By Tim Faller. A trade show is an event where suppliers and vendors set up booths to display new products. They also usually have educational programs to provide a wide variety of training. You may have a few questions about sending your field staff to shows. Here are some answers.

Is there training that will meet the needs of the field staff? Several of the larger shows provide specific training for production staff. Evaluate the program to see what would be of benefit to your staff.

Does the field staff need to know about products? Yes. The more they know about products the better equipped they are to do their job.

What about technical skills? Shows like JLC Live do a great job of teaching technical skills. Many have ongoing demonstrations, as well as clinics on specific skills.

What about the tools? The field staff can test a number of new models. Many makers offer discounts on tools purchased during the show. The investment that carpenters make in their tools may be worth the price of the trip to the employer.

Will this be a morale booster? Showing employees they are valuable builds morale. Meeting other carpenters and nationally known speakers can have dynamic effects on them. This is particularly true when a speaker reinforces something you have said for years and it finally registers.

Will it cost money? Yes, but if you work it into your yearly budget and don't send everyone at once, it's doable and a smart investment. Have attendees prepare a talk or demonstration for each seminar they attend, so others will benefit as well.

Photo: Charles Steck

--Tim Faller, Field Training Services,