Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘SKU’

French Lickin’ Mary Ann: Word on the Street — May 26th thru May 30th

May 31st, 2014 COMMENTS

SKU1Shared Knowledge University Graduates Another AMAZING Class!

A little over a week ago, Classic Exhibits held the Spring 2014 session of Shared Knowledge University (SKU). To say that it was our nicest group ever is not an overstatement. IT WAS!

Starting on Sunday May 18, 42 attendees arrived from all over the country to attend Classic Exhibits’ bi-annual training. Attendees came from as far as Pennsylvania, New Jersey and South Carolina and as close as Oregon and Washington — and many states in between. The group was the key to the overwhelming success of the event. They were prepared to learn, attentive in class, and hands-on once we hit the shop floor.

The events started casually on Sunday night where we hosted a dinner with attendees who arrived early. We had a chance to share stories at a local brewery before the event “officially” started. After that, we kicked into full gear Monday morning.

Each SKU involves a lot of preparation and a little anxiety since we want everything to be “just so.” But like always, everything went without a hitch.

As a long-time employee of Classic, one of my favorite parts of SKU is that first moment when the group arrives at our facility. It’s our home 8-12 hours a day, so seeing the reaction of the attendees as they walk in is always something I look forward to and enjoy. For most, it’s an eye-opener, with reactions of “Oh wow! You were not kidding.” The shop and the tour reinforces what they have heard from Jen LaBruzza, Reid Sherwood, Mel White and me for years.

Our proud spring 2014 graduates ranged from industry veterans of more than 25 years to folks that were new our industry. Which in itself added to the value of the session. I witnessed a lot of sidebar conversations from student to veteran where ideas were shared and contact information was swapped in hopes of helping one another on future projects.

Spring 2014 SKU Video

The two-day event was not just classroom and shop-level training. There was a lot of fun as well. We are proud of the City of Roses and love the opportunity to show all things “Portlandia,” which includes an evening at the always interesting Kennedy School in NE Portland. Originally an elementary school, it was opened in 1915, then closed in 1975, only to be re-opened in 1997 as a restaurant and hotel including many unique spaces such as the “Detention Room”…now a cigar bar and the “Gym”…now a large group event space. It’s a great place that the group enjoyed, some perhaps a little more than others. 🙂

Evening two, we ventured into the Pearl District of Portland to the Bridgeport Brewery, a restaurant and bar that was opened in what used to be one of many vacant industrial buildings in downtown Portland. The Pearl District is clearly “THE” hotspot in downtown Portland. It’s an Urban Living area complete with restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and apartments/condos.

Before dinner Tuesday night, we took a detour to the Exhibits Northwest Portland showroom for a cocktail reception hosted by Jim Shelman (GM) and the gracious staff at Exhibits NW Portland. It’s a beautiful showroom, and the ENW team created a relaxing atmosphere after two grueling days of intense training.

SKU Photos

I have received many thank you emails since sending the honored graduates on their way (after they recited their secret Graduate Pledge). In particular, I was touched by their comments about the Classic people they met, from Production to Accounting and from Design and Customer Service. Many praised their dedication, openness, and sincerity. One person asked a project manager if Classic was an Employee Owned Company because of everyone’s committment to the business and to the company’s core values of Shared Knowledge, Shared Responsibility, and Shared Success.

Time and time again, what I am most proud of is our people. Take away the shop, the products, the website. Take it all away, and we are still left with the greatest and most dedicated group of employees a company could ask for. And the fact that it “shows” to those coming just for two days is what makes SKU so successful each and every time.

So thank again to all who attended. We appreciate your business and your support for our work families and our home families. And most of all, thanks to the entire team that makes SKU . . . SKU. It’s a great opportunity for people to learn about what we do and more importantly how hard we work to make everyone successful. Finally, a special thanks to our guest speakers:  Dave Brown from Optima, Eric Albery from Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits, and Tim Patterson, the Tradeshow Guy!

Have a great weekend with your families. June is upon us if you can believe it! We look forward to serving you as we roll into the summer.

Be well.


p.s. Want to know what Mary Ann has to do with SKU? Well, you’ll have to attend the September 29-30 session. Contact Jen or Reid for more information.

p.s.s. Eric, you finally graduated. Dave, not yet. One more semester.



No Mountain is Too High . . . Well Maybe One: Word on the Street — September 30th thru October 4th

October 6th, 2013 COMMENTS
o Mountain is Too High …Well Maybe One: Word on the Street -- September 30th thru October 4th

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Welcome to the month of October. Yep, that’s right. Three quarters have come and gone in 2013. It’s truly hard to believe. But we certainly ended with a bang. And I hope the same is true for you.

Classic Exhibits had its largest September EVER! So THANK YOU for your continued confidence and loyalty. We certainly appreciate it!

September came to a close with two events: Shared Knowledge University (Fall 2013 session) and The Club 815 Gran Fondo Fundraising Bike Ride.

Shared Knowledge University — Go Fighting Hybrids!

First, SKU was another screaming success. While the group was a bit smaller than some past classes, this semester’s graduating class was engaged, participatory, and of course just plain good people.

McMenamins Detention Room

On behalf of Mel, Jim, me, and the entire family here at Classic Exhibits Inc., thanks to the new graduates for giving your time and attention. We hope you left with a better understanding of the breadth of the product line, the usefulness of the tools we offer such as EDS, and of course we hope you have an even better sense for who we are as a company.

Finally, every class is distinct, and every class leaves its mark on the school and you. The Class of September 2013 was no different. You have left us with memories of KNOBS and just how critical they are to our day-to-day work and personal lives. Now graduates . . . . celebrate your degree with a muffin or two. Please let Jen LaBruzza or Reid Sherwood know if you would like to participate in the May 2014 class. Space is limited and typically fills fast for the Spring session.

Grand Fondo Hood River Bike Ride

Second, The Club Rode once again.

On Saturday September 28, 2013, the setting was once again picturesque Hood River, Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge.

The Team: Joel Roy, Cathy Roy, Grant Murrell, Greg Garrett, Mel White, Dave Brown and Kevin Carty. The Cause:  to raise funds for our colleague and friend Mike Swartout, Design Director of Classic Exhibits.

If this sounds familiar, it should. This is the second year we have ridden this same ride for this same great friend. But believe me when I say this year was much, much different in both good and bad ways.

The good part was that this year the wind was manageable, Only about 20 MPH at its worst. But the Bad part was it rained cats and dogs for the first 51 miles of the 80 mile ride. I mean it poured!

To my teammates — Thank You! You are all inspiring individuals in your own right and I appreciate you taking the time once again to go on the ride with me. I know you will agree with me when I say, the rain really was no big deal and did not bother us at all. We were motivated by the presence of Mike and Janet Swartout all along the route. Having you both there was so great and soooo appreciated! Especially at the King of the Mountain climb.

And thanks to all who donated to our ride. We truly appreciate all your support! And its not to late to send in last minute donations. Please follow this link:

Back to business. I hope your fall is shaping up as well as ours. And thanks again for such a great kickoff to the fall.

Be well.



Spring SKU 2013 Graduation: Word on the Street — May 6th thru May 10th

May 12th, 2013 COMMENTS
SKU Spring 2013 Graduation: Word on the Street -- May 6th thru May 10th

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

To the Spring 2013 SKU Graduates

What can I say? I am honored you attended Shared Knowledge University. Thanks for participating in an amazing SKU. By the email commentary (that’s still going on), I feel confident in saying that we had the most successful session yet. For those who attended, please share your thoughts in the blog comment section. Future SKU attendees need to hear from you!

SKU has proven to be an effective training program, and a chance to connect, to share ideas, to welcome new team members, and to strengthen existing relationships. This time was no different. We had a diverse blend of newbies, industry pros, and everything in between. All came prepared with great questions as well as thoughtful suggestions and recommendations.

Content Content Content is something I have always admired about a good training program or open house. And from the feedback — we delivered. Big thanks to Chris Griffin from TS Crew and Dave Brown from Optima Graphics for providing great sessions. Very well done men!!

Shared Knowledge University

Along with our guest speakers, I have to tell you I am always so impressed by our staff and partners and the roles they play. Eric Albery from Eco-Systems Sustainable and from Classic — Cynthia Geddis, Jen LaBruzza, Reid Sherwood, Jim Shelman, Wade West, Charlie Shivel, Mike Swartout, Katina Rigall, and James Sharpe. You did a great job, and I am proud of you as co-workers, professionals, and people. Thanks for representing the company that I love so much.

And who can forget Mel White! Another stellar job leading the way. And thanks for embracing the new moniker “Melberace” — a truly fabulous tradeshow mascot.

So what did we learn aside from the obvious Classic Exhibits production offerings, benefits, and advantages? A lot! But here are a few highlights I would like to share.

1) Apparently our guests believe that the “R” in Portland is silent (clearly, they’ve been watching too much Portlandia).

2) If you’re going to be a nice guy, be a really nice guy! (stolen from my father-in-law and mentor Lowell Nickens).

3) Blue Jeans  are controversial.

4) It’s never fun when “your feeling a little grumbly in the ole’ meow mixer.”

5) Group A ROCKS!

The Detention Room

6) Sacagawea may have been a candidate for an early episode of Teen Mom if television had been around.

7) On a wild van ride back from dinner at The Kennedy School — “I don’t think we’ve ever had an SKU group quite like this.”

8) It ALWAYS rains in Portland, and it is filled with dirty stinky hippies (don’t ever forget that class!).

9) Reid Sherwood is always at home in a “detention room” of some sort.

10) Habanero Fritters are just as hot as they sound, even when you only eat 1/4 of one.

11) The knobs are f—-ing priceless!

12) Doing business with friends is truly the only path to Shared Success.

Once again, thanks to the attendees. I enjoyed meeting the new folks and connecting with those I already knew. You are all wonderful people, and the Classic Exhibits Family looks forward to working with for many, many years to come.

Have a wonderful weekend!

And to the attendee that blurted out “Wife Swap” when asked about their guilty TV pleasure, please, oh please, seek help.

Kevin Carty


Shared Knowledge University (SKU): Word on the Street — April 16th thru April 20th

April 22nd, 2012 COMMENTS
Classic Exhibits SKU--Shared Knowledge University

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Class is in Session

For seven years, we have been committed to “Shared Success.” The concept is simple: What can we do to make our distributors better and to help them be more successful. Their success, in turn, makes us more successful. It requires listening, sharing, and implementing ideas to serve them and their customers.

For the past four years, we’ve talked about “Shared Knowledge.” Shared Knowledge is our commitment to make as much information as possible available to our distributors via our website, our design database, and our past order database. This IP has proven to be invaluable to selling Classic exhibits to your clients. For example, many of the kits on Exhibit Design Search include links to the set-up instructions, graphic dim sheets, and photos of those kits (and variations of those kits).

Shared Knowledge University (SKU)

Now we are embarking on the next phase of this program: SKU — Shared Knowledge University. SKU is a comprehensive group training program at the Classic Exhibits facility in Portland Oregon, the first one will be held Monday and Tuesday, April 23rd and 24th.

Product training is not new to us. We average about one training session every three weeks, but those trainings have been small one-on-one sessions with a distributor and/or their sales team.

Shared Knowledge UniversitySKU is much the same, but also different. There will be 24 people from 10 companies for a group training schedule. The training promises to be comprehensive and intensive over two full days. It will include all the Classic Exhibits lines, as well as ClassicMODUL Aluminum Extrusion, Classic Rentals, Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits (by Eric Albery) and Optima Graphics (by David Brown).

The Eco-systems and Optima sessions will focus on their products and services and highlight how their companies partner with Classic Exhibits.

To say we are “excited” for Monday and Tuesday is to minimize how we are approaching these two days. Mel and I see it as our next step in supporting Shared Success.

For those attending, we look forward to seeing you and to having some good “off hours” fun as well. We are excited to show you what Portland offers during our dinner excursions.

For the rest of you, I will report back on the training and hope you will partake in this new program. We plan to make SKU a regular event three times a year. We will announce the next session soon, most likely in September.

On another note.  Business continues to be positive. We thank you for your business and hope you are experiencing the same success.

Have a great weekend!

–Kevin Carty