Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘EDPA’

Classic Exhibits | 2023 State of the Company Letter

January 15th, 2023 COMMENTS
State of the Company Letter from Classic Exhibits

Happy New Years Classic Distributor Partners

I trust and hope that you had a great holiday season. We did… and we are excited for 2023!

Classic's 30th Anniversary

2023 represents Classic’s 30th year as an exhibit designer and manufacturer. Somehow, we made it to 30 despite multiple recessions, a tech crash, 9/11, and COVID. I’m probably forgetting some other catastrophes along the way but who can keep count. We’ll be celebrating a bit later in the year, including at EXHIBITORLIVE in April, and we hope you will join our festivities.

But first, some thoughts on the past year or two.

2022 in Review

2022 was the exhibit industry’s rebound year. In basketball terms, an effective rebound starts with “boxing-out” your opponent.  We spent much of the year “boxing-out” a host of challenges.

Challenges ranging from supply chain woes that were ever present in the first two quarters of 2022 to exhibitors bound and determined to participate in as many shows as possible. The result was controlled chaos. For all.

By early July, the pricing and supply chain woes were manageable. Are we back to pre-pandemic scenarios? NO… and we likely never will be. BUT the “new” norm has settled in for the most part with more predictable costs, quotes, and turn times.

The one challenge that still exists is finding and hiring qualified employees. While it’s getting better, the jar lid did not loosen until late Q3. Thankfully, that’s improving week by week (for reasons no one fully understands).  

Portable Modular Exhibits

SALES:  Grumbling aside, 2022 was a record year for Classic Exhibits. But it wasn’t easy. The project mix was staggering. We built FAR MORE large custom wood exhibits than in any previous year. All while seeing a healthy increase in kit inlines and islands. Why? Exhibitors were eager to return to trade shows and events. And they wanted to make as BIG of a splash as possible. Especially after the failure of virtual shows. Mind you, we were grateful for every order.

Some Classic Specifics

Classic Shop Photo

We added nearly 30 new employees last year. And by “new” I mean new to Classic and new to our industry. We are grateful to have them in the family and excited to see their progress in their positions. And there are more coming as we expand our production capability.  

A few months ago, we returned to shorter, more predictable lead times. The kits in EDS are now listed as ranges. Those ranges are there for very practical reasons. It allows us to provide you with a shipping date based on your PO and our current production schedule. This has been a welcome change to many distributors, and we appreciate your comments.

What’s Coming in 2023? A Lot!

Q1 will be much like all of 2022. Lots of orders! However, the trade show calendar should return to its pre-pandemic cadence by Q2 with the normal ebbs and flows industry veterans expect. This should be a welcome sign, allowing everyone to catch their breath and refine internal processes. Plus, an exciting new product launch, but you’ll have to wait for more news about that.

After the uptick in large custom builds in 2022, I expect fewer over-the-top projects this year. And not for negative reasons. Simply put, what was built in 2022 will be used in 2023. Instead, our Q1 plate filling with Symphony and Sacagawea kits, lightboxes upon lightboxes, and LOTS of 20 x 20 to 30 x 40 modified islands using Gravitee Modular Panels. We are also already seeing orders for additions/modifications to the large custom booths we built last year.

Portable and Modular Trade Show Displays

Classic Exhibits will be introducing a new cloud-based ERP/CRM system in Q1. We are currently still in the testing stages and will be moving into the broader training phases through January with an expected launch in February. Once live, this will give our Distributor Partners something they have long been asking for, namely the ability to combine Rental and Purchase builds on one order with one PM. Along with that, the data metrics and analytic tools we have built into this new system will allow us to parse and share more immediate data with our internal production, customer service, and sales teams.

Classic will be purchasing new cameras for Peek-A-Booth, our online staging area cameras. The new cameras and software will come online sometime before Q2 2023. This will give you and your clients an even better, more immediate, peek into your Classic projects as they are being assembled.

Classic Rental Solutions
Rental Island Exhibit

Classic Rental Solutions continues to thrive and grow. Not just in sales, but in the depth of their product offerings and services. 2022 was a banner year for CRS. 2023 is already off to a stellar start with a projected record Q1. This may also be a sign of how/where client spending is headed as customers weigh the possibility of a recession and its effects on their industry.

EXHIBITORLIVE 2022 and 2023 (in Louisville)

EXHIBITORLIVE is moving! THIS year’s event will be in Louisville. Personally, I love the change. Not because of Louisville per se, but because OUR industry show needed a change of scenery. Based on the size of the show, I hope the EXHIBITOR Media Group continues to look at other similar size markets for future events. Pricing is another reason. The rates for shows in Vegas have gone up significantly and will continue to rise. The opportunity to “take the show on the road,” if handled well, will provide a fresh perspective and perhaps a new and growing audience.  

Join The Exhibitor Advocate

The Exhibitor Advocate

If you have not heard about The Exhibitor Advocate, please visit their website: www.exhibitoradvocacy.com, Then join their mailing list (no cost), and consider making a donation. The Exhibitor Advocate, an organization led by Jessica Sibila and supported by an outstanding Board of Directors, is long overdue. Their goal is to advocate for exhibitor rights and provide hands-on assistance, with things like surprise billings and show floor service issues.

If we’ve learned anything over the years, meaningful change in our industry will only happen when exhibitors assert their rights. The Exhibitor Advocate is the right tool at the right time to make that happen. Please encourage your clients to join as well. It’s a win-win for both you and your client.

Shared Knowledge University is Back!

Shared Knowledge University

In November, we held our first Shared Knowledge University since 2019. And it was just what the doctor ordered. We hosted 35 Distributor and Vendor Partners in Portland for two full days of training. It was incredible.

We will be hosting two SKUs in 2023! The first will be in June. Contact Jen, Tom, or Harold if you are interested. Seats fill FAST.

Awards and Other Cool Stuff

We were happy to be recognized by the industry in 2022, starting with a Find-It Top 40 Award at EXHIBITORLIVE. We also won the People’s Choice Award for the Slate Island rental project.

Katina Rigall-Zipay, our Creative Director, won the Star Award from FIT. This award recognized her outstanding service and commitment to the FIT Graduate Degree Program in Exhibit Design.  

Lastly, there is the EDDIE Award we received at EDPA 2022 in San Antonio. This one was special. The award has historically been given to an outstanding Online or Multi-media campaign. But we were honored to win this award for our “Classic Conversations” outreach. The idea was to create a space where Classic Distributors and vendors could share ideas, struggles, and successes during and after the pandemic. Kudos to all who have participated in these ongoing conversations.

Are you interested in joining a Classic Conversations group? Let us know. We meet quarterly for an hour via Teams or Zoom. Contact Jen, Harold, or Tom for specifics. All exhibit industry roles are welcome — sales, marketing, design, production, etc. You will not be disappointed. Spending time with others in the industry is invaluable… and a lot of fun!

To all our Distributor Partner Family — THANK YOU. 2022 was hard, and the struggle to bring an industry back to life is ongoing. YOU ALL helped make the adjustment easier.

I often tell my friends and family the following, “Yes, we do some really cool stuff. And it’s stressful even in the best of circumstances. But it’s the people we get to walk this path with each and every day that make it special. They are the reason we come to work each and every day.”

Thank you again for your ongoing support of our Classic Family. Here’s to a prosperous 2023. I hope to see you soon.

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 tombeard345@gmail.com.

— Tom Beard

Ready to Work Statement from EDPA and EACA

June 29th, 2021 COMMENTS

EDPA and EACA have issued a joint statement about the readiness of their collective members to get back to work as our industry re-opens. See statement below.

“Both organizations are grateful that we have reached the time when the industry is opening, and we can plan for the return of events. Yet, as we move forward, some questions are being raised.

One question is about the strength of the industry’s workforce. We have heard show organizers question whether companies that design, build and install displays at trade shows may not have adequate labor resources. EACA and EDPA can answer that question right now as our collective member companies are ready to get back to work. The exhibitor community is looking forward to working with us again as their preferred suppliers.”

EDPA and EACA Ready to Work Statement

Classic REDTalk | Reinventing Trade Shows and Live Events

April 22nd, 2021 COMMENTS

On Wednesday April 21, six live event experts shared their perspectives on how to rebuild and reinvent the trade show and the live event industry. The panel included:

Watch on YouTube

The 90-minute moderated discussion was sponsored by Classic Exhibits.

Agenda Topic(s):

In the Live Event industry, in all its forms, partnerships have historically been both fluid and cozy, meaning we mostly talk to those adjacent to our businesses. For example, at Classic Exhibits we chat with our distributors, a few exhibitors, various suppliers, and some service providers. However, we rarely talk to show organizers, GSCs, or venue operators. Not because we don’t want to but because those opportunities are rare and outside the scope of our normal business. As a result, we don’t always hear their perspective or experience their pain. That lack of communication extends to the general public and to our state and federal legislators as well. 

So, how do we change that post-pandemic? How do we build a more transparent and inclusive live event community? There’s a general consensus that the pandemic represents an opportunity to reinvent and rebuild our industry but what does that mean? 

Please share your perspective on the Live Event Industry, meaning what’s your role, what that meant pre-COVID, and what that could mean post-COVID?

And, and this is a BIG “AND,” is it possible to create an industry where all participants have a voice, where their concerns are being addressed, and where everyone is excited about the long-term viability of trade shows, concerts, and live meetings? 

The Future Success of Trade Shows in North America

April 7th, 2021 COMMENTS
EDPA Advocacy

An EDPA Exhibitor Advocacy Statement

The Experiential Designers and Producers Association, via their Exhibitor Advocacy Committee, recently published a statement regarding the future of post-pandemic trade shows. It’s a MUST MUST READ.

The first three paragraphs are below with a link to the full statement on the EDPA website.

WHO WE ARE

The Exhibitor Advocacy Group is an ad hoc group whose members come from the corporate exhibitor community, exhibitor-appointed contractors, unions, show management, and general service contractors. Our mission is to ensure the successful future of trade shows, conventions, congresses, and other face-to-face business events. Our focus is on promoting transparent and reputable business practices, consistent standards, and new business models. We encourage all trade show industry constituents to join us in identifying best practices and helping to build a profitable and equitable industry for all constituencies.” 

BACKGROUND

Before COVID-19, the exhibitor experience on the show floor was deteriorating. Every year, exhibiting costs increased, and issues around transparency, metrics, and cost savings became more problematic. Exclusive show site services from the general contractor like material handling, electrical, and rigging became more complex and expensive, creating a lack of transparency for these services and the associated costs. Leads and data from attendees became proprietary information of show management, and the data was rarely shared so that exhibitors could calculate a meaningful ROI.

Most importantly, there was a significant lack of support from most show management organizations to find cost savings for exhibitors. Instead, the general contractors’ cost savings went to show management and were subsequently recovered through higher costs to exhibitors. Expenses continued to increase without added value. The industry had become stuck in a rut and very hesitant and reluctant to change. Many shows found themselves in a ‘business as usual’ scenario that added no value to anyone – organizer, attendee, or exhibitor.

Continue reading HERE.