Trade Show TalesBlog

Word on the Street — January 31st thru February 4th

February 6th, 2011 7 COMMENTS
Too Big

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

When a Company Gets “Too BIG”!

Please indulge me for a few minutes. I really need to rant about a project from last week.

Now, I have no intention of naming names. However, I think this story has merit for being told, if for no other reason than to highlight what I hope Classic Exhibits never becomes, i.e., a company “Too BIG.”

Some background . . . We are currently working on a large interior retail project. It’s for the Flagship Store for a very well-known cable provider in the US. This Flagship location will highlight its services and is set to open the second week of March. If successful, the company will replicate this look at locations across the US. It’s a very exciting project that commands a lot of creativity, patience, and dedication not only by the team at Classic, but also by all the supporting vendors.

Unfortunately, this is where we hit a bit of a hitch in our giddy-up last week, and the story behind this blog entry.

You see, there is a small (by comparison to the rest of the project) accent material that we are incorporating in the project. This product is not only innovative, but really adds a distinctive design element to the entire project.

One element in the design calls for this accent piece to be formed or bent on a very slight radius. So, we reached out to the vendor to inquire about bending or forming the product. We were told it could but only if the vendor did the forming. Time, unfortunately, does not allow for them to do the forming, so we asked if they had a sample sheet so we could try forming it at Classic. Thankfully, they had a sheet in stock that we could buy, so we placed the order this past Friday.

Now, it is important to mention that this vendor is within a three-hour drive from our main manufacturing facility in Portland.

Processes and ProceduresWhen we received the confirmation back for the sample sheet we noticed something very odd! The delivery date for the material wasn’t this Friday, but next Friday, for something on the shelf and within a one-day delivery. Naturally, we called to inquire why it would take so long if they had it sitting right there. The answer floored me. I am pretty sure I have never heard this in my 16 plus years managing a business.

The answer — “I am sorry but clearly you do not understand that we are a BIG company, and within BIG companies, certain processes and timelines have to be met and/or followed.”


We asked what being a “BIG” company had to do with their ability to go out and grab a sheet of material in their warehouse and place it on their shipping dock for our carrier to pick-up. We again were told that they were a “BIG” company and were sorry if we did not understand what “BIG” companies have to go through in the way of processes and procedures.

As you might imagine, the encounter left me both angry and perplexed about their company’s processes, practices, and procedures — especially when the vendor knows how this material is being used and how lucrative the project would be over the coming months and years for them. Not to mention the visibility it would give them to hundreds of thousands of consumers across the USA.

By Friday night, I got to thinking. If this is what it means to be a “BIG” company, then quite honestly I do not want to part of it. Now don’t misunderstand me. All companies must have established processes and procedures. Classic Exhibits is no exception. We couldn’t run our business without them. But, processes and procedures should not be so inflexible that they defy common sense. They should not put customer service reps. in a position to defend what is clearly illogical to anyone who has spent any time managing a business.

Think of policies, processes, and procedures like the white and yellow lines on the highway. They are there for a reason — to manage traffic flow. But if there are no opportunities to pass or to exit left or right, then at some point when a car is moving too slowly, too fast, or when there’s an accident, the entire traffic flow comes to a halt.

I’m smart enough to recognize that this is not the practice and vision of larger companies because at the end of the day that sort of mindset serves to only prohibit sales growth, not promote it.

Hopefully, we all stay “small” regardless of the growth our companies experience!

Thanks for letting me rant. 🙂

Be well and have a great week ahead.

–Kevin Carty

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7 Responses to “Word on the Street — January 31st thru February 4th”

  1. Kevin, what you experienced with your vendor is exactly why all of us in the field love working with Classic. You make it easy for us to do business with you, you are very prompt with quotes and designs, and you give us the greatest support materials (thanks, Mel!) in the industry. Having worked with numerous other manufacturers, I say this with experience.

    So thanks to all of you at Classic for NOT having the BIG company mentality!

  2. Lee says:

    Sounds like they were pissed you passed them over for the bending, and delayed your delivery. You should’ve just bought a sheet and not mentioned what you were going to do with it, ha!

  3. I think your blog post pointed out a lot of great things and I appreciate you taking time to ‘rant.’ It’s unfortunate that ANY company feels they are too important or “BIG” as the case may be to actually get something done in a timely manner.

    In many cases where a customer has a valid complaint about lack of service (the ‘United Airlines Breaks Guitars’ case comes to mind), the company is so big and insulated that they can’t respond, or don’t care to respond, to a customer complaint. In the United case, it backfired and as you probably know, the ‘United Breaks Guitars’ video went viral and brought them a world of trouble.

    I understand why you neglected to mention the company’s name in your rant…but perhaps you’re being too nice!

  4. mel says:

    Hi Tim —

    What is funny is that the company is really not all that large. I kind of wish Kevin had said to the Customer Service Rep., “Have you heard of that company down the road named Amazon? They are are REALLY BIG company and they pull and shipped items the next day — 365 Days of the Year.”


  5. Neil says:

    Good article Kevin. Thanks for sharing and giving us all a minute to reflect on how we should always vendors and customers and co workers and…

  6. Kevin Carty says:

    thanks for the comment. As you well know in your business, customers are the lifeblood of our business’s existence. And with-in reason, we need to serve them with the best possible customer service possible to ensure they return. And lest we all forget that often the best “lead” to new business that you receive is the one that comes via “word of mouth” from someone who has had a pleasurable business experience.

  7. Charles says:

    thanks for sharing, Kevin – the first time i read this i snorted out my coffee:) – if this “big” company does any advertising, someone should point out to their marketing department how hard it is to offset the impact of negative advertising like the type you experienced – to your recent comment, “word of mouth” negative stories like this one spread even more quickly than the good stories. as you guys constantly prove to us, it’s a lot easier – and more fun – to work with folks that try hard and act reasonably.

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