August is decision time for many in the U.S.
This year has been a beast. To use some of the most overused phrases of 2020: These are unprecedented, trying times that are full of uncertainty.
When COVID-19 cases in the U.S. first spiked in March, we shut it down — everything. Well, we shut down everything but the essentials. There are everyday community needs that couldn't be shut down. We needed hospitals to stay open. We needed certain products to continue to be produced and delivered.
Surely, tire and automotive service was essential. What if an emergency vehicle needed repaired or a delivery fleet needed new tires?
And we needed Big Macs.
As the nation sat at home and congratulated recent graduates with a honk of the car horn, it felt as if we were doing the correct thing.
It was working. The numbers were decreasing.
But there is a fine line between snuffing out the virus and killing the economy.
The toll the COVID-19 response took on the economy was so harsh it will be felt for many years. Even though tire dealers stayed open, most tire and automotive plants went dark, some for weeks.
When summer rolled around, tough decisions had to be made.
It could be argued that the nation reopened too soon. But it could also be argued that there had to be tire dealers — or any business owners — out there, who looked out in their shop during the shutdown, at what they built and the people they employed, and wondered, "How long can I keep this together?"
When we reopened the economy, we officially opened summer, and many of us exploded out of our homes to experience all of the places and people and activities we missed while locked inside.
Cases are spiking.
As we roll into August, it is decision-time once again:
• Do you send your kids back to school? How do you handle childcare?
• Do you reopen the office or continue to work from home?
• Do you make that one last trip, or do you stay close to the house?
For the record, we don't know the answers.
Around the tire industry, there has been a lot of talk about whether or not to hold shows and conventions. Most events for the year have been canceled or moved online.
At Tire Business, we had been keeping an eye on the SEMA Show and AAPEX in Las Vegas. They're big shows for the tire and aftermarket industries as well as our publication — plus, they were about the only shows left.
Staff wondered during Zoom calls and emails: "Are they really going to hold it? How are they going to handle the 100,000-plus people?"
At SEMA, social distancing is more like six inches than six feet. "How do they address that?"
Recently, the largest technology show in the world, CES, announced it was converting its January 2021 show in Las Vegas to a virtual event. SEMA and AAPEX which were to be held in early November — in the same space — had to be next, right?
On Aug. 5, SEMA and AAPEX did officially cancel the 2020 shows.
The news came just after our latest edition hit tire-shop counters. So we have updated this version from the original that appeared in the Aug. 3 print edition.
SEMA had notified potential show-goers and exhibitors that it would be requiring those attending the 2020 event to wear face masks or face shields to gain entry to the exhibit halls. That announcement, plus word of additional safety measures such as one-way traffic flow, came after the state of Nevada proscribed mandatory face coverings for all public spaces in the state.
Some companies told us they had planned to attend but with far fewer people than previous years.
Despite the safety measures, attending an event of that magnitude still is a gamble. And even in Vegas, the odds didn't seem good.
"While we are disappointed circumstances prevent us from hosting the show in November, we look forward to getting everyone together in 2021 for another outstanding even," SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting said.
We think this was the best decision, despite the financial toll for the organizations hosting the events.
When — (crossing our fingers) — the shows return next year, Tire Business will be there, and we hope you will be, too.
These events give a platform to the tire and aftermarket industries to show off the fruits of their labor. They are places to connect with people around the world and talk shop.
We hope the shows — the the industries — come back stronger than ever.