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Posts Tagged ‘Exhibit City News’

Classic Exhibits Corporate Profile in Exhibit City News

September 18th, 2019 COMMENTS

To many trade show folks, Classic Exhibits is still a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. It’s time to untangle the mystery. This month, we’re featured in Exhibit City News, online and in print. In the article, we explain our unique “unbranded” business model.

See the article below and the link to the full ECN online version.

Classic Exhibits Inc.: An Industry Chameleon

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of Classic Exhibits but don’t know all they do. Mel White, VP for marketing and business development, describes the Portland, Ore.-based company “as a chameleon that not only changes its colors, but also its shape. Repeatedly.” Every four to five years the company morphs into something different based on the needs of its more than 200 distributor partners and their customers.

So, who is Classic Exhibits right now? That depends upon who you ask—and what they need.

According to White, “Our customers come to us for a broad range of solutions. In short, we’re a job shop for over 200 distributor partners who assist their customers with tradeshows, retail displays, events and corporate environments, both for purchase and rental. We accomplish that as a ‘White Label, Unbranded’ designer and builder that’s largely invisible to end-users but not to the tradeshow and event industry. Our mission has always been to prioritize our customers’ brands in the marketplace, not only with unique designs, but also with brandable marketing tools.”

Founded in 1993, Classic started as a portable systems company, then a modular-hybrid supplier and now a design and builder of 3D structures. Currently, about 75 percent of what the company builds and ships can be classified as custom or customized. Nothing gets pulled from a shelf and shipped, even rentals. “We’re not that kind of company,” according to White. “We build to the order, stage each one, take extensive photos and create job-specific setup instructions and customized reusable packaging.”

Identifying Trends

Classic has been remarkably adept at identifying trends and creating tradeshow and event-specific solutions. Those include modular iPad and Surface stands, wireless charging stations, counters, pedestals and kiosks and tool-less LED lightboxes with accessories like tablet brackets, literature holders and adjustable shelves.

Wireless Charging Stations

Most recently, their evolution has included modular wall systems, like the tool-less Gravitee One-Step. “As modular wall systems have come to the forefront,” says White, “we’ve worked hard to introduce new designs on Exhibit Design Search. One of the benefits of a large distributor network is identifying successful designs quickly and making them available to our partners. For example, the blending of modular walls, custom components and LED lighting has been very popular. Every week we introduce new designs to our network through our Design Monday emails.”

Being Invisible

According to Executive VP Kevin Carty, “Invisibility often comes with misunderstandings and misconceptions about who we are and what we do. We’ve never been a Portland or Northwest-focused company. From the very beginning, we’ve relied on independent distributor partners for our sales since we don’t sell direct. This wasn’t unusual in the past, but the model has become less common as our competitors have either disappeared or chosen to sell direct to end-users. In some ways, we are the last company standing that honors that model.”

Classic’s “White Label” model includes, at the distributor’s request, branded crates, instructions and mailing labels with the distributor or end-user’s logo.

Carty, who has been with the company since its inception, has watched it grow to 85 employees across four divisions, encompassing 120,000 sq.ft. outside of Portland, Ore., that uses five internal web cameras to share the progress of exhibits from design to finish with customers.

Click HERE to read the full article in Exhibit City News.

Since 1993, Classic Exhibits has been North America’s leading builder of quality trade show exhibits for professional exhibitors. Browse through 1500 contemporary displays or request a custom design personalized to your trade show marketing goals.

Find success on the trade show floor with an exhibit that reflects your marketing message… at a price that will make your CFO giddy. For more information, see

Celebrating Grandma: Word on the Street — May 27th thru May 31st

June 2nd, 2013 3 COMMENTS

Celebrating Grandma: Word on the Street -- May 27th thru May 31st

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

This weekend, the Carty Family celebrates my grandmother’s 95th birthday. I come from a huge Irish Catholic family, meaning we’ll have 40-50 in attendance at her party. She has chosen an ice cream social, and it’s sure to be a great event.  She is an amazing woman!

Her birthday got me thinking . . . 95 years. What she has seen and experienced over the past century — good and bad? Her life began at the end of  World War I. There was Prohibition, segregation, the Depression, the Vietnam War protests, the Great Recession, and the election of Barack Obama.

What about trade shows over the past 95 years? I did a little research on benchmarks over the past 95 years. This is by no means complete — 95 years is a very long time.

1929 — The Historic Boardwalk Convention Hall in Atlantic City opened. Since its opening, the convention hall has been host to a variety of events, ranging from the 1964 Democratic National Convention to the Holyfield and Foreman fight in 1991.

1933 — Held to commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of the city’s incorporation and the fortieth anniversary of Chicago’s first world’s fair, the Century of Progress Exposition ran from May until November of 1933. In the end, a total of 22.3 million people visited the 1933 Trade Fair.

1955 — Many exciting world premieres took place during the 1955 Chicago Auto Show, including the 1955 Studebaker Speedster and Lincoln’s Futura dream car. General Motors presented experimental vehicles, including the Chevy Nomad, Pontiac Bonneville, Olds F-88, Buick Wildcat II and Cadillac El Camino. A record 490,500 visitors attended the nine-day affair in the International Amphitheatre, with 72,000 on the first Sunday alone.

Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall

1960 — The first McCormick Place was opened in Chicago. It was destroyed in 1967 by a fire. The main floor had no sprinklers.

1967 — The first CES Show. CES, or Consumer Electronics Show, began in June 1967 as a spinoff of the Chicago Music Show, which, at the time, was the only place to debut consumer electronics. The first CES drew in 17,500 attendees and over 100 exhibitors.

1984 — The Louisiana World Exposition opened its doors in New Orleans, La. The expo’s theme was “The World of Rivers – Fresh Waters as a Source of Life.”

1995 — Thousands of Grateful Dead fans congregated in Chicago’s McCormick Place 31st street parking lot. It was days before the show, however that did not prevent them from camping out. Many of the “deadheads” were witnessed dancing, singing, cooking, and showering in the parking lot. Eww!

1999 — The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Show’s pavilion structures literally flew away in September of ’99 when, in an act of God, a tornado came twisting through downtown Salt Lake City sucking up and spitting out everything in its path. Unfortunately that included the booths of over 330 exhibitors; however, camaraderie prevailed in the hearts of attendees as companies made room for the displaced in their own booths contained in the main hall. The show must go on!

2001 — The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released an exhibition industry census. The first of its kind. The census collected data on everything from gross revenues of a particular show to how many qualified buyers attended a show to how many industry exhibitions were held in any given city on any given month.

2007 — Exhibit City News, the nation’s only tradeshow newspaper, launched the inaugural edition of its sister publication Tradeshow Lifestyles to the world; the newspaper highlighted travel hotspots, such as dining, lodging, and entertainment which would be of interest to the tradeshow community.

Thanks to Exhibit City News for these dates. There are so many more that I could spend a week writing about them all.

Suffice to say, our industry has lead the way for businesses of all kinds over the past 95 years, giving them an avenue and venue to show off their wares and talents.

Special thanks to Iris Carty for being a great grandma. She has seen a lot but shared even more with me and the rest of us whacky folks in the Carty Clan. Here’s to seeing 100 in five years Grandma.  🙂

Hope you all had a great weekend. I know I did!

Kevin Carty


March EXHIBITOR Magazine Ad — Sneak Peak

January 28th, 2013 COMMENTS

As you know, Classic Exhibits traditionally doesn’t advertise the “Classic Exhibits” brand. ClassicMODUL yes, but rarely, if ever Classic. This year, we decided to prime the pump for iPad Kiosks in preparation of EXHIBITOR2013. Below is the 1/2 page ad for EXHIBITOR Magazine. We’ll also have a similar full-page ad in Exhibit City News.

Several iPad kiosk models are in the New Product Showcase for EXHIBITOR. We hope this visibility will drive sales to the Distributor Network, both before and after the show.

Registration for EXHIBITOR 2013 is now OPEN! Click HERE for FREE Access to the show hall courtesy of Classic Exhibits. Enter Promo Code 4044 for the FREE Pass (waiving the credit card fee).

–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


OK, So We Don’t Always Follow the Rules

July 10th, 2012 1 COMMENT

Perhaps we should be more corporate, more dignified. But that’s not our style. Heck, we’re the folks with the ongoing Urban Exhibitionary ads in EXHIBITOR Online. A few of those ads have struck an exposed nerve, like Showgasm and Bundling. Ouch!

Here’s our tongue in cheek “Help Wanted” ad in Exhibit City News for ClassicMODUL. This is for everyone who has worked with a temperamental co-worker, supplier, or customer.

Our thanks to the good folks at Exhibit City News for allowing us to break the rules and have a little fun. Thanks Kathy and Jeff!

–Mel White


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). 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.

Exhibit City News Article about Aluminum Extrusions

July 6th, 2011 COMMENTS

Engineered Aluminum Extrusion

Aluminum Extrusions Offer Few Limitations
Written by Exhibit City News

Not all aluminum extrusions are equal. Some have limited uses, flexibility and structural weight tolerance. But no matter what vision an exhibit designer has for the layout of the booth, there is an engineered aluminum extrusion that can help bring it to life.

Exhibit City News recently interviewed three trusted sources in the extrusion industry to get a comprehensive look at the benefits, trends, and technology that make up this growing segment of exhibit design.

Speaking on behalf of ClassicMODUL, a supplier of aluminum extrusions that offers comprehensive design and engineering support, is Mel White, vice president of marketing and business development.

Representing Octanorm USA, a leader in the extrusions market since the company was founded in 1968, is Norm Friedrich, president.

Our final industry professional, Xavier Decludt, is the president of AGAM Group, a worldwide supplier of aluminum modular display systems.

ECN: What are the benefits of using an extrusion-based exhibit construction system?
Mel White, ClassicMODUL: Unlike a traditional portable/modular system or custom (wood-based) exhibit, extrusion exhibits have few, if any, limitations in construction, appearance and modularity. Plus, they play nice with existing “systems” or custom-built displays as either a component or as structure. Most engineered extrusion systems include hundreds of aluminum profiles, from square to ovals, and from round to rectangles. The sheer flexibility allows designers to create large architectural structures that either showcase or minimize the aluminum structure.

Norm Friedrich, Octanorm: The benefits are numerous and depend on each company’s individual needs. Over the past 20 years, these aluminum systems have developed into design programs rather than construction elements. The variety of angles, curves, connections and accessories are so extensive it allows for custom design even when budgets are tight.

Xavier Decludt, AGAM Group: Extrusions can be used to implement any design or feature element can be imagined and recent design trends are making it a sought after solution for the modular industry. Extrusion can be integrated into existing material and be added on for a larger booth. Another major benefit of extrusions is a much lower operating cost for material handling, labor and freight.

ECN: How has the integration of fabrics/graphics changed over the last five years?
Friedrich: We’re not fabric experts, but we certainly know that the print quality on fabric has improved dramatically over the years, making it an excellent choice for large format graphics. What was once dull and grainy is now crisp and clear. Aluminum extrusion provides an ideal framework for fabric and has become the material of choice for many of those who are searching for a large dynamic presence with reduced weight and cost.

Decludt: Many conventional graphics are being replaced by silicone edge graphics (SEG) and new extrusions are always in development. Fabric is lightweight, durable and portabe, which reduces the amount of metal that is visible. When fabrics are folded, they take up less storage space. When this is combined with the slim profile of extrusions, exhibits become a lot easier to handle.

White: There have been two significant trends, both from Europe. Fabric graphics are getting bigger and those graphics are increasingly SEG. There has been a gradual shift toward showing less aluminum without losing the benefits of aluminum structures, particular in island exhibits. The same trend can be seen in signage. Whether backlit or non-backlit, event and tradeshow signs are shifting to fabric. It’s lighter, more durable, and as color vibrant as direct print.

MOD-1276 iPad Kiosk

ECN: What new products and design solutions is your company offering?
White: You can’t be on the cutting edge right now without a variety of SEG profiles and SEG designs. We offer 15 unique profiles that allow clients to build anything from small signs to large islands using silicone edge graphics. Our new SEGUE design line includes over 30 exhibit designs, which shows that SEG can be affordable, sexy and portable/modular.

We’re seeing the integration of traditional custom components into extrusion designs in trade show, retail and event applications. Retail applications are booming, and retailers are looking for answers that allow for modular flexibility where they can redefine the space every six months rather than every five years.

Kiosks integrating iPads, cell phones, readers and other technologies have been in demand. We’ve created extrusion solutions for all these.

Decludt: Pliko is a no-tool folding frame that features a minimalist design and clearly defined edges. The 108-inch by 92-inch graphic area maximizes graphic exposure and the slim frame structure virtually disappears.

We also have a new FH 1490 extrusion system that can accommodate graphics inside and outside the cubes. If you hang such cubes, you double your graphic exposure without any additional hardware costs, and if you suspend such cube, your free valuable floor space is available for product presentation and customer interaction.

We have also developed the FH hybrid system, which has the ability to use a fabric frame or convert it for to a hard panel without acquiring new aluminum.

Friedrich: Extrusion systems in general have evolved tremendously over the years and we are all busy creating new solutions to keep designers on the cutting edge. At Euroshop and Exhibitor this year, we introduced 21 new products. These include new and innovative ways of providing shelving, attaching LCD monitors, creating walls, building lightboxes, etc.

ECN: How is business and demand for your extrusion-based exhibits?
Friedrich: We have felt the effects of a weak economy just like everyone else but the demand for extrusion based exhibits seems to be quite steady. While many are re-using the properties they already own (one of the side effects of a material that lasts forever), it shows a lot of creativity on the part of business owners by making the most out of a product while keeping investment at a minimum. What better way to remain competitive than by using your existing inventory in new and exciting ways?

White: Excellent. Classic Exhibits and ClassicMODUL Aluminum Extrusions offer clients two distinct business models. This has allowed us to tap into demand from two unique avenues.

We’ve learned that location matters when it comes to ordering aluminum extrusions. As a result, we’ve established metal depots in three U.S. locations: Portland, Ore., Cheshire, Conn., and Birmingham, Ala. MODUL aluminum extrusion is also readily available throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Decludt: Based on demand for our extrusions, we can tell that the industry is turning around.

ECN: How has technology affected the extrusion industry?
Decludt: We have invested heavily during the past three years in building, machinery, equipment and software. We are one of the very few manufacturers able to offer a wide array of services to the trade, with more than 50 machines under one roof. Our customers come to us with unique design requirements to stand above the crowd, and we are able to respond quickly and efficiently to most of their challenges, giving them the competitive edge needed in today’s market place.

Friedrich: Technology has certainly has a positive impact on aluminum systems because they are so adaptable. The latest technologies in graphics, audio, video and lighting can easily be incorporated into these systems. I think it’s important for people to realize that aluminum systems are designed as a means to incorporate custom elements and technology falls into that category as well.

White: You adapt or you die. Obviously, LCD and plasma screens are commonplace in nearly every display, from table tops to islands. The trick is to create solutions that do more than simply hold a monitor. We’ve designed workstations, kiosks, counters and displays that integrate monitors into the overall visual presentation. The pace has quickened. When something new comes out, such as the iPad, for example, you can’t wait. You have to design multiple solutions, see what appeals to your customers, and then adapt and refine those solutions.

ECN: Can an extrusion system be used to build just about any design a client is looking to create?
White: No question at all!

Decludt: Extrusions are not always the best solution to a custom design, but the modularity of Aluminum Systems reduces dramatically design and engineering costs, and time to market is essential – only a modular system in aluminum achieves that.

Friedrich: I may not be the best person to answer this question, but my completely biased answer is “of course!” We see a lot of crazy concepts in our engineering department and most of the time, we can find a solution that does not compromise the integrity of the design. The only time we may run into issues is with regards to structural integrity. But as long as everyone is open to some additional support either overhead or in the form of bracing, we can usually overcome those issues as well.

–Mel White