Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘E2MA’

The Trade Show Show Podcasts

May 13th, 2016 COMMENTS


20 Exhibit Industry Influencers

Last month, I had the good fortune of meeting Todd Youngblood while attending the E2MA Red Diamond Congress (RDC) in Orlando. Todd runs The Trade Show Show, a podcast series about the exhibit industry. The RDC was fertile ground for Todd, since the event attracts trade show managers, suppliers, show organizers, builders, exhibitor-appointed contractors, etc. Basically, anyone with a vested/financial interest in the trade show biz.

Todd conducted 20 interviews on topics that should matter to trade show groupies (like you and me). Interviewees included:

  • unnamedJustin Hersch, Group Delphi
  • Lisa Apolinski, 3 Dog Write
  • Penn Arthur, Inhance Digital
  • April Hurley, The Expo Group
  • David Mihalik, ELITeXPO
  • Skip Cox, Exhibit Surveys
  • Jim Wurm, Exhibit & Event Marketers Association (E2MA)
  • Richard Maples, Shepard Exposition Services
  • Chris Griffin, TS Crew & Trade Show Supply
  • And 10 more industry influencers

I encourage you to listen to one, two, or all twenty podcasts. Listening to a podcast may make you a little smarter unlike watching that Seinfeld episode for the 37th time. Mouthing the dialogue does not make you a savant. I don’t care what your cousin told you. 🙂

The mission of The Trade Show Show is to dramatically enhance Enterprise-Wide Engagement and sales growth by educating industry insiders regarding the people, organizations, technologies, and innovations driving progress and continuous improvement. In other words, get more ROI from the most effective sales tool there is:  face-to-face business conversation. The show’s host, Todd Youngblood, has a genetic “need to know more.” This fundamental curiosity enables guests to articulate the heart of the value their knowledge and insights have for listeners.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. 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


2016 Best Awards | Vote For Classic Exhibits (please)

January 27th, 2016 COMMENTS


We need a favor… It’s about voting… and, no it’s not about Iowa or New Hampshire. Or the Academy Awards. Or who is the best dancer or singer. It’s about who is the BEST. Classic Exhibits was nominated for a BEST Award in the Exhibit Systems Manufacturing category. We’re honored, of course, but let’s not kid ourselves, we want to win. We would appreciate your vote. See the link to vote and the explanation of the BEST Awards. And thank you.

The E2MA and Exhibit City News present the first annual BEST Awards created to honor the Best in Exhibit Servicing & Technology among trade show industry service organizations and management companies.

The company with the most votes by March 4, will receive the BEST award and will be honored at the BEST Awards Gala Banquet at the 2016 E2MA Red Diamond Congress on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld in Orlando, FL.

This year E2MA’s 2016 Red Diamond Congress will be a part of Engagement World. Engagement World is being launched by E2MA and the Enterprise Engagement Alliance (EEA). The Engagement World conference and expo is dedicated to highlighting the world of enterprise engagement in business and its many strategies and tactics.  The event is designed to help organizations in all areas of business profit from this emerging new field that many experts believe will rival advertising in scale.

red_diamondThe event will consist of co-located education and exhibit programs addressing key areas of engagement, including:

  • The E2MA Red Diamond Conference:  Focuses on best practices in face-to-face marketing and communications, on April 25-28, 2016.
  • Engagement University:  Highlights key strategies and tactics related to ROI-based enterprise engagement plans, on April 26-27, 2016.
  • The Engagement Expo:  Features exhibitors and presentations by leading engagement associations and solution providers, on April 27-28, 2016.
  • The Rewards and Recognition Expo:  Features the leading suppliers and brands in the rewards and recognition business and an interactive education program on latest trends and best practices, on April 27-28, 2016.

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. 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


2015 Annual State of the Company Letter

January 5th, 2016 COMMENTS


Happy New Year!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I know I did! It included nap time on the couch — something I rarely get these days.

We started the year on an upswing with a record-breaking Q1 across all divisions at Classic, including ENW, ClassicMODUL, and Rentals. There were several promising trends — some new, others cultivated in 2012-2014 but coming to fruition in 2015.


EDPA Booth

Lightboxes were HUGE — literally! All year, inlines and islands seemed naked without a SEGUE lightbox. Our designers found new and creative ways to add light, whether as a backlit feature or using LED perimeter lights in counters, workstations, and accessories. This extended into Corporate and Retail Environments as well.

To meet this expanding need, Classic developed two new profiles:  a single-sided option for walls and a remarkably thin double-sided option for freestanding lightboxes. If you attended EDPA Access, you saw them both in our booth.

Custom Wood Fabricated Exhibits. Easily the largest growth segment for Classic Manufacturing. We joked that Classic Exhibits has become the largest, most invisible custom builder in North America.  And that’s just fine. Never has our unbranded approach been so valuable. Each and every day we build Custom Exhibits showcasing YOUR brand on crates and setup instructions.

With a heavy focus on design and the use of our CNC shop, Classic builds custom exhibits for our Modular/Hybrid Distributors as well as our Custom Distributors who turn to us when they don’t have the time or capacity to build an exhibit. This has been a very welcome and creative challenge to the Classic staff.


Pokémon World Championships Retail Space

Retail Displays and Corporate Environments. Our work in the Retail and Corporate Environments continues to grow as our Distributors look beyond trade shows. The three largest examples were the Pokemon World Championships Retail Space, The Bonneville Power Administration Visitors Center, and our work inside the Nike Campus.

But it doesn’t stop there. We have open bids on several new corporate environments and are currently building an interactive space within a Midwest car dealership.

Patting Ourselves on the Back. At EXHIBITORLIVE, Classic Exhibits, Eco-Systems Sustainable, and several Classic Distributors were honored with five nominations for the Portable Modular Awards.


2015 PMA Winner Island less than 400 s.f.

Just being nominated is amazing… but we also WON two awards! Classic took home the prize for Best Island Design (400 sq. ft.) and Eco-Systems won best 10 x 10. Both a testament to the beautiful work of our talented Designers!

As if that was not enough, Event Marketer named us one of the Top 50 Manufactures in North America for the third straight year. The award speaks to the amazing work of our Production and Project Management teams!

We have three finalists in this year’s upcoming PMA’s. Be sure to vote for your favorite at the People’s Choice Voting.

Education. Whether in life or work, education is the key to success. Classic Exhibits’ Shared Knowledge University provides a platform for valuable education in our professional worlds. In 2015 we held two SKU sessions. The groups learned about Classic, our people, our products, and our great WEIRD Portlandia home. This year included a new twist… a trip to Cartlandia, one of Portland’s idiosyncratic food cart pods that make Portland… well Portland.

SKU benefited from the participation of great partners and speakers:  Optima Graphics, Cort Furnishings, Display SKUSupply and Lighting, 3 Dog Write, Tim Patterson (The TradeshowGuy) and Pinky Gonzales, the LinkedIn Specialist. They all helped to make Content King at SKU.

Over 65 students earned bachelor degrees, and a few earned graduate degrees. Our congratulations to our first Ph.D. — Dr. Cody. Contact Reid or Jen about attending in May.

Speaking of Reid and Jen. Reid Sherwood and Jen LaBruzza, our resident Road Warriors, hit the streets hard in 2015 visiting distributors, conducting onsite training, and generally spreading joy. If you missed them last year, they have very busy travel schedules in 2016.

Expect them to share news about New Product releases (more on that coming), Exhibit Design Search training, and your needs.

Distributor Visits. I have been doing this for 22 years and 2015 was a record year for distributor visits at Classic. Looking back at my calendar, we averaged a visit about every two weeks. Many were scheduled around client previews of large exhibit builds. Others arranged their own private one-on-one Distributor training — a mini-SKU if you will.

I appreciate these visits so much since I don’t travel much anymore due to my family’s schedule — 9 yr. old twins are BUSY. I appreciate the opportunity to introduce Distributors to our great staff/family at Classic. They’re the people who really make things happen, the folks you don’t see at EXHIBITORLIVE or other industry events.

Please know that our doors are always open. We welcome your visits with or without your clients. And our staff loves meeting you all as well. It helps seal the relationship they have developed with you all over the phone. Not to mention our food, wine, and craft beers are best experienced in person.


Rental Project from 2015

Rental Growth. Classic Rental Solutions continued its double-digit growth. And it’s really no surprise. Jim Shelman and his crew do what others “can’t” or simply are “unwilling” to do in a rental solution. I love walking through their area to see what they are building. So much of it is as custom as what we are doing on the new build side.

Congrats to the entire CRS team on their growth. It speaks to your ongoing dedication to the service and solutions that customers expect… and often exceeding those expectations.

Strong Sales.
In 2015 we experienced increases across the board at the Classic Family of Companies, including a record Q1, Q2, and Q3. Q4 is yet to be determined.

I would humbly suggest two reasons for our growth.

1. Classic Distributors tapped into our designers earlier in the sales process. By using them as YOUR designer on the initial calls with the clients, we saw our close ratio increase three-fold.

2. More distributors visiting Classic or attending SKU. There is this “moment” when someone steps into our manufacturing plant. It’s tangible and it’s hard to explain fully, but somehow it seems to validate everything that person has heard or been told by Reid, Jen, Mel, Jim, or myself over the years. They see our process, our capabilities, and our people.

Exhibit Design Search (EDS). Last year brought multiple changes to EDS. All of which were geared to make your sales process easier. Some of the highlighted changes/additions include

  • Modified Navigation
  • Easier Sort Feature
  • Expanded My Gallery-Kits, Photos and tips now can be added to your galleries
  • Home Page Redesign – including larger images
  • Printable Product sheets on most product lines
  • A NEW Gallery coming in Early 2016…VERY VERY Exciting!

100-Day Return Guarantee

BELIEVE IT – 100 Day Return Guarantee. In 2015 Classic introduced a 100-Day Return Guarantee on Sacagawea, Perfect 10, Quadro, and FGS.  It was an easy decision since we build it right the first time! We’re proud to be the first company in the exhibit industry to offer this guarantee.

Association Participation. EDPA and E2MA are a key part of the Classic Exhibits’ DNA. I sit on the Board of Directors for The Exhibit Designers and Producers Association while Mel sits on the Board of Directors for the Exhibit and Event Marketers Association and serves as the Treasury Chair. Both associations focus their efforts on the betterment of our industry through Education, Scholarships, Industry Round Tables, and bridging the gaps between the stakeholders in our industry.

I know I speak for Mel when I say we are both very proud of our work in these two associations, and that we are always available to speak to anyone interested in learning more about how they can become more involved.


John Zipay, Exhibits Northwest, GM

John Zipay (JZ). Classic was excited to add John to our management team in 2015. John is the General Manager of the Exhibits Northwest division of Classic Exhibits which focuses on the Pacific Northwest market.

More than that, John brings a wealth of knowledge to the company with his I&D experience. It’s a perspective we lean on frequently in manufacturing when analyzing a potential exhibit build. His knowledge of the trade show floor has also been beneficial to our distributors when finding the right labor in certain US cities.

Be on the lookout! We are about to launch a new product line. What is it? You will have to wait, but we are close to the formal unveiling. Expect a “soft launch” in late January. You’ll see the full product line at EXHIBITORLIVE. It will change the way you look at building exhibit systems!

Lastly, I offer my sincere thanks to you for being great partners and for supporting the Classic Family. I look forward to working with and seeing you in the coming year.

Be well!



Deep Thoughts from the E2MA Red Diamond Congress

July 30th, 2015 3 COMMENTS

RDC_1I attended the E2MA Red Diamond Congress in Boston last week — my third time at this annual two-day conference. The RDC is a small, but growing, group of stakeholders in the event and tradeshow industry which includes show organizers, general contractors, associations, distributors, tradeshow managers, suppliers, and labor.

Like me, you probably interact with a subset of these folks over the course of a year. So attending RDC gives me a broader perspective of the challenges facing our industry. When someone starts pointing a finger at “the bad guys,” those “bad guys” are usually in the room to defend themselves. It makes for challenging conversations.

I wanted to share a few takeaways from several sessions.  This year’s theme was engagement.

Justin Hersh, Group Delphi, “Watch Out the CMO is Coming”

“We spend most of our time asking our exhibit or event client ‘what they want’ and then creating a ‘spectacle’ to fulfill that want and attract attention.” Think of a fireworks display. It’s mesmerizing, but we don’t want to see it twice.


We should be asking them, “Why they want it and then creating ‘wonder, awe, and connection’ which drives people to do something different.”

We need to resist the lure to create a mere spectacle. Instead we should create designs that motivate and inspire change.


Bruce Bolger, Enterprise Engagement Alliance, “Engagement Essentials”

“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

“People want to:  Be part of something bigger than themselves. Feel a sense of belonging. Go on a meaningful journey. Know that their contributions make a significant impact of difference.”

“How does Monday morning feel when you have a bad boss?”


Jack Myers, MyersBizNet, “Future Proofing the Business of Exhibits an Events”

“Our historic relationships are dissolving. What are the new relationships? Are you connecting vs. simply communicating?”

“We must learn how to build better relationships through technology.”

“Brands that create passion and engaged relationships win.”

Eric Schaumburg,, “Simplifying the Event Eco-system”

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller

“We are standing on the precipice of Events 2.0…. For all of us to participate and capitalize on this transformation, we will need to eliminate the proprietary and fragmented nature that has become synonymous with tradeshows, and align our goals with those of the younger, consumer-driven, sharing economy.”

“Millennials:  anti-establishment bias, belief in radical transparency, trained to sniff out inefficiencies or vulnerabilities, intensely idealistic, strong sense of right and wrong, philanthropic.”

“The Experience Starts Online First, Face-to-Face Second:  Set the expectation, Protect the Brand, Engage sooner, engage frequently, Make the F2F like coming home”

Simplifying the Event Ecosystem

Leonora Valvo and Joseph Carrabis, insightXM, “Engaging with Data”

“Without trust, marketing does not work.”

“People don’t trust you because you say they should; people trust you because THEIR FRIENDS say they should.”

“The experiential trilogy is — attention, engagement, and trust.”

Allison Graham,, “How to Leverage Events to Drive Business Outcomes”

“We don’t need everybody. We need to find the people we can be ourselves with.”

“Just showing up at an event is a very good way to become busy but not profitable.”


–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. 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


Join Us @ 2015 Red Diamond Congress

May 22nd, 2015 COMMENTS

You are cordially invited to the 2015 Red Diamond Congress from July 20-22 in Quincy, MA. The RDC provides education, information, and networking opportunities for Exhibit and Event Marketers Association members, industry colleagues, and guests. It also explores new models, new methods, and new practices for the entire community of exhibit and event industry professionals.

Classic Exhibits is proud to be an official sponsor of the Red Diamond Congress. Should you have any questions, please contact Jim Wurm at E2MA ( or feel free to email or call me, Mel White, at Classic Exhibits. See you there!

2015 Red Diamond Congress Invitation

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. 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