Trade Show TalesBlog

EXHIBITOR / GlobalShop 2014 Recap: Word on the Street — March 17 thru March 21st

March 22nd, 2014 Kevin 3 COMMENTS

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

My nose is bleeding, my eyes are burning, and I am exhausted! Yep, you guessed it, I was in Vegas for the past week. :)

Like many of you, the Classic Team descended on Vegas starting last Friday for both EXHIBITOR Show and GlobalShop. Since we exhibited at both shows, let me break this into two blog posts starting with EXHIBITOR.

EXHIBITOR 2014 was nothing short of spectacular for Classic Exhibits, Classic Rental Solutions, ClassicMODUL, and Eco-Systems Sustainable. I know that sounds a little “sales-ish” to say spectacular, but it really was one of the best, if not THE BEST, EXHIBITOR in my nearly 20 years with Classic.

Our “Sweet Solutions” exhibit was well received and showed WHO we are and WHAT we do. The main structure was a Custom Rental Solutions, a design that was up for an award in the Design Awards this year.

New Products

We were also showing several new products.  The new OTM Furniture debuted at EXHIBITOR. We had the portable tables and chairs in our booth as well as three other exhibits. The response could only be compared to that of the iPad kiosks we debuted two years ago. The OTM Table and Chairs are going to be a big, big hit.

We also introduced the SEGUE VK-1118 SuperNova Backlit Inline. The VK-1118 takes its cue from our very successful Visionary Designs iPhone and iPad inlines, two designs iconic to Classic Exhibits. The difference is the backlighting. While there were many lightboxes at EXHIBITOR, the VK-1118 and the 20 ft. VK-2959 are the only inlines on the market with storage, headers, standoff graphics, large monitor mounts, and accessory options. This is a game changer my friends. Inlines will never be the same going forward.

Across the show floor, we had a great presence of Classic designs. We built exhibits for PRG, EliteXpo, DS&L, Cort, Slim Furniture, and EXHIBITOR Magazine. In addition, there was a Sacagawea, a Magellan Miracle, and an eight year old Visionary Designs VK-1001 hybrid that looked brand new. We appreciate being a part of our key vendor partners look and presentation at EXHIBITOR. Thank you for trusting us with your brands once again.

The mood in the building was inspiring. There was a lot creativity, and a lot of new innovative products and services. As a whole, the industry should be very proud. Well done all. I felt a great sense of pride as I walked the show floor this year. In particular, there was more originality booth to booth and competitor to competitor. Which is not always the case.

There were a few lows, such as companies that would rather COPY than innovate through design. But I won’t dwell too much on that since a few four letter words come to mind that describe these iPad solutions copycats.

EDPA Portable/Modular/Hybrid Summit

On a personal note, I would like to thank everyone who attended the Annual EDPA Portable/Modular/Hybrid Summit on Tuesday afternoon. I really appreciate the insights by the audience. And a special thanks to the panelists — Greg Beach, Cindi Cody, Maureen Borzachello, Anita Mitzel, and Jocelyn Welles. Your perspectives we invaluable.

I do have a challenge to my fellow competitors in the Portable/Modular/Hybrid segment. So many of you weren’t there. Why? Your perspective and input matters to the growth of our segment, whether you are an F, N, S, O, L, or one of other letters of the alphabet. You had distributors at the meeting . . . but not many of you came. So, hopefully, when we hold our next meeting at EDPA ACCESS, you (and you know who you are) will participate. Special thanks to ExpoDisplays, Octanorm, Highmark, and Classic Exhibits for supporting and participating in the session. Yes, we are competitors, but we are also a community. Don’t let others chart your future and the tone of our segment.

Exhibit Design Awards

The Inaugural Exhibit Design Awards ceremony was held on Tuesday night, an event near and dear to my heart. I could do a blog on just that. What a great event! Special thanks to the entire team from EXHIBITOR Media Group. Especially Randy Acker and John Pavek. I personally appreciate that you took one company’s suggestion, truly listened to it, and then ran with it. I know this event will only grow to be bigger and better over the coming years. But for a first time event, you need to take a bow for a job very well done. Our industry is led by design on all levels, and to spend an evening celebrating the designs that are shaping the industry was a pure joy for me and the team from Classic. Finally, my congratulations to all the winners in all the categories. You have a reason to celebrate.

GlobalShop 2014

GlobalShop 2014 was happening right above EXHIBITOR this year. It ran from Tuesday thru Thursday. GlobalShop is a very different show for Classic. Those who came by to visit our booth can attest. We are a bit of an outlier in that world, but it is a market that continues to grow  for Classic. And we are seeing more and more distributors join us in that world.

The show was great, and since we do not sell direct, we focused on gathering leads for our distributors and finding new Retail Design partners. iPad Solutions, Charging Kiosks, SuperNova Lightboxes, and the new OTM Counter and Chairs were the stars.

That’s all I will say at this point on GlobalShop. Look for a separate blog. I think there are more and more opportunities for us all in that market.


Overall, I want to say thanks to our entire team at Classic Exhibits. This past week provided huge challenges. Two shows to assemble/dismantle. Two booths to staff. Two clienteles to entertain (the easy part :) ) .But as you can imagine, two of everything makes it more difficult at the shop/office. So to those who stayed back and manned the ships — THANK YOU!! We appreciate you covering for us all.

And to the staff that came to Vegas. Thanks again for making me so very proud to be a part of this great organization. We have a terrific family at Classic, and I hear from so many during the events that our “family” atmosphere really shines through at EXHIBITOR.

To all my industry friends and partners, all I can say is I wish we could spend more time together. A busy show means you get less and less time to spend with your partners at the show. But we all agree that’s a good sign for the industry. So let me say this — Our partners are a big part of the success we experience at Classic. Without you and your partnership, we would not be doing as well as we are. So thanks to you all.

Get some rest now that you’re home and more importantly get some quality time your families this weekend. They and you deserve it.

Be well.




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Why EXHIBITOR Matters (But Should It?)

March 15th, 2014 Mel 2 COMMENTS

Each year, I have to remind myself why participating in EXHIBITOR matters. That may seem odd. After all, EXHIBITOR spends a mountain of cash listing all the reasons to attend. Who am I to argue with them. They know their audience. But, I still have to ask myself why should I attend? I’ve already gone at least fifteen times.

I’ve worked for three display manufacturers, and there have been years when I’ve questioned whether we should attend, let alone exhibit. I’ve seen competitors skip a year or two with “seemingly” few repercussions. Why should we build an exhibit just for EXHIBITOR and spend considerable cash at a show where we know all the players.

Then I remind myself (or Kevin reminds me), why EXHIBITOR matters to Classic Exhibits:

1. Our Distributors. We are a distributor-driven company. That’s how we sell our products. Yes, Reid and Jen visit our distributors throughout the year, and we hold Shared Knowledge University twice a year. That said . . . There’s no other event that brings more Classic Distributors to one place than EXHIBITOR. It’s our chance to see, learn, and share stories with them. My only regret, and I know many of you will groan when I say this, but I wish the hall hours were longer and at least one day longer. There’s just not enough time during those three days to spend quality time with each distributor. Inevitably, I leave the show knowing that I short-changed myself by not spending enough time with Distributor A, B, C, or D.

2. Our Employees. We’re in the trade show business, but that doesn’t mean we attend trade shows regularly. We don’t. We’re designing, project managing, and building exhibits. Then it ships to a show, and we never see it again. More often than not, we never see it in its final state with the graphics, products, flooring, A/V, etc. We miss that feedback and that experience. Attending EXHIBITOR allows many of our employees to immerse themselves in a trade show about trade shows. They see how our solutions differ from other builders or service providers. They get the opportunity to meet distributors face-to-face, often for the first time after working with them for years.

3. Products/Trends. Classic Exhibits is in a constant state of R&D. It’s rare that a week goes by that we don’t create an innovative solution either by necessity or by design. If it’s really important, we devote a Design Monday to it or we send a dedicated email broadcast. But, we’re smart enough to realize that your days are information intense and expecting you to internalize each and every new innovation is impractical. EXHIBITOR allows us to focus on those new ideas or products that we want to share with our distributors. Year after year, distributors tell me that they attend EXHIBITOR for one main reason — to see what’s new. And each year, I make a point to ask them what they saw “new” in the exhibit hall. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Except for what Classic is showing, I’ve only seen one or two interesting ideas.” Honestly, I’m always shocked by this. Why would any manufacturer, builder, or service provider come to EXHIBITOR without NEW?

The Before Photo . . . In Progress

4. The Industry. This will sound sanctimonious. I’ve had conversations with suppliers, partners, or competitors who have told me they are not participating in the show. I could understand that if our industry had multiple shows each year . . . but we don’t. We have one. Then they’ll tell me that EXHIBITOR never really paid off for them. It didn’t create any new sales or find new distributors or identify any new suppliers. Folks, that’s clearly BULLSHIT or better yet, it tells me they don’t understand trade show marketing. You can’t be in the business of trade shows and not participate in trade shows. You can’t! Whenever a supplier, certainly one of considerable size and focus in our industry, tells me that they not only don’t exhibit at EXHIBITOR but they also rarely attend, then they are unlikely to win my business.

5. Social. Despite the long hours and the pressure, it’s fun. I always meet new people and see old friends. I get to hear all the gossip and speculate on this year or next year. The food is good. The parties are always memorable in so many ways. It’s always a roller coast ride of emotions, sights and sounds, and at least one experience that makes me happy I don’t live in Las Vegas year round. Our personal and business lives are pressure-packed and EXHIBITOR is (for me) an annual perk. It is work, but it never seems like work.

If you are attending EXHIBITOR, I’ll see you there. Get my attention if it’s during show hours. If not, let’s make arrangements to have a drink or a meal before or after show hours. For anyone not attending, we’ll do our best to share photos from EXHIBITOR in the blog.

Happy travels.

–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


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The EDPA Portable/Modular Summit: Word on the Street — March 3rd thru March 7th

March 8th, 2014 Kevin COMMENTS

News From the Trenches

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Happy March. Ready for Las Vegas? Ready for EXHIBITOR Show 2014? It’s only one week away.

There’s one event/meeting I would strongly encourage you to attend — The Annual EDPA Portable/Modular Summit. This meeting will be held at EXHIBITOR on Tuesday, March 18 from 3:45 – 4:30 pm right on the show floor. It’s free. Just head towards the Food Service Area (far right of exhibit hall) and look for the sign leading you to the meeting.

Learn about new trends and continuing trends in Design, Manufacturing, and Sales for the Portable/Modular/Hybrid segment. Hear what your peers are saying regarding design and build trends in their markets. Are there opportunities you are missing? What is selling within the Portable/Modular/Hybrid System segment? And learn some key statistics from the recent annual EDPA Portable/Modular and Economic Survey that are shaping what we all do. Expect a few big surprises from the survey.

Join me for this informative update on what’s happening. Chris Lake from Highmark and I will be moderating the session which will include a panel of expert representatives from design, graphics, distribution, and manufacturers within our industry, including Cindi Cody, Jocelyn Wells, Maureen Borzachello, Anita Mitzel, and Greg Beach.

This will definitely be a “discussion” of peers and industry leaders — LIKE YOU. So please come and be a part of the talks.

The Portable/Modular Summit is free of charge. So mark it on your calendar and stay after show hours on Tuesday. That first beer/cocktail can wait 45 minutes. :)

For more information, click on this link:

Hope you all have a great weekend with your families. Be well.



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Classic Exhibits Named a 2014 Fab 50 Exhibit Fabricator

March 5th, 2014 Mel 2 COMMENTS

Fab 50: One of the Best Exhibit Fabricators in North America 2 Years in a Row.

Event Marketer announced their 2014 Fab 50 Fabricators serving the North American event and exhibit industry. For the second year in a row (drum roll please . . .), Classic Exhibits was honored by the editors of Event Marketer and the analysts at the Event Marketing Institute.

According to Event Marketer, “A year ago, we recognized both the need for your company to work with quality, progressive partners as well as the mass confusion event teams like yours were dealing with when looking for fabrication companies. There are thousands out there.

In an effort to clarify things for you and your procurement departments, we created the world’s only editorial listing of top exhibit builders. It proved to be an incredibly useful tool, with tens of thousands of event marketers searching the Fab 50 at”

To the employees of Classic Exhibits Inc., be Peacock Proud. You deserve it.

Finally, a BIG pat on the back to the other winners, including 20 Classic Exhibits Distributors. We are an amazing force in this wonderful industry.

–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


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EXHIBITOR Magazine’s 2014 Awards Night: Word on the Street — Feb. 24 thru Feb. 28

February 28th, 2014 Mel COMMENTS

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Say goodbye to February! Come Monday we will be three days into March already.

What a crazy first two months of the year it has been. And, we’re only two short weeks away from all of us descending on Las Vegas.

I look forward to seeing you there. Classic is winding up the final touches to our booth as well as several vendor exhibits. I have to say, this will be the best group of exhibits we have ever brought to EXHIBITOR. Everything from a modified 20 ft. SEGUE for PRG to a fully custom build for EliteXPO. Both are “must sees” as you walk the floor.

Along with those two, we are once again building much of EXHIBITOR Media’s booth. Wait until you see the magazine cover in large format on the show floor! Gonna be SuperNova big. :)

And of course there is the Classic Exhibits 20 x 30. It’s a special design this year. It is a version of a design for which we are a finalist in this year’s EXHIBITOR Magazine 2014 Awards Night Celebration.

Have you reserved your seat yet for the Awards Gala?

An evening honoring excellence in our industry

You’re invited! Join us for an elegant evening of networking and celebration as we honor the best-of-the best in the trade show and event industry.

The first ever EXHIBITOR Magazine’s 2014 Awards Night, honoring trade show excellence, takes place Tuesday evening, March 18 in Mandalay Bay’s Lagoon Ballroom at EXHIBITOR2014. Festivities begin with a 6:30 pm cocktail reception followed by an awards dinner and program at 7:15 pm.

As an attendee to this prestigious event, you’ll be there as we unveil winners of EXHIBITOR magazine’s Exhibit Design, Portable Modular, and Buyer’s Choice Awards programs. Discover who is named this year’s Best of Show and be part of history as we honor the inaugural inductee into EXHIBITOR’s Legends Hall-Of-Fame.

Seating is limited. (We suggest you get your tickets in advance.) Whether you “fly solo” or bring a friend, we promise a fun evening of networking and celebration. Single tickets and group tables can be purchased now at Don’t miss this inaugural night celebrating excellence!

Reserved seats are going pretty quickly. There will be 10 of us there from Classic, Exhibits NW, and Eco-Systems Sustainable. I do hope that you will join us.

If you have time, please cast your vote for the People’s Choice Awards. You can vote once a day. Plus, it’s your opportunity to see all the displays in the mix for an award.

In the meantime, March looks like it’s going to be every bit as busy as January and February. So buckle up and let’s enjoy the ride together.

Thanks again for all your continued support and business. We know you have choices in your partnerships, and we are honored to be partnered with so many of you.

Have a great weekend with your families.



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