Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘training’

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.



Your Exhibit Success Challenge Series

August 5th, 2013 COMMENTS

Let the Challenge Begin!

Today begins three weeks of education and inspiration to spur your exhibit marketing plans forward for this fall’s shows and beyond.

8/6    Katina Rigall from Classic Exhibits Inc.:  “Design Trends for Memorable Exhibits”
8/8    Simon Harrop from BRAND Sense:  “Incorporating Multisensory Marketing”
8/13  Heidi Thorne from  “Creative Ideas for Promotions”
8/15  Steve Lager from AudioVision Productions:  “How to Use Video to Promote & Engage”
8/20  Marlys Arnold from Exhibit Marketers Café:  “Who’s the Face of Your Exhibit?”
8/22  Siobhan Connellan from Experient:  “Lead Management Secrets”

How to Participate

Each week during the Challenge, you’ll receive an e-mail with links to the expert interviews as they’re available (scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays). You’ll have until Sunday night that week to listen before the replays go away.

Also each week, we’ll be issuing a Challenge related to that week’s topic. While it will require some thoughtful consideration, it won’t take a ton of time for you to complete. And keep in mind that these Challenges are ultimately designed to move you forward in your exhibit marketing strategies!

Your Reward

Complete all three weekly Challenges and you’ll have the opportunity to pick my brain … for free! Simply submit a short form each week to share your ah-ha’s from each speaker and respond to the Challenge. I’ll send you an invitation to a VIP call in September where you can ask me anything. (And yes, that will be recorded as well.)

Bonus Goodies

Just because this is a virtual event doesn’t mean you can’t have some goodies for your tote bag! So here’s my first bonus gift for you: An excerpt from Build a Better Trade Show Image on setting goals (PDF)

For more great exhibiting strategies, join us in the Exhibit Marketers Café — It’s the place to get what you need to nourish and refresh your exhibit marketing program.

See you in the Challenge!
Marlys Arnold

P.S. Want to recommend the YES Challenge to someone? Please don’t forward this e-mail, but instead send them to (And of course sharing that link on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn is also appreciated – Thanks!)

SKU …. Part Deux: Word on the Street — October 1st thru October 5th

October 7th, 2012 2 COMMENTS

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

Teacher’s Pets

Two weeks ago, we hosted our second Shared Knowledge University training. It was a very successful educational and networking event with an outstanding group of new and veteran distributors. To the attendees, we loved having you here. The give and take, your humor, and your insights made it truly special. If there was an award for Teacher’s Pets, you would have all won.

The two day training was conducted at the Classic Exhibits facility and a nearby Courtyard by Marriott. We started the mornings at the Marriott covering topics such as Exhibit Design Search, ClassicMODUL, design, project management, and presentations by Optima and Eco-Systems Sustainable. We even reviewed Classic’s business philosophy and Bread Crumb Orders. Then after lunch, we headed to Classic for hands-on product training where the attendees toured the shop, learned about the rental program, and  spent about three hours each day disassembling products as well as learning the how, why, and when of the Classic product line.

We finished each day off at a unique Portland venue. Night one, we spent in a classroom of sorts as we had dinner at the Historic McMenamins Kennedy School. Great food and fun, all while the replacement referees in the NFL sealed their fate during the final seconds of the Seattle Seahawks Monday Night football game.

Tuesday evening, we gathered at Widmer Bros. Brewery, one of the founding craft breweries in the Pacific Northwest. I appreciate everyone’s patience with the small room. The close quarters meant we got to know one another a litter better.

Enthusiastic Attendees

The key to any event is attentive and enthusiastic attendees. It makes a big difference when people are plugged in and ready to learn. The SKU attendees came prepared to learn and be engaged. We really appreciated that! This event’s attendees came from Georgia, Virginia, NY, California, Tennessee, Oregon, and Washington. Great group!

Second key is content. I hope we achieved the goal of having excellent content. Thanks to our partners from Eco-Systems Sustainable and Optima Graphics. We appreciate your participation. I also want to thank the Classic Exhibits presenters who worked hard on their content and who’s participation made a big difference.

Mel took the role as Captain Stubbing once again leading most of the aspects of the training and doing yet another phenomenal job, all the while being two days out from separating his shoulder on the Club 815 ride. Very impressive. I on the other had once again took on the role of Julie McCoy planning all the evening and lunch events on the “Lido Deck.”

We welcome your feedback on improving the SKU trainings. So please, if you attended SKU, please share your comments and suggestions with us. We will continue to tweak the event to make the experience be the best it can be for all who attend. For those who want to attend the next SKU, please let us know. We are planning a spring session but would be happy to hold one earlier if there is enough interest.

Lastly, Class of September 2012, I am very proud of you all, but remember your pledge! I have no shame yanking your diplomas if I bump into you at my local grocery store.

All the photos are compliments of Ann Keys-Spencer from Exhibit Expressions. We SINCERELY thank her for her expertise and commitment to capturing the flavor of Shared Knowledge University. So many amazing photos!

Kevin Carty


SKU…What a Pisser: Word on the Street — April 23rd thru April 27th

April 29th, 2012 COMMENTS
Classic Exhibits SKU--Shared Knowledge University

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

What a Pisser

If you attended Shared Knowledge University, you know what I am talking about. 🙂

This past week, we held Shared Knowledge University (SKU) training at Classic Exhibits. Based on the early feedback, I think it was a successful event. We had 24 enthusiastic distributors from as far east as Albany, New York, as far south as New Orleans, and as close as Las Vegas and Orange County.

The two day training was conducted at the Classic Exhibits facility and a nearby Courtyard by Marriott. We started each morning with the classroom portion at the Marriott. Then after lunch, we headed over to Classic for hands-on product training where the attendees toured the shop, learned about the rental program, and then spent about three hours each day disassembling products as well as learning about how, why, and when each product was brought to market.

Don't Ask!

Don't Ask!

For a training session to be successful, everything has to come together just right. Here are two elements from SKU that seemed to shine.

Engaged Attendees. Our compliments to the attendees. All 24 came ready to learn. As the trainers, we can’t express how much we appreciate that. Thanks for asking good questions, participating in every session, and for giving us your full attention for two days — even after a late night in the Boiler Room on Monday. You made it easy. Mostly, we appreciate how you embraced the “shared knowledge” theme by sharing your experiences during the sessions and the social events. Your coaching added so much, particularly for the those distributors new to Classic and/or the industry. Thank you!

Content is KING. Whether it is a Distributor Open House or a manufacturer’s training program, content is the glue. For that content, we have many to thank. Mel, first and foremost, pulled together the Master Plan and served as the Master of Ceremonies in the classroom. I know I speak for Mel when I say how proud we are of our staff and their participation in the training. In particular, Mike Swartout (Design Director), Wade West (PM), Charlie Shivel (PM) and Jeff Garrett (Setup PM). We were impressed by their sessions, the content they shared, and their presentations. Last, but certainly not least, our thanks to Dave Brown from Optima Graphics and Eric Albery from Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits. They not only agreed to fly to Portland for the training, but also conducted engaging and educational sessions as well.

I thought I’d share a few post-SKU comments from the attendees:

“The flow of the training was just-right, with a sensible progression from overview, to key people, processes, and products. And as much as I thought I had figured-out EDS from my own exploration, the EDS training took me that last bit of the way to understanding its great value as a sales tool.”

“The visit to Classic Exhibits proved very informative and I thought being able to see how your facility operates as well as being able to see the actual properties in person helped us get a better understanding of how the process works. Another added bonus was being able to have some hands on experience with tearing down some of the pop ups so we could have a better understanding when those questions come in from our clients we will be able to answer to them.”

“I talked to many of the attendees towards the end of Day 2 and all of them had great things to say about the presentations, the products, the knowledge, and the organized agenda. You guys did an amazing job putting this together!”

We will be holding another SKU event in mid-September. If you are interested in attending the next SKU training, please let Reid Sherwood or me know. Attendance will be limited to 25.

Two last things for the attendees: DO NOT FORGET THE OREGON PLEDGE! And . . . if the most memorable part of your time in Portland was the porcelain art at Bridgeport, then we succeeded as hosts.

Be well and have a great weekend.

–Kevin Carty

p.s. As a reminder, through May 31 your customer will receive a free copy of the book Build a Better Trade Show Image by Marlys Arnold on any hybrid display purchase. For a sneak peek, here’s a 45 page sample of the ebook. Also, take a minute to checkout the current specials in Exhibit Design Search in the Exhibit Specials gallery — 10 ft., 20 ft., and island designs.

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