Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for May, 2016

A Better Way to Rent Trade Show Furniture

May 25th, 2016 COMMENTS

Trade Show Rental FurnitureTwo New Rental Furniture Galleries

While attending a trade show earlier this month, I conducted an informal poll with Exhibit Appointed Contractors (EAC). EAC’s are the folks who provide the labor for most trade show installs and dismantles. I asked, “What percentage of exhibitors rent furniture? Tables, chairs, casual lounge furniture?” Their answer surprised me, ranging from 75-95%. And that furniture rental has increased in recent years.

If you have ever rented furniture from the show book, you know it’s not always user-friendly. And too often, it’s a task that’s completed right before the show, adding stress and expense to your trade show experience.

We have a better solution. Exhibit Design Search, the one-stop shop for exhibits, has two new furniture rental galleries. These galleries include chairs, soft furniture, tables, bar stools, even stanchions for crowd control. You’ll see photos, dimensions, and prices that include delivery and drayage.

So easy. Simply contact your Classic Exhibits Distributor to order what you need. They’ll make all the arrangements and your furniture will arrive on time… and get picked up at the end of the show. No hassle. And should there be any problems, you’ll have access to a 24-hour support line.

Trade Show Rental Furniture on Exhibit Design Search

Don’t see what you need? Let us know. There are more options available than in the EDS Galleries.

–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



Meet Kim DiStefano, Classic Exhibits Designer

May 20th, 2016 1 COMMENT


We’ve been talking with Kim DiStefano, an exhibit designer, for awhile. Kim lives a few miles from our shop in Milwaukie, OR. Enticing her to join us has taken some persuasion. Not that she didn’t like us, but as a contract designer with a family, she was uncertain if she wanted to work in an office. Well, eventually Kevin convinced her, wore her down, or she changed her mind. Probably a little of all three.

We are delighted to have Kim join us in the Design Department. She’s been on board for about a month. Now we get to do the formal unveiling. Kim was kind enough to write a bio summarizing her background and interests. She can be reached at

BTW — She’s quickly becoming our resident design expert in Gravitee.

Kim DiStefano’s Bio

I was raised in New Jersey, studied design at Rutgers University, and graduated with a BA in Art. The art school, Mason Gross, is part of the Rutgers college network, and I was lucky to study a wide variety of arts, as well as minor in Economics and Biology. My career started in graphic design with a background in advertising and illustration. When I moved to South Carolina four years after graduating, I was in search of a new design direction and gained more experience in all things Apple and Adobe. But I was still looking for something new.

Soon after, I moved to southern California in the late nineties, which had always been a dream of mine. In CA, I got married, and in my frenzied job search, I discovered the world of trade show design at Skyline Orange County. I began working in an environment surrounded by talented designers who facilitated my transition into the world of structural design. My graphic design background married well with exhibit design, and I became very good at helping clients showcase who they were graphically and structurally. I was hooked, and never looked back at graphic design again!


After several years working for Skyline OC, I chose to work from home when my first son was born.

After my second son was born, we decided Portland, OR would be a better place to raise our family. We sold our home, moved to Portland with no jobs and a dream of a new life. In no time, we were both employed, and I found my way back to Skyline again by working for the Skyline Displays of Oregon.

When the economy slowed down along with the trade show business, I switched to freelance design for trade show distributors around the country. My reputation for beautiful work, friendly demeanor, and timely turnaround kept me busy. I now have experience designing graphics for small companies that need help representing themselves, as well as for large corporations that want someone to take the reins and show them how their exhibit space can work best and how clean and exciting graphics can pull it all together.

My years of experience taught me to listen to the client — even if they are just talking in colors and feelings — and to create an exhibit space that fulfills their needs and that they love. I show them what works best, within their budget, and how they can stand out from their competitors.

When Classic Exhibits approached me, I was unsure if I wanted to give up my freelance work. But as I got to know them and saw all the exciting opportunities they had available, I decided to join their creative team. I am ready to spread my wings in the custom design field and work with Classic’s talented designers to collaborate and grow even more. I am excited to be part of the Classic family and to see what amazing things we will create together.

When I’m not at my desk designing, I enjoy riding my road bike, mountain biking, hiking, or making art projects with my two boys and husband.


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



Just Earn It. | Summer Gift Card Promotion.

May 20th, 2016 COMMENTS


Kevin, Why Have You Worked at Classic So Long? “C”ing is Believing!

May 19th, 2016 5 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

After Nearly 22 Years

July will mark my 22nd year at Classic. I often hear, “Wow, that is a long time by today’s standards to be with the same company.” Or I am asked, “What is it that keeps you there for so long?” The answer is easy.

This past weekend I was on a getaway with my daughter — a Daddy/Daughter Camp Weekend with a group of dads and their daughters. While there, a couple of the Dad’s asked me about my tenure at Classic. Then on Monday in a meeting with Mel, he put the exact words to my feelings. It involves the 4 C’s — Culture, Continuity, Capabilities, and Customers. Those four words encapsulate not only my feelings about our organization, but also what we hear from our wonderful distributors.

SharedMessageHandoutCulture is king. Each year, at Shared Knowledge University (SKU), we devote 30-45 minutes to a post-training Q&A. Everyone gathers in a circle on the Production floor and talks about their experience, what they learned, any surprises, constructive criticism, etc. Each time, we are humbled by their comments regarding Classic Exhibits.

In a nutshell, they tell us that Classic is exactly who we say we are. No artifice. No pretense. No corporate b.s. What they see in person is exactly who we say we are in visits, in our blog, and at industry events.

Culture defines our family of employees and our great family of distributors. It’s “Who Classic is” in the exhibit industry and each day inside of this building. Yes, we summarize our values into a handy formula:  Shared Innovation + Shared Knowledge + Shared Responsibility = Shared Success. However, a values statement is useless unless it permeates your culture. Don’t get me wrong. We’re not perfect, and we stumble. But the “Shared” philosophy serves as a touchstone. It reminds us of what we strive to be as a company.

Continuity is the 2016 version of “predictability.” No one gets an “atta boy” for continuity, but creating consistency in your production, sales, marketing, and human resource processes wins hearts and minds over time. At the end of the day, neither a customer nor an employee should ever be surprised by your answers or your actions.

Continuity also speaks to the great group of people I get to work with. Folks don’t believe me when I share with them that most of our employees have been with Classic for 5-15 years — aside from new hires as we grow. Same can be said about our loyal distributors who have been with the Classic Family for years and years.


Capabilities make what I do every day fun. I told one of the dads this weekend, “I love walking into a different business each day.” On my way to my office, I pass by our Setup Area, which is like a walking by a candy store to me. Our Production, Design, and Customer Service staffs work together to create the next great exhibit or design or process. It’s almost embarrassing at times when I find myself saying “I did not know we could do that.” Frankly, I would shrivel up into a ball after a week of doing the same thing 8-10 hours a day. That’s not a job I’d want.

Customers. Sounds like a cliché, but Reid, Jen, Mel, and I have said for years that “When given the choice, we would rather work with friends than with a customer on the other end of the phone.” And in large part, we have succeeded. We made a decision about ten years ago not add a distributor for sales volume alone. Don’t get me wrong, we all need that. We are a business… BUT, in order for our culture to thrive internally and externally, we realize that, once again, Culture is King. We would much rather work with friends. So when choosing distributors we ask ourselves, “Are these folks who share our business values?” And, we have been extraordinarily blessed in this regard. I think we have the best network in the business! Which is easy for me to say because so many of them are my friends.


Each year, as we roll through spring, head towards summer and my work anniversary, I find myself reflecting more and more on my job. For some people, that reflection is geared towards “How much longer do I have to do this before I retire?” But for me I find myself saying, “How much longer to I GET to do this before I am forced to retire.” A long time. The reason is simple: the 4 C’s — Culture, Continuity, Capabilities, and Customers. That’s what makes Classic Exhibits my home away from home.

Oh… Two more “C’s”…Costco Cookies! Someone keeps us in full supply around here.

Hope you all have a great weekend ahead.



The Trade Show Show Podcasts

May 13th, 2016 COMMENTS


20 Exhibit Industry Influencers

Last month, I had the good fortune of meeting Todd Youngblood while attending the E2MA Red Diamond Congress (RDC) in Orlando. Todd runs The Trade Show Show, a podcast series about the exhibit industry. The RDC was fertile ground for Todd, since the event attracts trade show managers, suppliers, show organizers, builders, exhibitor-appointed contractors, etc. Basically, anyone with a vested/financial interest in the trade show biz.

Todd conducted 20 interviews on topics that should matter to trade show groupies (like you and me). Interviewees included:

  • unnamedJustin Hersch, Group Delphi
  • Lisa Apolinski, 3 Dog Write
  • Penn Arthur, Inhance Digital
  • April Hurley, The Expo Group
  • David Mihalik, ELITeXPO
  • Skip Cox, Exhibit Surveys
  • Jim Wurm, Exhibit & Event Marketers Association (E2MA)
  • Richard Maples, Shepard Exposition Services
  • Chris Griffin, TS Crew & Trade Show Supply
  • And 10 more industry influencers

I encourage you to listen to one, two, or all twenty podcasts. Listening to a podcast may make you a little smarter unlike watching that Seinfeld episode for the 37th time. Mouthing the dialogue does not make you a savant. I don’t care what your cousin told you. 🙂

The mission of The Trade Show Show is to dramatically enhance Enterprise-Wide Engagement and sales growth by educating industry insiders regarding the people, organizations, technologies, and innovations driving progress and continuous improvement. In other words, get more ROI from the most effective sales tool there is:  face-to-face business conversation. The show’s host, Todd Youngblood, has a genetic “need to know more.” This fundamental curiosity enables guests to articulate the heart of the value their knowledge and insights have for listeners.

–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