Industry leader and California operator Maurice Brewster contributes insights to a Wall Street Journal article.
I attended my very first limousine trade show in 1994. Operator and industry leader George Jacobs, now the owner of Windy City Limousine and Bus in Chicago, was there as well, which is why he’s pictured with this blog post. The photo is kind of grainy, since it took three days to get it processed from film to photo. George will be there again for LCT’s 36th annual trade show, also my 26th show. So much as changed, yet so much as stayed the same.
George and I are now both smaller men than we were in 1994. We both have less hair. One of us has far less hair, but I don’t feel the need to point out our faults or signs of aging. I was blessed that the LCT Show was held in Las Vegas in 1994 because it was the practice to alternate between Las Vegas and Atlantic City back then. In 1997, the show took a detour to Daytona Beach. It would have been perfect for Daytona Beach operators Mike and Marlo Denning since Marlo doesn’t like air travel. This show was in their backyard. Except, the Dennings didn’t become the Dennings until 2006. Ten years later, I had the pleasure of arranging a scholarship for Mike Denning to attend his very first show. The Dennings are just one of many beautiful couples I have met over the years.
I remember arriving at my first show at the now razed Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. I didn’t know a soul. It seemed like no one wanted to know me. Everyone was running around in their little cliques. I was the new kid hailing from Bakersfield, Calif., so I was rather easy to dismiss. The affiliate network culture wasn’t nearly as big as it is today, and no one likely envisioned the kid from Bakersfield could provide much value. I felt lost.
Fast forward a quarter-century, and this year's International LCT Show will be much different for me in just about every possible way. At this show, you will hear me roar as I deliver my first State of the Industry Address since I became LCT’s general manager in November 2019. I will roar as I welcome first-timers in a way they have never been welcomed before. Because I was that awkward newbie in 1994, first-time attendees will be embraced and welcomed.
The show attendance this year will likely be about the size of the show in 1994, as many people have reported to me privately they have been threatened, bullied, or chastised by supporters of our competitor for attending our show (our competitor disrupted the industry by scheduling its show just days after ours). Some attendees are just too scared to come, fearing fallout for their business and reputation. That’s certainly different. My advice: Stand up to the bullies.
I never dreamed 26 years after attending my very first LCT Show that I would be the co-chair of the show. I never thought I would be a featured speaker at the LCT Show many times, and I certainly never anticipated I would one day be the leader of LCT Magazine, having served for 15 years as a freelance writer. I still sometimes pinch myself that I have arrived in a manner much larger than I ever imagined my role with LCT would be.
Yes, this show will engage me as never before as I try to visit every educational session, user group meeting, and planned networking session. I plan to break bread with those who helped propel me to the top of this LCT mountain. I am honored, humbled, and proud. I’ve still never sat down and had a meal with George Jacobs, although I have interviewed him, written about him, chatted on the phone, and shared cocktails. Maybe this will be the year I dine with George Jacobs. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? I would consider that meal to be my official arrival to the mountaintop.
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