Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for January, 2015

Our Five $200 Rental Rewards Winners

January 20th, 2015 COMMENTS


In July, Classic Rental Solutions (CRS) launched Rental Rewards, a program designed to reward our distributors for rental returns without damage or missing components.

We take a lot of pride in offering the highest quality rental exhibits and graphics in the industry. We stage and photograph every order before shipping. We also include packing photos, setup diagrams, and a complete inventory list, regardless of the size of the order. And we only ship quality components, because to us, it’s not just a rental, it’s a brand new exhibit experience for your customer. And we want them to be happy with it.

One of the biggest challenges has been the increasing cost for repairing and replacing damaged items from careless handling and poor re-packing of rental properties. So we decided to put a positive spin on a negative problem by offering a 2% Rental Rewards Credit for every successful return. Since July, we’ve issued 49 Rental Rewards Credits to 32 Classic Distributors. We’re thrilled with the early success of this program!

The 2% credit is based on the total invoice amount and is applied to your next rental order. And along with the 2% credit, the Rental Rewards Program offers a 15% discount off a future rental order once you receive six 2% credits. Plus, your name goes into our semi-annual drawing for every credit you earn (June & December).

classic-rentals-logoThe Five Winners for the First Drawing:

  • Dale Barger with Exhibit Concepts
  • David Hankin with Total Displays
  • Mark Bertelson with Atlantic Exhibits
  • Cindi Codi with Xzibits
  • Allison O’Neal with Apple Rock Displays

All five winners have received a $200 gift certificate.

“WOW! Thank you for the Amazon gift card winning! What a wonderful surprise! (I never win anything)
You guys are very generous and kind and I greatly appreciate it! I love working with you guys! Thank you so much!”

— Cindi Cody

“Oh wow – Jim, what a great prize! Very exciting. Thank you very much! Always a pleasure to work with you and your team!”

–Allison O’Neal

Rental_aRemember, the more Rental Rewards credits you receive, the more times your name goes in the bucket.

Our thanks to everyone who has received our Rental Rewards credits. We would encourage you to speak with your I & D teams about treating rentals with TLC during install and disassembly. Including packing. We both win when this happens. We save money, and you save money. Plus, you have a chance to win exciting prizes. Our next prize drawing will be in June.

Thank you for your continued business and have a Happy New Year!

–Jim Shelman & the Classic Rental Solutions Team

p.s. Look for Classic and Classic Rental Solutions at EXHIBITORLIVE. 


Promotional Product Trends in 2015

January 13th, 2015 3 COMMENTS

Promotional_4Tchotchke? Swag? Giveaway?

Cindi Cody, Guest Post
Xzibits, Inc.

Look around your office. How many branded items do you have? I’d bet at least one or two or three . . . and you’re not alone. In 2013, advertisers spent more than $18 billion on promotional products. That’s $18,000,000,000 of swag. Wow!

At nearly half a cent per impression, promotional products are a proven, cost-effective way to market your company and increase your brand awareness. They have a lower cost per impression than nearly every other form of advertising. In addition, they have staying power. Most are kept over seven months. If you’re not using promotional items, here are some reasons you should be.

Promotional_3When Choosing a Promotional Product

Budget – You don’t have to spend a lot. My rule of thumb is to give them something they will be upset about if they lose it.
Imprint Area – Know the imprint area restrictions of the product. If you have a vertical logo more than likely it won’t imprint well on a pen.
Artwork – Always submit Vector art and convert fonts to outlines.
Proofs – Although you may be charged (usually less than $10) always ask for a proof.
Production Time – Build in at least 10 business days. If you have a rush order, there are several manufacturers that offer 24-48 hour production times.
Overages – Ask vendors to share their overage/under provision.

Trending in 2015


  • Power Banks, Stylus Pens, Cord Organizers, Bluetooth Speakers, Phone and Tablet Stands.

Health and Wellness

  • Hand Sanitizers, Pedometers, Fitness Watches, and Fingerprint ID Kits


  • Laser-etched Polos, Packable Garments, Folk Patterns, and a lot of Marsala! (Pantone Color of the Year 2015)


  • Infusers, Mason Jars, Geometric Tumblers and Bright Colors

Check out the New Products Introduced at the 2015 ASI Show in Orlando

So… what branded product did you find on your desk? 😉

Have questions about promotional products? Give me a call.

–Cindi Cody

2015 Portable Modular Award | People’s Choice Voting

January 12th, 2015 COMMENTS

EXHIBITOR Peoples Choice Award

Pacifica_lowUnlike Australia or North Korea, we can’t make you vote. But, we can supply you with a link and a little information.

The EXHIBITOR People’s Choice Award is open for all Portable Modular Award finalists. Classic Exhibits has four entries, submitted by Classic or by a distributor. Plus one entry by Eco-Systems Sustainable, a strategic partner.

  • Epoch Inc.
  • Pacifica
  • Cepia
  • NASA (Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits)

Licensing14_1992Now, it’s not our intention to sway your valuable vote, but we are sponsoring the page (see the leaderboard ad), and you like us best. BTW — You are looking fine these days. Have you lost weight?

One last point, if some of those entries are portable/modular, then I’m the love child of George Clooney and Stephen Hawking. I’m not in case you are wondering. And don’t confuse me with details.

Scroll through the photos representing finalists from EXHIBITOR Magazine’s Portable/Modular Awards. Then cast your vote for your favorite. You can vote once per visit, so check back each day to support your favorite design. In other words, you are allowed to stuff the ballot. You know others will.

–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


The Best Trade Show Sales Advice You’ll Receive This Year

January 9th, 2015 1 COMMENT

IAEE_1Can It Get Any More Ridiculous

By Tom Werner, OTM Furniture

I recently returned from the NBAA Show in Orlando. NBAA is a business aviation show with about 1800 exhibitors.

I’ve attend this show every year since 2006 to manage the installation of my client’s exhibit. Part of my service includes ordering show services, carpet, and furniture. The furniture has ALWAYS been a challenge, namely finding something that fits their needs at an affordable price that didn’t look worn and abused. And because the furniture prices are listed in the exhibitor kit, I can’t mark it up much, if any.

Over the years, I’ve been able to observe trends and developments with furniture, and more specifically, the amount being used, how it’s being used, and the cost of renting it.

Amount Used

In the beginning, there wasn’t much furniture in the booths, and I had to search for it. This isn’t surprising since one of the golden rules of booth staff training has always been “Don’t sit in the booth space!” Over the years, I started to see more and more of it. In 2014, there was WAY MORE than I could ever photograph, and this year virtually every exhibitor had furniture.

Black_OTX_3_Graphics_largerHow It’s Being Used

In addition to the standard black tables and chairs, two other types of furniture have become popular: bar height table and chair sets and lounge furniture.

Honestly, it makes sense for most companies. One of the objectives of trade shows is to build relationship with clients and prospective customers. Bar height tables and chairs allow for informal meetings in limited floor space, while lounge furniture is a great way for your visitors to relax and spend more time in your booth.

The Cost of Renting

This year, my client asked me what they spent on the conference room tables and chairs. So, I went back and looked at the numbers. I knew the cost had increased, but I had no idea how much. It was significant (numbers below).

Because of this experience and others like it, I developed On The Move Furniture with Classic Exhibits, a line specifically for trade shows and events. It includes the upscale NEO line and the new, affordable Express series. This high-quality portable and brandable furniture is logistically friendly, attractive, and cost-effective. See the OTM Furniture videos.

My client, Raisbeck Engineering / NBAA, rented two 6 ft. conference tables and 12 chairs from Freeman.

6 ft. Table (Luna Conference Table)

  • 2012 = $639 ea. x 2 = $1278
  • 2013 = $718 ea. x 2 = $1436

Chairs (Diplomat)

  • 2012 = $225 ea. x 12 = $2700
  • 2013 = $305 ea. x 12 = $3660

Which Means…

  • 2012 rental cost = $3,978
  • 2013 rental cost = $5,096
  • 21.9% increase

Still not convinced? Mel White from Classic Exhibits recently returned from the AIEE Expo Expo Show in Los Angles. Below are photos he took. Nearly 80% of the booths had rental furniture.


I would love to hear your experiences of dealing with furniture at trade shows and events. You can reach me at

Tom Werner
On the Move Furniture (OTM)


Well…. You Asked Me How I’m Doing!

January 2nd, 2015 10 COMMENTS

Shooting from the Hip, Reid Sherwood

It’s Been a Roller Coaster Year

All in all, it was a great year because of the Classic Distributor Network. I won’t go into detail since Kevin will cover it in the 2014 State of the Company letter, but here is what I will say about my year.

First, you trusted us with your business and we appreciate that. Whether it was existing long-term distributors or newbies to the Classic Family, you sent us bigger projects and more orders. Overall, the price points were higher which made for a good year.

For me, it’s been a roller coaster year. I attended EXHIBITOR (every year now since 1989) where we launched several new products, including our On The Move Furniture line. It was three days of crazy. I never had an opportunity to walk the show floor. At EXHIBITOR, we were selected as finalists for the Portable/Modular Award. Quite an honor.

SKU1In May, Classic hosted the spring session of Shared Knowledge University. It was packed with distributors, sales associates, project managers and designers. It’s always a joy to show you our building, equipment, processes, and people. There were even some industry veterans at SKU with over 30 years of experience who gave their time and advice. Spring 2015 SKU is May 18-19. Please contact Jen or me to reserve your spot (Trust me. It fills fast).

The summer was anything but summer. It was far better than expected. From what you’ve told me, marketing money was free’d up that sat on hold for too long, which was a refreshing change. Fall continued the summer trend. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend SKU for reasons which I’ll explain in a moment.

As the year closed, I attended EDPA ACCESS in Palm Harbor, FL and sat through multiple sessions and visited with customers/friends. The best part was at the Gala where Classic Exhibits was awarded an Eddie for Exhibit Design Search. WHAT AN HONOR! It was a fitting way for us to end the year on a high note.

On a Personal Side

Many of you are aware that I had reconstructive back surgery in mid-September. The surgery left me grounded for the past four months. Thankfully, the plates, screws, and wedges put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Reid SherwoodThanks to everyone who reached out via phone, email, text, or social media. Your concern was overwhelming. My wife and daughter (God bless them) monitored my Facebook and email while I was in surgery and recovery for six hours. When I was back in my room and coherent, they handed me my phone and said, “Here! You have a million friends and customers who have reached out to you and we can’t keep up.”

I am so very grateful. Eleven days in the hospital teaches you a lot. It teaches patience (I had none when I started and have less now). But it shows you who your friends are. The surgery was a huge success and other than healing, the pain is gone in my back.

I was working from a hospital bed and at one point after three pretty successful sales days in a row I said to Mel, “Maybe we are on to something here. Perhaps pity is the key to sales.” 😉  I also want to thank Jen LaBruzza (my counterpart on the West Coast). Not only did she do double duty at SKU while I was in agony, but she also checked in with me several times a day. Mike Swartout (our creative director) and I exchanged Facebook messages about our pain meds. There was a point where we thought Jerry Garcia would have been jealous of our personal pharmacy.

I also want to mention Dave Brown and Gina Porcaro from Optima. I don’t want to get all gooey and mushy, but they are more than friends. They are family. Gina lives in Grand Rapids where I had the surgery and was kind enough to sit with Vicki and Jennifer while I was in surgery and recovery. In addition, they called and texted many times just to help me keep my head clear.

ExhibitorliveEDPA was a blast after 10 weeks of not seeing any customers. I told my wife on the way home from the airport how good I felt, but when I got home and laid down to go to bed, I kicked the covers back and the pain was searing. It was the same exact pain on the right side that the surgeon fixed on the left side. On a scale of 10, it was a 15. After a couple of appointments and some heavy steroid and anti-inflammatory meds, we decided to do an MRI. It looked fantastic. There was NOTHING on the right side that could be causing the pain. Then… the surgeon had X-rays taken and says, “Well, sir, your pain isn’t from your back. Both of your hips are shot. In fact, they look like they are from a 100-year-old arthritis patient, and your sacroiliac needs to be fused as well. Your right hip should be done today.”

Nothing can be done for another few weeks until the back surgery heals. Then, nerve block in January and again in April. My goal is to have the right side done and the sacroiliac fused at the same time after SKU, and the second one done right after the 4th of July. I WILL be at EXHIBITOR. I WILL be at SKU. But I will probably not travel much other than short driving trips until this is all fixed.

A Lesson Learned from All This

While at the surgeon’s office, there was a gentleman waiting in a wheel chair. He looked to be in his late 20s or early 30s. Both of his legs were gone just below his knees. I sat next to him and was in obvious pain. He asked me what was wrong, and I told him. I looked at him and said, “Looks like you were in a farm accident or something of that nature.” He said, “No, on my third tour of duty in Iraq, I was in a school area and someone threw a bomb/grenade towards us and near some children. I dove to get to it and it blew my legs off.” I was just shocked and after what seemed like an awkward silence, he said, “It’s OK. I would do it again in the same situation and so would you.” He went on to talk about his wife and kids and how they do everything just like normal.

So here is what I am leaving 2014 with and taking to 2015. Both business and personally, no matter how bad your situation, no matter how bad you think you have it, suck it up. There is always someone worse off. Quit your whining and go forward with what the Lord gave you.

Thanks for a great 2014 and a better 2015.

As the meds wear off,

Reid Sherwood