Trade Show TalesBlog

Posts Tagged ‘EDPA’

2015 Annual State of the Company Letter

January 5th, 2016 COMMENTS

AnnualLetterblogHeader

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I know I did! It included nap time on the couch — something I rarely get these days.

We started the year on an upswing with a record-breaking Q1 across all divisions at Classic, including ENW, ClassicMODUL, and Rentals. There were several promising trends — some new, others cultivated in 2012-2014 but coming to fruition in 2015.

EDPA

EDPA Booth

Lightboxes were HUGE — literally! All year, inlines and islands seemed naked without a SEGUE lightbox. Our designers found new and creative ways to add light, whether as a backlit feature or using LED perimeter lights in counters, workstations, and accessories. This extended into Corporate and Retail Environments as well.

To meet this expanding need, Classic developed two new profiles:  a single-sided option for walls and a remarkably thin double-sided option for freestanding lightboxes. If you attended EDPA Access, you saw them both in our booth.

Custom Wood Fabricated Exhibits. Easily the largest growth segment for Classic Manufacturing. We joked that Classic Exhibits has become the largest, most invisible custom builder in North America.  And that’s just fine. Never has our unbranded approach been so valuable. Each and every day we build Custom Exhibits showcasing YOUR brand on crates and setup instructions.

With a heavy focus on design and the use of our CNC shop, Classic builds custom exhibits for our Modular/Hybrid Distributors as well as our Custom Distributors who turn to us when they don’t have the time or capacity to build an exhibit. This has been a very welcome and creative challenge to the Classic staff.

Pokemon

Pokémon World Championships Retail Space

Retail Displays and Corporate Environments. Our work in the Retail and Corporate Environments continues to grow as our Distributors look beyond trade shows. The three largest examples were the Pokemon World Championships Retail Space, The Bonneville Power Administration Visitors Center, and our work inside the Nike Campus.

But it doesn’t stop there. We have open bids on several new corporate environments and are currently building an interactive space within a Midwest car dealership.

Patting Ourselves on the Back. At EXHIBITORLIVE, Classic Exhibits, Eco-Systems Sustainable, and several Classic Distributors were honored with five nominations for the Portable Modular Awards.

Pacifica

2015 PMA Winner Island less than 400 s.f.

Just being nominated is amazing… but we also WON two awards! Classic took home the prize for Best Island Design (400 sq. ft.) and Eco-Systems won best 10 x 10. Both a testament to the beautiful work of our talented Designers!

As if that was not enough, Event Marketer named us one of the Top 50 Manufactures in North America for the third straight year. The award speaks to the amazing work of our Production and Project Management teams!

We have three finalists in this year’s upcoming PMA’s. Be sure to vote for your favorite at the People’s Choice Voting.

Education. Whether in life or work, education is the key to success. Classic Exhibits’ Shared Knowledge University provides a platform for valuable education in our professional worlds. In 2015 we held two SKU sessions. The groups learned about Classic, our people, our products, and our great WEIRD Portlandia home. This year included a new twist… a trip to Cartlandia, one of Portland’s idiosyncratic food cart pods that make Portland… well Portland.

SKU benefited from the participation of great partners and speakers:  Optima Graphics, Cort Furnishings, Display SKUSupply and Lighting, 3 Dog Write, Tim Patterson (The TradeshowGuy) and Pinky Gonzales, the LinkedIn Specialist. They all helped to make Content King at SKU.

Over 65 students earned bachelor degrees, and a few earned graduate degrees. Our congratulations to our first Ph.D. — Dr. Cody. Contact Reid or Jen about attending in May.

Speaking of Reid and Jen. Reid Sherwood and Jen LaBruzza, our resident Road Warriors, hit the streets hard in 2015 visiting distributors, conducting onsite training, and generally spreading joy. If you missed them last year, they have very busy travel schedules in 2016.

Expect them to share news about New Product releases (more on that coming), Exhibit Design Search training, and your needs.

Distributor Visits. I have been doing this for 22 years and 2015 was a record year for distributor visits at Classic. Looking back at my calendar, we averaged a visit about every two weeks. Many were scheduled around client previews of large exhibit builds. Others arranged their own private one-on-one Distributor training — a mini-SKU if you will.

I appreciate these visits so much since I don’t travel much anymore due to my family’s schedule — 9 yr. old twins are BUSY. I appreciate the opportunity to introduce Distributors to our great staff/family at Classic. They’re the people who really make things happen, the folks you don’t see at EXHIBITORLIVE or other industry events.

Please know that our doors are always open. We welcome your visits with or without your clients. And our staff loves meeting you all as well. It helps seal the relationship they have developed with you all over the phone. Not to mention our food, wine, and craft beers are best experienced in person.

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Rental Project from 2015

Rental Growth. Classic Rental Solutions continued its double-digit growth. And it’s really no surprise. Jim Shelman and his crew do what others “can’t” or simply are “unwilling” to do in a rental solution. I love walking through their area to see what they are building. So much of it is as custom as what we are doing on the new build side.

Congrats to the entire CRS team on their growth. It speaks to your ongoing dedication to the service and solutions that customers expect… and often exceeding those expectations.

Strong Sales.
In 2015 we experienced increases across the board at the Classic Family of Companies, including a record Q1, Q2, and Q3. Q4 is yet to be determined.

I would humbly suggest two reasons for our growth.

1. Classic Distributors tapped into our designers earlier in the sales process. By using them as YOUR designer on the initial calls with the clients, we saw our close ratio increase three-fold.

2. More distributors visiting Classic or attending SKU. There is this “moment” when someone steps into our manufacturing plant. It’s tangible and it’s hard to explain fully, but somehow it seems to validate everything that person has heard or been told by Reid, Jen, Mel, Jim, or myself over the years. They see our process, our capabilities, and our people.

Exhibit Design Search (EDS). Last year brought multiple changes to EDS. All of which were geared to make your sales process easier. Some of the highlighted changes/additions include

  • Modified Navigation
  • Easier Sort Feature
  • Expanded My Gallery-Kits, Photos and tips now can be added to your galleries
  • Home Page Redesign – including larger images
  • Printable Product sheets on most product lines
  • A NEW Gallery coming in Early 2016…VERY VERY Exciting!
100DayGuarantee

100-Day Return Guarantee

BELIEVE IT – 100 Day Return Guarantee. In 2015 Classic introduced a 100-Day Return Guarantee on Sacagawea, Perfect 10, Quadro, and FGS.  It was an easy decision since we build it right the first time! We’re proud to be the first company in the exhibit industry to offer this guarantee.

Association Participation. EDPA and E2MA are a key part of the Classic Exhibits’ DNA. I sit on the Board of Directors for The Exhibit Designers and Producers Association while Mel sits on the Board of Directors for the Exhibit and Event Marketers Association and serves as the Treasury Chair. Both associations focus their efforts on the betterment of our industry through Education, Scholarships, Industry Round Tables, and bridging the gaps between the stakeholders in our industry.

I know I speak for Mel when I say we are both very proud of our work in these two associations, and that we are always available to speak to anyone interested in learning more about how they can become more involved.

JZ

John Zipay, Exhibits Northwest, GM

John Zipay (JZ). Classic was excited to add John to our management team in 2015. John is the General Manager of the Exhibits Northwest division of Classic Exhibits which focuses on the Pacific Northwest market.

More than that, John brings a wealth of knowledge to the company with his I&D experience. It’s a perspective we lean on frequently in manufacturing when analyzing a potential exhibit build. His knowledge of the trade show floor has also been beneficial to our distributors when finding the right labor in certain US cities.

Be on the lookout! We are about to launch a new product line. What is it? You will have to wait, but we are close to the formal unveiling. Expect a “soft launch” in late January. You’ll see the full product line at EXHIBITORLIVE. It will change the way you look at building exhibit systems!

Lastly, I offer my sincere thanks to you for being great partners and for supporting the Classic Family. I look forward to working with and seeing you in the coming year.

Be well!

–Kevin
http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a


 

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

EDPA ACCESS Review

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.

–Kevin
http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a


 

The New Evolution: EDPA Portable Modular Summit @ EXHIBITORLive 2015

February 14th, 2015 COMMENTS

exlive_2015

It’s only two weeks until EXHIBITORLive 2015, and there’s ONE EVENT you want to lock into your schedule. Here’s my personal invitation to the annual Portable Modular Summit.

The EDPA Portable Modular Summit — The New Evolution

The summit will be held on the show floor Tuesday, March 3 at 3:30 pm, immediately after normal show hours. It will be hosted by my friend Jay Burkette from ExpoDisplays and yours truly (Kevin Carty). There’s no cost to attend.

Each year, we gather for 45 minutes to discuss the latest trends, issues, and successes in the Portable, Modular, and Hybrid segment.

This year’s Summit began at the EDPA ACCESS Conference in December, where we discussed how our slice of the industry has changed over the past 10-15 years. We plan to continue that discussion at EXHIBTORLive with the focus on the Here and Now. As we all know, Portables, Modulars, and Hybrids are a much broader, deeper, and design-centric segment of the industry than ever before.

Clearly, the change has been dramatic, especially post recession. The scope of projects and services offered by distributors/dealers and the breadth of designs by manufacturers has expanded considerably.

We welcome everyone who has a vested interest in this category to the back corner of the show hall on Tuesday afternoon at 3:30. We will begin at 3:45 sharp and will go until 4:30.

PortModFinalist_2015LogoBut Wait! There’s More!!

When we finish, Exhibitor Magazine will take the stage to announce the 2015 Winners of the Portable Modular Awards, People’s Choice Award, Buyer’s Choice Awards, and Best of Show Awards.

I can’t think of two better paired sessions. After discussing the evolving trends in our segment, you will hear about all the great designs in our segment of the industry.

Both the EDPA Portable Modular Summit and the EXHIBITOR Awards presentations are FREE to all. I hope to see you there! Give me a call or send me an email if you have any questions.

Be well and I hope you have/had a great Valentine’s Day Weekend with your someone special and family

–Kevin
http://twitter.com/kevin_carty
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kevin-carty/3/800/32a


 

Well…. You Asked Me How I’m Doing!

January 2nd, 2015 10 COMMENTS
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Shooting from the Hip, Reid Sherwood

It’s Been a Roller Coaster Year

All in all, it was a great year because of the Classic Distributor Network. I won’t go into detail since Kevin will cover it in the 2014 State of the Company letter, but here is what I will say about my year.

First, you trusted us with your business and we appreciate that. Whether it was existing long-term distributors or newbies to the Classic Family, you sent us bigger projects and more orders. Overall, the price points were higher which made for a good year.

For me, it’s been a roller coaster year. I attended EXHIBITOR (every year now since 1989) where we launched several new products, including our On The Move Furniture line. It was three days of crazy. I never had an opportunity to walk the show floor. At EXHIBITOR, we were selected as finalists for the Portable/Modular Award. Quite an honor.

SKU1In May, Classic hosted the spring session of Shared Knowledge University. It was packed with distributors, sales associates, project managers and designers. It’s always a joy to show you our building, equipment, processes, and people. There were even some industry veterans at SKU with over 30 years of experience who gave their time and advice. Spring 2015 SKU is May 18-19. Please contact Jen or me to reserve your spot (Trust me. It fills fast).

The summer was anything but summer. It was far better than expected. From what you’ve told me, marketing money was free’d up that sat on hold for too long, which was a refreshing change. Fall continued the summer trend. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend SKU for reasons which I’ll explain in a moment.

As the year closed, I attended EDPA ACCESS in Palm Harbor, FL and sat through multiple sessions and visited with customers/friends. The best part was at the Gala where Classic Exhibits was awarded an Eddie for Exhibit Design Search. WHAT AN HONOR! It was a fitting way for us to end the year on a high note.

On a Personal Side

Many of you are aware that I had reconstructive back surgery in mid-September. The surgery left me grounded for the past four months. Thankfully, the plates, screws, and wedges put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Reid SherwoodThanks to everyone who reached out via phone, email, text, or social media. Your concern was overwhelming. My wife and daughter (God bless them) monitored my Facebook and email while I was in surgery and recovery for six hours. When I was back in my room and coherent, they handed me my phone and said, “Here! You have a million friends and customers who have reached out to you and we can’t keep up.”

I am so very grateful. Eleven days in the hospital teaches you a lot. It teaches patience (I had none when I started and have less now). But it shows you who your friends are. The surgery was a huge success and other than healing, the pain is gone in my back.

I was working from a hospital bed and at one point after three pretty successful sales days in a row I said to Mel, “Maybe we are on to something here. Perhaps pity is the key to sales.” 😉  I also want to thank Jen LaBruzza (my counterpart on the West Coast). Not only did she do double duty at SKU while I was in agony, but she also checked in with me several times a day. Mike Swartout (our creative director) and I exchanged Facebook messages about our pain meds. There was a point where we thought Jerry Garcia would have been jealous of our personal pharmacy.

I also want to mention Dave Brown and Gina Porcaro from Optima. I don’t want to get all gooey and mushy, but they are more than friends. They are family. Gina lives in Grand Rapids where I had the surgery and was kind enough to sit with Vicki and Jennifer while I was in surgery and recovery. In addition, they called and texted many times just to help me keep my head clear.

ExhibitorliveEDPA was a blast after 10 weeks of not seeing any customers. I told my wife on the way home from the airport how good I felt, but when I got home and laid down to go to bed, I kicked the covers back and the pain was searing. It was the same exact pain on the right side that the surgeon fixed on the left side. On a scale of 10, it was a 15. After a couple of appointments and some heavy steroid and anti-inflammatory meds, we decided to do an MRI. It looked fantastic. There was NOTHING on the right side that could be causing the pain. Then… the surgeon had X-rays taken and says, “Well, sir, your pain isn’t from your back. Both of your hips are shot. In fact, they look like they are from a 100-year-old arthritis patient, and your sacroiliac needs to be fused as well. Your right hip should be done today.”

Nothing can be done for another few weeks until the back surgery heals. Then, nerve block in January and again in April. My goal is to have the right side done and the sacroiliac fused at the same time after SKU, and the second one done right after the 4th of July. I WILL be at EXHIBITOR. I WILL be at SKU. But I will probably not travel much other than short driving trips until this is all fixed.

A Lesson Learned from All This

While at the surgeon’s office, there was a gentleman waiting in a wheel chair. He looked to be in his late 20s or early 30s. Both of his legs were gone just below his knees. I sat next to him and was in obvious pain. He asked me what was wrong, and I told him. I looked at him and said, “Looks like you were in a farm accident or something of that nature.” He said, “No, on my third tour of duty in Iraq, I was in a school area and someone threw a bomb/grenade towards us and near some children. I dove to get to it and it blew my legs off.” I was just shocked and after what seemed like an awkward silence, he said, “It’s OK. I would do it again in the same situation and so would you.” He went on to talk about his wife and kids and how they do everything just like normal.

So here is what I am leaving 2014 with and taking to 2015. Both business and personally, no matter how bad your situation, no matter how bad you think you have it, suck it up. There is always someone worse off. Quit your whining and go forward with what the Lord gave you.

Thanks for a great 2014 and a better 2015.

As the meds wear off,

Reid Sherwood
reid@classicexhibits.com


 

You Can’t Fix Stupid — Material Handling

August 20th, 2014 1 COMMENT
Special Handling Charges? Really!

Special Handling Charges? Really!

Rising Drayage and Material Handling Costs

If you are a fan of the comedian Ron White, you know his signature line, “You Can’t Fix Stupid.” I was reminded of this line three weeks ago while attending a material handling session by Amanda Helgemoe from NuVista and Sue Huff from Medtronic at the Red Diamond Congress in Chicago. The presentation was based on a 2013 study endorsed by the Exhibit and Event Marketers Association (E2MA) Advocacy Committee.

In short, it’s disturbing.

The presentation consists of 50 informative slides, mostly case studies between 1996 and 2007, and an analysis of rising, comparative costs. I won’t summarize the full presentation because:  a) the summary would be longer than the study, and b) You’re not stupid. You can read it and draw your own conclusions. That said . . . I strongly encourage you to devote 20-30 minutes to reviewing it. Secondly, you need to share your concerns, opinions, and solutions with industry associations and show management.

Finally, if you work directly with exhibitors regularly, you need to encourage them to speak to the associations sponsoring the trade shows. I believe, and I’m going to be a little naive here, that they don’t fully understand the ramifications of their no-cost contracts with the General Show Contractors or Show Management. Costs are rising, in particular drayage, at a rate that’s unsustainable to our industry. Whatever your political bent, the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the foundational middle is crumbling in the trade show industry. This tainted concentration of power is doing what power always does – corrupts.

Advocacy_2

Some Highlights:

  1. Exhibitors are downsizing or cancelling programs, not because face-to-face marketing is ineffective, but because rising costs are squeezing their exhibit budgets.
  2. Exhibitors DO NOT KNOW 30% of their final costs headed into a show. No other marketing medium has the same cost uncertainty/surprises.
  3. Don’t blame labor. I&D costs have increased, but those costs pale in comparison to exclusive services such as material handling.
  4. At one show material handling increased 307% between 1997 and 2009. And there were two recessions during this time.
  5. Show Organizers are not doing their homework. There is often a wide variance in costs between similar shows in the same city within 6 months.
  6. Here’s how crazy it’s gotten (example): Drayage: $116.70/cwt, One crate = 1100 lbs., Drayage cost = $1,283.70, Associated GSC labor cost = 37 hours ($35.00/hour), NOW HOLD YOUR BREATH – That equals 1 person, working 4 ½ days for one crate.
  7. From 2009-2013, the Consumer Price Index increased 8.2%. General Contractor Labor Costs increased 12.56%. Drayage increased 121%.
  8. Material Handling has (purposely) gotten more opaque. In some situations, there are 24 material handling categories. Opacity makes it much harder for exhibitors to challenge drayage charges or make fiscally sound decisions when scheduling freight. This is not an accident.
  9. General Service Contractors are shifting costs to exhibitors who do not use them for non-exclusive services, resulting in uneven application of exclusive service charges. All too often, exhibitors are paying the drayage for the exhibitor right next to them when the GSC shifts expenses.
  10. Growing use of bundling by GSCs by offering discounts/rebates to win the entire corporate program, such as waiving material handling if client rents from the GSC. The EDPA and E2MA have gone on record as stating this practice (bundling) is unethical and anti-competitive.


The study proposes solutions beginning on slide 44, which I strongly encourage you to review. Those include Best Practices on slide 49. On a personal note, I cannot emphasize enough how much your voice matters to trade show industry associations, such as E2MA and EDPA. Let them hear from you. In addition, if you are an exhibitor, please voice your concerns directly with the association sponsoring the show and show management. I believe that associations do not understand how existing contracts undermine their ability to grow the shows they sponsor. Show management, however, does understand the impact of rising material handling costs, but (many) have not felt enough financial pain to recommend changes.

Thank you for your time, and I hope you share my passion and concern for our industry. Collectively, I believe we can fix stupid. We have no other choice.

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–Mel White
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
mel@classicexhibits.com

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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 www.classicexhibits.com.