In hindsight, it’s ironic. It was early September 2008, and FABTECH was set to open in Las Vegas in a few weeks. Up until that point a hot bed of growth, especially in real estate. But then Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy.
Still, even a few weeks into the crisis, the metal fabrication community seemed optimistic. The first day of the show, on Oct. 6, broke attendance records. Shop owners seemed optimistic. Sure, people in real estate, including many of those in and around Sin City, had a lot to worry about. But many fabricators are notoriously conservative when it comes to debt.
Over the next weeks, I called various companies, just to get a status update. How was business? Most told me that things were going just fine—no problems yet. Then, between November 2008 and January 2009, panic set in. Orders were pushed back, then canceled. Soon, I found myself updating my Rolodex®. People were losing their jobs. Many fabricators, some long-time contacts of mine, just weren’t there anymore.