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An Interview with Jen LaBruzza, the National Sales Manager of Classic Exhibits

January 26th, 2019 COMMENTS
An Interview with Jen LaBruzza, National Sales Manager for Classic Exhibits

Jen LaBruzza, the National Sales Manager for Classic Exhibits, sure gets around. Let me rephrase that… Jen travels, rather extensively, visiting Classic Distributor Partners, which gives her a unique perspective on industry trends. In addition, she hears from small one or two person distributors and from larger custom houses with over a 1000 employees.

Jen shared her thoughts on the industry and Classic Exhibits in the interview below. Her answer to Q6 is a must read. 

Q1. You talk, email, and text with Classic Distributor Partners every day, which makes you the resident Distributor Whisperer. What’s that like?

The fact that I have worked in many facets of our industry really allows me to step into a distributor partner’s shoes. Whether it’s helping a distributor partner come up with a gallery of design ideas or showing up in a hot pink polo shirt on setup to make sure an install is going well, I love helping our distributor partners succeed.

Q2. What do most people get right (or wrong) about Classic Exhibits?

Well… there are two things really they get wrong:

1. That our primary focus is as a portable/modular manufacturer. While we still VERY much pride ourselves on creating the best portable hybrid designs in the industry I think it surprises many people when I tell them that the largest growth segment in our revenue stream is custom, in the purest sense of the industry definition. Log on to our Peek-A-Booth on any given day and you will see the wide variety of projects on our setup floor. It’s ASTOUNDING!

2. That we sell direct. As Kevin mentioned in his State of the Company Letter, we are a non-direct selling company that is largely invisible to end-users. That is by design (although makes Mel’s job harder), and we all believe it’s ALWAYS being about our Distributor Partner’s brands. In so many ways besides, packaging, branded Exhibit Design Searches, and setup instructions. Our Classic Distributor Partners are always a primary focus for what we do as a team and company. It’s in our DNA.

Q3. What was your proudest accomplishments/moments in 2018 as the National Sales Manager for Classic Exhibits?

Jen LaBruzza answers eight questions about trade shows.

First, being recognized by our industry peers and partners for being #1 in Service and Reliability for all Exhibit Builders in North America. Words can’t even describe the pride I felt accepting that award with Kevin on behalf of Classic Exhibits at EXHIBITORLIVE last year. Second, helping a long-time Distributor Partner win a FANTASTIC project that catapulted their business to the next level. It was one of those A-HA! moments where everything clicks into place and many years of consistent partnership paid off for all.

Q4. At EXHIBITORLIVE 2019, what are the three questions you want attendees or Distributor Partners to ask you about Classic Exhibits?

  1. Why does Classic only sell through Distribution Partners?
  2. What is your favorite Classic Exhibits product and why? Hint: It didn’t just fall from a tree!
  3. Why should I consider Classic Exhibits as a partner for my custom build projects moving into 2019?

Q5. What were the biggest trends you saw in 2018? Any predictions about 2019?

I think the biggest trend was the continued push for custom projects both for trade shows and non-trade shows. Call, email, text me or better yet…come to EXHIBITORLIVE and ask (see #3 above :D). I’m happy to give insight on this value proposition, and how and why you should be leveraging it.

As far as 2019 is concerned, what I have seen on the show floor so far is the continued focus for brands telling their stories with visual engagement. Whether that’s with large video wall presentations, bold use of graphics in lightboxes, or interesting themes and shapes. The limits are constantly extending beyond your traditional exhibits even in inlines.

Creative use of space is VERY in right now! The smart exhibitors are opening up their inline spaces and instead of using the standard 6 ft table, skirt and chairs to “supplement” their backwall, they are adding in bistro height charging tables or lower soft seating. And lightboxes are favorites for those wanting to engage in their inline spaces as well.

Jen Labrizza

Q6. You visit with Distributor Partners all across North America. What advice do you give them when they ask about increasing their sales?

Every market is different, but there are several commonalities for increasing sales in the exhibit/event space.

1. Stop using Rentals as a “Hail Mary”! Lead with purchase and rental options because either way you make money. And if we are all honest with ourselves, rentals gives your a greater opportunity to engage the client show after show.

2. Move away from the commodities. Yes, some customers need them. Yes, some customers will never move beyond them, but that doesn’t mean your business has to stagnate. Don’t shy away from those larger projects because you don’t have in-house capabilities. Lean on us as your manufacturing partner. Which really brings me to…

3. Engage the Classic Exhibits Design Department. The closure rate for projects that have started with a Classic Designer being involved on a discovery call with your client is about 80%. 80%!

Jen LaBruzza, National Sales Manager for Classic Exhibits

Q7. What do many exhibitors not understand about trade shows?

This is face-to-face marketing people! Which means you need to engage people. Don’t think that you can show up and stand in your booth and wait for people to walk in and ask questions. Say hello, offer them some candy, have a charging table where they can charge their phone while you give them your elevator pitch. Looping a video is GREAT! But again, smile, say hello, don’t just let the video do the talking. There is no substitution for that one-on-one interaction. And for god’s sake, please don’t EAT in your booth!

Q8. Rentals have become more popular over the past six years. Any idea why?

Flexibility and budget! Many trade show budgets have become quarterly spends vs. annual capital expenditures. A custom exhibit rental gives exhibitors the flexibility of staying on budget while still meeting their trade show marketing goals. Plus, they are able to try different things, repeating graphics that work, or modifying a design to better engage their attendees.

And if we are truly honest with ourselves, as trade show sales people, an exhibit rental gives us more opportunities to interact with a customer as their need becomes quarterly or annual vs. every three years for a purchase.

2019 is going to be an EXCITING Year! We are proud of every. single. opportunity we get from our Distributor Partners. Thank YOU for trusting us with your business!

Visit Classic Exhibits Inc. at www.classicexhibits.com. You can contact Jen LaBruzza, National Sales Manager, at jen@classicexhibits.com or visit her at EXHIBITORLIVE in Booth #1623. Use Code 4044 when registering for a FREE show hall pass.

Thoughts from Shared Knowledge University | June 2018

June 30th, 2018 COMMENTS

What Makes Classic Exhibits Different? 

Returning home from our Spring/Summer session of Shared Knowledge University, I was struck by a quote from the airline magazine. It was an article on food. This particular restaurateur, when asked about the time and preparation that goes into making food for his customers, was quoted as saying, “We want to engage in life, not just a transaction.” Whoa! After spending two days engaging with an exceptional group of exhibit house and strategic partners, I couldn’t have described the experience any better myself.

It brings to mind something that I am often asked about, “What makes Classic Exhibits different?” It’s my opportunity to speak about our culture of sharing and creating. Sharing our innovation and production capabilities to help your clients engage their audience on the trade show floor is a primary focus for us. It’s never about rolling up to bin A12 and pulling a complete 10×10, 10×20, or island exhibit design off the shelf and sending it off to Las Vegas or Chicago. It’s about choices. Laminate, graphics, monitors, hanging signs, charging tables. The list for design and engagement opportunities goes on. I think we are hitting our stride in that way. The options for creating and building a design are vast. Helping our partners do this consistently, timely, and at a fair price is what we strive for.

Are there transactions involved? Sure there are! But we have the ability and I dare say the responsibility about making it so much more than “Show me the money!”

I can’t thank our partners enough for taking time out of their busy worlds to join us for SKU. It’s validating to say the least to have a group nod their heads and say, “Wow! This is exactly what you said it would be.” And to all of our partners who have yet to experience a Shared Knowledge University session… the November SKU is just around the corner! No seriously! It is!

Our sincere thanks to everyone who attended and participated in Shared Knowledge University. Wishing you much success in 2018. 

Jen LaBruzza
National Sales Manager
jen@classicexhibits.com 

10 BIG Trade Shows in North America | July and August 2017

June 27th, 2017 COMMENTS

10 Big Trade Shows in July and August 2017

Summer… and the trade show livin’ is easy. Technology and fashion are big hits with the summer crowds both on and off the trade show floor. Still not feeling the fun and romance? How about a musical soundtrack with Olivia and John to get you in the mood? Ah, perfect!

SEMICON West, July 11 – 13, 2017, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

http://www.semiconwest.org

Business and technology leaders, researchers, and industry analysts from across the microelectronics supply chain gather at SEMICON West to get a glimpse at what’s next and find innovation engines. SEMICON West features more than 600 exhibitors and 115 hours of programs and networking opportunities. SEMICON West connects the entire extended supply chain, all in one place and at one time. It’s the premier place to re-connect with your contacts and make new ones to drive business forward. @SEMIexpos #semiconwest

AmericasMart Atlanta, July 11 – 18, 2017, Atlanta, GA

https://www.americasmart.com/markets/july-gift-home-rug/#/

The industry’s largest gift and home furnishings Market of the summer, featuring more than 8,000 brands across all categories of gift, home décor and furnishings. Summer Market includes an array of seminars and demos, industry networking events and the ICON HONORS celebration. Who should attend? Buyers from small, medium and large retailers, designers, rug retailers, event planners, buying groups, bloggers, and media – Everyone in the home furnishings and gift industries.@AmericasMartATL  

Summer NAMM, July 13 – 15, 2017, Music City Center, Nashville, TN

https://www.namm.org/summer/2017

Showcasing a complete product landscape set within one of America’s most musical cities—Nashville, Tennessee—Summer NAMM celebrates the local community music store and honors our industry’s Top 100 Dealers. Enjoy star-studded events and the lure of the Nashville night life while making connections that will last a lifetime. Summer NAMM offers music instruments and product debuts from top brands and has become a go to resource for pro audio, live sound, house of worship, lighting and event technology professionals. @NAMMShow

Comic-Con International: San Diego, July 20 – 23, 2017, San Diego Convention Ctr, San Diego, CA

https://www.comic-con.org/cci/

Comic-Con has become the focal point for the world of comics conventions. The event offers the complete convention experience with over 460,000 sq. ft. of exhibit hall space and 130,000+ attendees. 2017 marks the 48th year for the show, making it the country’s longest continuously-run comics and popular arts convention.

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, July 26 – 30, 2017, Salt Lake City, UT

http://www.outdoorretailer.com/summer-market/index.shtml

Outdoor Retailer Summer Market is committed to delivering the widest and most comprehensive outdoor buyer demographics that has open-to-buy and a passion for the outdoors. Summer Market is the largest outdoor sports show of its kind, and caters to a specialty audience. Not just technical innovations and outdoor sports apparel, Outdoor Retailer Summer Market takes pride in the outdoor conference offerings – providing education to retailers, reps and manufacturers to improve business.@OutdoorRetailer

ASD Market Week, July 30 – Aug. 2, 2017, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV

http://www.asdonline.com/static/home.html

ASD Market Week is the most comprehensive B2B trade show that brings the world’s widest variety of retail merchandise together in one efficient shopping experience. The ASD Market Week show floor is filled with quality choices at every wholesale price point buyers could want to find. It is truly the wholesale buying event that can’t be missed for any small to large sized retail, distribution, or importing business. ASD Market Week offers 2,700 exhibitors with over 1Million products across 19 merchandise categories.

SIGGRAPH 2017, July 30 – Aug. 3, 2017, Los Angeles, CA

http://s2017.siggraph.org

SIGGRAPH is the world’s largest, most influential annual conference and exhibition in computer graphics and interactive techniques: five days of research results, demos, educational sessions, art, screenings, and hands-on interactivity featuring the community’s latest technical achievements, and three days of commercial exhibits displaying the industry’s current hardware, software, and services.@siggraph

NAPE Summer, Aug. 16 – 17, 2017, George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, TX

http://napeexpo.com/shows/about-the-show/houston?/nape-shows/nape-south

The annual Summer NAPE Expo in Houston is a networking event that brings together all the players necessary to forge, facilitate and close deals. NAPE is the oil and gas industry’s marketplace for the buying, selling and trading of prospects and for producing properties. Our one-of-a-kind organization focuses on showcasing prospects in an environment where people come with the expectation of doing business. Deals are made at NAPE because we attract all the parties necessary to evaluate, fund and make deals. @NAPE_Expo

The Great American Trucking Show, Aug. 24 – 26, 2017, Dallas, TX

https://www.truckshow.com

The Great American Trucking Show is an all-encompassing convention of trucking professionals. GATS has something for everyone. There are more than 500 exhibitors representing truck, trailer, engine, component and parts manufacturers, as well as services catering to the heavy and medium duty truck industry. Attendees include owner operators, for-hire trucking company management, company drivers, private fleets and all others aligned with the trucking industry.@TruckShow #GATS

VMworld, Aug. 27 – 31, 2017, Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV

https://www.vmworld.com/en/us/index.html

VMworld is VMware’s premier thought leadership and education destination for cloud infrastructure and digital workspace technology professionals. At VMworld, attendees will join the industry’s top thought leaders for five days of innovation and learning new skills, hearing expert insights and gaining tools to enable business success. This the one indispensable event to discover the technology, trends and people wo are shaping the future of digital business. @VMworld

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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 www.classicexhibits.com.


 

10 Big Trade Shows in North America | June 2017

May 30th, 2017 1 COMMENT

Blog10Big

It’s officially summer. Thank goodness. Time to relax, enjoy a picnic, and attend a trade show. What? You forgot about trade shows? Shame on you.

Let’s start June with the NBM Show in Indy. Below are 10 Great Shows that embrace a trade show in June and the wonder of the Summer Solstice (June 21 – 22).

The NBM Show, June 1 – 3, 2017, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

https://thenbmshow.com/indianapolis-2017

Find the very latest in equipment, supplies and services in the sign making, digital printing & finishing, digital direct-to-substrate, electrical signage, wraps, apparel, heat transfers, apparel decorating, appliqué, embroidery, rhinestones, screenprinting, sandcarving, sublimation, awards, trophies, plaques, engraving, custom gift markets and more. @THENBMSHOW

If you are in a graphics-related business, THE NBM SHOW is for you! @THENBMSHOW

JCK Las Vegas, June 5 – 8, 2017, Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV

http://lasvegas.jckonline.com

JCK Las Vegas is the jewelry industry’s leading annual trade event bringing together over 30,000 of the world’s most influential industry professionals in a secure environment for order writing, inspiring education, networking and fun! JCK’s all-encompassing expansive collections of jewelry, gems, timepieces and services make it a premier destination to discover what’s new and next in the fine jewelry market. The experience at JCK goes beyond business; it’s personal, uniting a community that is shaping the future of the jewelry industry.

World Pork Expo, June 7 – 9, 2017, Iowa State Fairgrounds, Des Moines, IA

https://www.worldpork.org

If you’re part of the pork industry, you should be part of this show. The world’s largest pork industry-specific trade show brings together thousands of U.S. and global pork producers, industry professionals and industry experts for three days of education, innovation and networking. More than 350 companies are on-site displaying products and services at booths, outdoor exhibits and hospitality tents. @WorldPorkExpo

ACE17, June 11 – 14, 2017, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia, PA

https://www.awwa.org/conferences-education/conferences/annual-conference.aspx

The American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition, ACE17,  showcases more than 450 exhibitors as well as expanded learning opportunities on the show floor. The professional program will deliver 119 unique sessions, with more than 1,000 expert presenters covering timely topics that are relevant to a global water audience. @AWWAACE

NeoCon, June 12 – 14, 2017, The Mart, Chicago, IL

http://www.neocon.com

North America’s most important commercial design show, NeoCon, has been taking place at The Mart in Chicago since 1969. NeoCon today remains the premier platform for connecting, learning and doing business in the industry. The three-day event attracts 50,000 design professionals. The show launches thousands of new products every year—satisfying a wide range of specification needs including building products, contract accessories, floor coverings, furniture, lighting, outdoor products, technology, textiles, tile, stone & other surfaces, wallcoverings and more. @NeoCon_Shows

E3 2017, June 13 – 15, 2017, Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA

http://www.e3expo.com/takeover

E3 is the world’s premier event for computer, video and mobile games and related products. At E3, the video game industry’s top talent pack the Los Angeles Convention Center, connecting tens of thousands of the best, brightest, and most innovative in the interactive entertainment industry. For three exciting days, leading-edge companies, groundbreaking new technologies and never-before-seen products will be showcased. E3 connects you with both new and existing partners, industry executives, and the biggest fans of video games providing unprecedented exposure to emerging markets. E3 is where it all starts. @E3

MD&M East, June 13 – 15, 2017, Javits Convention Center, New York, NY

http://mdmeast.mddionline.com

MD&M East – now in its 34th year – is the largest medtech event on the east coast, connecting attendees with thousands of engineers and executives, as well as hundreds of leading suppliers. Find the medtech solutions, innovations, and inspiration necessary to solve tough challenges, while staying on top of the latest advancements across the industry. The year the show floor spotlights two industry mega-trends – 3D printing and smart manufacturing – with a dedicated 3D Printing Zone, plus the latest in collaborative robots and robotics on display from the world’s top suppliers. @MDM_Events

InfoComm, June 14 – 16, 2017, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL

http://www.infocommshow.org/welcome

InfoComm International is the association representing the commercial audiovisual industry worldwide. Whether this is your first InfoComm show – or your second, or fifth, or tenth – there’s always something new to find, especially this year. We’ve developed a wealth of content, technology, and just cool, fun things for attendees to enjoy at InfoComm 2017.  See the innovations first at InfoComm 2017 – up-and-coming pro-AV brands and companies exhibiting for the first time in the U.S. @InfoCommShow

28th Annual Energy Fair, June 16 – 18, 2017, Custer, WI

https://www.theenergyfair.org/

Now in its 28th year, The Energy Fair brings people together to learn about clean energy and sustainability, connect with others, and take action towards a sustainable future. The Energy Fair features over 200 exhibitors related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainability. Booths include artisans, solar installers, sustainable product vendors, non-profits, and more. The Energy Fair is the longest-running event of its kind in the nation. @TheEnergyFair

ISTE 2017, June 25 – 28, 2017, San Antonio, TX

http://conference.iste.org/2017/

Extraordinary educators deserve extraordinary professional development. At ISTE 2017, you’ll find strategies that work from the brightest minds in ed tech. We’ve combed through thousands of ideas and picked the best for you. Connect and learn from other innovative educators, thought leaders and education companies at the world’s most comprehensive ed tech meeting of the minds.

The annual event attracts over 18,000 attendees and industry representatives, including teachers, technology coordinators, administrators, library media specialists, teacher ecucators and policymakers. Attendees also enjoy world-class keynotes, hundreds of sessions in a variety of formats and a massive expo hall. @isteconnects

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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 www.classicexhibits.com.


 

10 Big Trade Shows in North America | May 2017

May 2nd, 2017 COMMENTS

10 Big Trade Shows in May 2017

We know you are patiently waiting for National Hug Your Cat Day on May 15. As are we. To help you pass the time, we’ve compiled a list of 10 BIG trade shows happening in May. What do cats have to do with trade shows? Thank you for asking:  What Cats Can Teach Us About Trade Shows.

Offshore Technology Conference, May 1 – 4, 2017, NRG Park, Houston, TX

http://2017.otcnet.org

The Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) is where energy professionals meet to exchange ideas and opinions to advance scientific and technical knowledge for offshore resources and environmental matters. OTC is the largest event in the world for the oil and gas industry featuring more than 2,30 exhibitors, and attendees representing 100 countries.

MuseumExpo, May 7 – 10, 2017, St. Louis, MO

http://annualmeeting.aam-us.org

MuseumExpo will buzz with connections being made, ideas being exchanged and innovative products being showcased. It’s the best place to find cost- and time-saving solutions from over 250 exhibitors. Exhibit at MuseumExpo and connect with high-level decision-makers such as directors, curators, financial officers, exhibit design professionals, educators and registrars.

AISTech, May 8 – 11, 2017, Nashville, TN

http://www.aist.org/conference-expositions/aistech

Steel’s Premier Technology Event will feature technologies from all over the world that help steel producers to compete more effectively in today’s global market. AISTech is a can’t-miss event for anyone involved at any level of today’s steel marketplace, providing perspective on the technology and engineering expertise necessary to power a sustainable steel industry. Whether you present, attend or exhibit, take advantage of this opportunity to network with industry peers and discover ways to improve your productivity.

Lightfair International, May 9 – 11, 2017, Philadelphia, PA

http://www.lightfair.com/V40

The transformative power of innovation and imagination converge in a global presentation of light and technology—brilliantly revealed at LIGHTFAIR International 2017. Where new discoveries, new connectivity, new knowledge and new solutions propel lighting design quickly into the future. All at the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference. 6 pavilions will showcase product-specific manufacturers and more than 550 of the world’s leading manufacturers will showcase their latest technologies and innovations in over 200,000 square feet of exhibit space.

SAPPHIRE Now, May 16 – 18, 2017, Orlando, FL

http://events.sap.com/sapandasug/en/

Join us for the largest global business technology event, hosted by SAP and ASUG. Connect with the community that uses SAP software every day. Learn how to enable your digital business strategy and get more from your technology investment. Plus this is the one place where you can meet the entire ecosystem of SAP Partners.

NRA Show, May 20 – 23, 2017, McCormick Place, Chicago, IL

https://show.restaurant.org/Experience

What’s cooking at NRA (National Restaurant Association) Show? 45,000+ foodservice buyers with big budgets and an appetite to buy. The entire spectrum of the foodservice industry calls NRA Show their own. From commercial to non-commercial, chain to independent, QSR to fine-dining—as well as supermarkets, convenience stores, dealers and distributors—NRA Show is the only event where every segment comes with plans to learn, connect, and spend.

ICSC RECon, May 21 – 24, 2017, LVCC, Las Vegas, NV

http://www.icsc.org/recon/

RECon is the worlds, largest retail real estate convention with more than 37,000 attendees representing 58 countries who gather for power deal making, endless networking and innovative education. This makes RECon the premier gathering place for retail real estate professionals to conduct a year’s worth of business in just three days! No other convention will give exhibitors this unprecedented depth of exposure and reach.

AWEA WINDPOWER, May 22 – 25, 2017, Anaheim, CA

http://www.windpowerexpo.org

WINDPOWER is the largest North American wind energy trade show. The industry’s progress will be on full display at WINDPOWER 2017 with all the major industry segments coming together under one roof. We will unveil new enhancements to the show and feature a new focus on the brands investing in wind. There’s just no question…it’s the focal point of the U.S. wind energy industry and where purchasing decisions get made.

MUSE Conference, May 30 – June 2, 2017, Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Ctr, Dallas, TX

http://www.museweb.org/Events/2017-International-MUSE-Conference

The 2017 International MUSE (Medical Users Software Exchange) Conference is the premier source for networking education and professional development for meditech users. This conference creates a space for attendees to generate and be exposed to ideas and innovative solutions including a vibrant exhibit hall to explore new product and solution providers.

BookExpo, May 31 – June 2, 2017, Javits Center, NYC

http://www.bookexpoamerica.com

BookExpo is evolving to lead the global publishing industry to its consumer driven future and celebrate storytelling in all its forms. It’s the place where industry, authors and readers converge to define the new publishing universe. BookExpo provides a focused professional environment to discover emerging authors and the next blockbuster titles, engage with the world’s most influential publishers and learn from industry leaders and peers.

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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 www.classicexhibits.com.