. If asked, I would affirm that Canadians travel the world on business, but it just seems there aren’t that many of us when you get out there. I mean, there must have been. You can’t really have a trade show without one, can you?

One problem with our relative obscurity is that marketers, vendors, potential customers and the media look right through us. We can’t even wear a Roots shirt or a Canadian flag to identify ourselves, since American travelers tend to wear Roots shirts or Canadian flags to conceal their identities as Americans.

The reason this is a problem is because business relies on relationships: past, present and future to sustain and increase fiscal turnover. Products don’t drive sales; people do.

We are going to remedy this problem at the next TISE, or Surfaces, show next January in Las Vegas. On Wednesday evening, Jan. 20, right after the show closes, Coverings magazine and TISE  are going to present Canada Night. Mark your calendar.

No, this will not be just another set-up for sales pressure. The two organizers want to accomplish two things. First, for you, we will provide a private place for Canadians to get together, see how we all look in one place, have a free beer and hors d’oeuvres, and maybe a special gift for our readers. For the show and for Coverings, we want to show the exhibitors how many Canucks actually make the trip, what Canadians represent in terms of an unidentified show-venue market, and maybe get some attention from suppliers to extend their interests northward.

We will have more information in the next two issues, including how you will receive your pass. (Hint: are you reading your own issue of Coverings, or are you a subscriber? Business magazines are free, you know, for “qualified recipients.” To qualify, you must be a retailer, installer or designer of floorcovering products in Canada. Free subscriptions are available here

We will also be approaching suppliers with an opportunity to sponsor the evening, with an eye toward making this a
sustainable, annual event.

Just to be clear: no pressure, no speeches, presentations or products. I expect we will be running all-Canadian music for atmosphere, and maybe can have a video loop of your favourite hockey moments. The idea is to be social, and to show the Americans what we look like in a group.

Dress code: no camo.

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