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Posts Tagged ‘EDPA’

RFP Certification Program: Word on the Street — April 7th thru April 11th

April 11th, 2014 2 COMMENTS

Kevin Carty, VP Classic Exhibits

Happy Spring! Hope your first full week of April was a good one. We are as busy as ever at Classic and continue to be very thankful for all the new opportunities.

I wanted to take this week’s blog post to share what I think is one of the BEST PROGRAMS ever developed for the exhibit industry — RFP Certification. It’s proudly brought to you from the Exhibit Designers and Producer Association, an association that Classic Exhibits Inc. is a member and an association that I serve as a Board member.

EDPA RFP Certification Program

Gwen Hill from ExhibitForce and her team of dedicated committee members spent countless hours, days, and months developing a program to answer a “call to action” from the Corporate Exhibitor Community.

The EDPA RFP Certification program seeks to verify that certain items are in existence and that industry standards and best practices are met and adhered to, based on various benchmarks. Research conducted in 2012 with the assistance of Exhibit Surveys to Corporate Exhibitors proved there “was unanimous enthusiasm for the concept of an EDPA ‘Good Housekeeping Seal’ that would prescreen exhibit house vendors on the basis of business integrity and operational practices and capabilities. Such a certification would even be a consideration in RFP and RFQ processes.” In response, the EDPA RFP Certification Program has been developed!

EDPA members in good standing are eligible to apply for certification. If the criteria are satisfied, member companies are certified by IComply, a division of BPA Worldwide (all data submitted is kept CONFIDENTIAL). The certification provides written assurance that the company meets the standards and practices approved by the EDPA. To achieve certification, the member company submits formal documentation along with the application. Once a member receives the EDPA RFP Certification, renewal will be required annually to maintain their status in the EDPA RFP Certification Directory.

The EDPA RFP Certification assures others that the member company adheres to industry standards and best practices. If desired, prior to sending a RFP, corporations can access certified members through the EDPA RFP Certification Directory.


So, what does this mean for you as Classic Distributor? As a manufacturer that DOES NOT sell direct to the Corporate Exhibitor (end users), Classic Exhibits would not qualify to be certified. But, Classic Exhibits Distributors do qualify as the direct sales entity serving the Corporate Exhibitor community. And here are some stats we’ve learned from the EDPA ACCESS meeting in December 2013 and the most recent EXHIBITOR 2014 meeting

  • Average cost for RFP response is $6,300
  • Average RFPs cost is $252,700
  • Wasted average is $42,962
  • Even RFIs cost $3,343
  • 29% of Fortune 500 clients require RFPs, and
  • 52% of procurement for Fortune 500 are part of selection process

Now, we have all been a part of the RFP process. We know that even the “least involved/complex” RFP processes still can involve providing the same information over and over throughout the year to many opportunities you are asked to bid on. The Certification Program solves that problem in large part. For members that qualify and achieve certification, that data about your company that the Corporate Exhibitor client is looking for is captured, culled, and vetted. Meaning that your Certification is your “Good Housekeeping Stamp of Approval” at the beginning of the process. Saving time for the Corporate Exhibitor as well. Providing them with the ability to KNOW that the clients bidding on their project/program already meet the core qualifications they are seeking. Therefore allowing everyone involved to fast-track the process essentially and get to the meaty stuff! Designing and bidding on the client’s desired project/program.

Another way to view this is to think about when, as a business manager or owner, you are asked by a client for terms within the accounting process. As a responsible business manager/owner, you would likely do the necessary credit check on the client’s business. And if that comes back good, then you grant them terms moving forward.

This is not too different from that. The EDPA RFP Certification assures the Corporate Exhibitor Client that a Distributor or Exhibit House is who they present themselves as, that they do in fact provide all the services they say do, and that they do in fact have locations at all the places they list on their website.

For many of you, I can imagine how powerful this could be for you and your business when going into a competitive bid situation, especially if you are coming to the table with your certification in hand when others may not have that level of pre-qualification. You would likely jump to the top of the list in the eyes of the potential client.

Having watched the program develop and seeing firsthand the level of detail, thought, and work put towards making this program what it is, I would strongly suggest that those distributors who frequently complete RFPs at least see if you qualify.

It will prove to be a significant leg up for you and your organization when being considered for new projects/programs in the future

Kudos again to Gwen Hill and her team putting this program together, one that I believe is a benefit to all of us in the Industry and certainly the clients we all proudly serve daily.

For more information, please contact Gwen Hill, EDPA VP of Education, by email at or by phone at (713) 331-3325.

And…if you are not already an EDPA member, but are interested in learning more about EDPA. Call me anytime. I am happy to share with you why I think we need MORE distributors in the ranks of EDPA membership, and why I value Classic’s membership in EDPA so much.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend with your families.

Be well.




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

March 8th, 2014 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.



We Need Your Help with a Testimonial

October 22nd, 2013 7 COMMENTS

We need your help. And it will only take a few minutes.

Every year at EDPA ACCESS, the annual conference and showcase, there’s an award program. One of those awards is the EDDIE Award, the only one open to submissions from both EDPA members and non-members.


“The EDDIE Award is an award judged solely on the self-promotion of your company not on the promotion of a client.”

Here’s where you can help. We plan to submit Exhibit Design Search (EDS) for the award. We’ve written the submission but would like to enhance it with your testimonials. If you believe, as we do, that Exhibit Design Search has benefited your company and benefited Classic Exhibits, we would love to include your heartfelt testimonial. Nothing long . . . 3-4 sentences would be terrific.

Now, if you read the guidelines above, EDS may not at first glance seem to fit. After all, Classic Exhibits brands EDS for each distributor. You’re our client and it’s for your benefit. But let’s not kid ourselves. We brand it for our benefit as well, since we want your business to flow our direction. So, while it may not be “self-promotion” in the “See Me, See Me” sense, it’s still self-promotion.

If you are not shy, use the Comments section of the blog. If you are shy, send your testimonial to Mel White ( — October 31 deadline. We have to submit it by Nov. 4.

Thank you very much! We sincerely appreciate it.

–Mel White

Portable/Modular/Hybrid Summit at EXHIBITOR2013

February 21st, 2013 COMMENTS

The EDPA Portable/Modular/Hybrid Summit will be held during EXHIBITOR2013 on Tuesday, March 19 at 3:45 pm in the Food Service Area (far right of exhibit hall) of Mandalay Bay North Convention Center. There is no charge. This event is open to all industry manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, educators, and consultants.

Kevin Carty from Classic Exhibits Inc. will moderate. A panel discussion will follow with experts from exhibit design, graphics, distribution, and manufacturing, including David Brown of Optima Graphics, Greg Beach of Atlantic Exhibits, Chris Griffin of Trade Show Supply, Katina Rigall of Classic Exhibits, and Anita Mitzel of GraphiColor Exhibits.

The Portable/Modular/Hybrid Summit is FREE to EDPA members and non-members. To reserve a seat, please contact Melissa Nemitz: or (203) 899-8491.

We look forward to your participation in the summit.

Download the PDF flyer.



2012 “State of the Company” Letter from Kevin Carty

January 19th, 2013 6 COMMENTS

State of the Company

Kevin Carty, Classic Exhibits Inc.

2012 is in the books! The Oregon Ducks are the Fiesta Bowl Champs, and the Mayans left for the golf course rather than finishing their calendar.

The basics. Q1 and Q2 were huge for Classic Exhibits with increases of 19% over 2011. Summer started slower than usual, but finished OK leaving us at a 15% increase through 3 quarters. Then Q4. Oh Q4, how strange you were. October was the second largest month of the year. November was flat. December started out steady, but the last two weeks, with the holidays falling on Tuesday, were mostly silent. In the end, we ended the year with an 11% increase over LY.

The Mix

2012 was a tale of two seasons with one common thread — iPad kiosks! iPad kiosks sold throughout 2012 in unheard of numbers thanks to you. We started with two models in February. That quickly exploded into more than 18 iPad solutions. Aside from Sacagawea, we’ve not seen a product take off and grow so fast.

MOD-1338 iPad Kiosk

But it was the MIX that was interesting. The first half of the year we sold kits. And a lot of them! Be it a 10 x 10 SEGUE, a 10 x 20 Sacagawea, or a 10 x 20 Visionary Designs. You couldn’t walk by the Set-up Area the first six months without seeing a sea of kits.

All the while, we were designing more custom island designs. Some based on older Classic designs that needed updating, but most from scratch by our talented internal team, Mike and Katina, and by two outside contract designers.

The result. In the final six months of the year, Design and Production have been busy building more custom island and inline exhibits. And Design has been especially busy designing new island projects for 2013 Q1 and Q2 shows. Just recently, we were reviewing the builds currently in Production and the ones slotted for late January. Custom Hybrid Inlines and Island Hybrids seem to be the lion share of what we we’re seeing.

Having said that, kits are still our bread and butter. Kits are projected to hold steady in the first six months. All this adds up to a great Q1 for us and for you.


Like 2011 and 2012, 2013 should be another growth year for our Retail build business. That is in large part due to your design teams reaching out into that segment and bringing these unique projects our direction. It’s been a great fit for our capabilities and a healthy layering to our normal trade show builds. This segment of our business, which gets processed and project managed through a different path than our trade show orders, follows a different cycle from our traditional business. This allows us to add capacity and volume without adding expenses. In other words, it’s a “win-win” for Classic and for our Distributors.

New Employees

Katina Rigall joined the Classic Design team in January of 2012. She has become a great face for the department while bringing exceptional design vision and talent.

Jeff Garrett joined the Classic Project Management staff in 2011 actually, but in 2012 moved from Set-up Instructions to a full-time Project Manager. The addition of Jeff’s personality and his attention to detail has given a great boost to an already exceptional team of PM’s at Classic Exhibits. To replace Jeff, we hired Cynthia Geddis, who has transitioned into that role seamlessly.

Jen LaBruzza joined Classic Exhibits in June 2012. She joined as the Western Regional Sales Manager. Her impact was felt immediately. Not just with in the network of distributors, but also internally at Classic. Her bright outlook and approach to business is refreshing, and her customers love her! But we all knew that would be the case.

Tony Bennett joined Classic Exhibits in 2012. Many of you worked with Tony in the past on Exhibit Design Search, but was on a contract basis. Somehow, Mel talked him into joining our crazy family permanently, and we are very grateful. I get comments from distributors weekly that Classic now has someone on staff to help with web-related needs. And Tony is a pro in that arena, especially when it comes to Exhibit Design Search and working with Classic distributors on their websites. It’s a service were proud to offer to Classic Distributors.

SKU (Shared Knowledge University)

Shared Knowledge University

Thanks to the 60 plus distributors who participated in onsite training at Classic Exhibits. We held two SKU sessions: one in April and a second one in September. SKU attendees were immersed in Classic Exhibits, Exhibits NW, ClassicMODUL and Eco-Systems Sustainable over a two-day period. The SKU program combines hands-on product training as well as classroom training.

We will host two SKU sessions in 2013. Please stay tuned for the dates and make plans to attend. Not only will you leave having a better sense for Classic and its family of companies, but you will also get to understand the true meaning of “Portlandia.” [Keep Portland Weird]

Custom House Partnerships

A big focus for us in 2012 was partnering with more Custom Houses as their inline, small island, rental and extrusion provider for their in-house clients. As in much of business, relationships are the key. Mel, Reid, Jen, and Jim Shelman did a great job forging new and reinforcing existing Custom Partners for Classic Exhibits this past year.

The Classic Town Calls were created in 2012 as a quarterly webinar to talk about the previous quarter and what to expect next quarter.

Kudos to Mel on this. The Town Calls are designed to be an hour long “checking in” from us to you and from you to us. It’s a really helpful way to connect off the show floor and out of the normal course of business and see what’s going on. Our goal is to provide nuggets of content that you will find useful selling Classic products and running your business in general. And, to get “immediate” feedback from you on trends and issues.

In addition to the Town Calls, Classic conducted educational webinars throughout the year on Hybrid Displays, New Designs Trends, Rental Trends, Exhibit Design Search Tricks and Tips, and Social Media.


ClassicMODUL expands yet again! The latest ClassicMODUL depot opened in August in St Louis, MO. The new operation provides not just raw metal access to builders in the Midwest and parts of the East, but also provides CNC bending like our NW facility! This is a HUGE addition for Tom Jones and his staff, giving them an even broader reach and capabilities.

ClassicMODUL also modified its Pricebook in 2012. If you have not taken the time to review the new prices, please do. In conjunction with having material in virtually every part of the USA (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and West Coast), saving you shipping dollars, the prices of many extrusions and accessories dropped a bit as well. Contact Tom if you have any questions or projects you would like to compare against your existing provider of engineered aluminum extrusions.

Classic Rentals

Island Rental Exhibit

Jim Shelman and James Sharpe, along with their great staff, should take a bow for another strong year in the Rental Division. Their success reflects their willingness to take on new challenges and innovative designs that other suppliers reject as “non-rental.” We expect the Rental Division to continue its double-digit growth this year as more and more Classic Distributors turn to hybrid rentals as a viable and cost-effective solution for their clients.

Thanks guys for all your hard work

Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits

In 2012, Classic Exhibits acquired an even larger share in this great company. While all Marketing, Sales, General Management, and Accounting are in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Production and Project Management has shifted to our facility in Portland. Tim Hanley is the Project Management Lead onsite at Classic and another project manager has recently been added. We expect Eco-Systems Sustainable sales to continue to grow at a rapid pace.

Much of Eco-Systems prosperity has been the result of their innovative designs. They have a unique vision on hybrid displays, one very different from Classic. They added a new Director of Design, Lisa Koskela, in 2012. Her eye for design and creative sense is continuing to chart a great course for Eco-Systems along with Eric Albery’s focus on relationship sales. We are very excited and proud of our relationship with their group.


Classic participated in three major events in 2012:  EXHIBITOR, the inaugural E2MA Conference, and EDPA ACCESS.

EXHIBITOR Show was nothing short of spectacular. As a company, it was clearly our best presentation in 20 years. We showed off not just our inline creativity, but also our large scale island capability. Thanks to those who attended EXHIBITOR and stopped by to see us on the floor and at our hospitality suite. It was a pleasure seeing you and hearing your thoughts on the industry. Your input makes a big difference in how we plan our future.

The E2MA Conference was in July in Chicago. This was the first event for the new formed association, a marriage of the former TSEA and the EACA. Jim Wurm and his entire group did a terrific job of providing compelling content. But more importantly, they did a great job of listening and then taking what they heard and applying it to the association’s mission moving forward as evidenced in their recent publishing of “The Rising Costs of General Service Contractors Services” study. Very well done!

EDPA ACCESS. My favorite event in so many ways. I once again left ACCESS 2012 inspired by my peers and by the direction of our industry. I truly believe that there continues to be an “out with the old and in with the new” push in our industry which is much needed. And EDPA and all its members seem united in moving forward in a positive direction.

One more event that I would like to reflect on from 2012 . . .

On September 23, 2012 “The Club” rode . . .  Club 815 Powered by the EDPA Foundation. It was a motley crew of exhibit industry folks, and one stepdad (mine), who joined together to raise money for Mike Swartout, our Design Director at Classic Exhibits. And of course we were supported by you through your well wishes, prayers and donations. We raised a very large chunk of much needed money for Mike and his lovely wife Janet to offset their rising medical bills.

And yes, we rode up a several multi-mile hills with a steady 45 mph head wind with gusts up to 75 mph on occasion. While I have thanked all the men and women who rode with me, I want to thank you for making that event an opportunity to help out a family member in our industry. You did amazing work.

Onto 2013 and let’s get excited about it. The simple fact is that we are on a slow recovery from the recession, but we are recovering a bit at a time.

Thank you for your support of Classic Exhibits, ClassicMODUL, ExhibitsNW, Classic Rentals, and Eco-Systems. We could not do what we do or put food on our families plates without your support and trust in us daily. So on behalf of Classic Exhibits Inc., thank you for a great 2012!

Here’s to an exciting and profitable 2013 together!!!!

Kevin Carty
Vice President
Classic Exhibits Inc.