This November I took my first trip to Agritechnica, the farm machinery show in Germany.
Both of the days I was at the show were “Preview” days — days at the beginning of the week when admission is more expensive, there are smaller crowds, and a higher share of people are wearing business suits rather than casual off-farm clothes.
To get my bearings on the grounds, I started my morning on Day 1 by tagging along to the Tractor of the Year press conference with our machinery editor Scott Garvey and Spencer Myers, who creates video and editorial content for AgDealer.
The press conference was held in a building in the middle of the large show grounds. I suppose my first clue that something was going to be different was when we walked up the dazzling white curved staircase, past tables covered with tablecloths, napkins and wineglasses to get into an ultra-modern room with spotlights and high ceilings.
At farm shows like Ag in Motion near Saskatoon, press conferences tend to be pretty informal. Generally it’s a group of people in jeans and shorts standing around outside, holding microphones or cameras, gathering around someone with a mobile microphone. At the U.S. outdoor Farm Progress Show in Iowa, some of the press conferences are slightly more formal — that is, they are held inside tents. The Agritechnica press conference was very different.
Everyone in the room who wasn’t with the media was wearing a business suit. This meant a lot of men in suits, since generally, the room was about 95 per cent men. There were a few women in the media section but only one woman made it on to the stage, along with about 20 men.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been in a room with a lot of men in suits, but it was odd to be surrounded by so many people in matching suits.
I’m used to seeing company reps in “uniforms” — corporate t-shirts and jackets. Co-ordinated khaki pants. Maybe long-sleeved logoed shirts. But the representatives of most of the companies at the Agritechnica press conference were wearing matching corporate business suits. Generally, these suits were black pants and jackets, white shirts, with no tie. As you can see in the photo of the men from Valtra (winner of the “best design” category), they even had matching pocket handkerchiefs (co-ordinated with the colour of their brand logo).
For an early morning event, the press conference was a pretty glamorous affair. Having Tractor of the Year chairman Fabio Zammeretti on stage added to the excitement. Before he announced a winner for each category, the host would turn to the side, look at the chairman and say, “Fabio, hand over the envelope.”
And finally, I’ll tell you the strangest part of all: this entire press conference, an hour-long discussion about the best tractors of 2017, took place in a room where there was not one tractor!
To find out which companies took home the other awards, including tractor of the year, you don’t have to wait for anyone to open an envelope — just check out machinery editor Scott Garvey’s story here.