Trade Show TalesBlog

The World of SEG (As I See It)

September 11th, 2018 2 COMMENTS

Guest Post by Dave Brown, Optima Graphics

When Neanderthals Walked the Earth

My first exposure to Silicone Edge Graphics (SEG) was in 2002. At the time, we (Optima) were using a foam/rubber gasket to finish fabric graphics. The gasket (similar to screen door material) was an aesthetic step forward from Velcro since it helped to remove ripples and waves in a fabric graphic, but it was not a viable long-term solution. In early 2003, Optima was approached by AIT. They were promoting an improved graphic attachment using a stretchy silicone material that could be tucked into a channel or systems groove on an engineered aluminum frame, like Octanorm or MODUL. I vaguely recall that they were selling frames as well, but don’t quote me on that.

During that same time frame, several truss suppliers were offering a “truss clip” option where an 18” section of aluminum channel would snap onto the individual truss rails. A magnet was sewn to the graphic, so it could be secured within the truss clip. There was nothing special about the magnet other than its dimensions were perfect for sewing it to the fabric and then tucking it into the truss clip. Functionally a shim. However, the magnet was impractical for shipping purposes.

With the ever-present desire to cut exhibit program costs, many “early adopter” exhibitors and exhibit houses were looking to fabric graphics as an option. Fabric or dye-sublimated textile graphics had two immediate advantages:  they reduced the overall weight of an exhibit and they could be folded for compact shipping. But the Velcro and truss clip option each had aesthetic and practical flaws.

The Rise of SEG

Entering 2005, Silicone Edge Graphics were moving more mainstream, and our very own Mary Mueller coined the term SEG. Heck, we even tried to trademark it, but the US Patent Office claimed it was too generic (but “three peat” could be trademarked. Hmmmm?). By mainstream, I mean that SEG was being incorporated into display hardware, wall-mounted frame solutions, and custom exhibits.

As time progressed, SEG became a true building material, and fabric now clads the exterior of exhibits in the same way Canyon Blue Formica or Tempo loop did in the early 90’s. Customers want their visual message and presence maximized in their exhibits, and as dye-sublimation has progressed so has the boundaries of SEG. It is not uncommon to see a single 10’ x 20’ SEG fabric graphic whether backlit or non-backlit that’s as stunning and real as a Lambda print. A handful of companies have incorporated machinery that will produce a single graphic that’s 15 ft. in width, and the industry has been the beneficiary of R&D from many different perspectives. For example:

  • Backlighting. At Optima, we have launched three different backlit materials in the last 11 months, and our suppliers keep sending us a steady stream of potential new materials to test.
  • Opacity. Fabric may have been great for packing and hanging, but prior to 2013, there were functionally no opaque options. The blocker game is over because numerous opaque options exist and are ideal for trade show graphics. Eliminating blockers reduces installation time and cost. We can all cheer for that!
  • Stretch / Pliability. Installing SEG is, good bad or indifferent, a bit of an art form. A material that stretches east – west vs. east-west and north-south is a big deal because the added pliability reduces the artistic install talent needed by the end client or hired labor. “I have done this a million times” does not perfectly translate to “You are really good at it.”
  • Wrinkles. Let’s not mince words, Wrinkles suck! I get it. Paying as much as $250 an hour for Sunday OT steaming is unappetizing to any exhibitor.Here’s a snippet from an actual conversation I had this spring, “Sorry I am late. My shirt was a mess from packing, so I had to touch it up with the iron.” Fast forward to, “We arrived at the booth and one of the graphics was all wrinkled, so we had to steam it. Why do we need to do that? We should not have to do this” Logically, you know that a shirt (piece of fabric) needs to be ironed to eliminate wrinkles, but a fabric graphic should be impervious to similar wear and tear. Trust me, the holy grail of dye-sub fabric graphics is a 100% wrinkle-free material. This is and has been a R&D priority for years.
  • Flame Retardant (FR). Optima and many other high-quality providers will not sell an SEG dye-sub fabric graphic that is not FR. However, the FR treatment can increase the wrinkle factor or wrinkle-ability. Selling a NON-FR fabric is just plain stupid. Can you imagine ALL the instances where exhibitors are informed that all their fabric graphics need to be removed because they are unable to supply a FR certificate, and/or the material fails an onsite test? That is the stuff of lawsuits. It’s not worth it. Yet, there are instances where low-cost providers take that risk without informing the customer.

The Future of SEG

If the key ingredient in SEG is simply the attachment element (various rubbery / reasonably stretchy / reasonably firm 2.3mm x 7mm x 1mm-ish strips), then the sky is the limit. We have already progressed through print clarity (print resolution, density, color gamut via equipment and print technology), textile opacity, textile transmissiveness (backlighting), and ideal size of material.

A Prediction:   LED incorporation into the textiles will progress from experimental to routine and full digital textile is only a few years away. Envision a wall frame with an SEG monitor installed at any size you want. A 10 x 20 inline that conveys your client’s dynamic message, creates and morphs from one environmental engagement to the next, and during breaks on the show floor – you can watch your favorite Family Guy, episode. AND the whole thing fits in a single airline shippable case.

It’s coming sooner than we all think.

Dave Brown
dsbrown@optimagfx.com

Dave Brown is the VP of Sales at Optima Graphics. We all know and love Dave, so a long, detailed bio isn’t really necessary. And, yes, we all have a memorable Dave Brown story.

New Lower Prices on Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Displays

August 30th, 2018 COMMENTS

Lower Prices on Sacagawea

We did our math homework on Sacagawea Portable Hybrid Displays. Since 2010, Sacagawea has been our most popular portable display system. Exhibitors have purchased thousands. Literally. And during that time, we continued to make improvements to the packaging, assembly, accessories, and graphics. You have told us repeatedly that no other portable hybrid system matches the Sacagawea for quality, durability, and ease-of-use. It’s simply the best portable display for your corporate clients. 

Back to the math. Like any responsible business, we periodically run the numbers to determine if our margins are holding steady. In fact, the margins on Sacagawea have gotten better, so we decided to (wait for it!) lower the prices. Yes, lower the prices! Not only has our bulk extrusion buying resulted in lower costs, but graphics, assembly, and packaging costs have also gotten better. 

So, when we say, “We lowered the prices” what does that mean? Some examples with links to the kits in Exhibit Design Search:

20 ft. Inlines

  • VK-2114 | Was: $18,106. Now: $14,999
  • VK-2111 | Was: $15,115. Now: $12,299
  • VK-2109 | Was: $10,110. Now: $8,799

10 ft. Inlines

  • VK-1234 | Was: $9,763. Now: $7,999
  • VK-1228 | Was: $7,567. Now: $6,899
  • VK-1219 | Was: $4,345. Now: $3,899

Even Table Tops

  • VK-1292 | Was: $2,887. Now: $2,499
  • VK-1290 | Was: $2,078. Now: $1,699

All the prices have been updated in Exhibit Design Search. We’ve also revised the Sacagawea Price List, which you can download. As a reminder, the Sacagawea comes with the exclusive 100-Day Money Back Guarantee, a guarantee also offered on Perfect 10, Quadro Pop Ups, and Quadro FGS (Floating Graphic System).

For more information, we encourage you to watch the videos below or, as always, give us a call.

–Mel White
mel@classicexhibits.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including SuperNova LED Lightboxes. 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.

Shared Knowledge University Invitation | Fall 2018

August 20th, 2018 COMMENTS

Fall 2018 Shared Knowledge University

November in Portland, OR. Overcast. Rainy. Brisk. Nine games into the Portland Trail Blazers schedule. And, if you believe Kevin, the U of O Ducks football team is undefeated and headed to a national championship. Sounds like the ideal time to visit the Rose City for Shared Knowledge University. 

As always, seats are limited. Contact Jen LaBruzza (jen@classicexhibits.com) if you have questions. See below for details and click on the image to watch the official SKU video (nice job Glenna!).

Download the Registration Form.

The NEW Gravitee One-Step LED Lightbox | Video with Kevin Carty

August 12th, 2018 COMMENTS

We rarely URGE you to VIEW a blog post. We invite and entice. But this time, we’re URGING.

After considerable time, effort, and imagination, we developed a lightbox. But not just any lightbox, one two inches deep with all the wonderful features of the Gravitee One Step System. No Tools. No Loose Parts. See for yourself in this video that introduces the Gravitee Modular Lightbox. 

Expect to see Gravitee LB designs throughout Q3 and Q4 via Design Monday, both as a purchase and rental. Pricing will be available later this month. For those who have seen and/or ordered the Gravitee System, you already know its benefits compared to other modular wall systems. 

–Kevin
http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a

Before the Show Opens. After the Show Closes.

August 10th, 2018 2 COMMENTS

Yes… Even More Trade Show Planning

There’s no shortage of articles about pre- and post-show trade show tips. Follow those tips and you’ll not only have more qualified leads, but you’ll turn them into sales by roughly a bazillion percent. Check the research at CEIR and let me know if I’m wrong about that statistic.  

Even if you maximize your pre- and post-show planning, it’s possible to miss potential sales because your planning didn’t include right before the show opens and right after the show closes. Every day. On the morning of the show, especially on Day #1, we are nervous, tense, and uncertain about what the show will bring. So we clean, vacuum, organize literature, drink coffee and eat giveaway candy. That’s not to say those aren’t important. They are. But there are other trade show tasks that need to be accomplished before that first wave of attendees descends on your booth. As a solid Type-A exhibitor, you’ve already had multiple meetings with your team before the show. That’s what makes you wonderful and a pain in the ass. It’s now one hour before the show opens, not just on Day 1 but also on Day 2 and Day 3. It’s time to:

Trade Show Planning and TrainingBefore the Show Opens

  • Review the show goals for the team once again. 
  • Remind everyone how “we” plan to meet and exceed those goals
  • Discuss roles. Do those roles need to change from Day 1 to Day 2 to Day 3? 
  • Equipment. How does it work, who has the login information, who is the “Oh Shit” expert, and what’s the backup plan?
  • Who is expected in the booth today? Are they a customer? A prospect? What’s the plan?
  • Did anything happen during dinners, meetings, conference gatherings that the team needs to know? 
  • Does the “message” need to change based on conversations with attendees or announcements from competitors? 
  • What’s the break schedule?

Good job! You scheduled a team meeting each day with a specific agenda to review. Your team knows what to expect, has answers, and is prepared for another successful day on the show floor. 

Four to five hours later, the show closes for the day. You and your team are exhausted. They are ready to relax, have a drink, and leave the show hall. BUT… you’re not done yet. It’s time to review what happened that day. Resist the urge to do it in a bar, restaurant, or in the hotel lobby. Do it now. In the booth:

North American Trade ShowsAfter the Show Closes

  • Review the leads and determine next steps and priorities
  • Add notes to the leads (while they are still fresh)
  • Discuss any missteps and changes for the next day
  • Share critical news from attendees, clients, competitors, and suppliers
  • Cover plans for dinners, meetings with clients, and conference events
  • Lock-up and store any valuables
  • Is anyone leaving to return home? How does that effect staffing and roles for the next day?
  • (On the next to last day) What’s the plan for disassembling and shipping the exhibit after the show? Does any rented equipment need to be returned to the show contractor? 

Now, that wasn’t so hard. It just took a little planning, patience, caffeine, and the promise of food and alcohol.

What did we miss? Please let us know in the comments. Thanks.

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including SuperNova LED Lightboxes. 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.