As I approach the ACS Rubber Division's 2015 version of its International Elastomer Conference and Rubber Expo this week in Cleveland, it gets me thinking about my very first expo in 1989. It also lets me reflect on all that has changed over those years, but also a lot that remains the same.
That first expo was in Detroit, back before the Rubber Division made the decision to keep all full-scale expos in Cleveland, and the sites rotated to locales such as the Motor City, Orlando and Pittsburgh.
At the 1989 event, Rubber & Plastics News was producing independent show dailies for the first time. I wasn't there for the first day of the event, having to help out at our Akron office with production of the first daily edition before driving that night to Detroit to report on the last two days of the show.
As a huge baseball fan, I went to tune into the World Series between the Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants on radio during the drive, only to learn of the earthquake that brought the city—and the series—to a halt. It was a bit surreal to listen to coverage on radio, without the aid of seeing all the devastation on television.
Once in Detroit, all energy was focused on the meeting and getting whatever stories we could to fill out the show dailies. During that time, the RPN staff had a mix of experienced journalists—former Editor Edward Noga and former Managing Editor Allan Gerlat—coaching about four of us attending our first Rubber Expo.
We newbies had all spent time at daily newspapers but were still learning the rubber industry, and we really didn't know what to expect at the expo. What I remember most is the size of the show. Exhibitors represented every sector that supplied rubber product manufacturers and were looking to make the right contact to start a relationship that would bring in sales down the road.
What I also remember is how different the technology of 1989 was compared with today. Our laptops were primitive; the pages still were designed in the Akron office and printed near Cleveland. Digital cameras did not exist. Film had to be developed and processed for use in the issues. After the issues were printed, one of our salesmen had to meet a truck somewhere around Toledo, then bring them to Cobo Hall for distribution at the show the next day.