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Archive for the ‘Jim Shelman’ Category

New Faces and New Designs from Classic Rental Solutions

December 23rd, 2017 COMMENTS


Happy New Year!

We are celebrating with new faces, new designs, and a New Year promotion (coming in early January).

Classic Rental Solutions welcomes Jessica Marchant (No, she’s not French, but she does have a Southern accent). Jessica was kind enough to share a little about her roots, experience, and personality in this interview.

What is your home town?

Charleston, South Carolina

BeachComparisonBest part about South Carolina?

The beaches are beautiful. They’re very tropical and the water is always warm.

How do you like the Oregon coast?

[Laughs] No comment.

What brought you to the Northwest?

To be completely honest, it was pretty random. My husband traveled through Portland on a train and really liked it. He wanted to move somewhere with water, and I wanted to be near mountains, so it was a great compromise. Plus, we really like the Cascade Mountains.

How did you find out about Classic Exhibits?

I found out about Classic through Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits, when they had an available project management position. I was really intrigued by the design elements and was offered a position with the rental team.

Leon 2[2]What is your educational background?

I got my Masters in Design Management at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), which is the second largest design school in the world. There was a focus on branding and business strategy. While there, I was in the Research Club, which involved researching methods and emerging methodologies. John Malkovich was our guest speaker when I graduated.

What are a few skills you have attained that you’re bringing to the team?

Leadership qualities, problem-solving, and I am well-versed in design, to name a few.

What’s an interesting fact about yourself?

I rescued a hairless cat named, Leon (aka The Ladies’ Man or Lele).

What are you most excited about with joining the Classic Family?

I think I am most excited about having different projects and not doing the same thing over and over. I don’t like repetition. I like variety and working with different people.

Recent CRS Changes


Business is booming. And Classic Rental Solutions has refined our workflow procedures and inventory to make your life easier. We believe, as we hope you do too, that CRS provides the highest quality displays available on the market. It’s no accident that repeat business has been the key to our (and your) rental success.

Your clients never have to worry about their booth looking anything but perfect. Plus, they always have the added benefit of modifying their design for each show at a low cost. This helps them stay relevant to potential customers on the show floor. Ultimately, it’s all about HAPPY CLIENTS, show after show.

Classic Rental Solutions is thrilled to be a finalist (once again) for EXHIBITOR Magazine’s Portable/Modular Awards. The PMA’s will be announced at EXHIBITORLIVE in February, but you can vote for your favorite on the PMA People’s Choice page. Our thanks to TPS Displays Richmond for choosing us as their rental provider for the ForRent island. We encourage you to vote (and vote often).

Finally, we’ve GREATLY EXPANDED the Rental Gallery in Exhibit Design Search. Over 150 additions, all with both rental and purchase prices to make the comparison easier. If you haven’t seen our latest additions to the gallery, please sneak a peek. It’s gone from impressive to AMAZING.

Stay tuned for even more updates in 2018. We’re on an exciting roll.

On behalf of Classic Rental Solutions and the Classic Exhibits family, we wish you a Prosperous New Year.

Top 10 Trade Show Rental Designs

January 22nd, 2016 COMMENTS

Rental Incognito

When I started in the this business, waaaayyyyyy back when folding panel systems and pop ups were duking it out for design supremacy, rentals were an afterthought. Really a non-thought. The Great Recession changed that. Rentals are now HUGE.  And CUSTOMIZED. And BEAUTIFUL. At least those from Classic Rental Solutions.

04_20_15_3_RentalI would estimate, and you can disagree, that 15-20 percent of displays at major trade shows are all or partial rentals. Yet, most attendees, exhibitors, and industry professionals would be hard pressed to tell the difference. To prove my point, I’ve chosen my favorite Top 10 Rental Designs from 2015. These are shown in Past 5 Days, our photo gallery. Some were taken during setup. Others from the show.

If you have time, I’d very much love to hear your thoughts about rental trends and rental designs. Leave a comment or send me an email. Enjoy.

Top 10 Rental Designs

  1. (See in P5D) — 30 x 40 Island with Laminated Sconces with Recessed Puck Lights
  2. Continental Building Products (See in P5D)  — 20 x 20 Island with 16 ft. Tower/Storage Room
  3. Chirotouch (See in P5D) — 20 x 40 Island with 16 ft. Towers, Double-Sided Bridged Header with/Pillowcase Fabric Graphic, and Dual Conference Rooms
  4. 06_15_15_5_RentalEmployee Screen (See in P5D) —20 x 20 Island (2) RE-1250 Counters, (2) RE-1230 Large Monitor Kiosks with Custom Planter Boxes
  5. NETGEAR (See in P5D) — Ballroom Product Showcase with (8) RE-1207 Counters with Custom Laminated/Tops, (32) Small Custom Black Laminated Product Shelves, and (8) RE-1229 Large Monitor Kiosks
  6. Adaptiva (See in P5D) — 30 x 30 Island with 14 ft. High Tower/Storage Room, (3) Custom Kiosks/with 42 in. Monitors and Sintra Graphics
  7. Spectrum Brands (See in P5D) — RE-9029 Island with Double Tower Structure, Lounge Lighting, (4)/Workstation Kiosks, Curved Bridged Headers, Large Monitor Kiosks, and (2) RE-1205 Large Curved Counters
  8. Beck Arnley (See in P5D) — 20 x 40 Island 12′ High Tower/Backwall with Tension Fabric Graphics/and 18′ Wide Backwall with Backlit SEG Fabric Graphic
  9. L3 Driver Safety Solutions (See in P5D) — Modified RE-9049 Island Includes Tower with Locking/Counter, (2) Double-Sided Graphic Kiosks, and RE-1205 Large Reception Counter
  10. Clear Story (See in P5D) — Island Peninsula Design (15 ft. High) with Tension Fabric and Sintra Header Graphics, 38″ High Return Walls, RE-1228 Counter, and (2) RE-1221 Pedestals

04_29_15_1_RentalSheesh! I almost forgot to include inlines which represent about 50% of our orders. We designed quite a few beauties last year. Here are a few:

  1. Alaska Communications (See in P5D) —  20 ft. RE-2030 Design with Wave Canopies, (2/ RE-1216 Connected Workstations, RE-1207 Counter, and RE-1205 Counter
  2. Blue Sky (See in P5D) — 10 ft. RE-1004 with Tension Fabric Graphic, Sintra Wing Graphics, and/(3) Halogen Arm Lights
  3. Schock Logistics (See in P5D) — 10 ft. SEGUE Hybrid Display with SEG Fabric Graphic, Halogen Arm Lights, and Frosted Wing Panels

Jim Shelman, GM Classic Rental Solutions


Classic Rental Rewards Winners

January 15th, 2016 COMMENTS


It’s often the simple things that are the most rewarding.

Several years ago, the Classic Rental Solutions division had a problem. A large percentage of our returns were coming back with significant damage and/or missing components. We weren’t sure what to do, but we knew we had to do something. We couldn’t restock those components since our policy has always been “If it doesn’t look like new, we won’t ship it. Period.”

Distributor Rental Rewards LetterIn many circles, the obvious solution would be to charge for the damage. But we weren’t looking to be punitive. It’s kind of like insisting on guests clean your place the morning after the big party. Instead, we decided to  fix it with a positive rather than a negative program.

In July 2014, we launched Rental Rewards, a program designed to reward distributors for returning rental exhibits in good condition and without missing components. In other words, reward good behavior first, then, if necessary, charge for bad behavior.

As part of the program, Classic Distributors earn a 2% credit for every successful rental return. This credit is applied to their next rental project and is based on the entire invoice (excluding shipping and I & D supervision). After six credits, a 15% credit is issued toward their next rental. In addition, with every rental credit received, the distributor’s name is entered in a bi-annual Rental Rewards drawing for exciting prizes.

In return, we ask that distributors stress the importance of treating the rental components with a little extra care during installation & dismantle, and to pack everything securely, so it will arrive back at Classic in good condition. You receive Rental Rewards credits, and have the opportunity to win prizes. And we save money on repairs and replacement parts Win. Win.

Since its inception in July 2014, we have issued 207 Rental Rewards credits to 74 different distributors. We’ve given away 15 Amazon Gift Cards, and we just added a new exciting prize — RT airfare to Shared Knowledge University (SKU), our distributor training seminar.

DSCN5459December Winners — Amazon $150.00 Gift Card:

  • Lara Davie — ELITeXPO
  • Chase Howells — Frontline Exhibits
  • Michael Grossberg — Trade Show Emporium
  • Shannon Plaster — Exhibitus
  • Laura Magdalen — Exhibits Northwest

Shared Knowledge University (SKU) Airfare:

  • Exhibitus

Thanks to you, Classic Rental Solutions continues to grow by double-digits. Last year we added many new designs to our rental gallery, including islands, inlines, and a wide range of new charging stations. Watch for more exciting designs in 2016. And if you plan to attend EXHIBITORLIVE next month, please stop by our booth to see an exciting new product line. This line will be integrated into future rental designs. It’s incredible! And it’s a game changer!

Thank you for your continued rental business, and here’s to a super successful 2016.

–Jim Shelman and the CRS Team
Classic Rental Solutions

Share, Rent, Borrow, or Buy Your Next Display?

September 2nd, 2015 2 COMMENTS


As a parent, you teach your children to share — share their toys, their candy, their whatever.

Sharing used to be a cultural necessity in America. Not every farmer could afford a harvester, nor every homeowner the latest tools. So the farmers and neighbors would share. It made sense. Then we saw less of that… until the recession. Suddenly, sharing became a necessity again. And the need to “own it” became less important.

Renting is a form of sharing, whether it’s a backhoe, banquet tables, or a trade show display. For example, I’m a suburbanite with a modest yard on a property with older trees. I use a chainsaw about twice a year. I could buy a new chainsaw for about $200 or a used one from Craigslist for about $90. But I rent it instead for about $35.

If you do the math, it doesn’t make sense. But it does for me. I don’t want to maintain it, store the oil, do the sharpening or the annual tune-up. Nor do I want another tool in my garage. I have enough. I could borrow one from a neighbor, which I do with some tools (and they in return), but certain items should be rented and not borrowed.

At Classic Exhibits, we’ve seen this rental trend since 2008. At first, it was driven by necessity. Exhibitors were committed to a show and/or committed to trade show marketing and their budgets were slashed. Now, however, that trend has less to do with slashed budgets and more to do with personalization, capacity, ownership, storage, and design.


Here’s what we’ve learned. Rentals can’t simply be a single function tool in the toolbox — practical but generic. Exhibitors have the same expectations for rentals as they do for purchase displays. They want it personalized. Rental exhibits should reflect their branding and their exhibit marketing requirements… and it needs to look new.


It’s difficult for a small exhibit house to make the necessary investment  and to maintain a large unblemished rental inventory. But when you are the manufacturer supporting 180 distributors the scale becomes easier to swallow. It’s very common for distributors to offer a modest selection of in-house rental designs and count on manufacturers to fulfill client requests beyond what they own. Exhibitors understand these partner relationships, and typically have no problem with it. In fact, they’re usually thrilled that they’re being offered a solid engineered solution.


A lot of exhibitors don’t want to own their exhibit. They prefer to have the flexibility that’s offered by renting. With rental exhibits, they can change the design from show to show to better match their target audience and market,  rather than feeling obligated to stick with the same design for multiple shows and/or multiple years. Less pressure. More flexibility.

From a cost standpoint, custom rental components are very affordable. Exhibit houses and manufacturers will often include custom elements below their cost, knowing they can re-rent them.


We can all relate to the challenges of not having enough storage space, whether it’s at home or at our business. Exhibitors have to consider whether it makes sense to storing their exhibit. Do they have the available space? Do they have someone with the time and experience to maintain the exhibit and arrange for potential repairs and updates? Or does it make more sense to pay their exhibit house a monthly storage fee, plus pull and prep fees to take care of everything for them? With rental exhibits none of that matters, because all of that’s taken care of, and they start fresh for every show.


It’s amazing how far we’ve come with rental exhibit designs. They used to be like a McDonald’s. You could spot one a 1/4 of a mile away. Today, it’s very difficult to differentiate a rental from a purchase. Custom rental designs  used to be the exception but now represent a significant percentage of what exhibit houses offer. Savvy customers know they can choose to rent over purchasing without the fear of design limitations.

Today it’s all about design solutions, whether a purchase or rental exhibit. And it usually goes back to the question of flexibility and ownership to determine the best option. A combination of purchase and rental components is quite common as well. For example, it often makes sense to own a central tower with storage, knowing that it will always be needed, but rent the workstations and charging stations, because those needs change from show to show.

In the end… Rental or Purchase? Which avenue offers the best opportunity for an exhibitor to achieve their objectives for upcoming shows? Listen closely to what the exhibitor is telling you. You may be surprised at what they are sharing.

Jim Shelman
GM Classic Rental Solutions


Who’s Derek Nollman at Classic Rental Solutions?

August 29th, 2014 COMMENTS

Doesn’t He Look Friendly?

Introducing Derek Nollman

Derek has joined the Classic Rental Solutions team and is working directly with me (Jim Shelman) in rental sales. Derek’s still a young guy, but has over 20 years of experience in the trade show industry, mostly on the contractor service side, but also in show management where he sold booth space for one of the larger Portland shows.

Derek’s past experience (including many years with GES and some time with Freeman) offers a valuable new perspective while working with our distributor network on rental projects. First, he speaks our “industry” language, plus he has a full understanding of what exhibitors experience on the show floor. From freight, carpet, and furniture rentals, rigging, and I & D, you name it, Derek has been involved with it. Derek says “I always enjoyed the challenge of figuring things out for exhibitors and assisting them as they were experiencing one of the most stressful things they do, namely exhibiting in trade shows.” He’s a relatively quiet guy, but he’s always thinking of solutions and the best way to approach challenges.

Derek has already dived aggressively into the Rental Solutions galleries in Exhibit Design Search where he’s made hundreds of changes and additions. If you haven’t perused the Rental Solutions galleries lately, I encourage you to do so. So many new designs, accessories, and convenient graphic templates and dimensions. Nearly everything you need for a rental is now online.

This is a very exciting time for Classic Rental Solutions, as we’re growing at an amazing rate and introducing new programs such as Rental Rewards. The timing couldn’t have been better to add Derek to the team. We’re committed to beefing up our sales support in line with our significant growth.

If you haven’t already worked with Derek on a rental project, it won’t be long before you do. I have no doubt that you’ll be happy with his customer service. But I think you’ll really appreciate the extra effort he makes to help you find the right rental solutions for your customers.

I have included a few photos of recent rental projects.

Jim Shelman
General Manger of Exhibits Northwest Portland & Classic Rental Solutions