Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Classic Exhibits’

Tom Beard is Retiring. Say It Isn’t So!

August 25th, 2021 2 COMMENTS

Tom’s Farewell Letter

As many of you have heard, I’m retiring and calling it a career. It’s been a fantastic 27-year run working in the trade show and events industry for some great companies including Eco-Systems Sustainable and Classic Exhibits. I’m leaving with many great memories and with more friendships than I can count. Our industry has some of the hardest working, creative, and caring people I’ve encountered in my 45-year working career, and I feel blessed to have stumbled into this crazy industry! The past 18 months have been difficult for all of us, but it has brought to light the true collaboration and culture of Classic and Classic Distributor Partners. It was pretty amazing to witness!

Having traveled extensively over the years, I’ve seen the United States through the lens of airports, hotels, convention centers, and businesses, and it’s time to hit the road and see what the country looks like outside of these areas. You never know… I might stop by and regale you with stories about a giant ball of twine or other amazing sights in the US.

Your friendship and support over the years made my decision to retire very difficult, but I will stay involved with the Midwest EDPA Chapter and hopefully attend future EXHIBITORLIVE shows so I look forward to connecting down the road. I’ll say good-bye for now and leave you in the capable hands of Jen, Harold, and Mel.

Feel free to contact me at

— Tom Beard

10 Days in Review – The Trade Show Industry in Recovery

August 12th, 2021 COMMENTS
Outdoor Retailer 2021

Starting August 2, I hit the road for two very different exhibit industry events Together Again Expo and Summer Outdoor Sports Retail Expo and Conference. Those events demonstrated that we’re an industry in active, long-term recovery.

Together Again Expo and Job Fair

Together Again Job Fair and Expo

Last Monday, I took a red-eye flight to Philadelphia and then a short drive to Atlantic City for the Together Again Expo and Job Fair. This is an event organized and managed by the National Trade Show Alliance. The NTSA is not another association; rather, it’s a group of Live Event Professionals dedicated to getting our our industry back to work. NTSA showcases the excellent programs available from industry associations like EDPA, IAEE, SISO, EACA, MPI, IAVM, and many more.

The Together Again Expo took a regional approach with the help of Mark Yuska and Alliance Exposition. They work to attract workers (new and old) to our great industry and promote employment opportunities.

The event was held in Atlantic City for many reasons. The NE and Mid-Atlantic markets are strong tradeshow markets, and Atlantic City is a great venue for shows of all sizes. With the amazing help of Meet AC, we were able to pull off the first “post-pandemic” event in the Atlantic City Convention Center.

The event was a one-day Job Fair and Expo with featured speakers and panels from EDPA, IAEE, MPI, and the Exhibitions and Conference Alliance (ECA). While the event was small, it had solid content including wonderful keynote speakers.

  • Odie Parkins from the Eastern Atlantic States Brotherhood of Carpenters on the meaning of “service” and representing an entire city,
  • Paisley Demby from Goldman Sachs on their 10,000 Small Businesses program, which is transforming business leaders and their companies,
  • And an Industry Updates Panel Discussion with Dasher Lowe (EDPA), Tommy Goodwin (ECA), Don Svehla (Exhibit City News), and me

In the panel discussion, we learned about the extensive and aggressive advocacy work being done by EDPA and ECA over the past 18 months and the continued efforts on Capitol Hill happening every day.

Our road to recovery is going to be long. But there’s an overwhelming feeling of togetherness. In the great words of my (our) friend Chris Griffin from CrewXP, “This is what recovery looks like. It’s going to be up and down and lumpy.”

Summer Outdoor Retailer

On August 9, I traveled to Denver for the Summer Outdoor Retailer event at the Denver Convention Center. Walking onto the show floor on Day 1 was a rush, seeing the crowds filing into the convention center. Major kudos to Emerald Exposition, the show organizer, for their dedication to safety. I received my badge electronically a few days before the event. When I arrived at the registration desk, I scanned my phone over a QR Reader which in turn printed a paper badge with lanyard. After getting my badge, I received a complimentary spray bottle of hand sanitizer.

Riding the escalator up to the show hall, I could feel the excitement and hear it in the conversations around me. At the entrance, there was a sign about masks, which, following CDC Guidance, stated you had the option to wear your mask or not (if you are vaccinated), but recommended everyone wear masks. Next I noticed the wider concrete aisles. Concrete aisles have become the default standard for many shows. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like that change, but I prefer it to be honest.

The floor was smaller than in the past, approximately 30% smaller in the main hall. There were more 20 ft. inline exhibits than they normally have. Food services were in the back, and the tables were large and with comfortable distances between them.

Exhibitor Feedback

I spoke to every exhibitor that would talk to me… which was most. The tone was upbeat. Over and over I heard, “Yes there are fewer people here, BUT the attendees that are here are the buyers which is great!” One of the staffers from Lowa Boots was very generous with her time. What stuck with me was her comments regarding having the right people in attendance which meant they could have longer, more productive conversations.

In-booth experiences were managed well. One of the exhibitors was a whiskey company. Their in-booth game had attendees cast a fishing rod for prizes. After each person used the rod, the rod and their hands were sprayed for safety.

As a show for outdoor sporting, there were a lot of wood products and faux greenery in the larger exhibits creating a natural environment. Many of the smaller non-portable exhibits were built by the exhibitors themselves, with the same rustic outdoor feel.

Again, tremendous kudos to Emerald Exposition for showing the world that a live event CAN happen and be SAFE for their exhibitors and attendees.

Recovery is Just Beginning

This recovery process is just beginning. My compliments to those industries pressing forward safely and not abandoning ship on their events. Not trying to shame anyone because it’s a tough call, but clearly face-to-face marketing creates a level of commerce that cannot be found anywhere else. And part of our overall recovery as a country requires that we get back to business sooner rather than later. I applaud those taking the proper precautions to hold and participate in trade shows and events.

Onward and upward folks! Be patient because it will be a bumpy but worthwhile ride.

Be Well!

Kevin Carty

Exhibit Design Search Webinar Recording w/ Outline

July 29th, 2021 COMMENTS

EDS Tips and Tricks Webinar

On Wednesday, July 28, Classic Exhibits conducted two Exhibit Design Search Tips and Tricks webinars for Classic Exhibits Distributors. The video recording of the second session covers both basic and advanced techniques for navigating EDS including Past 5 Days, Trade Show Tips, and My Gallery.

The outline below provides a general guide of the topics covered during the webinar.

The Basics (@1:20 min)

  • Design Database of 1500 displays, 9000 photo, and 84 articles
  • Public Website(s), developed for Classic Distributors and their clients
  • 32 Product/Design galleries, mostly Classic but also (2) Optima [OP], (2) CORT [CT], (1) Brumark [BR], and (1) DS&L [DL]
  • Divided into sizes or product groups
    • Island, Inlines, 10 ft., 20 ft.
    • Rentals, Sustainable, Charging Solutions, Counters, etc.
  • Quick click menus to search by size, price, or product line
  • Specials and Lightning Deals
  • Within galleries: product descriptions via bullets, text, and hyperlinks
  • Video and audio clips
  • Unbranded literature
  • Retail prices

Advanced Skills (@ 7:25 min)

  • Classic, Branded, Unbranded w/ prices, Unbranded w/o prices
  • Search (kit, feature, or any text)
    • GK-2005
    • Associated or related kits
  • Advanced Search – Fine-tune your search parameters (@ 10:33 min)
    • Price range
    • Include or exclude rentals
    • Booth size
    • Sort
    • Text
    • Or by Product Gallery Groups
    • Check All/Uncheck All
    • Example
      • $7,000 to $14,000
      • 10 x 20
      • Exhibits
      • 68 designs
      • Fine-tuning:  Unclick the pop-ups
      • 46 designs
      • Lightbox
      • 4 designs
  • Past 5 Days (@ 15:27 min)
    • Background
    • Why it matters
    • Search all weeks, View by week, Random
    • Search by sizes
    • Text search: 10 x 20, custom
    • Links to products and job numbers
    • My Gallery
  • Home Page/Modern Inline Exhibits (@ 19:24 min)
    • Corner Clues: backlit, modular, eco-friendly
    • Corner Clues:  rent
    • My Gallery
    • VK-1334 | Modular Inline
      • Purchase and Rental Prices
      • Add to My Gallery
      • Rental Price – hardware and graphics
      • Links to “Associated Kits”
      • Photos
      • Print button
      • Specs Tab:  Downloadable setup instructions, graphic dims. FAQs, Warranty, along with general information about lead times, exhibit weight (and shipping), and electrical cord management
      • P5D – My Gallery
      • Permalink
  • Trade Show Tips (@ 27:00 min)
    • 84 articles organized into 11 categories about trade show regulations, marketing, design, logistics, and a wide range of other topics.  
    • Why is this important?
      • Think of them as Cliff Notes: While you may not need them, your clients do (and you can’t possibly coach them on every topic). You want knowledgeable, smart, and savvy customers because those are the ones that succeed at trade shows. These articles make you the library, the source of that information.
      • Secondly, it’s a tutorial, guidebook, textbook for any new employee.
    • Examples and how to use it
      • My Gallery
      • Standard USA Booth Regulations
      • 10 Common Trade Show Myths
      • 13 Common Trade Show Mistakes
      • How to Cut Your Trade Show Costs, Part 1, 2, and 3
      • Literally any of the articles about Rentals
  • My Gallery – Single-most valuable tool in EDS (@31:16 min)
    • Includes Kits, Photos, and Trade Show Tips
    • Send My Selections:  Simple, straightforward. Unique URL for each My Gallery
    • Branded vs. Unbranded
    • Saved (2) Ways:  Temporarily as a cookie and on our server for 3-4 months
    • Virtual Changes
    • Clear My Gallery vs. Reset

–Mel White


Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including Symphony Portable Displays. 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

The Real Reason We Invented Symphony

July 22nd, 2021 COMMENTS
Symphony Portable Displays

The Symphony Backstory

Here’s the super-condensed backstory about the development of the Symphony Portable Display. 

In 2019, we were debating whether to continue offering extrusion-based portables. Our portable lines were selling well but not as well as two years ago. Tube-based pillowcase solutions were popular. However, we weren’t interested in a non-structural “copy cat” product. Instead, we decided to tap into our engineering, CNC bending, and design expertise, along with our extensive IP (intellectual property) and invent something totally new and original. Basically a portable that didn’t look like a portable display.

We Identified 6 Major Goals: 

#1. Design Flexibility: Mix and Match Frame Shapes with 100s of Configurations 

#2. SEG Fabric: Visually Clean and Easy-to-Install

#3. Portable No-Tools Assembly: Unavailable at the Time in an SEG-based System 

#4. Durable and Structural Frames: Strong Enough to Support Larger Monitors

#5. Accessories: Real, Practical Accessories w/o Cheesy Connections

#6. Upscale Appearance:  A Portable That Didn’t Look Portable

Did we succeed? We think so. Symphony is structural, modular, tool-less, and (best of all) elegant. No other portable offers as many accessories or design flexibility. All that plus Classic’s legendary quality, reusable packaging, and detailed setup instructions. 

Symphony Portable Trade Show Displays
Symphony Portable Trade Show Displays
Symphony Portable Trade Show Displays

–Mel White


Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including Symphony Portable Displays. 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

What Does “Sustainable” Mean When Designing a Green Trade Show Exhibit?

July 15th, 2021 COMMENTS
Green Trade Show Display

If you are reading this article, then you’re already an excellent candidate for a sustainable trade show or exhibition exhibit. You may be personally committed to green materials, or your company may have an eco-friendly mission. Either way, it’s a positive choice. In this post, we’ll explore what sustainable means when it comes to designing, building, and shipping a “green display.”

Trade shows have historically not been eco-friendly. Whether it’s the “build and burn” philosophy in some parts of the world where exhibits are abandoned after one use or the tremendous waste created before, during, and after a show. Fortunately, about 15 years ago, show organizers, general contractors, and builders took a (somewhat) more enlightened approach, and there’s hope that trade shows will be even more eco-friendly post-pandemic.

You Can Make a Difference

As an exhibitor, you can make a difference, and that difference doesn’t have to cost more or compromise your design or marketing goals. Green materials such as Eco-board, ReCo, and FSC wood products are smart choices that are comparable to non-sustainable materials. However, none of that matters if you can’t get the design and the features you need in your exhibit. Thankfully, since 2007, Classic Exhibits has been designing modern Eco-Systems Displays for their clients ranging from islands to inlines and counters to charging tables. There are really no limitations.

So What Makes an Eco-Systems Exhibit Green?

Every Eco-Systems Exhibit starts with sustainable materials. These include:

  • Aluminum Extrusions: 70% recycled content and aluminum is endlessly recyclable.
  • Forest Stewardship Council Wood Products: Certified grown and harvested sustainably.
  • Laminates:  Greenguard Certified.
  • Adhesives:  Water-based, low or VOC free (Volatile Organic Compounds).
  • Eco-Board: Biodegradable polystyrene.
  • ReCo Board:  100% recycled plastics.
  • Eco-Glass: 100% post-industrial recycled acrylic or plexi-glass. 
  • Fabric Graphics: 100% post-consumer material including dye-sub SEG backlit graphics.
  • LED Lights: Lightboxes, accent lights, stem lights, and downlighting.
  • Shipping Cases made from recycled plastics and 100% recyclable when no longer needed. All wood crates are made using FSC Wood.
  • Reusable Packing Materials Made from Recycled Foam

In addition, Eco-Systems exhibits are manufactured in Portland, OR at a sustainably managed facility.

Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits from Classic Exhibits

OK, But Will It Look Green?

Do you mean funky, crunchy, or recycled looking? It can but most exhibitors want a sustainable exhibit with a contemporary look and feel. In other words, no one knows it’s “green” unless you tell them. That applies to 10 ft, 20 ft., islands, and accessories. Here are some examples from the 300+ kits in the Classic Exhibits galleries.


  • ECO-4022:  This modular design, with 10 ft. and 20 ft. inline options, has bright LED Lightboxes, reception counters with locking storage, and even a spacious interior conference room
  • ECO-4055: An elegant island with product shelving and showcases, this design comes with curved headers and a monitor option.
  • ECO-4094:  This open design with seating and a reception counter is cost-effective with as a purchase or a rental.


  • ECO-1071: Modular and customizable, the ECON-1071 makes it easy to demonstrate products or services on the show floor with casual seating, counters, and rotating tablet displays.
  • ECO-2060: Big, bold graphics make this an enticing exhibit. There’s even a full-size closet for product samples, coats, purses, and briefcases.
  • ECO-2113: The perfect balance between backlit graphics and extensive shelving. The curved display counters put your products front and center on the aisle.

How Much Customization is Available?

In short, we’ll build whatever you want. The online galleries are idea generators where you can see what’s possible and mix and match designs to fulfill your specific marketing needs. For example, we have clients in the natural foods industry. Most want a bright and colorful exhibit with extensive shelving and storage, plus convenient counters for sampling. They also need a reconfigurable sustainable exhibit since their shows vary from local tastings when a 10 ft. booth is ideal to an industry show in Las Vegas, Anaheim, or Boston where only an island will do to handle the crowds, meetings, and press conferences.

When it comes to a eco-friendly display, there’s no reason to limit your vision. The materials are comparable in price to non-green materials and have the same construction flexibility.

Eco Friendly Trade Show Exhibit

Is There an Ultimate Sustainable Option?

There is. Custom Rental Exhibits are quickly becoming the greenest of green choices for exhibitors who want to make a difference. Many rental exhibits are built with the same materials previously mentioned, come in a variety of sizes and designs, and can be customized for any exhibitor — even from show to show. Rentals give exhibitors the ultimate flexibility to change their messaging without the hassle of ownership.

An eco-friendly rental from Classic Exhibits looks identical to a purchased exhibit. Just imagine your beautiful island display with large LED lightboxes, big overhead signs, conference and meeting rooms, and workstations at a price 40% less than a comparable purchased display.

Because rentals are used again and again, as long as the components are functional and attractive, they are more sustainable for the exhibitor and the builder. Plus, at Classic Exhibits, when components can no longer be used, we recycle them – the wood, aluminum, and plastic. That may not always happen when an exhibitor decides to dispose of their purchased display.

To view all of the rental designs, click on Rentals or Exhibit Design Search. Or start a conversation with an Classic Exhibits professional about designing a one-of-a-kind custom rental display.

–Mel White


Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including Symphony Portable Displays. 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