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Posts Tagged ‘Trade show industry’

Our 4th FABulous Year! | Event Marketer FAB 50

September 10th, 2016 2 COMMENTS

Event Marketer Fab 50 2016 Exhibit Fabricator

It’s September! And activity is CLEARLY on the upswing based on your design and quote requests last week. Talk about a green flag start to the fall season. Thanks as always for trusting us with your projects. It’s very much appreciated!

In addition to this week being busy, it’s also been FABULOUS! Why you ask? Because for the fourth straight year, Classic Exhibits Inc. was honored as an Event Marketer FAB 50. The FAB 50 names the Top 50 Exhibit Fabricators in North America. This is a judged listing, not a popularity contest, complete with a comprehensive application and background check.

We are proud and humbled by this honor, considering the other 49 honorees. All amazing companies in our industry. And 30 are also Classic Exhibits Distributors/Partners. Wow!

So a huge KUDOS to those named to the 2016 Fab 50. Very well deserved to one and all.

Event Marketer Fab 50 Exhibit Fabricators

We’re the highlight one with the arrow. 😉

Like you, we take our responsibilities very seriously and even personally. This is a testament to our employees — the Designers, Project Managers, Detailers, Accounting, Purchasing, and our talented Production team. This recognition speaks to their commitment to Shared Success which serves as the foundation of our company. Thank you.

Finally, a BIG THANKS to Event Marketer and to the judges. We’re not a traditional custom house, although we build custom exhibits. In some ways, it would be easy to overlook us. And yet… you haven’t. You recognized the qualities that make us different from every other exhibit builder. For that, we are very, very grateful.

Finally, for all the parents reading this, school is back in session. For those with young kids (K thru 12) can I get an AMEN?! I don’t know about you, but I love my kiddos dearly, but I am so happy to be back on a normal schedule. Summer is supposed to be a time for rest and relaxation. Not in my house. It’s all about chasing kids. 🙂

Looking forward to seeing and talking to you during the busy fall season.

Have a great weekend with you and yours.



EDPA ACCESS 2015 Recap: Word on the Street — Dec. 7th thru Dec. 11th

December 12th, 2015 COMMENTS
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits


Happy December! Santa is almost here, we are constructing arks in the Pacific NW (rain, rain, and more rain), and I am still on an an energetic HIGH from the Annual EDPA ACCESS Conference. For those unable to attend, I wanted to share a recap of this event, an annual favorite of mine.

2015 EDPA ACCESS was held at the Red Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. First, standing ovation to the ACCESS team for choosing one of the top three locations ever — self-contained, great rooms, great restaurants, and a casino just far enough away from the strip.

The layout was perfect. Every session, social event or program was within walking distance… and no more than five minutes from your room. This (and much more) made the event location darn near ideal.

The sessions were great. Admittedly I was not blown away when I first saw the program. Not disappointed — just not blown away. But Wednesday and Thursday were off the charts good from an educational and a collaborative standpoint. Like in past years, I mapped out the sessions on my calendar, not leaving any openings. And I was glad I did. Some highlights…

The Management Issues Forum on Wednesday

The forum gave CFO’s, CEO’s, VP’s, GM’s and Sales Managers the opportunity to discuss pressing issues affecting us all. Not be talked too but to talk together about the real issues we face. Topics included the recent/pending NLRB decision about temporary employees/labor, design costs and fees (do you charge, do you not?), and hiring strategies/difficulties related to Gen X vs. Gen Y vs. Millennials.

As a business manager, it was comforting knowing that the same challenges we face at Classic are present at companies of all sizes.

First-timers Meeting

Near and dear to my EDPA heart is the First-timers session. Like past years, I was asked to serve as a mentor during this session. Some first-timers are employees of existing EDPA-member companies, but many that are new to the association.

Laura Marzella Fee and her team created a welcoming environment for newbies to EDPA, and I was able to co-mentor with Stacy Barnes, a long time friend from Eagle Management.

More than 10 years ago, I drank the EDPA kool-aid and have never regretted its sweet taste. So this was another opportunity for me to share why I like EDPA so much, and brag about all the good I see our association doing in our industry. EDPA provides college scholarships to industry members, assists financially and emotionally those who have lost loved ones to sickness or tragedy via the Randy Smith Foundation, and helps mentor college students at Bemidji State University and FIT in NYC.

Thanks to my group for listening to Stacy and asking great questions.

An Owner’s Guide to The Future

This was one of the keynotes, given so eloquently by David Zach, a futurist. David’s used real world examples of how each decision we make during each moment of our lives affects everything in our lives from that very moment. If you were there you know what I mean. SQUIRREL!!

The business decisions we make, and many we don’t, are a reminder to make a hard decision. Trust yourself. Delaying the tough decisions often do more damage in the long run than making a wrong decision in the short-term.

Some books to explore:

  1. The Pirate Organization by Rodolphe Durand
  2. Curious by Ian Leslie
  3. Zero to One by Peter Theil

Good stuff… and a terrific keynote speaker!

2015 EDPA Portable/Modular Summit

Moderated by Jay Burkette from ExpoDisplay, this year’s summit was one of the most interactive conversations we’ve ever had. A big thanks to those in audience who spoke up and kept the conversation rolling.

The best takeaway was that as a builders, designers, and producers that we are ALL building Custom Exhibits.

What??? did Kevin just say that?!?!? Blasphemy!

Let me explain how two EDPA members put it. Which was spot on!

Inside the industry, we focus so much on wanting to compartmentalize and categorize each business. You manufacture banner stands and pop ups, so you are a Portable Manufacturer. Over there you build and sell metal so you are a Systems Manufacturer. Then you over there, you sell metal mixed with some laminated components, so your are a Hybrid Manufacturer. And then you, yes you in the front row, you build everything out of wood, so you are a Custom Exhibit Manufacturer.

Those classifications do not work anymore. Look on the floor at your next tradeshow hall and try to make sense of the 20 x 40 build with a metal skeleton, surrounded by beautifully custom laminated walls that include tension fabric lightbox inserts. This island is surrounded by modular pedestals and workstations, all of which have been customized to the client’s needs.

For too long we have tried fit in our little compartments in an effort not to offend anyone or step on anyone’s toes.

I thank the group for their candor. It was a great conversation, and one that will continue to evolve.

In Conclusion

You know I am an EDPA fan. I am a proud member of the Board of Directors for EDPA. But I am also very proud of the continued conversations the association fosters and the education it provides us all. Especially each December at ACCESS.

If you are not a member but are interested in hearing more, please call or email me anytime. I would love to share more about how EDPA can help your business and you.

OK, time to get back to this Ark Building Project. It won’t build itself. And as I write this we are almost at 8″ of rain in 3.5 days with more to come. Anyone know where I can find two jackalopes? The Sasquatch couple is already standing inline waiting to board.

Have a great weekend with your families.



E2MA Red Diamond Congress | Day 2 Notes

July 31st, 2014 2 COMMENTS
Photo courtesy of Deja Views

Photo courtesy of Deja Views

Day 2 (RDC Innovation Day)

It was a day of epiphanies about the trade show industry. Bob McClintock, COO of SMG, gave the morning keynote:  A New Facility Model: Facility as Service Provider. I know. The title sounds pretty boring, but the topic and the speaker were anything but. SMG manages McCormick Place, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and 70 other venues.

A. Evolution of Convention Center Service.

  1. Originally convention center managers were “Landlords.” And Convention Center design could be described as “prison architecture,” or in the trade as “Boxes with Docks.”
  2. Competition has forced them to adapt to become “Service Providers” with the goal of Hotel Quality Experiences.
  3. Those include local, fresh, and healthy culinary experiences, shopping and dining experiences, and updated, contemporary buildings. The new model is designed to keep attendees in the building.
  4. Labor changed as well, adopting a service provider mentality instead of a rights holder attitude.
  5. Finally, he shared three in-progress success stories:  Cobo Center, McCormick Place, and Philadelphia.
  6. I even learned a new acronym to describe the new business model:  WISMBR — What’s in Sight Must Be Right.

As with Day 1, there were more sessions than I could attend, but let me touch briefly on three. Here’s a link to the full Day 2 Schedule.

Photo courtesy of Deja Views

Photo courtesy of Deja Views

B. The Event Forecasting/Measurement Tool, by Bob Hughes. Bob’s company, The Hughes Group, has developed a new event forecasting and management tool that not only allows marketers to validate their exhibit and event spends, but also provides instruction on how marketing, sales, and operations can collaborate to optimize exhibit and event outcomes. It’s a deceptively simple online tool with a powerful database and analytical tools. It’s still in final stages of development, but I’ll let you know when it’s ready. It’s perfect for any trade show manager who wants a clear path to measuring ROI and collaboration with sales and marketing.

C. Driving Business Using Social Media, by Glass Mountain Media. Just a couple of comments from the session and then a very entertaining video about digital media.

  1. Social Media must tell a story about your business and reinforce your culture.
  2. Social Media must have a purpose and data to measure to its effectiveness.
  3. All companies must think of themselves as publishers in a world dominated by digital content.
  4. Quote:  It’s never been easier to reach customers. It’s never been harder to engage customers.
  5. Encourage, not discourage, your employees to use Social Media, but coach them on how to use it for your company.

D. Closing Keynote:  Enhancing Exhibitor Value Enables Show Growth, Amanda Helgemoe and Sue Huff. There’s no possible way I could do justice to this enlightening and informative presentation about the ongoing economic pressures in our industry. Let’s just say that not everyone takes a long-term view about creating a healthy, sustainable face-to-face community. Take time to review the slide show (click on the image). You will see an obvious disparity in rising costs. You will and you won’t be surprised by the results (hint: see the chart below).


Last but not least, a generous thanks to Jim Wurm and his team at E2MA for a terrific conference. If you didn’t attend, you missed something special.

–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


E2MA Red Diamond Congress | Day 1 Notes

July 30th, 2014 COMMENTS

red_diamondDay 1

I’m in Chicago this week for the E2MA Red Diamond Congress. For those unfamiliar with the Exhibit and Event Marketers Association and the RDC . . .

The E2MA is a community of exhibit and event marketers driven to benchmark the value of face-to face marketing. By facilitating discussions among all industry stakeholders, the E2MA’s Red Diamond Congress develops actionable ideas and solutions that can provide for industry growth and success.

What makes the RDC different from other exhibit industry events is the blending of exhibit managers, show organizers, labor contractors, union associations, and exhibit builders and distributors. There are no silos. The RDC brings everyone together to discuss shared concerns. In an industry with a history of finger pointing, it’s a refreshing and practical conference.

For those not here, I took a few notes. Not great notes admittedly, but notes.

WP_001962A. Exhibit and Event Issues:

  1. Competition for marketing budget dollars is increasing, which is . . .
  2. Creating evolving strategies
  3. Mixing tradeshows and events (48% of companies are doing private events)
  4. Forcing cost reduction pressures
  5. Putting even more focus on measurement and ROI

B. Research shows that the more engagement on the show floor, the more successful the purchase intent. Not a surprise.

C. Overall Exhibitor Retention — Average 80% (which means 1 of 5 exhibitors don’t return)

D. Exhibits and Events represent 42% of media spending for companies, second only to digital. That was a surprise to me.

E. 15 consecutive quarters of industry growth with attendance as the leading metric. Good news.

F. Average international attendance at North American shows — 15% of all attendees (at major shows). Is your client prepared for this attendee?

G. $80 billion dollar industry in the U.S.

WP_001959Kudos to the All Industry Panel. A very informative session (which could have been twice as long). It was beneficial to hear the perspectives of these industry leaders.

  • Skip Cox, Exhibit Surveys
  • Jeff Provost, Exhibit Designers and Producers Assn. (EDPA)
  • Brian Casey, Convention and Exhibition Research (CEIR)
  • Larry Arnaudet, Exhibition Service Contractors Assn. (ESCA)
  • Mike Pennington, Healthcare Convention and Exhibition Assn. (HCEA)
  • David DuBois, Intl. Assn. of Exhibits and Events (IAEE)
  • Lew Shomer, Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO)
  • Jim Wurn, Exhibit and Event Marketers Assn. (E2MA)

Special kudos to the Bridging the Generational Gap breakout session hosted by Amy Yag, Amanda Helgemoe, and Pat Friedlander. It was a lively and interactive session on how Baby Boomers, GenX, and Millennials communicate and in particular, how Millennials view the workplace (i.e., corporate culture is big, collaboration is even bigger, and they need and want a clear job description and career path).

The RDC afternoon schedule featured multiple breakout sessions, including the Generational Gap. See the link for the full Day 1 agenda. I attended Developing Your Team and DIY Research, which were both well-presented and informative.

Finally, to my fellow “Dinner with Strangers” at Seasons 22, thank you for the enjoyable evening. I’ve already done a search on the FBI Most Wanted list. No one is in the Top 10 . . . yet.

Day 2 begins in about two hours.

Oh yes, most of the sessions are being recorded, so I’m assuming they’ll be available on the E2MA website at some point.

–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



2014 Red Diamond Congress | July 28-31

June 17th, 2014 COMMENTS

Building Bridges in the Exhibit & Event Industry

The 2014 Red Diamond Congress (RDC), the third annual meeting of the Exhibit & Event Marketers Association, takes place July 28 – 31, 2014 at the Oak Brook Hills Resort in Oak Brook, Illinois. The RDC brings together all of the major players from the exhibit marketing industry to engage in thought leadership, best practice exchanges, and education aligned with business and marketing metrics and strategy.


Why RDC?

The E2MA is a community of exhibit and event marketers driven to benchmark the business value of face-to face marketing events and explore new tools, new technologies, and new techniques that can optimize face-to-face marketing. By facilitating discussions among all industry stakeholders about those issues, the E2MA’s Red Diamond Congress is dedicated to develop actionable ideas and solutions that can provide for industry growth and success.

While there are many other outstanding exhibit and event industry conferences, almost all are organized to address the needs of a single stakeholder group, and are often absent the input of key players in the exhibit and event industry. The E2MA Red Diamond Congress (RDC), by design, is a true congress of industry stakeholders that invites input from all points of view and values the collective experience of all industry professionals, no matter what segment you represent or what role you play. For in the final analysis, while it takes many different stakeholders and interest groups to produce a successful event – there is no “they,” there is only “us.”

Register NOW.

An Outstanding Program Mix

RDC_banquet_awardsThe RDC program will advance top level discussions and facilitate deep examinations into the issues that challenge us while cultivating conversations that can build better bridges of collaboration and partnership between:

  • Marketing and Sales
  • Exhibitors and Show Organizers
  • Show Organizers and Facilities
  • Contractors and Unions
  • Official Contractors and EACs

The Exhibit & Event Marketer Association invites its members, and all industry stakeholders – exhibitors, show organizers, facility management, exhibit service companies, general contractors and union personnel – to take part in this landmark event, our 3rd Annual Conference, at Oak Brook Hills in Oak Brook, IL. This is your opportunity to be part of an event where the most vexing challenges are addressed and actionable solutions are devised. The E2MA Red Diamond Congress will include:

  1. Keynote presentations from industry and marketing thought leaders
  2. “E2 Talks”, thought provoking briefs from industry innovators
  3. Case Studies, a thorough examination of new event models
  4. CME Educational programs, obtain credit toward your certification
  5. Workgroup Roundtables, show professionals collaborating on challenging issues
  6. New Product demonstrations
  7. Face-to-Face Connections, one-to-one appointments and Focus Group sessions
  8. Team Challenges, fun-filled friendly competitions between industry stakeholders
  9. And, much more!

Register NOW for the E2MA Red Diamond Congress. I’ll see you there.

–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