Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for September, 2012

Things Legends are Made From: Word on the Street — Sept. 24th thru Sept. 28th

September 29th, 2012 3 COMMENTS

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

OK, well maybe that is a bit overstated 🙂 … or maybe not.

Last Saturday September 23, Club 815 Powered by the EDPA Foundation saddled up to ride and to raise money for Mike and Janet Swartout. The event was the Eschelon Gran Fondo of Hood River.

To say that this event and everything leading up to it took on a life of its own would not be descriptive enough. This event became one of the most personally inspiring events of my life. And it was not just about the “day” of the ride.

From the outset, each team member took this ride very seriously. Serious in their training, serious in the way they raised funds, and serious in their understanding of why we were riding. We were riding for one of our own — much more than just a co-worker, associate, or friend. Everyone approached this ride like it was for a family member. And it was.

To Donate:

I wanted to acknowledge this TEAM of exceptional people:

  • Tony “Layers” Ricci
  • Betsy “Veggies” Ricci
  • Greg “Marathon Man” Garrett
  • Mel “Crash” White
  • Dave “Weird Science” Brown
  • Charlie “Super G” Shivel
  • Joel “Grumps” Roy
  • Grant “King Of The Mountain” Murrell
  • And…myself Kevin “White Cheeks” Carty…don’t ask…cause I won’t tell

To my fellow riders — Proud, Honored, Inspired and Blessed are the words that come to mind when I try to describe how I feel about your participation, training, and dedication to the ride. You all are exceptional individuals that I am fortunate to count as friends in life.

Some particular comments….

Mel White…I am particularly proud of you my friend. You trained like no other. And it was not just that you were training for the ride. You really put your heart and soul into the “cause”– the real reason we all were there. Thank you!

For those of you who don’t know. Mel fell hard on one of the downhills and separated his shoulder. And kept riding!!

Dave Brown…Since I first mentioned this event, you were all in. During his training, Dave would send me his training ride stats. How far, how fast he rode, and how he felt during the training ride. One thing was always consistent. He would say “whenever it got hard I just kept telling myself this is nothing compared to what Mike is going through.”

Grant Murrell…my stepfather. Grant and my mother have been two of my biggest supporters, certainly in life, but especially when it comes to all things cancer related. When I told them about Mike, they both just said, “What can we do?” Thanks for always being so supportive. All my friends from the ride appreciated getting to know you both. Thanks Mom for being a “Mom” to us all on the day of the ride

Charlie Shivel…Dude, all I can say is that your source for inspiration on this ride “inspired” me. Referring to your fundraising letter in particular, it bled character! Thanks again for hanging with the slow rider for awhile at the beginning. It was fun riding together for 40 miles or so.

Joel Roy…I am been trying to get Joel to do one of my crazy events for years. Once he heard about this one and why we were doing it he committed immediately.  Hopefully now that you have done one of these, you think I am a little less crazy than before.

Greg Garrett…Greg is an iron man. He came off riding across the entire State of Iowa for Rag Brai to do this event. And thankfully Greg shares a similar riding style as me. We essentially rode the entire 80 miles together. Good fun and great opportunity to get to know you even better my friend.

Tony and Betsy Ricci… Our resident couple on the ride. They flew all the way from Florida for the event. Granted they have recently adopted Oregon as their second home for vacations, but they both trained very hard on the flat lands of Florida for this mountain-filled ride. And they did amazing. Thanks for showing us how great it can be sharing events like this with the ones closest to you. Very cool!

Lastly from the entire team — Mike and Janet, you were our fuel. Seeing you at the start line in the morning gave us inspiration and motivation to attack the nearly 7000 feet of climbs. Then to actually see you out there on the course rooting us along as we topped the big climbs was awesome! Could not have asked for better cheerleaders.

In closing, one post ride comment: “We may have bit off more than we could chew.” Let me explain in case the other riders do not want to brag. This ride was so HARD. So hard that the organizers actually backed off from 100 miles to 80 in the final week or so. Along with there being 7000 feet in climbs, we were all greeted at the 50 mile marker by 45 mph winds. Not gusts! Steady wind. What does that look like? Here is the best way I can describe what that does to a rider.

As I came off the biggest climb (1400 ft and 6%-9% grade), we had a downhill that was nearly 6 miles long. Normally coasting time baby. But not when that wind shifted into a headwind. I literally had to peddle downhill for 6 long miles. As if the climb was not hard enough!

Mike and Janet Swartout

Anyway, I want to thank you all again for supporting our team. Without your generosity in donations, we would not have been talking about this today. You truly helped to make a difference not only for Mike and Janet, but also in the hearts and minds of all nine of us that rode. Thanks so much

To Jeff Provost, Dave Walens, and the entire team from the EDPA Foundation, thanks for your generous support in being the vehicle for our fundraising efforts

To the team, see you next year. We are already planning our next adventure.

Make sure you take a look at the slideshow here. You can see some of the beauty of our great state and the riders that took on the challenge.

Be well and have a wonderful weekend.

Kevin Carty

iPad Kiosk and Backwall Solutions from Classic Exhibits

September 18th, 2012 1 COMMENT

In this (informal) informational video, Mel White from Classic Exhibits reviews the company’s assortment of iPad solutions, including kiosks and backwall attachments. Prices vary from $129 to $679. To see the complete product line, visit the Workstations and Kiosk Gallery in Exhibit Design Search.

The ALL NEW Exhibit Design Search

September 18th, 2012 COMMENTS

How new? It’s so new that it still smells like fresh programming code on a dewy spring day. Inhale and savor the crisp scent, my friend. It’s a new day in the land of Exhibit Design Search (EDS).

Introducing Version 3.2. All your favorite features are still there, like photos, specials, exhibit tips, FAQ, and 28 product galleries, but we reorganized it, made it prettier, and added a couple of new features as well. The new EDS will be much easier to navigate, thanks to a layered approach to the graphic design. The important stuff is upfront like images and the design description. The weightier stuff is one click away like accessories, set-up instructions, and graphic dims.


  • A Quick Search on the EDS home page. Want a more detailed search, go to the Refine Search option.
  • Don’t want to navigate through the product galleries, then use the 10 x 10, 10 x 20, or “Other” button to go directly to Banner Stands, Table Tops, Portable Hybrids, etc.
  • There’s a new More button. You can go directly to a Trade Show Calendar, see booth regulations, or click on a specific product gallery.
  • The Design Details page is all new. The additional images are next to the main image. There’s a prominent My Gallery button, and the Share This Design, Request a Design, and Send Me More Information are front and forward. All other details are in the Accessories & Options and the Documentation tabs.

Exhibit Design Search

Tour the new EDS on Classic’s website. The distributor versions will take about a week or two to implement given all the format changes. But . . . in no time, you’ll see it on your website. When you do, take a deep breath. Everyone has that new EDS smell. To see EDS on an unbranded site, go to

Let me know if you have any questions. I will be conducting Exhibit Design Search training via GoToWebinar in about a month.

p.s. A very special thanks to Tony Bennett, our gifted web developer, for his insights and his patience as we slogged through concept after concept and more tweaks than a NASCAR stock car on race day.

–Mel White

Upcoming Events for The Classic Exhibits Family: Word on the Street — Sept. 10th thru Sept. 14th

September 16th, 2012 COMMENTS
Upcoming Events for The Classic Exhibits Family

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Not only is this “the busy” season, but this is also a busy time for events at Classic.

First, Club 815 Fundraiser

The time is finally here. The Fundraiser Ride for Mike and Janet Swartout is this Saturday, September 22. Yes, it’s the culmination of months of training, but more importantly, it’s the culmination of your tremendous support for Classic’s Design Director, Mike Swartout, who is battling cancer. Thanks to those who have been so very generous by contributing to the team that includes Joel Roy from Creative Dimension, Greg Garrett from Greg Garrett Designs, David Brown from Optima Graphics, Tony Ricci from Optima Graphics and his lovely wife Betsy, Mel White, Charlie Shivel and me from Classic, and my step-father Grant Murrell.

Your donations and support have been nothing short of humbling. Many have been asked us to resend the information so you can still donate. It certainly is not too late. Jut click this link to support our team. And remember to let us know if there is anyone in your life that we can ride “In Memory of” or “In Honor of” as we scale Mt. Hood next Saturday.

Club 815 Fundraiser:

Special note to our team –Guys and Gal, I truly am honored by your participation and really look forward to spending a couple days together riding, hanging out, and recovering. It’s going to be fun. And I know I speak for Mike and Janet when I say “Thank You” for your inspiring willingness to take on this challenging event.

Shared Knowledge University (SKU)

After the ride, Shared Knowledge University starts at Classic Exhibits Monday morning September 24. The training will be two comprehensive days for experienced and new Classic Distributors.

Like the last SKU event, we will cover everything from product training to procedures to design to project management for Classic Exhibits, Classic Rentals, Eco-systems Sustainable, and ClassicMODUL.

Optima will be there to give a graphics presentation. And you will have the opportunity to spend time and meet all the Classic Exhibit employees that you work with everyday on the phone.

Like any event, it can’t all be work. 🙂 We have two evening events planned that the attendees will really like. Both located at very unique and very “Portland” venues.

To those who are registered, I am really looking forward to seeing you and showing why I think Classic Exhibits and its employees are simply the best.

A little teaser . . . To those distributors who have Exhibit Design Search on their website, expect BIG, BIG changes this week. The new EDS is done, Version 3.2. You can see it on Classic’s website now. It will appear on your website sometime this week. Expect a blog post from Mel in the next day or two detailing all the changes.  They are significant!

Hope you all have a great week ahead. Be well.

Kevin Carty

What You Should Expect from a Manufacturer’s Rep

September 9th, 2012 3 COMMENTS
Shooting from the Hip (trade show tips)

Shooting from the Hip by Reid Sherwood

Snake Oil Salesman or Snake Charmer

The traveling salesman has always had slightly negative, slightly shady reputation. If you’ve ever seen The Music Man, particularly the opening scene on the train, you know what I mean. I would like to think business has changed from the days of the “snake oil salesman” to what we now refer to as a “manufacturer’s rep.

I have been a “rep” for quite a few years. Sometimes I wonder if I know anything at all. Other times I think I am on the verge of splitting an atom. I don’t have all the answers; some times, I don’t even have or understand the questions, but indulge me for a few minutes while I share my experiences.

At a minimum, you should expect your rep to understand their products and services. Typically when a new product or service is offered, it starts with pretty pictures via an email campaign. Anyone can make pretty pictures. Let’s see how it really works and functions and does it make sense for you, the distributor, to offer and promote.

Before any of you comment, yes I have done demos where the dang thing was put together upside down, or the ease of set up is made easier with a large hammer, but I can take the ribbing and say “you saw it here first folks.” My excuse is that I hardly ever do this, which is not much of an excuse. But, it can be entertaining, if not for me.

Six Expectations

You should expect an update on the company — What has been its successes and its shortcomings. If you have “hitched your wagon” to a company, then you need to know we are headed in the right direction, bringing new, innovative products to market, adding staff to accommodate growth, and improving the overall customer service experience for you, the distributor, and ultimately for your customer. I always try to give a little State of the Union in my meetings. You need to have confidence in us.

You should expect industry knowledge. Classic Exhibits has distributors in many different segments of this industry. We can tell you what we are seeing, not seeing, and sometimes what we are afraid to see. We travel and chat with portable/modular distributors, custom houses, event companies, Internet resellers, and suppliers. In some ways, we want to be your “Canary in the Coal Mine.” We try to be an extension of you and your company. I never talk about a specific customer and their methods, but I might tell you that “many companies are having great success with venue-based marketing” or that there are a lot of customers doing well with Sacagawea. We want to give you information that will help direct your company.

You should expect your manufacturer’s rep to assist in the mentoring of new employees. We aren’t trying to run your company, but many times a new employee just needs to talk to a veteran. It may be about strategies or products or industry history or specific venues. I get asked tons of travel-related questions because I have done so much of it. I look at mentoring as another way to offer advice and make friends.

Whenever a Classic Distributor has a new salesperson, I want to connect with them. The goal is to make him feel part of an industry that is made up of a lot of really smart, seasoned folks.

You should expect your manufacturer’s rep to “grease the wheel” from time to time.  When you are struggling with something, and it isn’t making sense and adding up, call your manufacturer’s rep to ask them to get involved.  We can sometimes prevent issues from developing (if you see problems coming). We also can get far deeper into “the system” than you, the customer can. Think of us is as your insurance agent.  You have a claim and the adjuster does their thing. You look at the results, or the pending results and scratch your head and say, “Hmmmm, that makes no sense.” The next call you make is to your insurance agent.  He or she needs to be that buffer and so does your manufacturer’s rep.

You should expect your rep to be a listener.  If Classic Exhibits does one thing better than the rest, it’s listening to our customers. We encourage ideas to be brought to us. It seems like every trip I take (about 25 or so a year) I get in a conversation where a customer offers up something that will make us better. The flip side of this is the customer always needs to feel comfortable in “venting” to you. Sometimes they just need to be heard. The last thing you ever want is for your clients to think you don’t care or are only giving lip service.  Listen. Listen twice as much as you talk. That’s why you have two ears and only one mouth

Finally, you should expect your rep to be a friend, or at least a close colleague. Friends buy from friends. So if you really want to boil down everything to one simple thought:  we are out to make friends. Can you become friends with your customers? Do you like people and are you genuinely interested in their lives. I have been to weddings, funerals, vacations, concerts, sporting events, fishing and hunting trips. They are all opportunities to engage and spend time with a customer and a friend. It makes my life richer because I like and respect them . . . and if it adds to our business growth, then that is a bonus.  My good buddy Scott Lindsay and I have been on hunting trips together. You spend 15 hours in a truck each direction, along with sharing a hotel room for five nights and tell me you aren’t better friends than when you left. To build a better relationship, just be friends.

I can honestly say, with the customers I have had over the years, it certainly doesn’t have to work. I have had the best experiences with some truly wonderful people. Can you say that about your job?

Till the next time,

Reid Sherwood