Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘rentals’

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!



Final Days of 2012: Word on the Street — Dec. 24th thru Dec. 28th

December 30th, 2012 1 COMMENT
Final Days of 2012

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

It’s almost over. Another great year . . . well mostly great. 🙂

As we all prepare to ring in 2013, I am working on the Annual State of the Company letter which will be emailed in the next two weeks. To be honest, this year was positive for so many reasons that the letter is taking some time to pull together.

2013 promises to be another excellent year for the Classic Family of Companies  — fiscal cliff or no fiscal cliff. In all honesty, we are concerned like you that our government can’t get its act together. But the first half of 2013 is going to be solid regardless we project.

Jay Leno put it best: “It’s 4 a.m. for our economy and Lindsay Lohan is behind the wheel.”

All that aside, we are confident about the New Year. Much of that comes from your comments and projections. January looks to be filled with new islands, inlines, and large rental projects for the upcoming spring show schedule.

We thank you all for the business in 2012 and the new business coming in early 2013. You are our lifeblood, and we appreciate your dedication to Classic Exhibits, Exhibits NW, Classic Rentals, and ClassicMODUL.

Cheers to a positive 2013. If you are a curious about upcoming trends, please take a few minutes to review “100 Things to Watch in 2013.”

Here is a funny to enjoy as you exit 2012. Hopefully this represents a little of all of us post-holiday feasting.

Be safe and have a terrific celebration this Monday and Tuesday.

Kevin Carty






Town Call | November 8 | Reserve Your Seat!

October 25th, 2012 COMMENTS

Classic Exhibits Distributors

Register NOW and reserve your seat for the quarterly Town Call Webinar on Thursday, November 8. Kevin, Reid, Jen, Jim, and Mel will provide a snapshot of industry trends, upcoming events, and all things Classic Exhibits. It’s your chance to grill us on what’s new, what’s different, and what’s the what. Don’t miss it . . . It’s like watching five monkeys at the zoo speak English.

It’s only an hour . . . it’s only once a quarter . . . so join us for this community gathering of peers.

Topics include:

  • iPad Kiosk Trends
  • Rental Designs
  • The World’s Fastest 3 Minute Review of Exhibit Design Search
  • Our 2013 Predictions
  • How the Newaygo Football team did in the Michigan state playoffs
  • What we learned by simply paying attention
  • EDPA Access, EXHIBITOR 2013, and much more


–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.

Why Blog? What Bloggers Say.

October 23rd, 2012 COMMENTS

Why Blog?

We’re often asked by Classic Exhibits Distributors about the benefits of blogging:  “Isn’t it time consuming? How do you decide on topics? How often should I submit posts?” I have a hard time answering those questions because the answer is, “It depends.” I ask them if they enjoy writing about our trade shows and events, or if they feel they have something to share about sales, marketing, or small business. They do, even if they don’t realize it. That’s the first reason to blog. Everything else is frosting on the cake.

Blogging may seem a little old fashion compared to Facebook and Twitter, but it’s not. Good content (and the catharsis that comes from writing) is important. So why should you do it? I did a search on “Why Blog?” You might enjoy the answers, along with links to the original posts. Enjoy.

Build Trust

People are skeptical. They are skeptical about strangers on the street and they are even more skeptical about strangers on the internet. A blog with consistent, truthful and helpful content will allow you to bridge that gap between distrust to trust.

Growing Stream of Organic Search Traffic

It’s hard to think that anybody would doubt the benefits of blogging to improving your organic search engine efforts, which in turns drives more traffic to your site, but in case there are any unbelievers out there…here’s the evidence:  people who’ve blogged five times in the last 7 days will get 6.9 times more search traffic.

But influence may be the grandest reason to blog. Garnering influence means building an online voice and thought leadership with every word you write, and every piece of content that you would share online.

Writing Leads to Understanding

Blogging forces you to write down your arguments and assumptions.  This is the single biggest reason to do it, and I think it alone makes it worth it.

When you move from your head to “paper,” a lot of the hand-waveyness goes away and you are left to really defend your position to yourself.

A business blog is an informal, easily maintained method for regularly communicating with your customers. A business blog offers a more approachable, informal information-providing approach in which customers find enjoyment, get to know your company, and learn about your products, achievements, and innovations.

A business blog is an informal, easily maintained method for regularly communicating with your employees. Whether you host your internal employee blog on a commercial site, on your webpage in a password protected location or on your Intranet, you have created a strong communication tool.


Town Call Review: Word on the Street — July 23rd thru July 27th

July 29th, 2012 2 COMMENTS
Town Call Meeting

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Classic’s Town Call

With July almost past, I am beginning to question where summer has gone. In Oregon, it doesn’t begin until July 5. I’ve heard Mel’s wife refer to June in the Pacific Northwest as “Junuary.” Very true, particularly this year.

Well, with August around the corner, we are already in full blown busy mode. Lots and lots of designing and quoting for fall shows. Thank you very much for the new opportunities both large and small, kits and custom. From what we’ve seen, some amazing work lies ahead in the coming months.

Our sincere thanks to those distributors who attended our first Classic Town Call on Thursday. We had a very good crowd and plenty of questions. As with any new initiative, we were a little nervous, but based on your feedback, we are excited to continue this format following the end of each quarter. With each one, we’ll refine the presentation and the message.

For those who missed the call, here is a link on YouTube to the recording of the call.

Those who joined us heard about the market trends we’ve seen in the first six months of 2012,  such as:

  • Retail. More Retail Display projects, both prototypes and production runs
  • Custom. More and more true “Custom Elements” whether as standalone projects or as components of kits both inline and islands
  • Silicone Edge Graphics. SEG is not only here to stay, but it’s also becoming a “standard.” Classic is bending as many TSP profiles for SEG graphics as possible, much to the chagrin of our Production crew 🙂
  • Personnel. New Additions to the Classic Family of Employees to handle your sales growth
  • Research and Development. New Products coming such as more iPad Kiosks, and many new products that were added in the first half of the year
  • Rentals. Custom Rentals have not slowed as Purchase sales have increased. Rentals are up 20% YTD, on top of the increases over the past four years. Lots of hybrid island rentals
  • ClassicMODUL. We’re opening another regional depot in the next 45 days and if you haven’t checked the prices lately at CM . . . you should. They’ve gone down on many common profiles.

Well, I hope you take a few minutes to check out the Town Call recording and please let us know what you think. How can we make this quarterly Town Hall meeting with you even better in the future. We  want your thoughts and your constructive criticism.

For now, I am back to painting my house. Some idiot (ME) thought that this could be done in two days. Which makes sense if each day was 64 hours long.

Be well and have a great week ahead.

–Kevin Carty