GearFest 2013 took place June 21 and 22, right here on our campus in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This year’s show was once again a tremendous success, thanks to all of our manufacturer partners and friends and customers who made the trip here. I’d like to tell you a little bit about why we started hosting GearFest and give you a few insights into what is involved in pulling off an event of this size and scope.
The “why” is pretty simple: we’re a relationship-oriented company and have worked very hard over the years to build strong relationships with both our customers and our vendors. It was a natural progression for us to bring everyone together in one place and provide our customers with an opportunity to speak directly to factory representatives, product specialists, executives, and owners of the most respected companies in our industry, as well as world-famous engineers and musicians. There just aren’t many places where you can go and spend time with folks such as Billy Sheehan, Frank Filipetti, Chris Lord-Alge, Paul Reed Smith, Fred Gretsch, Geoff Daking, and many more (my apologies to all those I don’t have the space to list!). Since our first GearFest in 2002, it’s grown to become the largest event of its kind in the country and perhaps the world!
The planning for GearFest ’13 literally began within days of GearFest ’12. We started brainstorming about what kinds of seminars, workshops, and demonstrations we wanted and which artists and presenters we would pursue. (Artist and celebrity workshops and seminars are typically sponsored by our manufacturers, so there is a lot of planning and scheduling involved.)
Along with this are countless details that must be nailed down to coordinate the layout of tens of thousands of square feet of tent “show floors.” We have to provide info for the hundreds of manufacturers that will converge on Fort Wayne and have everything in place so they can quickly set up their booths (electricity, computer access, and more). We create literally thousands of signs, price tags, and guides in time for the event and much, much more. The crazy thing is that all of this must happen in our “spare time,” because we still have a business to run! We don’t have a dedicated “trade show crew” to handle all of these activities, so everybody has to pitch in to make things happen. Frankly, that’s part of the fun – it takes a true team effort, and the end result is nothing short of amazing. Being able to spend two jam-packed days with thousands of customers and hundreds of our manufacturer partners is well worth the effort.
I’ve been in this industry for 28 years and I’ve never experienced anything like GearFest. It’s a wonderful way to get even more connected with the excitement we all share about the gear and making music. If you weren’t able to make it to GearFest 2013, I hope that we’ll see you here next year!