Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for March, 2015

Cool Technology at EXHIBITORLIVE 2015

March 25th, 2015 COMMENTS
Coffee Table Charging Station with LED Lights

Coffee Table Charging Station with LED Lights

I try my darndest to walk EXHIBITOR each year. Usually, that means a quick tour an hour before the hall opens. And while I “see” the displays, I rarely get to talk to most exhibitors. So you can imagine how excited I was when Marlys Arnold from Trade Show Insights compiled a video of the Best of the Best Technology.

According to Marlys, “At this year’s EXHIBITOR Live (formerly known as the EXHIBITOR Show), there were a lot of clever innovations, especially in the world of tech. Here are a few worth paying attention to:

–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


All in the Name of Customer Service: Word on the Street — March 16th thru March 20th

March 20th, 2015 1 COMMENT
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

I am writing this week’s blog topic at the request of a “classic” Classic Distributor from Southern California.

For Every Problem, There’s a Client Request

Have you ever stopped to appreciate what you do for your clients? I know it comes with the territory. We’re sales-driven people with customers who have high, sometimes unreasonable requests. But in the end, they are our customers, and we’ll do what we have to do to make them happy.

Recently, this SoCal Distributor contacted me about a client who purchased a very custom Classic-built 20 ft. inline a couple of years ago. When I say custom, I mean custom! Custom wood siding with several coats of staining to get JUST THE RIGHT COLOR.

The exhibit was beautiful. And it should have been since it cost the equivalent of most 20 x 30 island exhibits.

Custom CountertopBut I digress. So I get a call telling me that this client added a “serving station” which was built in a remote village in Venezuela (I kid you not), and the station was showing severe wear and tear. The client wanted to use the serving station one more time before replacing it. So the question was “How can Classic help?”

After many emails (and lots of options), the client asked us to make it “as close to show ready as possible.” To do that, we had to dissect how the Venezuelans built the piece: What materials and finishes did they use? It sounds simple, but it wasn’t. The top color and finish looked like something Orange County Choppers would design and construct.

The distributor and I met at EXHIBITORLIVE to review options. The idea of acrylic nail polish was a possible solution for the wear marks on the counter top. Sounds crazy, but it made sense. What I didn’t take into account was selecting just the right color nail polish. It meant mixing several colors together for the perfect match.

In Search of Nail Polish

As you might imagine, no one in Production was waiting in line to do this. So a week ago, I went to the store in search of nail polish.

nail polish

First, I was blown away by the variety of nail polish colors, finishes, and types. It made choosing a paint color at a hardware store simple by comparison. And as a man, who refuses to ask for help, I was not about to request assistance from the sales clerks. But as time passed, well over 30 minutes scrutinizing the different options at my fingertips (pun intended), I noticed the ever-growing audience of teeny boppers and blue hairs around the sales counter watching me shuffle 20 plus bottles to identify the perfect color mix.

In the end, a gel base coat was the winner with a shimmer top coat. SHUT UP! I know!

To add insult to injury, the sales clerk remarked, “Oooh, nice choices! For you?” and then giggled.

Well, what little pride I have left was lost in the nail polish section of the store, but in the end, the customer’s problems are our problems, and we do our best to solve them. I know you have similar stories (well, may be not “similar”), so please help a guy out and share yours.

Have a great weekend with your families.



Our Final Four vs. Your Final Four Challenge

March 16th, 2015 1 COMMENT


100 Trends to Watch in 2015 from JWT Intelligence

March 14th, 2015 COMMENTS

As a faithful reader of the Trade Show Tales blog, you’ve probably wondered, “Why hasn’t Classic posted the link to the annual JWT Intelligence Trends Watch?” Perhaps, the Brogawear trend scared me just a little (yep, yoga-wear for men).


Did you know that millennials are drinking less alcohol than their parents? Or that South Korea may be the next epicenter of cosmetics? Or that Me Branding reflects the next wave in personalization? Or that the tin can has suddenly become hip again as upscale packaging? Lots more, including Bone Broth, the New Hot Beverage. Yikes.


According to JWT Intelligence, “In our ninth annual forecast of trends for the near future, we see how consumers are both welcoming and resisting technology’s growing omnipresence in our lives. For many, technology serves as a gateway to opportunity and an enabler of hyper-efficient lifestyles, but those who are most immersed are starting to question its effect on their lives and their privacy. One result is that more people are trying to find a balance and lead more mindful, in-the-moment lives.”

  • Immersive Experiences
  • Do You Speak Visual?
  • The Age of Impatience
  • Mobile As a Gateway to Opportunity
  • Telepathic Technology
  • The End of Anonymity
  • Raging Against the Machine
  • Remixing Tradition
  • Proudly Imperfect
  • Mindful Living

Read more:


–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


EXHIBITORLIVE 2015 Review: Word on the Street — March 2nd thru March 6th

March 6th, 2015 7 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Well I don’t know about you … but I am pooped! EXHIBITORLIVE 2015 has come and gone. What an amazing week of visiting with old friends, making new friends, and seeing all the exciting new things in our GREAT industry.

First and foremost, I want to thank our terrific show staff. By the time Mel and I arrived on Saturday, the booth was setup and looked amazing. James Sharpe and Jim Ponomarenko, the Production Managers from Classic Rentals and Classic Exhibits, were amazing. Thanks!!

Our booth staff included Jim and James as well as Katina Rigall, Trina Broten, John Zipay (the new guy 🙂 ), Jim Shelman, Reid Sherwood, Jen LaBruzza, Glenna Martin, Mel and me. To all — Kudos on a great week. Thanks for representing the “Classic” culture so well, as always.

Also, thanks to our vendor partners who helped make our booth shine — Optima Graphics, Brumark Flooring, DS&L, OTM Furniture, ELITeXPO Cargo and TSCrew (the I&D team). We appreciate your valued long-term partnership.

The Show

IMG_8179Now to the show itself. EXHIBITOR Magazine did another stellar job creating an positive atmosphere for everyone.

Day 1 — It was chaotic to be honest. The traffic was relentless, which we all like. I was telling a fellow employee that I don’t remember NOT being able take at least a five-minute break on Day 1. No way this time. Every time I finished with one attendee, there was another one waiting to dive into a new conversation. It was great!

Day 2 — It started early with Strategic Partner Day. I always enjoy the opportunity to spend  time the Classic Family of Distributors, our partners, and meet with potential distributors.

Day 3 — This year was a busy Day 3. Did I get out of the booth a bit? Yes, but only for a short stint. Our booth was filled with lots of end-users making one last trek through the hall. Most told me that the first two days were spent identifying what they wanted to see in more detail. So we had lots of quality time with people looking to buy, seeing what’s new, and getting to know our products and services.

Back to Day 2 — Day 2 also included two spectacular events after the show floor closed: The Portable Modular Summit and the The PMA’s (The Portable Modular Awards).

The Summit was titled “The New Evolution.” I hosted the event with my friend and mentor Jay Burkette from ExpoDisplays. With over 300 exhibitors and attendees in the audience, our conversation focused where we are in the Portable/Modular segment. There’s been a shift toward more complex, design-driven inlines and 400-900 sq foot islands with higher budgets and more creative displays. Our segment is not just healthy, it’s growing exponentially! Thanks to everyone who attended and took part in the discussion.

10411160_10150486186119995_2152677747564161621_nAfter the summit, Travis Stanton from Exhibitor Magazine took the stage. He served as the Host of the Portable Modular Awards ceremony, along with John Pavek. As Travis and John  announced the finalists and the awards, I was proud of what our segment is producing these days. It’s much more dynamic than any time in my 20 years in the industry. We truly have come a long way!

Of course, I would be remiss if I did not brag a bit. 🙂 Classic Exhibits and Eco-Systems both won awards this year! Classic Exhibits won for Best 20×20 Island of 2014!! Kudos to Katina Rigall for designing the Pacifica 20 x 20 Island and to Laura Magdalen from Exhibits NW for selling the beautiful project!

11021060_10150486186389995_5087437637545251912_nEco-Systems Sustainable won for the Best 10 x 10 Inline for the NASA project. It’s one of the best and most creative 10 x 10 spaces I’ve seen in years. Our congrats to Lisa Koskela and Lauren Orao for again taking portable hybrid design to new heights!

For those who could not attend, I am truly sorry. This year there were many new highlights, many of which were technology based. Technology continues to be an ever-growing accessory to spaces of all sizes. It allows exhibitors to stretch their dollars further. And by that, I don’t mean spending less. I mean getting more out of their exhibit assets.

The Classic Exhibits Booth

IMG_8256Classic showed new elements as well. There was considerable buzz around our New Charging Stations and the On The Move Furniture.

We introduced three new charging stations ranging from a coffee table to full size stations with lightboxes. All of which were very well received. For your reference, they are the ones highlighted in Design Monday last week.

The OTM Express was a true hit! Especially to clients wanting to maximize their exhibit dollars. OTM provides the ability to include branded furniture in your space that can be re-used show after show, as opposed to renting each show. And it packs down and is totally portable! I had one end-user pull out her calculator app on her iPhone and start calculating the savings for this year. She participates in 19 shows a year and figured she would save approx $11,500 over the remainder of the year. Pretty cool stuff.

Yes I am pooped. But a good kinda of pooped. The week really was very fulfilling. And like many years past, I left Las Vegas welling with pride not just for the staff we have, or for the great vendor partners we have, but also for the many great friends/distributors in the Classic Family.

Thanks, and have a great restful weekend with your families.