Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for September, 2011

Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic: Word on the Street — Sept. 19th thru Sept. 23rd

September 23rd, 2011 COMMENTS
The Industry Gives Back

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

The Industry Gives Back

The Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic — October 10, 2011 at St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek, GA

Every October, our industry pulls together to raise money for those struck by tragedy, illness, and/or the loss of industry colleagues.

For the industry, this year will be no different. But for Classic Exhibits and its family of companies and employees, it will be different. One of our own is a beneficiary. Mike Swartout, our Director of Design, who is battling Stage 4 cancer.  Please read about all the recipients at the following website:

Here is the listing for Mike.

Mike Swartout

Mike Swartout

Mike has served as the Director of Design for Classic Exhibits since 2000. His efforts have been instrumental in Classic’s design leadership in modular, hybrid and custom exhibits. More than two years ago, Mike was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer. He has undergone several courses of radiation and chemotherapy. Many of the therapies that Mike has endured have been experimental in the hopes that the results will benefit future victims of this disease and increase their odds of survival. To those who work with him every day and to those who will benefit from the research, we are inspired by Mike’s courage, strength, and generosity.

Mike’s medical expenses during the past two years have created a severe financial hardship for him, his wife Janet, and his family.  On top of that, Mike does not have life insurance, which further imperils Janet’s financial future once Mike is gone.

Mike continues to work every day, and his dedication to Classic distributors is inspiring. There is rarely a day that Mike’s creativity and problem solving doesn’t contribute to the success of someone in the Classic Exhibits family.

Reid Sherwood and I are teaming up for the 11th year running with Cindi Cody (Xzibits) and Bill Glasser (Exhibit Concepts) to play in the tournament and to raise funds for the recipients.

While all the golf slots are filled, there are tons of opportunities for companies to sponsor and donate whether you want to attend or not. The following link will allow you to donate and/or sponsor the event if you would like:

Sponsorship opportunities range from $95 – $5000 are available if you are interested.

Volunteers are always needed if you are interested in coming to event but not as a golfer. Please contact Jim Wurm at if you are interested in volunteering.

As you many of you already know, for Reid and me, this is our favorite event of the year. Not only is it fun and a chance to see industry friends, but more importantly, it highlights what we all love about our industry: the generosity of our industry and peers and how quickly we come together to help others in their time of need. We want to celebrate the lives of those who have given so much to the industry we love.

Hope to see many of you there.

Kevin Carty

The ABC’s of Classic’s Hybrid Display Systems

September 18th, 2011 COMMENTS

Perfect 10 Hybrid Display

New distributors and account executives often ask, “What’s the difference between a Sacagawea Hybrid and a Perfect 10 Hybrid? Or a Magellan and a Visionary Design?” Can it be confusing? Absolutely! Classic Exhibits has six distinct hybrid lines:  Sacagawea, Magellan, Perfect 10/20, Visionary Designs, SEGUE, and Euro LT. Or to look at it another way, it’s more than any other systems manufacturer. Learn why there are so many and how they are truly different.


Over the past six years, we have significantly expanded our design offerings. In some cases, these new designs were prompted by internal market research; others were necessitated by outside market forces, such as distributor requests or more recently, The Great Recession. In the beginning, there were two Classic hybrid lines: Visionary Designs and Euro LT Modular.

About four years ago, we developed the Perfect 10/20. We did so to tap into an unmet price point, look, and functionality: namely, a $5000 to $9000 10 ft. custom portable hybrid that assembled without tools. There were no other products that combined custom hybrid design in that price range. It was a no brainer to attack this segment and an easy decision to market it as a distinct product line. It did very, very well, until . . . .

At the start of the recession, customers were looking for displays with lower prices and fewer bells and whistles. We introduced the Magellan Miracle and MOR. These are built entirely from one cost-effective extrusion – the ClassicMODUL Z 45. Magellan Displays look much different than either Visionary Designs or Perfect 10 kits and to bury them within those product lines didn’t make sense. Yes, they are still basically aluminum extrusion and tension fabric, but they were unique. Since then, we have expanded the line with more elaborate designs at higher prices, but the system continues to rely on the Z 45 for its frame.

That brings us to the Sacagawea. Go back two years. The Recession has gotten even worse. We are being asked for an even more cost-effective line – less expensive than the Perfect 10 and the Magellan. So, we went back to the drawing board and used the VK-1001 as our inspiration. The VK-1001 was our first hybrid in 2003. We took that basic idea, a square frame with wings, and re-designed it with smaller extrusions, portable assembly, and about 50 kit variations. Within the first month, sales exploded for Sacagawea and sales have grown every since. It continues to sell well even as our other hybrid lines have seen significant increases as well.

SEGUE VK-1900 Hybrid Display

Finally, there’s the SEGUE Hybrids. In the beginning, the SEGUE designs were added to the Visionary Designs line. There were only a few kits, and it didn’t make sense to create yet another hybrid line. However, over the past year, the SEGUE line has expanded as customers asked for silicone edge graphic solutions. We found ourselves having to guide distributors to the SEG designs within Visionary Designs, which was inefficient and confusing. Distributors were requesting more and more SEG solutions and wanted one SEG gallery with inlines, lightboxes, and hanging wall solutions. So, we removed them from Visionary Designs and gave them their own gallery to make it easier for everyone.

What Makes Them Different?

It’s actually very logical. It’s based on design, price, and function. But let’s make this even easier, let’s focus on price as the driver for Sacagawea, Magellan, Perfect 10, and Visionary Designs. We’ll explain Euro LT and SEGUE a little later.

Hybrid Display prices are based on six basic factors:

  1. Size of the extrusion (larger extrusions cost more)
  2. Whether the extrusion is straight or curved (curves cost more)
  3. Size and number of graphics
  4. Type and number of accessories
  5. What options are included in the base price
  6. Assembly (knob, locking hex key, or slide clip)

Let’s start from the least expensive to the most expensive lines. Note that as the complexity of the system and size of the graphics increases, so does the price.

Sacagawea VK-1222 Portable Hybrid

Sacagawea Portable Hybrids:

  • Smaller extrusions, such as the S 40
  • Mostly straight metal
  • Typically one tension fabric graphic
  • Common accessories
  • Three laminates, nine sintra/acrylic, silver aluminum
  • Quick assist knobs and locking hex key assembly
  • Example:  VK-1231

Magellan Portable Hybrids:

  • One primary extrusion, the Z 45
  • Curved and straight metal
  • One or two larger tension fabric graphics
  • Common or unique accessories
  • Three laminates, nine Sintra/acrylic, silver aluminum
  • Quick assist knobs and locking hex key assembly
  • Example:  VK-1065

Perfect 10/20 Portable Hybrids:

  • Multiple smaller extrusions
  • Mostly curved metal
  • Two larger tension fabric graphics
  • Extensive accessories
  • Three laminates, nine Sintra/acrylic, seven powder coat colors
  • All knob assembly
  • Example:  VK-1506

Visionary Designs VK-2044 Hybrid

Visionary Designs Hybrids:

  • Full line of extrusions and designs
  • Curved and straight extrusions
  • Unlimited graphic options
  • Unlimited accessories
  • Wide assortment of laminates, Sintra/acrylics, powder coat colors
  • Locking hex key assembly
  • Example:  VK-2044

SEGUE and Euro LT Hybrids, unlike those listed above, are categorized by function rather than by price. For example, our least expensive hybrid kit is the SEGUE Sunrise (starting at $2833). One of our higher priced 10 ft. kits is the SEGUE VK-1901 (at $12,458).

SEGUE Hybrids:

  • Relies on Silicone Edge Graphics (SEG) and ClassicMODUL TSP Extrusions
  • Curved or straight extrusions
  • Graphic options depend on kit or design
  • Accessories depend on kit or design
  • Wide assortment of laminates, Sintra/acrylics, powder coat colors
  • Quick assist knobs and locking hex key assembly
  • Example:  VK-1900

Euro LT LTK-5014 Custom Modular Hybrid

Euro LT Custom Modular Hybrids:

  • Based on Euro LT laminate panel system
  • Extrusion complements the laminate panels
  • Graphic options depend on kit or design
  • Accessories depend on kit or design
  • Wide assortment of laminates, fabrics, Sintra/acrylics, powder coat colors
  • Euro LT clips and locking hex key assembly
  • Example:  LTK-5014

If this still doesn’t make much sense, then give me a call. I’ll be happy to walk you through the basics in a 15 minute GoToMeeting session.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100.

The Bucket List Project Revealed: Word on the Street — Sept. 5th thru Sept. 9th

September 11th, 2011 1 COMMENT
Bucket List Project Revealed

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

So . . . here I sit on my way home from what can only be explained as one of the most unique, COOL and special “jobs” I have ever had the opportunity to work on.

A few weeks ago, I described it as a “bucket list” project. But it really became so much more than that. What once started out as a bucket list project quickly turned into one of the longest, hardest and most personally gratifying project/event I have ever been a part of.

PJ20 was the name of the project:  A Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Pearl Jam. Click Here to see photos.

20 years ago, Eddie Vedder was living in San Diego, writing music, and performing without really much of a band when he submitted a demo tape called the Mommason Demo to Jeff Ament and Stone Goddard of Mother Love Bone. MLB was a local Seattle band that recently suffered the loss of their lead singer Andy Wood.

After receiving the demo tape, they listened to it and heard for the first time tracks such as “Once,” “Alive,| and “Footsteps,” foundational tracks that would later become hits for Pearl Jam. They invited Eddie to Seattle to jam with the band which consisted of Jeff, Stone, Mike, and Jack Irons. If you remember, this was the same time the Seattle Grunge scene was exploding.

Right away, they opened for the likes of Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, but at that time they did not have a band name. So they called themselves “Mookie Blaylock” after the NBA basketball player.

After several shows, they cut their first album, again a foundational album of Rock and Roll for the era. The album was called TEN and they came up with the band name Pearl Jam. And 20 years of great music began, music that was written with the times and their fans in mind.

I was 19 when that album came out, and I will never forget the first time I heard it. It was on cassette, and I was in my car driving around getting ready to make a move to New York. The music spoke to me, moved me, whatever clichés apply. I connected with the music instantly, and for this geek fan, a long-lasting passion was born.


30 Second Audio Clips in Exhibit Design Search

September 2nd, 2011 COMMENTS

Audio Clips in EDS

Audio in EDS — Are You Listening?

Exhibit Design Search (EDS) has a new feature — Audio. Now, that may not seem so new, what with the explosion of video, but brief audio clips are an excellent way to communicate product benefits and features. Each audio clip reviews a product line, such as Sacagawea or a specific kit, such as the iPhone VK-1032. The audio complements the renderings and bullet point descriptions, while elaborating on the most important benefits of the product.

As with all EDS features, you’ll see it on the distributor-branded EDS websites as well. It’s an enhancement at no to cost to those distributors who have decided to add this tool to their website toolbox.

The audio clips do not require a media player. They launch in any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome), the only exception is IE 7 and below (which isn’t supported).

To hear an example(s), click on any of the links below, then click on the triangle below the thumbnail image.

All the recordings were done by professional voice talent. Yes, we were tempted to put Kevin or Reid in front of a microphone and have them give it their best shot, but in the end, common sense and good taste prevailed. There’s no need to see dogs howl or children cry unnecessarily.

Currently, there are 35 distinct audio clips, with another 15 or so in the works. Not every product has this feature, but we’re working to get that in place no later than January 2012.

Let us know what you think.  We hope you and your clients like what you hear.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100.