Another whirlwind week at Storman saw both Ben and myself jump on a plane and fly to the UK to attend the Movers and Storer’s show in Telford just outside of Birmingham to show off some very cool new features of StorMan to the attendee’s (some 1,000 or so).
For those that know me well, they will know I am not the greatest flyer in the world. I am firmly in the camp that “if god did want us to fly, he would buy the tickets”. Alas StorMan purchased the tickets and the journey began. The first step in the journey involved a 14hr flight to Dubai leaving Brisbane at 8.30pm Sunday night.
With books, iPod’s, Nintendo’s and PSP’s as well as laptops stacked with games & content at the ready, we were all set. However both Ben and myself quickly became engrossed in the great “2010 backgammon battle to Birmingham” which not only took my mind off the fact that we were hurtling through the air with 400 other people, but that now you can choose to look at what the pilot can see through a nose mounted camera.
If you weren’t a nervous flyer before this invention I am sure you would be afterwards. Suffice to say, beating Ben comfortably at the first leg of backgammon certainly took my mind off the flight and could relax enough to start a mini party of ex-pats and stragglers in the bar on the plane until we got told to keep it down.
Dubai airport was our first stop and is a modern marvel that upon research sells upwards of $1.4US billion dollars in duty free each year. Not bad for a big glorified shopping centre in the middle of a desert. A truly amazing place but we had to move along, so we boarded a bus to take us to our next plane which took 40 minutes of driving on the tarmac – just to get us to our flight! I joked that surely this tarmac can be seen from space and I wasn’t far wrong (check out the photo below, from Google Maps)!
The onward journey to Birmingham was uneventful especially as Ben decided that his backgammon game was “broken” and decided that the Yahtzee game might be fun to learn. Well as I already knew how to play I agreed …and now wish I hadn’t.
Somehow, while I wasn’t looking, Ben had hacked into the system (he is a computer whiz as you all know) and proceeded to ensure that the Yahtzee game allowed him to win EVERY single game by a massive margin. Shortly after this my Yahtzee game “broke” as well so we called it one all in the battle for airplane supremacy.
Birmingham was a brisk -1° Celsius when we arrived, having long left the 32° Celsius of Brisbane behind us so both of us quickly donned the leather jackets and ventured into the great cold yonder. It was only a short trip to Telford from there – a quick check into the hotel, a much needed shower and shave, quick bite to eat then an early night ready for the set up the next day.
Our keenness the following day was met with a brisk stroll through what was maybe rain, maybe sleet, maybe snow, possibly hail, we weren’t to know seeing as we are Queenslanders and our weather can make up its mind long before you get outside. We were, however, the first to arrive to set up our booth and thanks to the great organizers of the trade show we were quickly away and frantically setting up the booth to keep the warmth in our systems whilst the large trucks rolled in ready for the show day the following day.
There was a “pre-show drinks and nibblies” evening that night, which was well attended by all the exhibitors and again the friendliness of the storage and removal world never ceases to amaze me, no matter where in the world I am. Everyone was open and keen to discuss all aspects of their industry as compared to the Australian one and, luckily, we also got an insight into the American market – information which will be invaluable to me as I soon venture off on the second big trip for StorMan.
The best gauge on how well the show was received for me was from a fellow exhibitor that had her 11 year old son tag along – and he was not bored for the whole day! To keep a kid entertained (sure the chocolate and jelly beans helped, I am sure) at essentially a “boring” event is no mean feat and would go some way to describing how well the show was run.
Let’s also not mention the fact that the slot car entertainment was somehow faulty when I picked up my controller and that somehow the 11yr old trounced me. I would have thought kids these days would never have seen a slot car set let alone know how the race them properly but, lo and behold, here is my wasted youth being bought into question.
We met some great people, talked a lot about StorMan, and I can safely say I was only stumped by 2 questions: 1) “When will Australia win the ashes back?” and 2) “What single feature is StorMan’s best?”. I always try to have an answer ready for most questions but seeing as I am the most un-Australian person I know and have no clue at all about cricket I had to answer question one with: “shortly after we get the Bledisloe cup back off the Kiwi’s” and question 2 went to the whole StorMan team who all had a different answer given their different backgrounds.
Then all of us were put on the spot by a very keen potential customer, my personal answer to the “favourite feature” question was how easy it is to teach someone. Ben’s favourite feature is the automated SMS and Email feature while Jodie swears by the Key Stats Report and Chris loves the StorMan Map function.
This presented an awesome opportunity for this particular client to have a demonstration of the software so that he could pick his own favourite. After a few minutes he quickly decided that the arrears report would become his favourite, having never really attacked that side of his business. In the near future we will have a vote for the best feature as told by all StorMan users, and you can all have your say and vote for your favourite feature. My vote will still be for ease of training and teaching.
We all got a chance then to wander the show floor and check out some other features and also check out the shiny new trucks and some old vintage style removals vans, as well as a Sinclair C5 (no not a computer, but made by the man who started Sinclair computers). These are well known in the UK but as these modes of transport never made it to Australia we were quickly schooled in the C5 story.
This electric vehicle was invented by the very forward thinking Clive Sinclair and it essentially bankrupted him (here’s the condensed version) but he believed in the project and to this day is intent on solving movement issues for people using electric motors. The segway is the closest to his dream and Clive plans on realising a revised version of his vision to compete with the American invention.
It was an eye opening show for us and we all learnt a lot. Well attended, very good friendly vibe and a great venue. Thanks to Charlotte from Movers & Storer’s for thawing us out with nuclear hot coffee’s and allowing us to defrost in the office when set up was finished.
The following day for us, saw Ben and I playing in the snow for the first time and the staff at the hotel becoming rather amused that two grown men were building snowmen & throwing snowballs at each other across the car park. Can I just say for those who have never played in the snow, that those cartoons of snowballs rolling down hills getting bigger are all true. We saw it with our own eyes. Both of us will never doubt the factual accounts from Walt Disney ever again!
The return journey home was uneventful . Ben’s backgammon “wouldn’t work” and my yahtzee “was broken” so we sat crossed-armed in silence next to each other for the next 22 hours or so and never once met at the bar for a friendly truce.
World domination not yet decided between the 2 of us, but feel free to challenge Ben any time you like to a game of backgammon (provided his machine isn’t “broken”) but don’t let him win or you will NEVER hear the end of it.
PS: Please enjoy the rest of the photos below and keep an eye out for the “StorMan’s best feature” voting button coming soon. Ben is also taking all bets on that one!