Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Classic Rentals’

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

Happy Holidays from Your Classic Exhibits Family: Word on the Street — December 16th thru December 20th

December 21st, 2013 3 COMMENTS

A Classic Holiday Season

Is the tree up? Are the packages wrapped? Are you ready for the mayhem?

It’s the best time of the year in my humble opinion. Christmas and New Years are just around the corner. Literally! And just when you think you’re done with all your holiday shopping and you have everything prepared for the big day, you always find that you have one more thing to do or get.

Well, this year, for the first time I can remember, I am actually all done with all my holiday shopping. And it’s a great feeling . . . and this year it’s a good thing too. Because at work we are busy, busy, busy. So there is little free time.

Work-wise we always await this time of year to see what’s in store for us. It’s always feast or famine during the final two weeks. Companies either spend their remaining budgets or go quiet for a couple weeks. This year, people are spending their end-of-year budgets. So while we are hectic, we appreciate all your orders. Thanks Santa!

I hope you have lots of amazing plans in the coming days with your families and friends. I know we do. Time with family and friends, church, and functions at the twins school. Great, great fun.

From all of us at Classic Exhibits, Exhibits NW, Classic Rentals, and ClassicMODUL, we wish you a fantastic upcoming week with your families. One that is safe and filled with joy and merriment.

And as far as the business stuff goes — keep it coming. No one wants a lump of coal to ruin the Holiday Cheer.

Be well and Merry Christmas.


p.s. I am currently working on my Annual State of the Company Letter. Hope to have it completed in the next couple of weeks.


Thanks and Hang on Tight: Word on the Street — August 12th thru August 16th

August 17th, 2013 1 COMMENT
Thanks and Hang on Tight: Word on the Street -- August 12th thru August 16th

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

As write this, it’s the halfway point of August. It’s 81 degrees, partly cloudy and a tad humid. Good day all in all. Not great. But good. Sort of like the exhibit industry in mid-August.

Your Growing Trust in Classic

The first two weeks of August are always the “ramp up” for the nutty late summer and fall show season. And this year is following the same trend. But with one twist, a twist that we’ve seen growing over the past 12 months: island exhibits continue to expand as a percentage of our business. As does our appreciation of your growing trust in Classic to help you on these island projects.

That trust is something we have long worked towards with our distributors, many of whom are traditional custom builders. And for a while there (2-5 years ago), there were times when we heard questions like, “Well, what happens when Classic decides to go full blown custom and just sell direct?”

Your orders and design requests over the past year, and the design and build work slotted for this fall, have in large part stamped out those concerns. We are your builder not your competitor. It just so happens that we can build your table tops, your inlines, and your double deck islands. As our skills have evolved, in exhibits, retail, and environments, so do your choices. It’s as simple as that.

The idea behind this blog was to thank you for your continued trust and support in Classic Exhibits, Classic Rentals, and ClassicMODUL Aluminum Extrusions. We appreciate it and probably don’t say it enough!

But Thank You! Sincerely . . .  Thank You!

Now, like every year, strap on your helmets because it’s the time of year when things get crazy!

Be well and have a wonderful weekend.



Classic Exhibits has a NEW Chicago Rental Depot

July 16th, 2013 2 COMMENTS

by Jim Shelman

Yes, you read that correctly! We’re excited to announce that we have added a rental depot in Chicago. We’ve teamed up with ELITeXPO to produce rentals at their corporate headquarters in Elgin, IL (right outside of Chicago). We’ll work with you on the sales end, and they’ll handle the fulfillment. And you’ll save big time on shipping costs!

Over the past several years, our rental division has grown at a rapid rate, and with this growth, we’ve expanded our capabilities and added an enormous amount of inventory. But one question keeps coming up, “When are you going to open an East Coast rental depot?”

This is something that we’ve been mulling for quite some time. Our main concern was duplicating our Portland production process so we could offer the same quality rentals elsewhere. When the opportunity presented itself to work with ELITeXPO, a company we respect and admire, we knew it was time to act.

Founded in 1987, ELITeXPO began as a carrier of computer hardware, software, and high tech materials. Then in 1990 transitioned into trade show materials. From that point, the trade show industry has been the focus of their company. And in 2009, they launched their Tradeshow Services Division, which has been a perfect compliment to their founding core. With over 26 years of experience, Dave Mihalik (President & CEO) understands our industry and recognized this as a great fit for his company. According to Dave, “We already had all of the key components in place to duplicate Portland’s production process, and we were in the process of expanding our warehouse space, so it was perfect timing on our end. We’re excited to already have several rental projects lined up and on our production schedule.”

Chuck and Dave in Portland

Dave and Chuck Michel (Vice President Tradeshow Services) recently spent time in Portland at our production facility to gain a full understanding of our production process and inventory management. A few weeks later, Jim Hayes (Executive Vice President/COO) flew out for more intensive training and planning, so he could implement our system with his staff at their facility. As a side note, I want to express that these are really good guys! It’s great to work with people you consider good friends. And that’s the type of relationship we have. Quite honestly, that’s the only reason we decided to move forward with this. We knew they were the right people/organization to team up with!

Chuck Michel jumped on the opportunity. “We’ve worked with Classic as a distributor for over four years, and with Jim on a ton of rental projects,” said Chuck. “We’ve always been impressed with their operation, quality, and high service level.  So when I heard that there was interest in setting up a rental depot for East Coast rentals, I was all over it.”

We’re also offering round trip delivery services and I & D supervision for local Chicago shows and events (Quoted on an individual project/event basis).

For those who may have reservations knowing that ELITeXPO is a fellow distributor, please don’t. This organization is a class act, and they have no interest in competing with you. It’s a small world in our industry, and we completely understand how important it is to honor your relationships with your clients. We’re in this for the long haul, not for short-term gain. Dave and Chuck ask that Classic distributors reach out and discuss any concerns you may have prior to any rental project. Dave added,”We could also partner with distributors to assist with shipping and logistics. And there are preview and storage opportunities in our second warehouse, which would work well if there are any concerns about coming to our main place of business. The bottom line is we want this to work for everyone!”

All Classic Rental sales will continue to be channeled through Exhibits Northwest in Portland (Exhibits Northwest is a division of Classic Exhibits, Inc.). Continue to contact me for designs and quotes at (503) 624-2905, or

Classic’s Portland Rental Depot

Whether we ship from Portland or Chicago, you can count on the same high quality service. Every order gets staged and photographed before it leaves our dock. And we’ll continue to email setup diagrams and staging photos before shipping, so you can share them with your clients. And we’re always available in case you have questions.


We just added a new feature to the Wholesale Rental Gallery that should help you gather pricing information for your clients. Along with the wholesale hardware and graphics rental price, we’ve added a “Retail Pricing Calculator” that shows our wholesale rental price, wholesale graphics price, and retail prices calculated at 40% and 50% margins. You simply click on the button underneath the wholesale price shown in each of the individual rental designs, and you’ll see the detailed pricing information.

We look forward to working with you! And for those who we haven’t worked with, please consider contacting us for your next rental project.

You have our full commitment to a quality experience from start to finish!

Jim Shelman
General Manger of Exhibits Northwest & Classic Rentals


As Transparent as EVER: Word on the Street — April 29th thru May 3rd

May 5th, 2013 COMMENTS
As Transparent as EVER: Word on the Street -- April 29th thru May 3rd

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

As I write this, I’m completing final preparations for Shared Knowledge University (SKU). Thirty Distributors, three Vendor Partners, and a host of Classic Exhibits, Exhibits Northwest, Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits, Classic Rentals, and ClassicMODUL employees will participate in the two-day training program at Classic Exhibits. To say that I am excited does not convey my true feelings.

Shared Knowledge University is exactly what its name implies. It’s an opportunity for Classic to learn from distributors, for distributors to learn from one another, and for Classic to showcase our people and our products. To those attending, prepare to learn about the products, the process, and the people, but it will not be all work. Each evening we’ll show you a slice Portlandia.


One topic we always talk about — at shows, in meetings, at large group trainings like SKU, and to pretty much anyone who will listen — is transparency. It’s a key part of our culture and how we do business. Yet, even after nineteen years at Classic, I am still amazed when our transparency comes into question. And while it doesn’t happen very often, when it does, I am both stunned and offended.

Shared Knowledge University

Shared Knowledge University

In the early years I got it. You didn’t know us very well. To you, we were five guys in a garage in Oregon building folding panel displays. But over the years, through growth and higher visibility, those five guys became 70 employees. Yet as we grew and even during the struggles of the recession, we remained true to our business model. We are a designer and manufacturer that sells through distribution and distribution alone. We never sell direct. NEVER.

Now granted, some of our competitors have muddied the waters over the past three to four years. They’ve created visible and not so visible direct sales avenues. Most have been unapologetic about it. In their words, “We sell direct, but we still want you to represent our products anyway. Don’t like it. Tough!”

This past week our integrity came into question, which is why I’m venting. And it happened in such a surprising way and at such a surprising location that it honestly hurt my feelings. But within a day, I went from hurt to angry as the accusation marinated.

Our Lifeblood

Our distributors are our lifeblood. Our motivation is to create an atmosphere where they can be as successful as possible. Their success is our success. YOUR success puts food on our table every night. And my six year old twins like to eat — A LOT!  So I and everyone at Classic has no interest in putting that at risk — EVER.

We come from Portland, and if you have ever seen the IFC show “Portlandia,” you know the motto of the city is “Keep Portland Weird.” And if it is weird that we don’t go direct and never will, then I’m happy to embrace our weirdness. 🙂 And I am honored that you trust us weirdos.

So, to end this rant, I would like to say once again, Classic Exhibits does not sell direct . . . and has no plans to sell direct. Not to the biggest shoe company. Not to the biggest software company. Not to the smallest mom-and-pop business. To us, that would mean the end of relationship sales. And we like to do business with as many friends as possible. Call it a flaw in our personalities.

I don’t know how we can be any more transparent than that.

Be well and have a wonderful weekend with your families. To those flying or driving to Portland, I look forward to spending two days together immersed in Shared Knowledge University, Home of the Fighting Hybrids.

Kevin Carty