Confidence Is Tricky To Maintain

By Jim Borneman, Editor In Chief

Trade shows, meetings, in person events — and even personal selling — are trying like heck to make a comeback. This time of year, eyes look forward, trying to plan the course for 2022. And it looks like it may be harder than first thought.

As the industry entered the second half of the year, there was good news. The Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), Synthetic Yarn & Fabric Association (SYFA), and other organizations held in-person events and there was a feeling of “Hey! We are back in business!”

Things were a little different, with antivirus procedures and protocols now part of everyday life. But the strong desire for some sense of normalcy — not a full-blown return to the daily life of say, 2019 — but a life with face-to-face meetings, sharing ideas in person, running into old friends, and even making some new ones, sure felt better for many attendees who have grown tired of staring at the computer screen for another zoom meeting.

Then, just like the old “Jaws 2” movie tag line, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,” the new COVID-19 variant Omicron made news.

As of this writing, not much is known about the severity of the new variant or the effect of vaccinations and treatment options. But governments are applying new travel restrictions and considering new rules regarding testing and proof of vaccination.

There also is a strong inconsistency in reactions to the Omicron variant, and politicization of the early response — and response in general — is not helping the situation.

Emotionally there are many parallels between COVID and a war. Not to minimize armed conflict, but the emotions of the embattled population are somewhat similar. The general
population suffers real loss — personal, family and friends. Their world is smaller, and movements restricted. Daily life is very different with institutions like schools, law and order, and government shifting roles in society. And, after the initial shock of the foggy engagement and initial crisis subsides, a sense of adapting and finding a way through
the daily battles comes to bare.

There is a sense of optimism out there — one not stoked by just wishful thinking — that 2022 will have a path to a more normal daily life. There will noise from all corners, but many will find their way down the center.

As of this writing, the year 2022 has a host of in-person textile events on the calendar, and the current conditions don’t seem to be impacting those plans. However, shows early in the year are threatened.

As Omicron is studied and better understood, as new drugs are approved to treat COVID, and if lockdowns and travel restrictions are eventually relaxed, 2022 shows like IDEA® in Miami and Techtextil North America/Texprocess Americas in Atlanta will create some terrific opportunities for business, innovation and investment in U.S. textiles.

There are lessons learned from the COVID war, but maybe it is time to shout, “Hey! We are back in business!”

November/December 2021