Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for December, 2013

What’s the Expiration Date of Your Trade Show Display? 20 Clues.

December 10th, 2013 16 COMMENTS
Expired Trade Show Display


Trade show displays, like yogurt and milk, have expiration dates. While it may not be printed on the box, it’s not hard to spot one that’s starting to spoil. Here are 20 Clues that it’s time to buy a new exhibit.

You Know It’s Starting to Smell When . . .

1. Graphics are attached with Velcro to a fabric backwall. While that may be OK for a FFA display at the county fair, it’s no longer acceptable at a professional trade show.

2. I&D won’t touch your property without hazardous duty pay. When show labor has to don hazmat suits before starting an install, that’s not a good sign.

3. Duct tape is an important design element. And you’re excited it now comes in designer colors — Baja Blue and Desert Sunset Yellow.

4. When your booth was purchased, a quarter could transform your hotel bed into Vibrating Magic Fingers. Ahhhhhh!

5. Attendees compliment the “vintage” theme of your booth and graphics. “Very retro!”

6. You decide to re-print your graphics and hand the graphic designer a floppy disk.

7. There are more “just in case” parts than actual display parts.

8. The shipping labels have added 50 pounds to the weight.

9. You lust over the two $99 banner stands in the adjacent booth.

10. The No Questions Asked Lifetime Warranty has expired.

11. It smells like the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Even Fabreze can’t kill that odor.

12. You found your distributor by flipping through the Yellow Pages of the phone book.

13. Your storage costs have exceeded your purchase price by a factor of 10.

14. Your graphics have a “Happy Days” theme, and the Fonz is still your unofficial spokesperson. “Ayyyyyyy!”

15. Someone tagged your crate with the Rolling Stones tongue graphic (and you think that’s cool).

16. It folds and weighs more than an AMC Gremlin.

17. Children flee in terror as if they’ve just seen a circus clown. 

18. Your competitors gush over your booth . . . . “Don’t Change a Thing! Seriously, Not a Single Thing!”

19. You found a “Win a Free Palm Pilot” Promotional Flyer in the case.

20. Your boss says, “By golly, it was good enough for Old Joe, bless his heart and God rest his soul.”

If you recognized any of these, put your display in the compost bin.

How do you determine the expiration date of a trade show display? Please share. 😉

–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


EDPA ACCESS 2013 Review: Word on the Street — December 2nd thru December 6th

December 7th, 2013 1 COMMENT

EDPA ACCESS 2013 Review

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Lots to Share My Friends

Marco Island was the setting and what an incredible setting it was. It was 20 degrees in Oregon all week, windy and crisp. But in Marco, it was in the mid-80’s and sunny. Not that I got to experience much of the sun. We had a jam-packed week of content rich sessions and enjoyable networking.

Prior to the ACCESS event, as a member of the EDPA Board of Directors, I participated in a motivating Board Meeting with my fellow Board Members. We caught up on the association’s initiatives as well as spent a lot of time charting the continued course of the association, a course that includes a magnificent new EDPA Certification project that was launched at this year’s event. Gwen Hill from Exhibitforce did an incredible job laying out this certification process. Think of it as a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for exhibit builders which will remove much of daunting detail gathering we all go through in the RFP process with customers. Exciting stuff!

The event started in the sun at the annual EDPA Golf Outing, proudly sponsored in part by Classic Exhibits. The weather was beautiful and the course was challenging. But, the really challenging part was all the freaking gators and not just little baby gators — 6′, 7′, and 8′ gators. A shot near the water’s edge certainly left you questioning whether or not it was really worth $5 to retrieve your ball.

The Golf Outing benefits the EDPA Foundation. Something I am truly passionate about. Proud to say that a lot of money was raised for the foundation and its future good works.

Later on Wednesday, the ACCESS event took off with the opening reception and opening of the Showcase (exhibit hall). More than 300 industry professionals descended on the Showcase to preview all the suppliers showing off their wares. Classic Exhibits was a proud participant showing off our SuperNova LED Backlighting in a 10 x 20 back wall. We were also debuting a great new counter and stool unit from OTM (On The Move). More to come on that in the coming weeks, but suffice to say, it was a real hit!

Thursday morning started with a breakfast meeting with the entire member group and a great welcome from then president Justin Hersh. After that, I was off to Speed Networking, an hour long session where you got two minutes to network with someone at your table, then every two minutes the tables shifted to another person. It was a great way for me to meet many new members and some old friends and get a feel for who they were and what they did. Truly a smart format for meeting a lot of people in the course of one jam-packed hour.

I attended many sessions Thursday but the other highlight session for me was the “Partnering With Contractors and Show Management” session. After more than 19 years of being in this industry, this was the first time I remember ever having the Builders, the Show Managers, and the General Contractors all in one room to talk about how we can ALL work together to fix many of the issues that end users experience when attending trade shows. I commend both Jay Atherton from Freeman and David Audrain from Clarion Events for their candor, honesty, and their accountability for some of the issues we see and hear about every day from our clients.

Friday was no different. I attended many sessions, even presented one myself — “Leveraging Your Partnerships with Portable/Modular System Providers.” The session went very well and was well attended. I thank all the attendees for their willingness to be active participants. Chris Lake from Highmark was my co-presenter. We used the platform as a way to help explain the benefits that many Custom Houses and Distributors recognize when they partner with companies like Classic to help design and build for their clients 800 square foot and smaller opportunities. Along with Trust, Quality, and a Delivery as key bennies, Margin Predictably was clearly a huge benefit most appreciate in their partner builds.

The event overall was a huge success. The “Not-so-Silent Auction” raised money for the foundation. And the student programs at FIT and Bemidji State University were highlights as well. We even got to see a film that included pictures of our own Trina Broten, who graduated from the Bemidji program. It was a proud moment.

For those who could not be there, you really need to consider joining EDPA. The professional development and professional connections you can make with partners and competitors alike is really well worth it.

This was yet another year where I left the EDPA Annual Meeting feel genuinely proud of my membership and participation on the Board of Directors.

To my EDPA family and friends, it was great to see you, and I want to thank you again for all the new insights you helped me realize at this year’s event and sessions. I always feel like I leave these events with more tools in my management toolbox that hopefully help me be a better leader and help Classic Exhibits be an even better organization to serve its distributors and employees.

Hope you had a great week and look forward to sharing more with you as we talk in the coming weeks. For more photos of EDPA Access, please see our Facebook page.

Be well.




I Get Questions: Word on the Street — November 25th thru November 29th

December 1st, 2013 COMMENTS

Elevator Pitch -- Take One

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

The belly is full, Christmas lights are on the house, and the tree is in the stand. Sound familiar? It’s the post-Thanksgiving weekend. It’s just what you do.

Next week, I am off to Marco Island, FL for the Annual EDPA ACCESS meeting. Something I look forward to every year as a proud sponsor and member of the Board of Directors.

Since I will not be seeing some of you there, I thought I would use this week’s blog as an opportunity to practice my elevator pitches to the usual (and unusual) questions that I’m often asked.

1. I haven’t heard of Classic Exhibits. What do you do?

Sigh . . . I don’t get this question as often anymore, but I tell folks that Classic Exhibits is a manufacturer of the highest-quality, best-designed custom hybrid, custom modular, and system exhibits on the market. We lead by design and close with customer service and quality. We are a non-direct selling manufacturer that focuses on helping our distributors build their brands in their markets with our products.

2. How’s business?

2013 has been an odd year. Some real highs and some real lows to be honest. Thankfully many more highs. We celebrated two of our largest months in the company’s history and are looking to finish the year between 10-15% up over last year. I am currently working on my annual State of Company letter. Stay tuned for more in a few weeks.

3. Are you selling many iPad stands?

Many is not quite the term I would use. We sell “tons” of them actually. Overall, our iPad sales have truly been off the charts. I give a lot of credit to our Design and Marketing Departments. They have continued to innovate. It seems like about every two weeks or so they come up with something new or some great little tweak that makes the product line even better than before.

4. What’s the relationship between Classic Exhibits and Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits?

We are great partners first and foremost. Friends second. Classic Exhibits serves as the contract manufacturer for the Eco-Systems product line.

5. Any predictions for 2014?

We have high hopes for 2014. All indications are pointing to Classic and its distributors having a banner year in 2014. Again, more to come in my State of the Company Letter in the coming weeks.

6. How are the twins?

Thanks for asking. They are amazing and continue to be a blessing to my wife and me. As a matter of fact, they just turned 7 this past Sunday, December 1st. They are very proud 1st graders, and we are very proud parents for sure. 🙂

7. Is there any truth to the rumors that Reid Sherwood was selected as an alternate for the Jamaican Bobsled team in the upcoming Sochi Olympics?

SHHH! Nobody is supposed to know that. But let’s just say that Mr. Sherwood is sneaky fast.

8. Hey, you’re from Oregon right? How accurate is that show Portlandia? I mean really, be honest, it’s not that weird right?

Our former Mayor participated in the Naked Bike Ride . . . need I say more?

9. What is selling right now?

More and more Islands. Sure we sell a lot of 10 x 10’s, 10x 20’s, and counters, kiosks, table tops, etc., but we are seeing a huge uptick in the smaller island builds — 20′ x 20’s to 30′ x 40’s and everything in between. Clients seem to be building for more and more “smaller islands” in lieu of their traditional large island builds for one or two big shows a year. Instead they are using smaller islands and attending more regional events.

10. Any design trends that jump of the page these days?

Maybe not a “design” trend so much as an overall “look” trend. We are seeing more backlighting of large dye-sub fabric. Nearly every day we receive requests for backlit fabric using our SuperNova LED technology.

11. How was your Thanksgiving Holiday?

Probably my best ever. Not only did I get four great days with my family and extended family, but my favorite band was in Portland Friday night — Pearl Jam. And as luck would have it, the Tour Manager put me on the band’s special guest list for the show. I watched the entire show standing 8 feet from the lead guitarist. Amazing view!

12.  How is Classic handling the whole healthcare dilemma?

This hotel only has like 8 floors dude.

13. Does Classic Exhibits have a rental program?

Yes, and one that we are very proud of, managed by Jim Shelman. Classic Rentals is probably one of the most custom-built and well-designed Systems Rentals programs you will find. We have inventory located in Portland, Chicago, and Vegas. Everything from the most basic counter units to 20 x 30 double deck structures. And we are continually adding new inventory. Most of which is driven by design and client needs.

14. Duck or Beaver?

Duck for sure for me. Nothing against the Beavers. Just always preferred the Ducks within the state rivalry. I appreciate both programs however and all they have done over the years to bring the spotlight of collegiate sports to the state of Oregon.

Speaking of sports . . . did ya see the finish of that Iron Bowl this weekend? Amazing! Nothing better in life than seeing Nick Satan’s…um…Saban lose in historic fashion. Just saying.

15.  Last but not least — Bigfoot, Sasquatch, or Yeti? Which is it?

Call Mel at ext. 219.

Be well and have a wonderful week ahead. I truly hope you had a great Thanksgiving Weekend with your family and friends.