Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Brumark’

Why Distributors Enjoy Working with Classic

October 3rd, 2014 1 COMMENT

Shooting from the Hip Reid Sherwood

I’m asked this question a lot. New distributors will say, “What makes doing business with Classic Exhibits different from other manufacturers?” But, before I launch into this, a bit of a warning. I’m writing this from the hospital, hopped up on drugs before I have surgery. I’m in pain but I will be better in a few hours. So allow me a little latitude if this rambles.

There are No Real Egos

Mel and Kevin co-manage the entire company for a quiet owner. The invisible “Inc.” includes Classic Manufacturing, ClassicMODUL (our version of “Home Depot” of aluminum extrusion), Classic Rental Solutions (turnkey custom modular rentals), and Exhibits Northwest (a retail exhibit provider in the Pacific Northwest). Inside all of these divisions is other leadership. Over the years, we have all run into the prima donna sales person who believes without them the company would fold in a matter of days. Headstrong designers who are the creative world’s version of the prima donna sales person. And there’s always the CFO who someone, somewhere blames for always saying “No.”

Well, at Classic, our vision is based on Shared Success. We want everyone to succeed: Distributors, Vendors, Strategic Partners, and Employees. It sounds hokey, but it’s genuine. That’s not to say there aren’t a few potholes and detours, but the “Why we do what we do” is transparent. Every company knows “What they do.” Most know “How they do it.” But few know “Why they do it.” We do.

The Middle Matters

VK-1122mainRecently, a blog was written about the middle market for trade show displays. As a recap, most corporate trade show purchases are in the “middle.” For the most part, Classic’s products do not target the Slightly Better Than Cheap customer (SBTC). We could. It would mean sacrificing on product quality, accessories, packaging, and design. Instead, our products reflect features and benefits not found with SBTC displays. We offer great service, well-designed, high-quality products with world-class packaging, and set-up instructions all at a moderate cost. We’re very happy to move upstream on projects. That’s easy, whether in materials or design. We do that every day.

At the same time, we’re more than happy to pare down designs if the client has a tight budget. That’s different than SBTC. We’ll provide quality products but with a little less flair. One of the things we are most proud of as a manufacturer is our ability to CNC bend engineered aluminum. It’s not an art or guesswork. It’s manufacturing precision. Few manufacturers have this capability. If you doubt me, review their kits. But curves have a cost. More curves equals more cost, since it requires more labor and metal. But curves mean our kits are both unique and upscale without being expensive. That’s the middle.

Creative Thinking

The old cliche that we need to “think outside of the box” has been beat to a pulp. I believe thinking outside of the box can result in solutions that are cool but out-of-step with what clients want. Thinking near the edge of the box will give fresh ideas yet still keep everything in check. For example, thinking towards the edge of the box creates a way to make the best-looking backlit SEG lightbox in the industry. Thinking outside the box creates inflatable displays like a Halloween fun house!

SharedWe Enjoy Working with Our Customers

To put it bluntly, “We give a damn and it shows.” Classic understands its role in the process. We enjoy taking on a challenge from design, project management, and production/construction and providing you with a solution. Over the course of time, these wins turn customers into fans and fans into friends. The ultimate goal of making the exhibitor look spectacular at their show or event keeps creativity and problem solving headed in the right direction. And we look forward to doing it again and again. That’s the fun part.

We are Honest and Transparent

The only question we won’t answer is about our financials. Other than that, you can ask us anything, and we will answer you honestly. We will tell you if we screwed up. In fact, we will tell you that we are going to screw up. We are humans and humans make mistakes. If we do something wrong, we will acknowledge it and work quickly and diligently to correct it. We accept responsibility for our actions. On top of that, we will help you to the best of our ability if YOU make a mistake. We still feel a responsibility to be good and take care of our customers so YOUR clients are still happy with you. Which leads to the next topic.

We’re in This Together

We understand that you have options for portable, modular or custom-hybrid exhibits . . . . which is why we push our designers to create distinctive exhibits that are attractive, innovative, interesting, and affordable. If they aren’t, then they won’t sell.  That is why our project managers work tirelessly to provide well-engineered exhibits that your clients will love from the first show to the last. That is why our Production team obsesses about the details always trying to improve packaging and assembly.

Nike_Office5Like You . . . We are Nimble

No one survived The Great Recession unless they had very deep pockets or were extraordinarily nimble. For Classic, probably the best examples are the tablet kiosks and “retail and store branding” projects we’re building. That has become a nice piece of business for us. It is not a change in direction. It has broadened our direction.

We are Proud of Our Industry Partners

If you look at Exhibit Design Search, you can guess how much time, energy, and resources have been devoted to this since its inception nine years ago. We made it even better when we asked our industry “pals” to participate in it. We make no money from the sales from of those products. It is simply a way to create a “one-stop shop” for you and your customers. We are proud of our relationships with Optima, Eco-Systems Sustainable, Display Supply and Lighting, and Brumark. They are great companies.

We Haven’t Changed Our Focus – Period!

When Classic Exhibits was started in the late 80’s, we built a portable panel system and sold it through distributors.  Now, 20 plus years later, we have added many new systems and services, but we still sell them through a network of distributors. If there is anything I would like you to remember about Classic, it’s just that. We are a distributor-focused company that DOES NOT SELL DIRECT TO END USERS!

I am sure there are many other reasons. For whatever reason you choose to do business with us, we thank you.

Oh no!!! The drugs are starting to wear off. Best if I don’t proofread this. 😉

Reid Sherwood

SIGNIFICANT CHANGES to Brumark’s Flooring Galleries in EDS — WOW!

July 2nd, 2013 COMMENTS

Brumark Flooring Galleries

Brumark has made significant changes and additions to the Flooring — Carpet and Padding and Flooring – Other Options galleries of Exhibit Design Search!

In addition to enhanced product descriptions and updated images, they’ve added a variety of flooring products to meet just about any application and budget requirement. Here’s Brumark’s description of the changes:

New Exhibit Carpet – The very popular 10′ Advantage Carpet line has been expanded. In addition to 10′ wide Advantage Carpet in 16 oz., 30 oz. and 50 oz. weights and a variety of stylish colors, we’ve added the new NexGen 10′. This quality 10′ wide carpet comes in nine vibrant, fade-resistant colors and is offered at a significant value. NexGen 10′ is available in 16 oz. and 28 oz. weights.

Additional Styles of FlexFloor Rollable Vinyl Flooring – FlexFloor is extremely convenient and easy to use — it rolls out and then back up for fast, simple installation. We added the Stone Works Collection, which provides the look of natural stone, as well two Designer collections. The Designer I collection is designed for single-use only, providing an economical option for clients who need a one-time flooring solution. The Designer II collection has four styles, including white, that can be used multiple times.

Printable Flooring – We’re also excited to add a printed flooring option that gives your clients a convenient and attention-grabbing way to extend their branding or theme to the floor. With FlexFloor Clear Choice, the image is custom-printed on the back side of the clear, rollable vinyl flooring for maximum image life. And of course FlexFloor Clear Choice has all the benefits of the FlexFloor line, including fast roll-out installation.

Elevate Raised Flooring

Raised Flooring – We added four raised flooring options that give your clients a way to create a distinctive look and easily manage their utilities. The Elevate Raised Flooring System consists of strong polycarbonate tiles and is designed to be easy to set up, level and dismantle. Clients can easily use carpet, FlexFloor or other options on the surface.

The cutting-edge A&P Flooring System is designed to easily adapt to your clients’ changing exhibit needs. The super-strong anodized aluminum frame installs to almost any size with no tools needed, and then custom infill panels just set into place. This allows users to create almost any size floor and then easily customize it. A&P holds up to 3.5 tons per square meter – including vehicles – and can be used indoors or out.

The Altitude R&R Raised Flooring System is unique in that it has an interchangeable top surface and a durable subfloor that can be reused many times. This gives clients a very convenient and cost-effective way to update the look of their flooring without having to invest in an entirely new floor.

And the TraxFlex Hardwood Flooring System provides a simple and cost-effective way to use real hardwood flooring for exhibits and events. This innovative raised floor quickly and easily installs on spring-mounted tracks — no tools required. It’s extremely durable and reusable. And because the spring-mounted tracks allow for the natural expansion and contraction of the hardwood, TraxFlex can be used indoors or in covered outdoor areas.

PromoDek Flooring

Modular Flooring – The PromoDek Modular Display Flooring System is another ultra-convenient way you clients can get multiple flooring options from their investment. It features standard components that easily click together to create a platform in almost any size or shape. The surface can be updated in minutes with new materials or printed graphics, and the floor is easy to resize, reposition and reconfigure. Plus, PromoDek is strong enough to hold cars! In addition to trade shows, this is also a great option for product demonstration, sales meetings and more.

Chilewich Tiles – We’re also pleased to add Chilewich Tiles with BioFelt™ to Exhibit Design Search. This is another very convenient option. The comfortable, 18″ x 18″ woven vinyl tiles provide a modern, upscale look. They can be installed with adhesives, but the new BioFelt backing also allows you to install the tiles with Velcro®. This makes it very easy to install, reposition, remove and reuse the tiles. Not to mention, they are an eco-friendly flooring choice made from 82% recycled content. Chilewich Tiles are available in Bamboo, Basketweave, Frost, Rib Weave and Lounge styles, in a variety of modern colors.

With all these new flooring options, there’s something for everyone. We encourage you to take some time to check out the expanded flooring galleries and contact us if you have any questions or would like more information.


Tips to a Successful Business “Open House”

July 6th, 2012 1 COMMENT

Been There. Done That.

Shooting from the Hip (trade show tips)

Shooting from the Hip by Reid Sherwood

Whether it’s sports, cards, business or anything that involves a winner and a loser, competitors are always looking for that “edge” that puts them over the top. I am not suggesting cheating. I am suggesting we follow Jack Nicklaus’ advice, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

Well, there are a lot of things you can do, but I’d like to propose hosting an Open House for your customers and/or prospects.

I have seen dozens, if not a hundred, different Open House events at customer locations during my years as a manufacturer rep. Do Open Houses work? Absolutely, if done right. But, you can’t whip them together in a day. Successful Open Houses succeed because of planning and execution. In other words . . . “if you fail to plan, then plan to fail.” You don’t need all the tactics I am proposing, but let’s explore some ideas together and the risk/reward.

Pick Your Date Carefully. I was recently at a customer event on the East Coast. They promoted the Open House via email and direct mail. They followed up with phone calls. They did everything right. They had food and they had decent commitment. About 16 new leads were supposed to attend. However, it was the week going into the 4th of July and attendance fell off considerably. The upside was that one lead came with a six figure budget for a rental, another needed a new 10 x 20, and a third plans to buy 25 banner stands soon. So, all in all, it was very successful, but it could have been more successful had a different date been chosen.

Have a Gimmick. I was at a recent Open House where they hired the local baseball team mascot to appear and entertain the attendees. It was a nice twist that brought a few extra bodies in. Nothing life changing, but very memorable. I’ve seen Elvis impersonators, magicians, you name it! One of the more successful events was held in mid winter “up north” with a “Lets Go to the Islands” theme. They had speakers every hour talking about the pluses and minuses of islands over inlines. They had musician playing Jimmy Buffett songs on an acoustic guitar in between sessions. Everyone was engaged, entertained, and informed.

At another Open House, the timing was right for an Oscar theme. So we rolled out the red carpet and had show tunes playing throughout. They had paparazzi taking pictures of everything. Everyone dressed to the 9. There were no speakers, but there was enough “going on” to keep people focused and on track.

Feed Them. If you feed them, they will come. It’s just that simple. If you want more attendees, offer beer and wine. I’m not talking about a sit down meal, but depending the time of day, it should at least substitute for breakfast, lunch, or appetizers. Peanuts and chips may be OK for your football buddies, but not for your customers.

Have a Speaker with a Compelling Topic. Whether it’s the owner, the creative director, a manufacturer’s rep, or a social media expert, it needs to be somebody with a story. Content is key. They attendees are looking for solutions that will make their business or tradeshows better. You could even consider featuring several top customers who talk about their experiences with trade show marketing.

Be Repetitive. Do it the same time each year. Pick a direction and run with it. Maybe every year you talk about the latest and greatest in new exhibits. Maybe it’s all about design trends. Become the expert so they know who to call for “all things tradeshows” and remove the reason for them to shop around.

Use Your Vendors. As suppliers, we look at these as an opportunity to spend time with you and a chance to learn more about your market and customer needs. We also get to see other vendors and share experiences and insights. At the Open Houses I’ve participated over the past three to four years, I typically see Optima Graphics, Brumark, DS&L, various freight and labor companies, Eco-systems Sustainable, and ExpoDisplays. We bring in new products and review services, which always makes for a educational and entertaining event.

Again, there is no magic formula, but pick a direction and don’t give up on it. Be reasonable in setting your goals and a budget. The first year may not be as much about new business as much as touching base with your clients. But, those contacts matter. Always remember, it only takes ONE to make it a successful event.

Give me a call or send me an email. I am very happy to share additional details about the Open Houses I’ve attended over the years, small and large, elaborate and intimate. There’s no one formula, except solid planning, careful execution, and a little imagination.

Till the next time,

Reid Sherwood

Word on the Street — March 28th thru April 1st

April 3rd, 2011 3 COMMENTS
EXHIBITOR 2011 Follow-up

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

EXHIBITOR Show Follow-up

To those who attended EXHIBITOR in Las Vegas, I hope you had an enjoyable time.

This past month was a very exciting one at Classic. I am delighted to announce that March will be the second largest sales month in Classic Exhibits’ history! Thanks to you, our distributors and friends, for your support, your orders, and for believing in our “Shared Success” philosophy.

Since I did not attend EXHIBITOR this year, I hope you will share your feedback and reactions via the blog. The Classic Team had only positive comments about the show: great traffic, quality leads, and an overall upbeat tone.

As you may have noticed if you were at the show, Classic Exhibits, ClassicMODUL, and Exhibits NW were fortunate to have built not just our own booth but also several others on the show floor.

Here are just a few. Let us know what you thought of these designs:

Cort Furnishings. The island display included ClassicMODUL black anodized extrusion, Aero Overhead Hanging Structures, and tension fabric graphics from Optima Graphics . . . and of course all the beautiful trade show furnishings from Cort.

Display Supply and Lighting @ Exhibitor 2011Display Supply and Lighting (DS&L). This inline included Silicone Edge Graphic profiles from ClassicMODUL, SEG fabric graphics from Optima, and some truly amazing LED lighting from Display Supply. Check out the picture, but don’t miss the video. Great work to Rob Cohen and his team. And additional kudos to Steve Pinette for a stunning design.

EliteXPO at Exhibitor 2011EliteXPO. This inline had a very cool lounge theme. It included several ClassicMODUL profiles, large format Duratrans and tension fabric graphics from Optima Graphics as well as LED backlighting panels from Display Supply and Lighting. Kudos to Dave, Lara, and Chuck. I heard a lot of great feedback from attendees on your booth design and theme. Nicely done!

New Leads 10 x 10. A great example of a Classic Exhibits 10 x 10 Sacagawea hybrid! Take a look. Turned out very beautiful and highlighted a very functional design. New Leads at Exhibitor 2011And special thanks to New Leads for allowing us to use their lead retrieval technology which runs off iPads. Very easy to use.

Optima Exhibitor 2011Optima Graphics Island. Not only was there a nice ClassicMODUL Tower in the booth, but did you see that Aero Hanging Sign structure?  Well done Jim, Dave, and the whole team at Optima.

EXHIBITOR Magazine. EXHIBITOR’s inline booth was a custom rental exhibit from Classic Rentals with a dynamic A/V presentation. The display demonstrated our flexible rental inventory and design capabilities. This was no kit. It was built using their design requirements for the show. Exhibitor2011_Booth

Classic Exhibits / Eco-systems Sustainable. And last but not least. I hope you enjoyed OUR booth: Your Home for Exhibits. Take a look at the pictures. What you might not know is that the structure is a Rental Exhibit! It highlights the true custom nature and capability of Jim Shelman and his whole crew at Classic Rentals / Exhibits NW. Thanks to Flying High Design for all the beautiful graphic work, to Optima for the printing, to Brumark for the carpeting, to Cort Furnishings for the comfy chairs and stools, to Nature Wall for the cool “real” grass wall in the ECO-Systems portion of the display. At the end of the day, that was probably the best overall design and display we have ever shown.

That being said, I want to say a personal thanks to Mel, Jim, James, Laura, Erik, Eric, Michael, Tim and of course Reid for their hard work last week. Not being there myself, I want you all to know how proud I am of our team and the job you did. Thanks!

Lastly, a huge thank you to our strategic partners:  Eco-systems Sustainable, Momentum Management, Cort, Optima Graphics, EliteXPO, and Display Supply and Lighting. Your guidance, generosity, and support made this year’s show particularly special.

Please share your comments about the show.

Have a great and restful weekend.

–Kevin Carty

Word on the Street — February 14th thru February 18th

February 20th, 2011 COMMENTS

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

First Timer’s Experience

This past week had a running theme — First Timers. That is, people who were either attending and/or coordinating their first trade show, or in one case, preparing for their first retail installation. You know what this is like. It’s draining, exhilarating, and frustrating — usually at the same time.

The first “first timer” is a company in California, or more specifically, their marketing agency, which is based in Portland. They are preparing for a show in Chicago in March. Helping them, and the Exhibits Northwest Account Executive, has reminded me of what happens when an exhibit leaves our manufacturing facility. It is also a painful reminder of the crazy hoops exhibitors have to jump through at each and every show.

Let’s start with their questions about electrical. I had to emphasize the need for flat cords when they were coordinating with show labor since they ordered Flex Flooring from Brumark. As we all know, unless they use flat cords, they will have bumps from traditional round cords.

Coordinating the electrical labor left the the marketing agency scratching their heads. I explained that they would need to order electrical services before laying the floor, but there was the possibility in Chicago and in future cities that they would need to order

Electrical Policies for Trade Shows

Are You Kidding Me?

an additional hour once the exhibit was built for someone to plug everything in. The look on their face said it all. I will just leave it at that. But, it also served as a reminder why many exhibitors leave a trade show with a sour taste in their mouth. They are unaware of this industry’s idiosyncrasies (to state it politely). Even if it was stated in their show book, many of those details are neither read nor understood.

The second example came from a friend who was attending and exhibiting at the International Roofing Show for the first time in Las Vegas. He called me late Friday afternoon, and I asked him what he was doing. His response was typical. “We are just sitting here waiting for our crates.” How many times have we all been there?! It’s really no fault of show management or labor. It’s just a reality of the process. Just when you think your long week, especially in a town like Vegas which has been non-stop for 2-5 days, is over, you find yourself wanting nothing more than to pack up and board the next plane out of town. But alas, you wait . . . sometimes for hours.

My friend made another comment which was very Vegas specific. He said,  “I am tired. My days seem to run together in this town.” Any of us who have spent any time in Las Vegas know exactly what he means.

The last example has to do with a local retail project for Exhibits Northwest. We are in the home stretch of the first install. After this one is complete, the program will be implemented at additional locations.

This time, we are the First Timers. We have completed nearly everything and are getting ready for the on-site installation. Having done this very infrequently, we forgot about the bureaucratic hoops to get something installed in a commercial building. For example, learning the city building codes has been an eye opener. I am not complaining, but it is foreign to me and to the team at Classic Exhibits and Exhibits NW. Apparently, in the city of Portland, whatever you build must survive the Apocalypse. 🙂

It really made me empathize with those end-users attending their first show. What’s the most surprising thing your customers experience the first time they exhibit? Please share your story.

Be well!

–Kevin Carty