Trade Show TalesBlog

After 10 Years… | Harold Mintz

January 10th, 2020 9 COMMENTS

I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook the other day when I came upon one of those “what if” questions an old high school buddy posted: “If you could go back in time and give your younger self advice, what would you say?”

Personally, I’m not a fan of these “what if” posts. What’s the point? Facebook is for showing others how sunsets look from your backyard, not for turning the clock back 10 years to address things you have no ability to change.

And then destiny stepped in… “Ding!” It’s an email from Mel White.

Harold –

You have a unique perspective regarding your visits with Distributors because of your 10 year gap in the industry. What would you say are the biggest differences between your meetings 10 years ago and your meetings now?

I am very curious.

When destiny speaks, Harold listens. Time to look back 10 years and identify “What’s Different.”

Harold Who?

Most of the folks I’m meeting don’t know me. Maybe they’ve heard my name, but most are unaware of me or my experience in the industry. This is a constant reminder of the old axiom, “What have you done for me lately?”

I have minimal street cred with many Classic’s Distribution Partners so I am often starting off new. It’s up to me to build those relationships and earn their trust, confidence, and business.

I Swear… You’re the Only One!

It’s 2020. Dedicated Distribution is a thing of the past. Back in the old days when I visited a city, it was to meet with our sole distributor who represented that territory.

Times have changed, and I understand why but it requires a mental adjustment for me.

Today I plan my visits to see multiple Classic Distributors that either sell our products or that might sell our products in that territory. Some are primarily custom houses. Others portable modular. And then there are agencies who tap into Classic for special projects.

The Person Who Said, “You Only Get One Chance to Make a First Impression” Wasn’t a Regional Sales Manager.

When I visited Distributors ten years ago, I’d share our latest headlines: “What’s new? Check out our new widget! Cool, right?” Show and telling our newest products and services was of prime importance to keep our extended sales force informed and up to date.

And while I still do that, there is greater emphasis placed on discussing all of the things Classic provides rather than simply the newest toys in our box. Faster and constant turnover of Distributor employees is one of the primary reasons. “Where’s Jim?” “Jim? Get with the program. Jim left 3 months ago. But meet Billy. Billy’s the new Jim.”

It’s like I’m starting all over with every visit. So I get LOTS of chances to make a first impression for better or for worse.

I Love the Pix my New iPhone Takes. Wait a Minute… Are You Telling Me It Can Make a Phone Call Too?

Vintage iPhone

That tiny little computer I carry around in my back pocket does SO much more than make phone calls. It’s a robust and multi-faceted tool. Same with Classic. Many Distributors think of us as the company that only provides whatever it is they last purchased from us.

Ten years ago, most of our Distributors knew exactly what we offered. Today, some Distributors know us as the company that rents highly customized booths. Others think of us as an extension of their own shop floor during the busy season capable of building exhibits straight from their designers’ renderings. And yes, some of our Distributors think of Classic as the company to turn to for high quality, affordable portable/modular exhibits, charging stations, or iPad stands.

Regardless of which niche you put us in, we do more than that.

AE? AM? AP? Sure, I’ll Meet with You!

I used to meet almost exclusively with Account Executives when visiting a Distributor. Geez… how old am I?! Today decisions about which vendor to use are made by lots of folks in addition to Account Executives, like Account Managers, Purchasing Agents, Designers, and sometimes a guy named Joe with no title.

Our internal contacts at Distributors have not only increased but have also gotten a bit confusing. Sometimes the internal contact changes based on the client (which makes sense). Other times it changes because it’s a custom project or a rental or a portable modular order. All that makes my job both more challenging and interesting.

The Smithsonian Called… They Want Your Showroom

Trade Show Showrooms

Most Distributors used to have a showroom. Ha! Today there is more space for previewing a Client’s new booth than there is for a showroom. One of the obvious reasons is that most Distributors are selling to clients from all over the country and not just from ”the neighborhood.”

As I talk to Classic Distributors, they tell me a showroom isn’t as important anymore. And with square foot pricing always on the rise, space has to be allocated appropriately. When visiting Distributors. I regularly ask, “How many of your Clients are located within an hour of where we’re standing?” The answers are quite telling — less local, more national.

It’s worth noting here that I am regularly being asked for freebies, loaners, and BIG discounts on showroom units. Showrooms still exist. And some are stunningly beautiful. They’re just becoming an endangered species. #savetheshowrooms #givetoyourlocalshowroomfoundation

Extrusions are Like Opinions. Everyone’s Got One But Few are As Good as Mine

Aluminum Extrusion Systems for the Trade Show Industry

Ten years ago, Distributors were ramping up their rental inventory with pallets of metal extrusion. Octanorm. AGAM. beMatrix. Aluvision. All had a place on select shelves. Today I still see examples of all four with beMatix leading the way.

For obvious reasons, Distributors ask their sales teams to promote the system sitting on their shelves. But more and more Distributors wish they could turn the clock back on their extrusion investments. Their reasoning is quite simple. It’s tough to compete against other exhibit houses when everyone is using the same building blocks. We’re seeing design saturation on the show floor with many booths looking the same just with different graphics. And clients are noticing.

When I share info about Gravitee, Classic’s tool-less extrusion system, Distributors take notice. Tool-less means no tiny connectors to lose and best of all – much faster set up! When you combine the money saved on I&D with the refreshing look of unique designs, many Distributors are wishing they could turn the clock back 10 years.

Some Things Never Change

Cilantro
Why is Cilantro Still a Thing?

The last one has nothing to do with trade shows or exhibitions. But seriously, “Why is cilantro still a thing?” I would have hoped that this disgusting herb would have gone the way of dedicated distribution. But alas, it still thrives. Blecch.

Harold Mintz is a Regional Sales Manager at Classic Exhibits. You can contact Harold at harold@classicexhibits.com.

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9 Responses to “After 10 Years… | Harold Mintz”

  1. Larry Crumlish says:

    Loved the article Harold,
    As an “old Timer” in the business, that was an especially fun read.
    While you were gone for 10 yrs., I have been fortunate to have an opportunity to continue working with “dealers”. Of course, now, they are “resellers” and the types of companies have expanded from custom and modular companies to a wide variety reseller sources.
    Watching the dealers adjust from the threats of China products, internet sales, and customer changes has been like a TV drama. And It has been just as fascinating to watch manufacturers adjust to the new evolving markets. Custom rentals and new opportunities with fabric graphics are just a few of the new world.

    Looking back at “the day”, there were two people who stand out when thinking about my modular/showroom business, the Exhibit Store.
    We had many special suppliers who supported us but you and Mary Cary are the legends who brought education and dealer support to a special level. Always had great product and sales stories, in an entertaining way.

    Some things never change. The hunger for information. How to be better, learn product and advantages to improve sales. Fresh back from your California sabbatical, your special self, with Classic products and services, it won’t be long for you to feel the love.

    Enjoy Harold… keep me on your list so I can follow your adventure.

    Larry Crumlish
    Retired… yep. Finally, in December…. Well, maybe doing a special project here and there… can’t help myself.

  2. Gary Camarato says:

    Always great to hear from you Harold! g

  3. Gary Palumbo says:

    Great article…. Like the line in Beetlejuice— “If I knew then what I know now I won’t have had this little accident”
    Hopefully we will get to talk one of these days…

  4. Jeff Sasser says:

    My wife hates cilantro as well.

  5. Jill Kinduell says:

    Hi Harold – Great read! Having been in the industry, non-stop for over 30 (eek!) years, I can relate to the changes you’ve seen. How about the really old days, when graphics were screen-printed?? Keep up the good work!

  6. It’s nice to “meet” you Harold! Very nice article too, except I like cilantro LOL!

  7. Larry Wood says:

    Harold!

    Another good report! Thank you for your perspective. Seems like you are getting responses from some of the old farts who have experienced most of it. Larry Crumlish is retired?! No way!

    Other Larry

  8. Steve Deckel says:

    Great article Harold!

    #savetheshowrooms

  9. John Crawford says:

    Harold, great article. I see you have a note for some old timers…Larry Crumlish. He has been around a long time but I started the ExpoSystems thing in 1970-71. The only person I know has been around a long time is Mike Sheer of Downing displays. I have a TS-2 Exhibitor Sponsor placque. I will show you when you stop in to our showroom. Long time since we have had a Classic Field manager here to visit.
    Looking forward to it.

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