Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘Sacagawea’

5 Classic Tips x 5 Days = 25 Delights | Day #2

November 8th, 2016 COMMENTS


Welcome Back!

Today, we stroll through the colorful history of our product names. We’ll even touch on the funky Classic Exhibits logo. Don’t scoff. It’s more interesting than you think.

Insight #6 — SEGUE

Six years ago, all SEG-type displays were in Visionary Designs. We got tired of searching for them in VD whenever you requested an SEG design so we created SEGUE. Obviously, the SEG in SEGUE stands for silicone edge graphics, but did you know that segue, like in a movie, means the transition from one scene to another? Or in our case, from one product line to another. Seamlessly.

Insight #7 — Sacagawea

I know it’s hard to pronounce, and I’m sorry. When we developed Sacagawea during the Great Recession, we wanted to continue an “explorer” naming system, like Magellan. It seemed clever at the time. Unfortunately, we soon realized that most explorers have “issues” (think Balboa, Pizarro, Cortes, etc.).

My wife suggested Sacagawea, a resourceful and invaluable guide who accompanied Lewis and Clark. Since the new line was lightweight, durable, practical, and adaptable, it made sense. Honestly, I still think it makes sense, and it’s the only product line in our industry named after a woman.

Insight #8 — Gravitee

Gravitee was born from multiple intense R&D sessions in 2015 where we mined our past product successes to create a new modular panel system. The elegant clips from Euro LT, the 180° hinge from Intro, the MODUL locking system, and our familiarity with custom wood construction. We realized that connecting the panels was as easy as letting gravity do the work. The Newton and apple tree concept came along for the ride. As for the spelling… blame marketing.

Insight #9 — Aero, Intro, Quadro, and Euro LT

No idea since the lines predate me. That said… they are most self-explanatory, except for the weird fixation with ending in “O.” FYI — There was a Euro before there was a Euro LT.

Insight #10 — Classic Exhibits Logo

cesymbolonlyI am told it was created by a design agency on the East Coast. Kevin loves the Classic logo. I’ve grown to (mostly) love it over the years as we’ve made subtle changes. If nothing else, it’s iconic.

Eleven years ago and about seven months after accepting the job at Classic, I mentioned the logo to a distributor who said they liked how the “C” crested the “E.” To be honest, I had never noticed the “C” before in the logo. Now suddenly it made sense! Before that, I just thought it resembled Marvin the Martian.

OK, maybe it wasn’t quite as interesting as I promised, but it’s not like you’ve never been disappointed in a story.

Hump day tomorrow with #11 thru #15.

–Mel White


The Life Cycle of a Portable Hybrid Display

August 16th, 2016 2 COMMENTS


I need to gripe… so I can move on.

Quality Cycles

As you know, all products have cycles. No surprise there. However, one cycle that’s rare discussed is the quality cycle.

In general, first generation (new) products are introduced with mid-level quality. Meaning, while the materials may be of a higher quality, there are always bugs, features, etc. that lessen the “perceived” value. Those are remedied quickly, and the quality improves. Think first generation smartphones, cars, or footwear.

If the product is successful, then others rapidly enter the market. Some add features at the same quality level, but others look for ways to cut costs and the selling price. That may include improving production, increasing volume (and lowing their margins), or the tried-and-true method of making a cheaper version with less optimal or alternative materials. These products may look the same, but rarely perform as well as the higher-quality versions.

What Do We Do?

As customers, we experiment with the look-a-like cheaper versions, ex. shoes, lawnmowers, jewelry, or BBQ grills. We discover that price is usually a good indicator of quality. That doesn’t mean we won’t buy a less expensive suit or dress, for example, but we understand that it won’t perform at same level as the more expensive one.

You know this, intuitively. In our business, exhibitors are often confused by a product that appears to be the same but is less expensive. Pop Ups and Banner Stands fit this pattern. You know that and are able to describe the differences to your customers based on your experiences with those products.

Can you do the same with Portable Hybrid Displays? That’s much harder.

1202_render_1bEarlier this week, I saw a 10 ft. hybrid backwall for $1,759. It included plex wings, a fabric graphic, lights, and a case. Great price on a kit that looks similar to a Sacagawea Portable Hybrid at around $4000.

I often see the bargain imported hybrids on the trade show floor, so I thought I’d share what I see as the major differences. These are not obvious, especially if your only point of reference is an online rendering.

1. Much lower quality aluminum (softer) with thinner walls, less internal ribbing, and minimal anodizing. Meaning it will dent, scratch, distort, and discolor after two or three shows. Do you recall when pop ups displays always featured “aircraft grade” aluminum? It matters.

2. Hinky hardware connections (yes, I said hinky!). I can’t tell you how many I’ve seen leaning like the Tower of Pisa. Most of the time, the connections are not repairable on the budget hybrids.

3. First or second generation dye-sublimation printing on low thread-count fabric. The images are muted, and the fabric is more prone to ripping and distorting. It’s clearly not HD quality. It’s like buying a shirt at H&M. You don’t expect it to last.

4. Minimal packaging. Basic foam and tape for one-time use. This increases the chances of damage and lost pieces — significantly.

5. 100% tool assembly and caricature-like instructions. Makes me appreciate IKEA instructions.
Plus limited upgrades and accessories.

6. Low quality roto-molded cases. The plastic walls crack, buckles break, or handles snap after several shipments. You know you’re in trouble when the case is held together with duct tape.

7. Lastly, the warranty is laughable. Not happy? Want to return it? Now you are just making my sides hurt.

Let’s Not Kid Ourselves

There is a market for these basic hybrids. And there should be. But as exhibit professionals, we shouldn’t present them as comparable to higher-quality portable hybrids, especially to our corporate clients who want a durable, attractive, and easy-to-assemble display.

Allow me to put this in perspective with a personal example. Quite a few years ago, I purchased a $169 lawnmower. It lasted four years and did an OK job, except for the wheels always falling off. Then I bought a Toro for $325. It has lasted 10 years and does an AMAZING job, and I expect it will last another 5 years. My all-to-friendly neighbor agrees.

Your customer will always buy based on their budget. And you are going to sell them what they can afford. No complaints here. However, as the “tactful professional” is important for them to understand what they are getting (and not getting) on any display purchase.

I’m better now. And I’ll move on. Comments? Please share.

–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


The 100-Day “Love It” Guarantee | A Classic Exhibits Exclusive

June 6th, 2016 COMMENTS

100 Day Trade Show Display Guarantee from Classic Exhibits

You’ll Love It — Guaranteed

Don’t like your steak. Send it back. Need a larger shirt. Exchange it. Not the right color. Return it.

There’s not much you can’t return or exchange these days… except a trade show display. Not anymore. Classic Exhibits announces the only 100-Day “Love It” Guarantee in the exhibit industry. Within the first 100 days after receiving your Sacagawea, Perfect 10/20, Quadro, or Quadro FGS Display, you can return it for a refund if you’re not completely satisfied (minus graphics and shipping).

How can Classic Exhibits make this exclusive offer? It’s not like we’re not rolling the dice. We design, engineer, and build the VERY BEST hybrid and pop-up displays. Just ask a Classic Exhibits Distributor.

What’s makes them better?

  • Engineering — Every system, kit, and part is engineered to excel show after show. No excuses.
  • Design — Our award-winning designers sweat the details. Your display is their next performance.
  • Build — We’re proud to be the industry standard for exceptional packaging and quality.

Choose the Sacagawea Portable, Perfect 10/20 Hybrid, Quadro S Pop Up, or Quadro Floating Graphic System. The only display systems with a 100-Day Return Guarantee.

Love at first sight… that lasts and lasts. Now that’s a happy ending.

100 Day Trade Show Display Guarantee from Classic Exhibits

–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


What Your Customer Doesn’t Know

July 1st, 2015 COMMENTS


We recently introduced a 100-Day Money Back Guarantee on the Sacagawea Portable Hybrid System. No one in our industry has offered a money back guarantee before. It’s a first and in our opinion long overdue. As you can imagine, we’ve had a few distributors ask us about the logic behind this. So here goes.

Online Shopping

Most inline display shopping starts online. That won’t surprise you. Customers use the web to learn about their options, see designs, and check prices. Then they make that critical call or email to an exhibit sales professional. And, unlike the “old days,” they now come to the table with some knowledge and preferences — whether it’s right or wrong.

Sadly, the web isn’t always a proud beacon of transparency, particularly when it comes to online products. Renderings, text, and videos have a way of suggesting quality and features, even where none exists.

Masquerade Ball

VK_1233More and more, we’re seeing lower quality displays masquerading as upscale exhibits, especially basic hybrid displays. We’ve all experienced this trend with pop-up displays. And, sadly, many view pop-ups and banner stands as disposable. That’s unfortunate and not our opinion (Quadro). But that’s a different fight.

We have no issue with a $3000 hybrid as a $3000 hybrid. Those should exist for customers with a limited budget. However, we shouldn’t mistake a low-end hybrid as identical to a Sacagawea. It’s not. Yes, there may be visual similarities, but that’s where it ends.

Preaching to the Choir

Are we preaching to the choir? Yes. You know there are differences — but your customer doesn’t. Here’s what they don’t know.

VK_2113 A4 Render 1f1. Thousands of happy exhibitors have bought the Sacagawea — The World’s Best Hybrid.

2. Every Sacagawea comes with die-cut reusable packaging, numbered components, custom instructions, easy knob-assisted assembly, and the industry’s best HD fabric graphics. Yes, THE BEST Dye-Sub Graphics!

3. There are high-quality accessories such as monitor mounts, counters, standoff graphics, canopies, hostess shelves, literature holders, and tablet enclosures that are innovative, easy to install, and will last years and years. For example, the Sacagawea support legs are adjustable, meaning you can reposition them to compensate for heavier loads on the workstation counter.

4. Sacagawea is built with MODUL extrusion, the highest quality, most durable engineered extrusion in the world. No other aluminum extrusion has the same thickness, strength, and finish as MODUL.

So… why the 100-Day Guarantee? Your customer will ask why they should buy Brand X vs. a Sacagawea. And you’ll explain the differences. Then, should there be any doubt in their mind, you’ll tell them that only the Sacagawea comes with a 100-Day Guarantee. No one else offers that guarantee because the Sacagawea is the highest quality, most versatile portable hybrid anywhere.

In the end, we believe that quality and engineering matters to serious trade show exhibitors. And we’re willing to stand behind that philosophy with a guarantee.

Should you have additional questions, please let us know.

–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


Mi Design NOT Su Design: Word on the Street — June 22nd thru June 26th

June 26th, 2015 2 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Intellectual Property

Protecting your Intellectual Property is nothing new (IP). Companies of all sizes are faced with companies (and governments) stealing their designs and ideas. Some folks view it as a way of doing business — leveraging the work of others for their own professional gain or sales. I once attended a business symposium, and the featured speaker of a Fortune 1000 company blatantly said his company doesn’t invest in R&D. They borrow the work of others. It was shocking to hear.

While some of our biggest challenges come from offshore companies trolling our corporate websites and blog posts to steal our images and ideas, it stings the most when it happens stateside.

Sadly, our industry is not shielded from these unethical practices within our own ranks. As a proud member of the EDPA Board of Directors, I can attest that protecting design IP has been a hot topic for many years. As a group, the EDPA-member companies do a good job for the most part honoring that unwritten rule.

Recently, a Classic distributor was presented with a competitor’s rendering by an end-user and asked to quote the design. The Classic Distributor explained to the end-user that they, along with their manufacturer (Classic in the case), do not partake in the practice of leveraging someone else’s hard work in design. Rather, they would sit down with them, determine their tradeshow marketing needs, and design a version that would meet their needs perfectly.

The client was delighted that the distributor and the manufacturer held that philosophy. Something the end-user was not used to seeing in their own industry.

Closer to Home


Having said that, we all fight these battles each and every day. Domestically and abroad. But it’s the ones closest to home that ave the most sting. An unfortunate example of that happened just this week for us. One of our talented designers put a great deal of work into designing a beautiful linear exhibit for a distributor and their potential customer several months ago. Fast forward to this week, when we saw a LinkedIn update highlighting a beautiful new build. Sadly, it was the very same design but built by some company other than Classic. We don’t know who built it, but we know who sold it, which makes it even more painful since we’ve known them for some time.

Don’t get me wrong. I know there are a lot of “kits” that can look similar from manufacturer to manufacturer. I totally get that. But when it comes to a “ground-up design,” you would hope, as we do, that some integrity would be left in the process.

Even in a stronger economy, when the fruits are fresher than they have been in sometime, there are still those companies more than willing to eat from other people’s plates.

Can anything be done about this on a large scale? Probably not. But I go back to the first example, the one where the Distributor explained to the end-user their ethical stance on the matters of protecting others IP… and still won the business.

How do you protect your designs beyond branding them with your company logos etc.?

It’s an age old question I suppose. But would appreciate your comments and feedback

On a lighter note, this June has been a HOT one! For sales and for weather. We greatly appreciate all the orders, large and small, and the opportunities sent our way. Just a reminder about our Gimme a GiftCard promotion on all inlines. Plus, as I’m sure you saw, we just launched a 100-Day Guarantee on the Sacagawea Hybrid System — An Industry FIRST.

Have a great weekend with your families and a strong work week ahead. July 4th is on the horizon.

Be well.