You’ve been preparing for months. Weeks fly by as if someone whipped them away. You feel like something extraordinary is approaching. For the company, it’s a chance; for you, the adventure of a lifetime. And then it’s Tuesday, February 27th, 9:00 AM, you’re standing with your colleagues at the booth, and… you don’t feel that great excitement. Everything seems so normal, and the crowd of people you passed an hour ago on your way to the party has dissolved somewhere across the entire hall. You think to yourself then: “Are these supposed to be the great trade shows?”


Little do you know that… you’re not really thinking. You’ll quickly find out. And most of all, on the second day, just before noon, when there will be so many people at Bertrand’s booth that you won’t know where to look.


The IBS 2024 trade show started off lazily. Somewhere from the high-hanging speakers, an announcement in English came—welcome to the IBS trade show—a standard spiel, just as if you were standing at a train station in Poland and listening to information about the Lębork – Słupsk train arriving at platform 1.


The participants also didn’t collectively rush to the booths. We, the Bertrand team, poised and ready, each of us imagined it more or less like this, that the beginning would be a blast, as if the whole “Crew” was coming to Płock. And then… silence, calmness. People strolled slowly, lazily. We were all mega hyped for the start, expecting fire from the first seconds until the end. And that fire did come, suddenly and unexpectedly around 11 o’clock, when it started to get crowded.


The biggest challenge was on the second day. So many people that it was hard to handle, and you didn’t want anyone to wait, to be accidentally skipped, to feel ignored. Often we had to improvise quickly, especially if someone wanted to talk to a specific person. Like Paul, our sales manager. A customer approaches, we greet each other nicely, he politely asks how I’m doing.


– Everything’s fine. And you? – I throw back. – Great – he replies mechanically, and I can already see him scanning the booth. – Can I help you with something? – I ask. – Actually… yes. Can you tell me where Paul is?


And it’s not like only one person asked about our guy from Ohio. Especially on the second day, there were plenty of such questions. Our dear Paul made sure that a quite large group of customers visited Bertrand’s booth.


The second thing that stood out was that Americans are… big on gadgets. But not in the sense that they have new iPhones, smartwatches (although they probably do). I mean more like collectors of marketing materials. All kinds. At the front, we had a table, something like a reception, where our bags, pens, bags, and small webcam covers on laptops were spread out. Especially the latter surprised the guests; they took it in their hands and examined it from every angle.


– What is this? – they asked. – This is a webcam cover for a laptop – we explained politely. – Really? – they expressed surprise. – They didn’t expect that at all. In fact, we could have told them it was anything. Once we even jokingly told one participant that it was a mini-processor. – Are you kidding me? – he looked at us in disbelief. – No. Seriously. – Really?!


Okay, I was kidding. But I also quickly corrected him.


Finishing this thread, one guy said outright: – Funny gadget. But useful, I’ll take it – after which he took two pieces of this tiny marvel into his hands. – You’re probably the only company that has something like this.


The gadgets disappeared from our reception in bulk. Not just those covers. Bags, pens, everything. I remember a few months before the trade show, we were wondering what to take with us.


– Americans love collecting such things. They take whatever they can and as much as they can – our director, Olaf, convinced us. I’ll admit honestly—we didn’t quite believe him. Well, it’s a prestigious event, Vegas, and people will grab bags and pens from some Polish company. But surprise, surprise.


I think what also distinguished our company, apart from great products, was the atmosphere. We had a really cheerful, although always professional team, which had a somewhat unconventional way of conducting conversations. We ran contests for customers in which they won our gadgets, and it really worked. Probably no other company came up with something so trivial.


The second issue—individual approach to the customer. They were delighted with how our salesmen conducted the conversation, how they talked about products, but also about the company itself. The way of conducting the conversation was also not standard, sometimes light, humorous. At one point, it was already the third day, a salesman, Mateusz, an incredible talker, came up to us. – Do you know that customers take pictures with me? – he suddenly throws in. Like him, you never know if he’s telling the truth or pulling your leg. And although we saw that his contact with customers was cool, we didn’t fully believe him.


He comes back half an hour later. Next to him, a guy in his forties, elegantly dressed. – Take a picture of us – he hands over his phone, and the customer… stands beside him. With a smile, pleased. – I already have a dozen of these photos taken – our colleague throws in, then politely says goodbye, and we still stand in mild shock.


Indeed. He wasn’t lying.