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Posts Tagged ‘portable displays’

Mid-Year Review: Word on the Street — July 13th thru July 17th

July 17th, 2015 1 COMMENT

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Happy Summer to All!

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

I am writing this a few weeks late, but in fairness, there’s a lot going on at Classic Exhibits.

It’s been an exciting 2015, thanks to you, our loyal and creative distributors. Your projects have been ALL ACROSS THE BOARD — so let’s review the highlights, identify some trends, and share a few stories.

The year started with a bang. January set the tone after a busy late December. It was clear we were going to be in for a wild ride filled with growth, unique challenges, and a mixture of tradeshow, event, retail, and permanent install projects.

SuperNova is Shining a Bright Path


06_12_15_2_45240Lightboxes have been a shining star whether for tradeshows or retail! Our SuperNova LED lighting solutions have been designed into everything from freestanding lightboxes and iPad stands to comprehensive tradeshow builds and retail store interiors.

Lighting has been one of the growing pieces of “jewelry” in many designs that pass through Classic. It’s cost-effective and impactful on every level. And in 2015 it has been used to backlit and create dynamic graphics and as a featured design element. There’s a lot to know to do it right, and after four full years, we’ve got it down to a science. In short, we’ve gotten good with the glow.

Super-CHARGED Products

07_06_15_1_45596After the release of five new charging stations at EXHIBITORLIVE, our Designers and Project Managers have been inundated with charging station requests like “Can I add charging capabilities to that…or that…or that?”

In many cases — YES. We clearly struck a chord with the units shown in Las Vegas. Many of you took advantage of our charging station showroom promotion and are now  reaping the benefits. We have seen a HUGE increase in the number Coffee Table Charging Stations and Bistro Height Charging Tables ordered. In addition to other creative new changing station opportunities.

It’s easy to see why. They are practical, brandable, and of course functional. And a surefire attendee draw to any  exhibit space.

“Other Stuff”…All Things Outside the Tradeshows

Retail CabinetOver the past few years, we have shown you more retail, corporate environment, and permanent installation work. So far in 2015, this trend only continues on an accelerated pace. We have seen everything from full pop-up retail shops, to mall kiosks, to complete visitors centers, backlighting, and everything in-between.

Your ability to tap in the ClassicMODUL profiles, SEG graphics, and custom millwork has led to some amazing work. If you asked me 10 years ago if Classic would be doing these specialized projects, I would have said “probably not.” However, it all goes to show that those manufacturers and distributors who have been willing to adapt are growing and expanding their client bases.

This work has become a segment with its own Project Management team and Production Engineer. And its FUN! In September, we hope to share pictures of an exciting Interactive Visitors Center we are building. It’s a marvelous  collaboration of Exhibit Design, Graphic Design and a Custom Built App to drive the user experience.

More Pyrenees… Less Cobble Stones of Paris

Pardon the Tour de France reference, but it is that time of year.

I am speaking about the seasonal sales cycle in our industry. Historically we have always been able to identify the flat or slow times of the year — June, July and November.

With more business coming from retail, event, corporate environments, and of course tradeshows, we have enjoyed a more predictable sales experience month-over-month. Great peaks still but no real valleys (which are now mid-sized peaks). June is a great example. It was one of our largest months ever. In JUNE no less!

Mixed Nuts

Branded CrateThe diversity of tradeshow exhibit orders has been a joy.

The bread and butter orders — 10 x 10, 10 x 20, island kits, Sacagawea, P10, Magellan and Visionary Designs are all there and increasing. But the mix of custom hybrid islands, inlines and traditional custom wood builds is growing by leaps and bounds.

We often joke that Classic is the “Largest, Most Invisible Exhibit Builder” in the industry. And that’s not by accident. Our labeling program strives to build on your brand, not Classic’s. At your request, we brand the cases or crates, the setup instructions, etc. with your name. When I look at the shipping department at the end of the day, I see more and more exhibits leaving with your brands… not ours.

As you know, we encourage this practice. It’s one of our marketing strategies, i.e., helping you build your brand with our products in your markets. Shared Success!

Thanks for continuing to trust us with that.

Can I Borrow That?

05_07_15_3_RentalJim Shelman and his talented team in Classic Rental Solutions continues to amaze with their growth and resourcefulness. They design the most customized rental offerings we have ever seen.

Rentals are no longer an afterthought or driven by exhibitors with tight budgets. They are a viable and valuable marketing option for clients who want a unique look without being locked into the same structure or graphics from show to show. Rentals give them the biggest smooches for their marketing buck.

Internally, we often joke that we are now competitors on larger builds — Rentals vs Purchase. Which is a fun place to be. We are happy and proud to be able to offer your clients fresh, custom options whether your client chooses to own it or rent it.

The Nuts and Bolts

ClassicMODULPosters24x36_Page_3

www.classicmodul.com

So much of what we build, our design palette so to speak, relies on ClassicMODUL Engineered Aluminum Profiles. That includes 10 x 10’s to Double Deck structures and all designs in the middle.

ClassicMODUL is experiencing an uptick in their raw metal sales to  distributors who build in-house or manage retail, graphic frame, or architectural accounts. These clients need metal, mostly cut-to-length, along with connectors. They don’t need assembly instructions or reusable packaging.

Tom and his team have done and will continue to do a great job delivering new and unique extrusion offers to meet the design changes we all face. With a great emphasis these days on creating solutions for SEG graphics.

Keep a close eye out for new exciting stuff from ClassicMODUL.

For me, well what can I say. The mid-year point bring two things to mind. In the Great Northwest, it has been exciting, but so hot! We have stolen all the 90 plus degree days from other parts of the country. And while it is nice, I have to admit I am eager to get a little Oregon Sunshine back… also known as RAIN.

The other is… the 1/2 year point always brings another anniversary for me at Classic. This year is 21 years! Thanks to those who sent me personal and LinkedIn messages of congrats. They’re greatly appreciated. An of course I enjoy the jabs and jokes as well, like having Beth from Accounting point out that when I started at Classic, Trina from Design was not yet even in elementary school. YIKES!!

It’s been a great first half of the year. And while we enjoy it, we don’t ever forget that it’s largely due to you. You are the ones who put food on our plates. So thanks as always for your partnership and confidence in our team/family. We greatly appreciate it!

Have a wonderful weekend with your families.

Be well!

–Kevin
http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a


 

If You Only Have a Hammer . . . : Word on the Street — April 20th thru April 25th

April 27th, 2014 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

— Abraham Maslow

Pointing your finger is almost a rite of passage in sales. It’s always the “other guy” who has a limited set of tools or your competitor who doesn’t listen to the client. Unlike the “other guy,” you would never guide your client toward a product or solution that “just so happens” to fit your product assortment.

Or would you? We are all a little guilty of steering customers toward products where we feel more comfortable or where the margins are better. In the exhibit industry, there’s some history to this. Twenty years ago, not only was there a significant split between those who sold portables and those who sold custom, but there were even finer divisions among the portable and custom folks. Some sold primarily panel systems. Others pop ups. Some custom houses would only work with Fortune 500 companies. Others concentrated on environments and museums. And then there was the perceived pecking order with its own set of problems . . . One of which was the creating of a perceived “class” division within the industry.

Just a few years ago, there was a very divisive line between those distributors who sold online and those who sold face-to-face. You couldn’t go to an industry meeting without hearing accusations about the bathrobe wearing Internet jockeys destroying our industry. Who can blame them. They were scared. I understand that, but in hindsight, there were far too many Luddites who needed to walk away from their looms and embrace technology.

The Shifting Playing Field

Economic hard times have a way of shifting the playing field and opinions. During the Great Recession, Classic Exhibits saw a surge of custom houses knocking on our doors for affordable inline and island solutions. We were delighted. We had been knocking on those doors for many years, and although we enjoyed modest success, our success skyrocketed post-2008 (there’s something to be said for being the pursued rather than the pursuer). Post-recession, the smarter custom houses have recognized the value of having a full toolbox when working with their clients. And, to be fair, that’s most of them. It’s clear we are sitting at the same table these days when it comes to meeting the needs of the corporate exhibitor.

042314 20x20 View 3Along the same lines, the portable/modular distributors went two directions. Who can blame them for heading downstream and promoting $99 banner stands and $799 pop ups? Customer’s were demanding inexpensive displays, even if they knew those displays were not ideal or would not last. But, what was surprising and perhaps shouldn’t have been, was that the portable/modular distributors also headed upstream. Many distributors recognized that custom exhibitors were being ignored by their custom house when it came to budget-friendly displays. Many exhibitors were unable to purchase another $150,000 exhibit, but they could convince their CMO to spend $65,000. Those same portable/modular distributors have since added design, storage, and exhibit management services to their arsenal.

So what does that mean? There’s some blurring right now between what it means to be portable/modular and custom. That’s not to say that anyone is confusing a $300 million dollar custom house with a $6 million dollar distributor. No one is that naive. But, what is true, now more than ever, is that the $300 million dollar custom house can’t neglect their clients who want to add inline hybrid displays to their exhibit inventory. And, it’s no longer unusual to see a traditional portable/modular distributor win large island orders ranging from $50,000 to $225,000.

Design and Capabilities Always Win

In the end, design and capabilities win business. Whether that design or those storage services are handled in-house or through leveraged partnership relationships. Custom Houses with in-house design are winning more “budget” conscience opportunities by having their manufacturing partners build smaller footprint exhibits. And portable/modular distributors, leveraging design and services provided by system partners, are winning larger budget island opportunities.

Yes, some lines are blurred. But not the idea that great design, account management, and customer service wins business. I personally like the growth and diversity the Great Recession created in our industry.

Do you agree? How did the Great Recession change your business?

Be well.

–Kevin
http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a


 

Portable Modular Awards | Call for Entries: Word on the Street — November 4th thru November 8th

November 9th, 2013 COMMENTS
Portable Modular Award | Call for Entries

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

You Know — The PMA’s!

In case you haven’t heard, the fine folks at EXHIBITOR have added a great event to EXHIBITOR2014 — The Portable Modular Awards. This inaugural event will be held on Tuesday evening March 18, 2014 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

This long awaited and much needed event will honor the finest in design and building within our segment of the industry. And don’t let the name fool you. These are not your Grandpa’s Banner Stands, Pop Ups and Fabric Panel Systems. NO! As you are well aware, our segment of the industry has seen an evolution over the past ten years, an evolution leading with Hybrid and Custom Hybrid Solutions for clients in all segments and booth sizes.

Deadlines for entries are soon. Entries will be accepted in 11 categories. Early Bird entries are due no later than December 2 ($100 per entry). The final deadline follows on it’s heels on December 9 ($150 per entry). DO NOT miss this opportunity to show off your company’s designs, especially the ones Classic Exhibits has built. 🙂 Really, this is a great opportunity to network at the show and brag on the talents of your designers as well as your suppliers’ designers.

Classic will be entering several designs and strongly encourages Classic Distributors to do so as well. Are there particular builds we have worked on together over the past year that you wish to enter? Work with our designers to gather the files and to pull together your entry. There have been so many beautiful projects this year. It would be a shame not to see them recognized by others in our design-driven industry.

Entering is easy! But the clock is ticking.

http://www.exhibitoronline.com/awards/pma/

And rest assured, this award show will not involve any twerking! Well, ya never know what might happen when someone wins I suppose.

Have a wonderful week ahead.

Kevin
http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a


 

Small Can Be Beautiful

December 29th, 2011 2 COMMENTS

Pintos, Gremlins, and Vegas

I can already hear the chuckles and see the smirks. Anyone who knows me, knows it would be a stretch for me to be chosen as a forward or center on any basketball team. I barely qualify as a guard on most middle school teams. But this is not about my height. It was inspired by an article in The New York Times about the unloved small car trio of the Pinto, Vega, and Gremlin (Import Fighters? No, Just Punchlines).

Chevrolet Vega

Chevrolet Vega

While many of my friends owned Pintos and Gremlins, I owned a 1975 white notch-back Vega. I loved that car. By 1975, GM had fixed the most glaring problems with the Vega, including seal leaks and a tendency to rust whenever dark clouds appeared. I bought the car used (less than 12,000 miles) from a father who worried the car would die somewhere between WV and FL where his daughter was attending college. 130,000 miles later, the car finally left me stranded on the side of the road outside of Versailles, KY.

With one or two exceptions, small cars in the 70’s and 80’s, whether domestic or foreign, were designed for the frugal, the poor, or the seriously brain addled. Or in my case, all three. You prayed they would last 75,000 miles. You accepted the fact that no one would ever give you a thumbs up at a stop light, and you set your sights on a girlfriend or boyfriend who respected “value” and “inner beauty.” Small cars were unloved, and the manufacturers did very little to make them loveable.

The history of portable trade show displays is not much different. Through much of the 80’s and 90’s, they were functional rather than beautiful. Pop ups were lightweight and convenient, and if you could afford mural graphics, often attractive (if at times fragile). Folding panel systems were more durable, but regardless of how many detachable graphics, lightboxes, shelves, or backlit headers were added, they were folding walls with carpet. And they were heavy. Laminate modular systems upped the ante a bit since they mimicked many custom features. These were an improvement, but the prices were no longer portable.

Times Have Changed

Perfect 10 VK-1507

Over the past 7-8 years, trade show display manufacturers have evolved, much like the auto industry. Smaller products come in far more designs, in a wide range of price points, and can be basic or upscale. No display category speaks to that more than “hybrids.” Hybrid displays are much sexy than pop ups or panel systems, without necessarily sacrificing the benefits of portability or modularity. Hybrids combine engineered aluminum extrusion and large format tension fabric graphics with just about anything else that makes sense. And because metal can be bent, hybrids move beyond squares, rectangles, and 90 degree corners. Curves elevate simple designs into alluring, attractive, and lightweight displays.

Does that mean hybrids are custom displays? Not necessarily yes, but not necessarily no. The very nature of a hybrid display makes it somewhat of a chameleon. For example, they can be simple 10 ft. kits between $4k to $8k, or ground-up island designs between $60k to $160k. It’s their upscale look and adaptability that make them popular choices. Hybrids can pack in portable roto-molded cases or ship in custom crates, all depending on the complexity, scale, and features of the exhibit.

What Makes Them Different?

So what makes similar hybrids different from manufacturer to manufacturer? Design for one. In that respect, it’s very similar to buying a car. There are certain looks that appeal to us, and others that don’t. Features are another. For example, you may need locking storage, a large monitor option, or an iPad solution. Not all manufacturers or designs will address those requirements. Finally, there’s assembly, packaging, and quality. Except for design, this is where you’ll find the biggest difference between hybrid manufacturers.

  • Assembly:  You have a choice. There’s the ‘bag of bolts” approach, where assembling a hybrid requires multiple tools, loose parts, and generic instructions. Unfortunately, there’s no rule of thumb since price doesn’t dictate ease of assembly. It depends on whether the manufacturer values easy assembly and custom instructions. Manufacturers who value easy assembly design their systems with attached knobs and connectors. This approach limits the number of loose parts, and all components are numbered (and referenced in the instructions). There’s a night and day difference between a “bag of bolts” vs. “knob and attached connectors.”
  • Packaging: Few exhibitors think about packaging when purchasing an exhibit, but they should. Quality manufacturers sweat the details. They make sure that packing is just as easy as unpacking. They remove the guesswork. They don’t rely on bubble wrap and lightweight disposable foam, but die-cut foam packaging, fabric lined crates, and permanent jigging.
  • Quality: You know it when you see it. It reveals itself in hundreds of tiny, seemingly insignificant ways. Is everything labeled? Has the exhibit arrived clean? Is the case protected? Are the instructions specific to your display? Does the exhibit look remarkable after 10, 15, 20 shows? When shopping for a new display, ask your exhibit consultant to compare the quality of one system to another. There’s a reason why one costs $4k but another one $7k?

Exhibit Design SearchIf you are shopping for a new display, we invite you to browse through Exhibit Design Search, the world’s largest database of exhibit designs. In addition to pop ups, banner stands, table tops, and hanging signs, you’ll find over 500 portable, modular, and custom hybrid displays. Each one can be customized to your unique trade show marketing goals.

And if you’re still exhibiting with the trade show equivalent of a Pinto, Gremlin, or Vega . . .  it’s time to get a new ride. Times have changed and Small is Now Beautiful.

–Mel White
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
mel@classicexhibits.com

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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 www.classicexhibits.com.

Word on the Street — December 6th thru December 10th

December 12th, 2010 COMMENTS
2011 Trade Show Predictions

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Industry Predictions 2011 — Part 2

First let me say, “Hello!” With vacation and the holiday, I have been gone recently and have not blogged for several weeks. But I am back in the office now, and I would like to dovetail on Mel’s entry back in mid-November regarding 2011 industry predictions. So here are my thoughts . . .

To say that the past two years have been a bit nutty would be a gross understatement. At Classic, we have seen strong months that have been off the charts followed up by months where I was left calling the local phone company just to see if the phones were broken.

But this fall (September thru November) has left me very hopeful for 2011. November, for example, was our best November ever. And the quoting activity in September, October, and November has left me very optimistic. People are “planning” rather than “reacting.” We’re seeing people preparing weeks and months in advance rather than holding onto their dollars until the last possible minute and buying in a reactivate mode weeks before their show. This is a great sign!

Islands are back! They are not back to 2008 levels, but we are seeing a normal mix in our quoting and sales process. Most are more than simple islands that carry little detail or flash. They are more elaborate, and the budgets have been healthy. All in all, we’re witnessing the “first-steps” in the rebuilding of exhibit programs for corporate exhibit clients. In early 2011, we will be introducing a series of modular island concepts which we’re very excited about. As this market expands, we want to ensure that Classic Distributors have the tools to capture more than their share.

SEGUE Sunrise VK-1905

Hybrids, Hybrids, Hybrids . . .  they are not going anywhere and are clearly here to stay for years to come. As a company, we are equipped more than ever to handle all requests. Whether it is for a starter client that has $3000 to spend on a 10 x 10, $15,000 to spend on a 10 x 20, or a seasoned client that has $10,000 for a 10 x 10 or $25,000 for a 10 x 20.

We have seen business increase across our entire hybrid lines from Sacagawea to Visionary Designs. We expect the SEGUE line to be particularly strong over the next 12 months as Silicone Edge Graphic solutions become even more popular. The SEGUE Sunrise, introduced in this week’s Design Monday, is a great example of how you can compete at the entry level with a portable, well-engineered, and smart “no tools” hybrid solution. It’s unlike anything else on the market, and we expect Classic Distributors will find an enthusiastic audience for these portable hybrid kits.

Sustainable (Green) Exhibits. This was treated as a clever marketing term two to three years ago. A fad if you will. But believe me when I say that eco-friendly exhibiting is not a fad. It is real, and there is a large market for it. We have seen the price for materials adjust down. The exhibits are now a financially viable option for those companies with green exhibit initiatives. The Eco-systems Sustainable brand experienced solid sales increases in 2010  as companies have increased their marketing budgets. The potential leading into 2011 is larger than ever.

The ClassicMODUL Aluminum Extrusion team has spent a lot of time, energy, and resources reaching out to alternative markets over the past two years. Those efforts have begun to payoff as budgets have slowly started to come back. I expect that the ClassicMODUL division will experience significant growth in the retail, POP, and architectural markets in 2011.

At the end of the day, I am more than hopeful for 2011. Will there be an immediate return to 20 to 30 percent annual growth? No, and it would be foolish to expect that. There have been significant and permanent changes in the exhibit market that will make it difficult to return to the “glory days.” Rather, we will all be catering to a new type of market that will force us to be creative, adaptive, and responsible. With that will come smaller growth than we have seen in the past. But positive growth all the same.

What do you expect for 2011? Please share your thoughts and opinions with other Classic Distributors.

Hope you had a great and restful weekend.

Be well

–Kevin Carty

http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a