Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Jim Shelman’

What It’s Like to Rent from Classic Rental Solutions

April 11th, 2019 COMMENTS
Classic Rental Solutions

For over 13 years, I was on the distributor side of the exhibit business, working directly with local clients/exhibitors while I owned Exhibits Northwest. During that time, I experienced firsthand what was important to our customers and what we needed to do to make them feel comfortable. I found that the more confident we were, the more confident our customers became with us. They expected us to be the experts and to guide them through the process, and we understood that’s what we were there to do, and we enjoyed doing it.

Shopping at Nordstrom

It reminds me of a twenty-year span where I would go on shopping sprees for business clothes about every two to three years. This was back when we were all dressing up to go into the office every day, and wearing slacks, with dress shirts, ties, and a sports jacket. I know, I just dated myself big time.

I always shopped at the same Nordstrom store in Portland, and Pam in the Men’s Suits Department helped me every time. Once I became confident with her guidance and direction, I had no reason to ever consider shopping anywhere else. Early on, she learned what styles I liked, and what I was comfortable with. She always shared what was new, made great suggestions, and guided me through the process.

She would walk throughout the store, selecting my size in pants, shirts, and jackets, and color coordinate them for me. I simply stayed in the dressing room and tried everything on to decide what I was going to buy. She was super confident, and clearly plugged-in as an expert in men’s clothing. It was about a two-hour process, and then I was set for another two to three years. I really admired and appreciated Pam’s confidence and her approach, and I trusted her judgement. But more importantly, I became very comfortable with the process, and I knew what I could expect every time, and I was happy with my purchases. It was always a no hassle experience for me. To no one’s surprise, Pam was a Top 50 salesperson for Nordstrom nationwide.

We’re all looking for this type of buying experience, where we work with people and companies that truly get it and are experts in their field. And we want them to guide us through the process and help us feel comfortable with our purchasing decisions.

Trade Show Rental Exhibit from Classic Rental Solutions

Earning Your Trust and Confidence

At Classic Rental Solutions, our goal is to make our customers feel the same way that Pam made me feel as her customer through all those years. We want to earn that same trust and confidence to deliver successful experiences every time.

Renting an exhibit is more complex than buying men’s clothes, but here’s what we set out to do for our customers for every project:

  • Assist with design to help provide solutions that match our customer’s expectations
  • Guide and direct the process from the beginning to the end
  • Manage the details for every project to make sure everything is produced correctly, and on time
  • Maintain the highest level of quality control to assure that every exhibit looks brand new on the show floor
  • Stage every order, and test fit the graphics prior to shipping
  • Include staging photos, packing photos, setup diagrams, and an inventory list with every order
  • Offer webcam or FaceTime previews
  • Reward our customers with CRS Rental Rewards credits towards future projects, and other reward incentives.

If you shop around, you’ll discover that these comprehensive services are rarely offered by other providers.

Trade Show Rental Exhibit

A Complete Rental Program

As I always like to say, a lot of companies rent exhibits, but we offer a complete rental program. That’s what makes us different.

We’re constantly adding new designs to our inline, island, and accessories website galleries, and we offer rebrand and custom design services. And we’re always happy to jump on a design call. We’ll make structural and functional suggestions and try to come up with cost savings ideas.

As a division of Classic Exhibits Inc., CRS is supported by a full-service shop that produces our rental components in-house. This allows us to offer customization for every design. And our inventory is virtually unlimited. If we’re out of something, we produce more to fulfill new orders. And that’s very rare in our industry. All the designs shown on our website are always available, as long as we have a standard lead time. We don’t shy away from rush orders either.

We have fun doing what we do, because we build something new and different every day. It can be stressful at times, but it’s very rewarding to be a part of our customer’s successful projects from the beginning to the end. And we’re like little kids when we receive show photos with a positive note saying how successful the show was. That’s what it’s all about.

For more information about Classic Rental Solutions, please contact Jim Shelman @ jshelman@classicexhibits.com or call 503-345-0525 x 103.

An Interview with Jim Shelman, GM of Classic Rental Solutions

January 5th, 2019 COMMENTS

Interview with Jim Shelman at Classic Rental Solutions

Trade Show Rentals have undergone a seismic shift not only in design but also in sales. And, this trend will continue in 2019 and beyond. This week, we chatted with Jim Shelman, the General Manager of Classic Rental Solutions. So what should you expect as an exhibitor or a Classic Exhibits Distributor Partner? More of the same, which is a VERY GOOD THING. 

Q1. You’ve been in the Rental Exhibits space for over 20 years. What’s different now than say 6-8 years ago?

A lot of things have changed, but there are two things that really stand out to me as major changes. One, is the implementation of customization to rental designs. Almost every order we produce includes some element of customization to provide specific needs that exhibitors request during the design process. Today, it’s difficult to spot a rental design, versus a purchased design on the show floor.

The other thing that stands out are the reasons exhibitors decide to rent vs. purchase.

In the past, the primary reason to rent had more to do with only exhibiting in one or two shows per year, and if you were unsure of your long-term show schedule. The thought process was to test the waters with a rental, see how it goes, and purchase once you’ve committed to exhibiting in multiple shows per year. Now, it has become more about design flexibility, and perhaps not wanting to be stuck with the same design show after show. Or, maybe not wanting to deal with storing, shipping, or repairing a purchased exhibit.

Today, many exhibitors approach each show as a clean slate by working with new rental designs that match their specific show-to-show needs.

Q2. Classic Rental Solutions sales have increased year-over-year since 2010. Nearly 20% in 2018. Why?

There are several factors. With the risk of sounding corny, I’ll credit our team of dedicated people, and our incredible distributors, but I also think it’s because of our business model. We understand how important it is to be flexible, and to offer customized design services, and continuously add new custom designs to our rental gallery through our Exhibit Design Search feature on our website. And we’re committed to adding inventory as needed, to fulfill new opportunities for our distributors.

Classic Exhibit Rental Rewards ProgramAnother key factor is that we have the unique support from our in-house manufacturing professionals that produce new exhibits for our 200+ Distributor Partner Network. All of our rental components are produced right here, and we’re able to make last minute modifications.

I like to make it clear that we don’t just offer rentals, but that we offer a complete rental program. From start to finish, we have detailed processes that are followed by our production team and project managers. Every rental project gets staged and photographed before shipping. The highest quality standards are strictly enforced. We include setup instructions, and staging and packing photos with every order. After orders are returned, we provide a complete check-in report to close-out the project.

Several years ago, we implemented our Rental Rewards Program, which offers a reward discount of 2% of the total rental and graphics order when your exhibit returns without major damage and/or missing components. The program also offers two annual prize-drawings, and other rewards for our distributor network.

Q3. What are your biggest challenges headed into 2019? Biggest opportunities?

The seasonal nature of the trade show industry is always challenging. Everything hits at once several times throughout the year, which makes it challenging at times, but we plan and adjust accordingly. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so it’s never a real surprise, but it can hit at slightly different times.

2019 should be an amazing year for us. I would say that our biggest opportunities will be to continue to work on larger island design projects. We’re doing larger projects all the time, and I expect that trend to continue.

Another big opportunity that I’m anticipating is doing more large quantity component orders. We do large quantity orders for workstation kiosks, monitor stands, iPad kiosks, counters, and charging stations. Our large inventory, and willingness to add more, allows us to offer quantities that others typically don’t have available.

Trade Show Island Rental Exhibits from Classic Rental Solutions

Q4. What do you think the typical exhibitor gets wrong about renting a trade show exhibit?

Some of the newer exhibitors think that they are limited to standard designs, and they’re surprised when we start the design process and realize that we offer so much more than they were expecting.

Q5. What do you wish the typical Classic Distributor Partner understood about Classic Rental Solutions?

For those who aren’t aware and haven’t worked with us, I wish that they understood our full capabilities, and our design flexibility. And that we offer a complete rental program with nothing but high-quality “like-new” components. I want them to understand that we can offer something unique for their client base. Something that has proven to work successfully for distributors all over the country.

Q6. Have you seen more event-related rentals vs. trade show rentals? Are their more similarities or differences?

Yes, we ship a fair amount of event-related projects. In the last couple of months, we had multiple large quantity orders for charging stations. And last week we shipped (49) backlit counters to the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.

Q7. How has the Gravitee One-Step System impacted your rental options?

Our Gravitee Modular System has been a great addition to our rental program. It works extremely well for towers and conference rooms, but also for entire island and inline designs. It’s super-fast and easy to setup and disassemble, so it’s used as much as possible to save on labor costs. We see a substantial savings in time during our staging process here in our shop as well. We have a large inventory of standard and custom panel sizes, and we’ll continue to add to it.

Q8. Assuming you’ll be at EXHIBITORLIVE 2019, what are the three questions you want attendees or Distributor Partners to ask you about CRS?

Yes, I’m planning to be there, and here are three of many questions that I would welcome during our conversations.

  • How can Classic Rental Solutions assist us with our current rental program?
  • How do we get started working with Classic for our rental projects?
  • What are your customization capabilities?

I’m looking forward to the show, and I’d be happy to schedule meetings during, before, or after show hours.

You can contact Jim Shelman at jshelman@classicexhibits.com or at 503-345-0525 ext, 103. 

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Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, custom, rental 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 www.classicexhibits.com.

An Interview with Jim Shelman, GM of Classic Rental Solutions

October 2nd, 2018 COMMENTS

Every week, Tim Patterson, a.k.a. Tradeshow Guy, conducts an interview on his Monday Morning Coffee video/audio broadcast. Sometimes it’s someone from the trade show community, but more often it’s an expert on various business topics. It’s my go-to stop every Monday morning. 

This week Tim interviewed our own Jim Shelman, the GM of Classic Rental Solutions. They chatted about rental trends, the evolving reasons to rent, and why purchase and rentals are not so different. The interview starts at 4:15. Enjoy! 

Classic Rental Rewards Winners

January 15th, 2016 COMMENTS

RentalRewards

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

Classic Exhibits has a NEW Chicago Rental Depot

July 16th, 2013 2 COMMENTS

CLASSIC HAS A CHICAGO RENTAL DEPOT
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 jshelman@exhibitsnw.com.

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.

UPDATED WHOLESALE RENTAL GALLERY

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
jshelman@exhibits.com