Thankfully, 2009 is in the rear view mirror. It was a rough but enlightening year.
How did Classic do in 2009? There’s both a short and a long answer. As you may recall, Classic Exhibits began developing a series of affordable hybrid exhibit solutions in 2008, starting with the Perfect 10 Portable Hybrid Display. In 2009, we added the Magellan Miracle, MOR, and Sacagawea. This push will continue in 2010 with the Segue, but more on that later. So the simple answer is . . . as the market downsized and orders for larger exhibits decreased, portable hybrids became our bread and butter. Thankfully, we were prepared to handle this shift with fresh designs and competitive prices.
Now, here’s the longer answer . . . .
Social Media was the buzzword in 2009, and Classic wasn’t shy about using it to communicate with distributors and industry partners. I have to admit that I didn’t understand it at first, and I had no desire to “Tweet” or “Blog.” But I have found it to be effective and pretty fun, whether it’s our activity in Twitter, our new Classic Exhibits Group on LinkedIn, or our blog, Trade Show Tales.
Trade Show Tales, in particular, has been quite the hit. Whether we are writing about some of the industry’s most sensitive issues such as Bundling or just posting a whimsical article regarding “Trade Show Fashion Do’s and Don’ts,” the blog gives Classic, Classic Distributors, and Industry Partners another avenue in which to communicate and share ideas.
With a downturn in the economy comes less spending on new exhibits. The ClassicExhibits/Exhibits NW Rental division really stepped up in the past 12 months. Looking back at their creations from the past year, I am amazed at how many of those displays were rentals. It certainly explains why the rental division had such a banner year. Kudos to Jim Shelman, James Sharpe, and the rental crew for their amazing job in 2009.
For a peek at the rental designs from last year, go to Past Five Days and type “rentals” in the search tool.
Distributor and Partnership Development
You could feel the love in 2009. There was a palatable sense of “we are in this together, so let’s find ways to make it beneficial for us all . . . without sacrificing our margins.” For companies unwilling to “partner” with distributors or for those who didn’t have a history of reaching out to friends and colleagues, 2009 had to be a painful, lonely year. It was not the year or the market to go it alone.
Partnership development was not just with distributors. Classic spent a lot of time deepening its relationships with existing vendor partners as well as opening doors to new relationships. This manifested itself in the development of new “joint products”as well as partnering on larger inventory buys to help decrease raw costs, allowing us to continue to offer competitive pricing.