Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for July, 2013

Richer for the Experience: Building My NEW Website with Tony Bennett

July 28th, 2013 COMMENTS

Karin Riches, Principal at Laguna Displays, based in Southern California”

Why I Worked with Classic Exhibits to Build My Website

In 2012, I started Laguna Displays as a portable/modular exhibits and graphics business. My initial, very basic website was built around Classic’s user-friendly Exhibit Design Search (EDS). A year later, with Laguna Displays out of infancy, I was ready to launch an upgraded, full-featured website that could grow and change with my company.

Steve Riches, 20+ year industry veteran, and also my husband, had recently joined Laguna Displays, expanding our capabilities to include custom and international exhibiting, project management, and show-site supervision. The new website would need to inform visitors about these broadened capabilities, spur EDS browsing, and promote sales leads. I wanted a clean and uncluttered format that would be easy to read and navigate on a variety of devices. While some start-ups may do DIY website building, I needed to hire a web developer to ensure my site would embed EDS properly, be self-manageable, and not over-engineered.

With that wish list, my first call was to Tony Bennett at Classic Exhibits. After finishing my first website, he and I had planned to revisit the design later to move it to the next level. Tony had been working with distributors to build, expand, and manage their websites in addition to improving EDS and building branded sites for distributors. We scheduled time and began the process.

He asked me to decide on the aesthetics and functionality, and he would design the site architecture to display my content. I gave him my creative concept (with animation), page linkage and content placement, logo, branding guidelines, artwork, photos, and copy. He built the site on a content management system, which enabled me to update content, and expand features and functions on my own. I composed and edited page copy, approved image placements, and adjusted font sizes and text colors to align with my logo and color scheme. Tony overcame animation limitations and fine-tuned page layouts and images for cohesiveness. He suggested additional functions and features, worked-out bugs, and re-customized EDS to load seamlessly from all linked pages. Fifty or so little changes later, the website seemed to suddenly transform into what I had envisioned.

It took just a few weeks, in stops and starts, as I re-wrote copy and Tony refined technical details. He kept the process moving forward, and continually advised me of the next task at hand, helping me prioritize content development and not be overwhelmed by the project. He consistently kept in mind my goals for the site, at times challenging some of my ideas which would have compromised its flexibility and structure. Before launch, Tony showed me how to edit, explained built-in future functionalities, and enabled the website’s analytic tools.

Throughout, Tony met me where I was, technologically, encouraged my questions and ideas, and responded with support and adaptive solutions. I love my new website and am reassured to know that when I need more help and advice, Tony is there.

Tony Bennett can be reached at


This is for those who appreciate the “other” Tony Bennett (and the song title is appropriate to the post).

From Subzero to Boiling Hot. What’s the Industry’s Temperature?

July 23rd, 2013 2 COMMENTS
Shooting from the Hip (trade show tips)

Shooting from the Hip by Reid Sherwood

Summer is great for golf. Not so much for trade shows.

If there was an exhibit and event thermometer measuring the hot and cold temperature of the industry, it would go from subzero to boiling hot several times a year.

Now before you think this is just my opinion, let me qualify it. I have talked with dozens of distributors and custom houses over the past six to eight weeks, and they all agree. Through May, life was not just good, it was pretty great. We had record months along the way. Sales figures were as good as or better than 2012. I have also spoken with our vendor partners (by vendor partners, I mean wholesalers who do not sell direct). The same thing was true. January to May — WOW!! Then came June and the sound of crickets was deafening.

Let’s look at some potential reasons/excuses for the June debacle.

  1. Many distributors said that they do not have a pipeline of work coming because the pace over the first five months kept them from prospecting. They filled orders, but did not have time to find new clients. That pace required some deep breathing in June. The upside is July, and the pipeline will fill quickly with fall projects and shows.
  2. Cuts in defense spending. Some larger summer shows, such as Inter-Solar, are scaled back. One of our partners said, “We had 13 different projects there last year but only two this year.” You don’t need to be a math major to see the impact.
  3. The harsh reality is that golf is still the fastest growing sport in the world by over 50% and is being played by record numbers of people every day.

Of those three statements only two are true. You can decide which one isn’t. But suffice to say, if you haven’t figured out how to diversify and offer different products or services to your standard customer base or repackage your standard products to other industries or tangent markets, it’s not too late. It is late, but not too late.

Now that the gloom and doom is over, here is the bright side (yes, there is a bright side).

VK-5105 Hybrid Island

We are ALREADY seeing exhibitors planning for the fall show season. Our Design Department requests were up 72% in June over LY. Budgets are freeing up, and businesses are finally realizing that the most important time to market is during “Less than perfect economic times.” Again, don’t just take my word for it. After speaking with various industry vendors from graphics to labor, flooring to furniture, and other exhibit manufacturers, we all think this fall will be very strong.

There is a return to the islands. We are seeing healthier, more realistic budgets for bigger projects, expecting “Wow Factor” design. And if you can deliver, there is success to be had. Nothing is more thrilling to a trade show exhibit salesperson, manufacturer, or other industry vendor than to know that design matters more than ever and that price has finally become the third factor after design and service. One labor company told me they are up 11% in overall business, but 19% in island installs. This may be the best fall ever. And I have lived through some incredible fall seasons.

Even our budget-priced kits (Magellan, Sacagewea, and Perfect 10) are seeing people pushing the design envelope so they perform beyond the norm. That’s refreshing.

Here is a little tidbit in talking with my good pal Mike Sandler at Atlantic Exhibits about the start of the fall season. The topic of technology in shows came up. Not the kind of technology that requires compressed air, but technology to deliver a bigger, faster, stronger more eye-inspiring message than a flat static graphic. Here is the statistic that Mike gave me: “Reid, we walked a small show one day last week. Out of 105 booths 103 had technology in some form to deliver their message.” That is what makes Classic’s solutions so attractive is the ability to incorporate technology at every turn. From iPad kiosks to cell phone charging stations to 70 inch monitors.

Sooo . . .  it is mid-July. The summer doldrums are just about over. Get one more round of golf in before it all breaks loose. It is going to happen fast. It always does.

Let’s make it the best fall ever.

Reid Sherwood


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). 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.



SuperNova Lightboxes “JUST DO IT.” Project: Word on the Street — July 15th thru July 19th

July 20th, 2013 COMMENTS
SuperNova "JUST DO IT" Project: Word on the Street -- July 15th thru July 19th

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

The first image in the slide show below says it all: “NIKE IS A BRAND.” And once again, in partnership with one of our trusted Retail/Corporate Environment partners, we were able to make that brand come to life this week.

Nike, the recognized leader in sporting apparel worldwide, is on the cusp of opening a new Call Center to support their website on Monday. And in true Nike fashion, they went all out in the design of their new building space. Classic Exhibits was able to play a small, yet impactful, part of that space.

With SuperNova™ LED Technology in our bag of tricks, we built out the perimeter walls of the entire work space. As you can see from the images, the impact is real . . . real spectacular that is! Normally, I would list all the sizes, fabric, ClassicMODUL extrusion profiles, etc. But this time, I’ll let the photos do what photos do so well.

Nike is a Brand

Picture 1 of 18

Nike Call Center #1

The process, as always, went wonderfully smooth. We started about six weeks ago with the Design Team which included folks from Ivey Performance Marketing, Nike, Jim Ponomarenko (our Production Manager) and me. We reviewed the creative ideas they had, the construction drawings for the space, and then went to work designing the lightboxes to integrate into the space as it was being built.

Timing is always tricky on Corporate Environments and Retail Spaces. Meaning you have to work your part into the existing construction schedule. And again, as is often the case when working with our friends at Ivey, everything timed out perfectly. The installation was completed around noon on Friday (today as I am writing this), just in time for Monday’s grand opening. On Monday, the first 50 employees report to work at the space. Then more follow the following week.

To say we are proud is an understatement. Nike is a brand mavin, and pleasing them and doing their brand justice made us very proud indeed!

Hope you enjoy the images . . . and mentally put these in your hip pocket. Most of your clients have office and or retail spaces as well. Consider what SuperNova™ LED Lightboxes could do for their spaces. What better way to get even deeper into your client’s overall brand experience! See the video of the final installation to see the overall presentation.

Have a fantastic weekend!




SEGUE SuperNova LED Inline Lightboxes

July 18th, 2013 COMMENTS

SEGUE 10 ft. Lightbox | VK-1950

Lights, Camera, Action! For the first time, exhibitors can enjoy the visible benefits of a large lightbox in a portable one- or two-sided display. SEGUE SuperNova LED Lightboxes from Classic Exhibits use a proprietary light system that attaches to the engineered aluminum frame.

10 ft Displays:  VK-1950, VK-1951, VK-1952

20 ft Displays:  VK-2939, VK-2940, VK-2941

With SuperNova, exhibitors can choose between a 10 ft. or 20 ft. exhibit, one or two-sided graphics, in a display that packs flat in a portable roto-molded case. Even the graphics are easy. The backlit silicone edge graphics attach seamlessly into the SEG groove making assembly fast. See video below.

It’s never been easier to get backlit graphics in an inline at an affordable price. Choose between flat and curve frame options, with or without wings. And, in case you are wondering, no air pump is necessary.

Don’t see exactly the configuration you want . . . just give us a call. We’re happy to design a display for your unique marketing goals.

–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

Classic Exhibits has a NEW Chicago Rental Depot

July 16th, 2013 2 COMMENTS

by Jim Shelman

Yes, you read that correctly! We’re excited to announce that we have added a rental depot in Chicago. We’ve teamed up with ELITeXPO to produce rentals at their corporate headquarters in Elgin, IL (right outside of Chicago). We’ll work with you on the sales end, and they’ll handle the fulfillment. And you’ll save big time on shipping costs!

Over the past several years, our rental division has grown at a rapid rate, and with this growth, we’ve expanded our capabilities and added an enormous amount of inventory. But one question keeps coming up, “When are you going to open an East Coast rental depot?”

This is something that we’ve been mulling for quite some time. Our main concern was duplicating our Portland production process so we could offer the same quality rentals elsewhere. When the opportunity presented itself to work with ELITeXPO, a company we respect and admire, we knew it was time to act.

Founded in 1987, ELITeXPO began as a carrier of computer hardware, software, and high tech materials. Then in 1990 transitioned into trade show materials. From that point, the trade show industry has been the focus of their company. And in 2009, they launched their Tradeshow Services Division, which has been a perfect compliment to their founding core. With over 26 years of experience, Dave Mihalik (President & CEO) understands our industry and recognized this as a great fit for his company. According to Dave, “We already had all of the key components in place to duplicate Portland’s production process, and we were in the process of expanding our warehouse space, so it was perfect timing on our end. We’re excited to already have several rental projects lined up and on our production schedule.”

Chuck and Dave in Portland

Dave and Chuck Michel (Vice President Tradeshow Services) recently spent time in Portland at our production facility to gain a full understanding of our production process and inventory management. A few weeks later, Jim Hayes (Executive Vice President/COO) flew out for more intensive training and planning, so he could implement our system with his staff at their facility. As a side note, I want to express that these are really good guys! It’s great to work with people you consider good friends. And that’s the type of relationship we have. Quite honestly, that’s the only reason we decided to move forward with this. We knew they were the right people/organization to team up with!

Chuck Michel jumped on the opportunity. “We’ve worked with Classic as a distributor for over four years, and with Jim on a ton of rental projects,” said Chuck. “We’ve always been impressed with their operation, quality, and high service level.  So when I heard that there was interest in setting up a rental depot for East Coast rentals, I was all over it.”

We’re also offering round trip delivery services and I & D supervision for local Chicago shows and events (Quoted on an individual project/event basis).

For those who may have reservations knowing that ELITeXPO is a fellow distributor, please don’t. This organization is a class act, and they have no interest in competing with you. It’s a small world in our industry, and we completely understand how important it is to honor your relationships with your clients. We’re in this for the long haul, not for short-term gain. Dave and Chuck ask that Classic distributors reach out and discuss any concerns you may have prior to any rental project. Dave added,”We could also partner with distributors to assist with shipping and logistics. And there are preview and storage opportunities in our second warehouse, which would work well if there are any concerns about coming to our main place of business. The bottom line is we want this to work for everyone!”

All Classic Rental sales will continue to be channeled through Exhibits Northwest in Portland (Exhibits Northwest is a division of Classic Exhibits, Inc.). Continue to contact me for designs and quotes at (503) 624-2905, or

Classic’s Portland Rental Depot

Whether we ship from Portland or Chicago, you can count on the same high quality service. Every order gets staged and photographed before it leaves our dock. And we’ll continue to email setup diagrams and staging photos before shipping, so you can share them with your clients. And we’re always available in case you have questions.


We just added a new feature to the Wholesale Rental Gallery that should help you gather pricing information for your clients. Along with the wholesale hardware and graphics rental price, we’ve added a “Retail Pricing Calculator” that shows our wholesale rental price, wholesale graphics price, and retail prices calculated at 40% and 50% margins. You simply click on the button underneath the wholesale price shown in each of the individual rental designs, and you’ll see the detailed pricing information.

We look forward to working with you! And for those who we haven’t worked with, please consider contacting us for your next rental project.

You have our full commitment to a quality experience from start to finish!

Jim Shelman
General Manger of Exhibits Northwest & Classic Rentals