Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for April, 2013

To Move or NOT to Move: Word on the Street — April 22nd thru April 26th

April 28th, 2013 1 COMMENT
To Move or NOT to Move: Word on the Street -- April 22nd thru April 26th

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Or Should I Say, WHEN to Move?

Since last fall, we have been wrestling with this question at Classic Exhibits, Exhibits NW, and ClassicMODUL.

It’s no secret, we have been growing. And our growth has been at a consistent pace. But with growth comes the conversation of when to move into a larger building.

Over the years, we have learned to operate in less than ideal office conditions. Those who have visited us know what I mean. My office, Design, Accounting, and Production are at one end of the building. Customer Service is at the other end. Purchasing and Shipping are in another corner. The Rental Department is literally perched above Customer Service in an area without real walls.

Now, I’m not talking football fields distance (and we’ve made it work and mostly thrive), but one of the factors in deciding when to move is to consolidate everyone into one office complex. Communication, especially collaborative communication, is the key to any business. And because we’re collaborative by nature, it would be better if we were within shouting distance. And on some days, kicking distance.

That’s one factor. Another is Exhibits NW Portland. We’d like to have ENW and Classic in the same facility. That’s not possible now. Our building is very production-centric, very utilitarian. When you visit us, there’s no showroom. Our main door opens into the shop, and our Set-up Area serves as the impromptu showroom, which can be interesting and surprising, but not predictable. It also doesn’t benefit ENW Portland as much as it could. If they were co-located with Classic, they would have instant access to Production, Customer Service, and Design and a visual story to show their Oregon clients. And Classic Exhibits would have a real showroom.

The final factor is more obvious. With growth, comes the need for more space. Currently, our manufacturing facility is 63k sq. feet (plus another 10k for storage and offices). And while we are very efficient within that space, our growth and the change in the types of work we’ve been doing tells us we’ll need more room sooner than later.

Now the big IF is the economy. While I do not want to get into a political commentary, suffice to say, we don’t have a clear picture of the future. Yes, our sales trend tells us to look for a larger facility, but that may not sync with the overall economic outlook. If the recession has taught us anything, regardless of past business success and a solid product mix, you can’t build your business wearing rose-colored glasses.

Now let’s complicate the issue even more. Our broker showed us the “perfect” building. PERFECT! It’s been empty for two and a half years so you would think that’s good news. The property owner MUST be interested in making a long-term deal. It’s time to deal. Sadly, the current owner is a “new” owner of the property with visions of MEGA CORP and a fat wallet. He hasn’t felt the pain of an empty building for two plus years. Even with no prospects in sight, he wasn’t willing to negotiate so we had to move on.

So, you ask, “Why not build new offices at our current building?” We thought the same thing, but sadly, the economic climate is not our friend. Our landlord is not interested in investing in building improvements until the economy shows better signs of recovery. And to be frank, by then, we will need more space in Production.

So here we sit. In a building we love. One that we were able to layout exactly how we wanted when we moved in. Built perfectly to meet our needs for the foreseeable future. But that was in 2002. The foreseeable future has come and gone.

So why do I tell you all this. Simple . . . it’s cathartic. I am using your monitor and time as my therapist. And I appreciate it! Truly I do.

So when to move? When to stay? Any advice?

Finally, to the 30 distributors traveling to Portland next weekend for Shared Knowledge University (SKU), see you soon! We have good things planned, and the beer is on tap and cold.

Kevin Carty

BTW — Do you have time available next week for another session? I need to talk about my awkward transition from childhood to adolescence. Just between us.



Classic’s EXHIBITOR2013 Commercial

April 25th, 2013 1 COMMENT

On occasion, Trade Show Tales is literally a commercial for Classic Exhibits. 😉


Classic Exhibits — Chosen for the FAB 50 “Masters of Exhibits”

April 23rd, 2013 4 COMMENTS

 The Fab 50 — Ah Shucks, You Shouldn’t Have!

Event Marketer Magazine Fab 50 List

Earlier today, Event Design and Event Marketer Magazine announced the FAB 50 MASTERS OF EXHIBITS in their April 2013 issue. From the architects of the Ex Awards, Event Design Awards, and the Top 100 Event Agency List comes the first editorial ranking of the best exhibit builders. These are the Top 50 fabricators serving corporate America by Event Marketer and Event Design Magazine.

Classic Exhibits Inc. was chosen as one of North America’s top exhibit designers and builders, one of the few systems builders selected for this honor. We are delighted and honored.

Fab 50 Ranking of Exhibit Buildings in North America

According to the editors, “Over the last few years, the exhibit landscape has become cluttered, cloudy, and fragmented . . . . Fortune 1000 trade show teams, event departments and procurement officers are presented with ‘more choices than ever,’ have ‘a difficult time telling one exhibit partner from another,’ and ‘need an easier way to separate the great ones from the good ones.'”

Our sincere thanks to the editors for including us in this select group. More importantly, to the Classic Exhibit Family and to our loyal distributors, your commitment to quality, creativity, and customer service made this happen. Give yourself a pat on the back.

The April issue also includes a full page interview with Kevin Carty from Classic Exhibits. Click Here or on the image below to download the PDF.

As if you need another reason to read something else by Kevin. The guy needs his own talk show.

–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 or


Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Word on the Street — April 15th thru April 19th

April 21st, 2013 COMMENTS
Credit Where Credit is Due: Word on the Street -- April 15th thru April 19th

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

After nearly 19 years in this industry, I have had my fair share of gripes with how General Service Contractors and Show Management manage trade shows. And I have certainly voiced those gripes, hopefully, in a respectful manner.

Well, this past week I was in Chicago for GlobalShop 2013 at McCormick Place as both an exhibitor and an attendee. Freeman was the General Service Contractor for the event. And all I can say is — KUDOS from start to finish. It’s not like everything went without a hitch, but where there were bumps in the road, there was someone right there to help you.

I must say, honestly, I was not expecting that, even with the “kinder, gentler, exhibitor friendly” rules at McCormick. For example, we had an inline, and the new rules state that you can set your entire booth by yourself as long as you have all your own tools. I was expecting some resentful union folk roaming the floor. Not the case at all!

I don’t mean this to be sarcastic, but it was a little weird not looking over my shoulder every five seconds to see if a foreman was making my size 13 concrete shoes.

Then there was Janet Ruddy, an Exhibitor Service Clerk from Freeman’s Chicago office. I was fortunate to get her on the phone a week before the show to handle some changes. Let’s just say that there is a place for you in the Customer Service Hall of Fame Janet. Thanks!

Neilson was the producer (show management) of the show. They did an OK job as well. But, sad to say, the number of “suitcasers” allowed on the show floor day one and two was horrendous. Thankfully, the show was so freaking great that it outweighed that one very big negative.

Classic Exhibits was at GlobalShop as both an exhibitor and an attendee. As an exhibitor in a 10 x 20 space, we showcased many of the retail solutions we’ve designed and built over the past two years. That was fun, and the response was great! The ClassicMODUL aluminum profiles really shined as a retail solution! Our capabilities were highlighted in a series of backwall light boxes and an adjustable merchandising grid we’ve perfected (and sold multiple times).

I would be remiss if I did not give credit to our innovative iPad Kiosks. It’s as if they were covered in $100 bills. They drew attendee after attendee into the booth, who then stayed to hear about Classic Exhibits (which was similar to our experience at EXHIBITOR).

A special thanks to Chuck Michel and Tom Beard who joined me. Both have rich histories with the GlobalShop community and really helped me (as a rookie) understand the market and the show better. Not to mention they were great friends to hang with for three days. Thanks for everything gents.

Here are a couple of takeaways, although there were many from the week. Just like the Tradeshow World, the Retail World is alive with technology, especially interactive solutions. There is clearly a push for captivating technology in the retail experience. And large, very large, fabric graphics with engineered extrusions as the structure. That’s music to our ears and re-enforces what we have been seeing in the Classic Exhibits and ClassicMODUL divisions.

Here are some pics of the week’s events. Hope you enjoy. If you were at GlobalShop, please share your impressions in the comment section. I’d love to hear what you thought (and so would other Classic Distributors).

Hope you all have a great week ahead. Give me a call if you would like to talk more about GlobalShop.

Kevin Carty


Who’s Hot in this Beauty Pageant?

April 17th, 2013 COMMENTS

Rate the iPad Kiosks in this Pageant?

Below are many of the basic iPad Kiosk shapes (without graphic face plates, halos, and wings to influence your decision). Think of it as the swimsuit competition.

All competitors scored 10’s in the talent portion. MOD-1333 was voted Miss Congeniality.

Vote 1-5 stars for each kiosk. Refresh your browser to see the updated results.

–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 or