Michael Ouellette, EditorClick image to enlargeby Michael Ouellette

 If there was one element of certainty amid all the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was that at one point it would end and we could start picking up the pieces. A year ago—when we were in the midst of the third wave—it seemed like it may never happen. A few months ago, during the surge of vaccinations, the end felt just around the corner. But now it feels closer than ever. 

That’s because amid all the mask mandates, capacity limits, social distancing, and handwringing over opportunities lost, one event has hovered on the horizon as a glimmering symbol of the impending return to normal: FABTECH 2021 in Chicago.

Sure, there have been in person events scattered across the continent during this time, but nothing with the importance and gravity of FABTECH. One of the largest trade shows in North America being held in the largest convention centre on the continent will become an island of opportunity for anyone looking to make a valuable, lasting business relationship or rekindle old ties severed by time and distance. 

As Mark Hoper says in the lead story of our FABTECH coverage, the upcoming event will play host to “35,000 of your very best friends,” all of whom have been living a shared experience of lockdowns and uncertainty. Imagine the solutions that will come out of this meeting of the minds, where everyone has essentially been coping with the same problems and are all looking for a fix. 

I, for one, am excited to learn from many of the 150 educational sessions and keynote speeches planned for the four-day event. Many great ideas are bound to surface about how to move your company forward after idling in neutral for the better part of two years.

And for those who may not yet feel completely comfortable travelling on a plane (I hate enclosed spaces at the best of times), we at SHOP Metalworking Technology have your back. Our showcase coverage outlines some of the hottest new machines and technology available, so you can browse from the comfort of your home office without missing too much of the celebration that’s about to go down at McCormick Place. And for all those planning on attending the show: welcome back—we certainly missed you all. SMT

A Few Words to Describe 2020

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During the past eight months I have heard this year described in a vast number of ways. I won’t list them, but a lot of them were fearful, most of them were cautious, many of them colourful and almost all of them decidedly negative. 

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