Happy New Year! Hope you had a great Holiday Season.
Classic Exhibits Inc. and its divisions continued to rebound in 2011, after showing solid increases in 2010. Across the board, volume grew from 22 to 33 percent, depending on the division. Most refreshing, we saw no single trends, meaning our sales came from kits and custom, rentals and extrusions, and trade shows and retail. Nearly every week we were surprised by interesting projects that challenged and stimulated us.
New Systems Released
Most new kits were based on MODUL TSP extrusions, which use silicone edge graphics. SEGUE Sunrise is a good example. Released in early January 2011, the Sunrise was one of those product releases you dream about. While it wasn’t the first SEG backwall on the market, it was the first to get it right from assembly to packaging. The Sunrise assembles without tools on both the single and double-sided versions and packs in die-cut foam packaging. Much like the Sacagawea and the Perfect 10, the Sunrise addresses a specific price point while not sacrificing design or value.
We introduced several iPad solutions as well. These have done well. If you haven’t seen them, I would encourage you to add them to your arsenal: the MOD-211 iPad Counter Insert and the MOD-1276 Kiosk.
Design Monday Anniversary
In February 2011, we celebrated the 6th Anniversary of Design Monday. Kudos to Mel White, Mike Swartout, and the Classic Design Department for creating a marketing broadcast that transformed Classic and made a difference to our distributors. Other manufacturers shared their designs, but Classic made it a weekly feature. You can imagine the discipline it takes to create three new designs each week, but it’s that discipline that sets Classic apart. It forces us to never be complacent about innovation.
Exhibit Design Search/Website Changes
If you were watching closely, you saw lots of tweaks to Exhibit Design Search. We upgraded the UI, reorganized the galleries, finessed the Design Descriptions, and added 30 second audio clips. All that in addition to daily photos in P5D, new kits, articles, FAQ’s, and bi-monthly specials.
The ClassicMODUL website changed dramatically, www.classicmodul.com. If you haven’t been there recently, we encourage you to take a tour. The extrusion galleries are much easier to navigate. We’ve added a legend showing which depots have which extrusions, and (my favorite), the MODUL 6.0 Index can be viewed via Page Flip software. It’s pretty cool. As a reminder, we encourage you to contact ClassicMODUL when you need aluminum extrusion for designs you are constructing yourself.
Historically, we have always been eager to participate in Distributor Events, such as open houses and training. There was a lull in those events during the recession, but 2011 saw a resurgence. We partnered with several Distributor Open Houses and Marketing Events. We applaud those distributors who took the time and effort to organize in-house activities. A special shout out to Atlantic Exhibits for their two ExhibiTrends events. Excellent turnout and they both ran like clockwork.
Like many display shops, retail and museum jobs have always been part of the mix. But this year we really pushed that envelope. Projects included studio set work for several television networks, a flagship store for Comcast Xfinity, retail fixtures for an athletic apparel company, and my favorite, building a museum onsite at a music festival celebrating the 20th anniversary of the band Pearl Jam.
These projects and many others were learning experiences that opened doors for Classic and our distributor network. We expect the trend to continue in 2012. In fact we started off the New Year with an in store display celebrating the Rose Bowl Victory for the Oregon Ducks. This display was designed to hang in a storefront of the flagship NikeTown store in Portland. Pretty cool.
Islands are Back and Better than Ever
Islands are back and not just those with meager budgets. Well thought out, design-centric islands with realistic budgets are growing and a clear indicator of the “paced” economic recovery.
Internally at Classic, Exhibits NW and ClassicMODUL
Mel and I have always bragged about the great family atmosphere at Classic. In 2011, as we grew, we added employees to that family. And our employees did their job preparing for Classic’s employment needs in the future. At least five newborns were born.
Exhibits NW added folks to the Classic Rental Division. They have been wonderful additions who fit the culture and work ethic. I know I speak for Jim Shelman when I say how happy and thankful we are for the talents they bring to the company.
We expanded the Customer Service Department, adding two new FT positions to Set-up Instructions. We have consistently gotten high praise for our personalized set-up instructions, and Jeff and Pavel made them even better. Great job guys!
The Classic Production Department has grown as well, as business grew through out the year. They have all proven to be very talented additions who we hope will remain in the Classic Family for many years to come.
Thanks to the Staff
I wanted to say a special thank you to the Classic Exhibits, Exhibits NW, and ClassicMODUL staff. As always you make Classic . . . well, Classic. I appreciate all that you do to keep our customers and their customers happy. This past year, like many before, we celebrated many double-digit anniversaries at Classic. It always chokes me up when we celebrate anniversaries once a month. Usually there are several folks who are celebrating 8, 9, 10, or even 12 years at the company. Thank you for your dedication and your hard work.
On a personal note many of have asked about my travel schedule. I have stopped traveling for the most part with the exception of industry events like EXHIBITOR, EDPA, and The Randy Smith Memorial Golf Classic. Except for a rare trip here and there, I have chosen to stick closer to home. And to be honest I am really enjoying it on a personal and professional level. I like being in the office every day and having more time to run the business with Mel and our management team. And I love being able to come home to my beautiful wife and two five year olds each day.
Having said that, I know this leaves a void in visits to you. For that I apologize. We expect to add to our outside team this year, sooner rather than later, to complement the great work that Mel and Reid have been doing. I look forward to updating you on this in the coming months. And certainly look forward to seeing you all in Las Vegas at EXHIBITOR 2012.
Speaking of additions, I want to welcome to the Classic Family a new Designer. Katina Rigall starts on January 16. She is a talented and much needed addition to the Classic Exhibits Design Department. I know I speak for Mike when I say, “We can’t wait for your arrival Katina.” 🙂
I hope you have a very successful 2012 and that we continue to be a part of it. Thanks for all your support and business over the past year. We really, really appreciate it.
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 or www.classicexhibits.com.