Trade Show TalesBlog

SEG Installation Video from Optima

October 20th, 2014 1 COMMENT

Side-by-Side Comparison

Kudos to our friends at Optima for their recent videos.  They’ve upped the ante on how to script and produce a professional educational video. Here’s a terrific one to share with your customer if they’ve purchased a silicone edge graphic display. Force them to watch it. It will save you a 9 a.m. call from the show floor that the SEG graphic(s) doesn’t fit. It does.

For more videos by Optima, go to

–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


Promote Your Business — “Countdown to Trade Show Success” Webinar

October 18th, 2014 COMMENTS

Marlys Arnold, Image Specialist

Free Exhibitor Webinar on Nov. 6

I’ve heard you say many times, “Is there a trade show webinar available to my customers that is Professional, Brandable, and Free?” Why yes my dimple-faced sweet dumpling, there is. Marlys Arnold, the Trade Show Image Specialist, will be offering her “Countdown to Tradeshow Success” webinar on Nov. 6.

BONUS:  Marlys will create a branded registration webpage for you to promote the webinar to your clients. Just contact her at 

Your customers will discover simple steps to significantly increase the return on their exhibiting investment and help guarantee success.

  • Create a buzz prior to the show
  • Design an exhibit that attracts attendees
  • Educate staff on techniques to gather the most qualified leads
  • Avoid the most common booth behavior mistakes

CaptureRegister your customers now or ask Marlys to create a custom webpage that you can send to your customers to register. Don’t miss the chance to promote your business and learn practical and useful tips from exhibit marketing expert and author Marlys Arnold. As 2014 comes to a close and we rocket into 2015, use this opportunity to spark new exhibit sales.

P.S. — Did I happen to mention that it’s FREE? Register NOW for this November 6 webinar and make your friends, family, and pets proud.


–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


How to Build a Small Wood Crate — Classic Style (video)

October 9th, 2014 6 COMMENTS

Over the years, we’ve gotten lots of compliments on our wood crates. I often joke that a distributor will call and say, “My client really liked their new display, but THEY LOVED THE CRATE AND PACKAGING!” Sigh . . . I’m never quite sure how to take that.

Our dedicated crate building team does an amazing job, so we thought we would show you how we build a small crate, often called a “coffin crate” in the trade. Expect a video showing larger crates in about a month.

Now if only someone could come up with a better term than “crate” — Reusable Cellulose Tradeshow Exhibit Containment System? Free Shared Knowledge University T-shirt to the top three suggestions. Reply using the comments tool.


–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


Why Distributors Enjoy Working with Classic

October 3rd, 2014 1 COMMENT

Shooting from the Hip Reid Sherwood

I’m asked this question a lot. New distributors will say, “What makes doing business with Classic Exhibits different from other manufacturers?” But, before I launch into this, a bit of a warning. I’m writing this from the hospital, hopped up on drugs before I have surgery. I’m in pain but I will be better in a few hours. So allow me a little latitude if this rambles.

There are No Real Egos

Mel and Kevin co-manage the entire company for a quiet owner. The invisible “Inc.” includes Classic Manufacturing, ClassicMODUL (our version of “Home Depot” of aluminum extrusion), Classic Rental Solutions (turnkey custom modular rentals), and Exhibits Northwest (a retail exhibit provider in the Pacific Northwest). Inside all of these divisions is other leadership. Over the years, we have all run into the prima donna sales person who believes without them the company would fold in a matter of days. Headstrong designers who are the creative world’s version of the prima donna sales person. And there’s always the CFO who someone, somewhere blames for always saying “No.”

Well, at Classic, our vision is based on Shared Success. We want everyone to succeed: Distributors, Vendors, Strategic Partners, and Employees. It sounds hokey, but it’s genuine. That’s not to say there aren’t a few potholes and detours, but the “Why we do what we do” is transparent. Every company knows “What they do.” Most know “How they do it.” But few know “Why they do it.” We do.

The Middle Matters

VK-1122mainRecently, a blog was written about the middle market for trade show displays. As a recap, most corporate trade show purchases are in the “middle.” For the most part, Classic’s products do not target the Slightly Better Than Cheap customer (SBTC). We could. It would mean sacrificing on product quality, accessories, packaging, and design. Instead, our products reflect features and benefits not found with SBTC displays. We offer great service, well-designed, high-quality products with world-class packaging, and set-up instructions all at a moderate cost. We’re very happy to move upstream on projects. That’s easy, whether in materials or design. We do that every day.

At the same time, we’re more than happy to pare down designs if the client has a tight budget. That’s different than SBTC. We’ll provide quality products but with a little less flair. One of the things we are most proud of as a manufacturer is our ability to CNC bend engineered aluminum. It’s not an art or guesswork. It’s manufacturing precision. Few manufacturers have this capability. If you doubt me, review their kits. But curves have a cost. More curves equals more cost, since it requires more labor and metal. But curves mean our kits are both unique and upscale without being expensive. That’s the middle.

Creative Thinking

The old cliche that we need to “think outside of the box” has been beat to a pulp. I believe thinking outside of the box can result in solutions that are cool but out-of-step with what clients want. Thinking near the edge of the box will give fresh ideas yet still keep everything in check. For example, thinking towards the edge of the box creates a way to make the best-looking backlit SEG lightbox in the industry. Thinking outside the box creates inflatable displays like a Halloween fun house!

SharedWe Enjoy Working with Our Customers

To put it bluntly, “We give a damn and it shows.” Classic understands its role in the process. We enjoy taking on a challenge from design, project management, and production/construction and providing you with a solution. Over the course of time, these wins turn customers into fans and fans into friends. The ultimate goal of making the exhibitor look spectacular at their show or event keeps creativity and problem solving headed in the right direction. And we look forward to doing it again and again. That’s the fun part.

We are Honest and Transparent

The only question we won’t answer is about our financials. Other than that, you can ask us anything, and we will answer you honestly. We will tell you if we screwed up. In fact, we will tell you that we are going to screw up. We are humans and humans make mistakes. If we do something wrong, we will acknowledge it and work quickly and diligently to correct it. We accept responsibility for our actions. On top of that, we will help you to the best of our ability if YOU make a mistake. We still feel a responsibility to be good and take care of our customers so YOUR clients are still happy with you. Which leads to the next topic.

We’re in This Together

We understand that you have options for portable, modular or custom-hybrid exhibits . . . . which is why we push our designers to create distinctive exhibits that are attractive, innovative, interesting, and affordable. If they aren’t, then they won’t sell.  That is why our project managers work tirelessly to provide well-engineered exhibits that your clients will love from the first show to the last. That is why our Production team obsesses about the details always trying to improve packaging and assembly.

Nike_Office5Like You . . . We are Nimble

No one survived The Great Recession unless they had very deep pockets or were extraordinarily nimble. For Classic, probably the best examples are the tablet kiosks and “retail and store branding” projects we’re building. That has become a nice piece of business for us. It is not a change in direction. It has broadened our direction.

We are Proud of Our Industry Partners

If you look at Exhibit Design Search, you can guess how much time, energy, and resources have been devoted to this since its inception nine years ago. We made it even better when we asked our industry “pals” to participate in it. We make no money from the sales from of those products. It is simply a way to create a “one-stop shop” for you and your customers. We are proud of our relationships with Optima, Eco-Systems Sustainable, Display Supply and Lighting, and Brumark. They are great companies.

We Haven’t Changed Our Focus – Period!

When Classic Exhibits was started in the late 80’s, we built a portable panel system and sold it through distributors.  Now, 20 plus years later, we have added many new systems and services, but we still sell them through a network of distributors. If there is anything I would like you to remember about Classic, it’s just that. We are a distributor-focused company that DOES NOT SELL DIRECT TO END USERS!

I am sure there are many other reasons. For whatever reason you choose to do business with us, we thank you.

Oh no!!! The drugs are starting to wear off. Best if I don’t proofread this. ;-)

Reid Sherwood

Another Great SKU Class : Word on the Street — September 22nd thru September 26th

September 27th, 2014 1 COMMENT
Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Shared Knowledge University Graduation

Last week, thirty trade show professionals descended on Portland, Oregon for Shared Knowledge University. The group was diverse, both in background and geography.

We are proud of every SKU graduating class, but this class was truly exceptional in my opinion. To a person, each and every student came to learn, listen, and participate in the class sessions and hands-on product training. For that, I thank you all. Your engagement across both days was truly over the top.

Anyone who has ever held a business training seminar recently knows it’s challenging to keep everyone engage. Emails are constant and responsibilities don’t suddenly disappear just because you are 2000 miles from the office.  This group, however, was involved every step of the way.

This session was a little different. We invited an outside presenter on Day 2, Pinky Gonzales from Sightworks. Pinky is an expert on all things LinkedIn. His two-hour session focused on creating compelling profiles and using LinkedIn as a sales prospecting tool. Based on SKU attendee comments, this session shook up everyone’s understanding of LinkedIn. To a person, they now recognize the true power of using LinkedIn as an active sales tool.

IMG_9189One big takeaway for both Mel and me was that we will continue to include someone like Pinky, and maybe Pinky himself, in future SKU sessions.

To the SKU Graduates, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to learn more about the business and the people at Classic Exhibits. You were all amazing. The time we spent each evening at the Kennedy School and Bridgeport Brewery was so much fun. I hope you got a little sense for what we love so much about our city. But whatever you do . . . remember THE PLEDGE!

To our industry partners who presented, Eric from Eco-Systems, Dave Brown, Robin Talbott, and Brianna Ziomek from Optima, and Marlys Arnold from the Exhibit Marketers Cafe, thank you for sharing SKU with us. Your content was “King” as they say. And we appreciate your help as always. The impact of your sessions was felt by the entire class as well as the Classic Team.

Lastly, to our Classic Family — What else can be said but thanks for all your hard work. You continue to make us all shine. We are proud of you and the work you do. The attendees’ feedback was more about YOU as group than anything else. Thanks as always!

See the Tuesday afternoon reception:


You know . . . after seven or eight of these events, you would think that I, as one of the organizers, would not really have much more to learn. Not true! I learned valuable tips regarding business as well as life. And even some odd tips that are not even business related. For example, did you know that the History Channel is an aphrodisiac? In particular, Modern Marvels. It’s true! One attendee has a two-year old to prove it. :)

Have a great weekend! Watch for the next SKU announcement, tentatively scheduled for May 2015. We hope to see you there.

Be well.