A note from the editor in chief: Some people don’t like trade shows. And it can be easy to understand why. You can spend hours on your feet — hobbling around in uncomfortable shoes — in a cavernous space with terrible lighting, trying to find the right product or the right person to buy that product. It can be draining.

And, for a long time, I agreed with the immortal words of Lloyd Dobler: “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought or processed — or repair anything sold, bought or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”

lloyddoblerLloyd DoblerOf course, it’s been many years since Lloyd Dobler’s words burned into my teenage brain while watching the movie “Say Anything.” And while I didn’t turn to professional kickboxing, I knew a career in a creative field was for me. In the interim, I found out that even the highest-quality and most creative endeavors require a lot of marketing savvy and salesmanship to get the word out that they exist.

And that’s when I started to like trade shows. Because you can’t create an amazing restaurant or even a functional space without having access to all the products you need — and the people who sell them. This issue is the result of a year-long work in progress. Our sales team and marketing director meet the manufacturers of the products our readers need to know about. They send me all the restaurant-related products they find along the way.

Throughout the year, I also go to trade shows and collect product information and watch demos and talk to manufacturers who are truly experts in their field, many of whom are collectors of objects they love. One flatware designer I met this year buys his favorite vintage silverware on eBay and uses them for everyday entertaining at home. It’s fun meeting the people who make and promote the lighting, wallcoverings, doors, windows, and even drive-thru menu boards that you see each issue in our products section. It turns out that they’re often just as creative as the people behind the designs.

I keep a big pile of flash drives with media kits on them and field e-mails year-round about new products. Some of the best products appear in each issue’s Solutions Center, and some of my favorites fill the pages of this issue — The Product Guide. Within each of the Guide’s ten subsections, Senior Contributing Editor Dana Tanyeri provides trend information or expert commentary. Hopefully this issue serves as a valuable resource for you as you go into 2018.

By the time this issue is at the printer, I’ll be at a trade show in New York City, seeing all the new products, meeting new people and running into some familiar faces. Do you have a product you love or a trade show you never miss? Drop me a line and let me know at rThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..