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The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News

Exhibit Concepts

4 Reasons Your Trade Show Program Needs a Timeline

Exhibit Concepts March 07, 2017

By Bart Sakosky, VP of Production

When Mick Jagger proclaimed that time was on his side, I can’t help but wonder if he was actually talking about timelines. They are a great way to use time to your advantage. At Exhibit Concepts, we believe that creating an inclusive, realistic timeline is critical to a successful project, particularly when it comes to optimizing productivity. Better yet, it makes putting time on your side a real possibility.  

When considering the art of productivity, the Japanese serve as a compelling example of successfully changing an industry with a simple philosophy about waste: Muda. Translated, it means “futility; uselessness; wastefulness” also known as lean manufacturing.  This approach to eliminating waste has completely transformed the heart of the automotive industry. It has guided many automakers to properly allocate resources in order to find the most effective way to increase profitability. 

The elimination of waste is also very important in the trade show industry, and one of the aspects we have focused on is using a timeline to guide us to a path of prosperous productivity. With over 80,000 square feet devoted to manufacturing and prep at our headquarters in Dayton, Ohio and another 10,000 square feet in our Chicago office, efficiency is key. Creating a detailed timeline and sticking to it from concept through all phases of production and shipment is how we get there.

Here are a few ways timelines can benefit your trade show program:

1.    Reap the Rewards of Anticipation
While we cannot predict everything, there are many trade shows that our clients attend consistently, year after year. When we know a show is coming, our team can properly allocate resources to deliver the best possible experience for clients. 

Better yet, incorporating the trade shows we know will occur gives us flexibility to handle the other shows that appear in the schedule along the way. 

2.    Time to Take Responsibility
Timelines aren’t just about scheduling; assigning responsible parties to each task along the way is a crucial component. The success of any company lies with good communication, and making individuals responsible for the outcome of important tasks is essential. Likewise, client responsibility should be noted in the document. Ownership and accountability ensures all parties stay on track and sets expectations with great clarity.  

3.    Decrease Stress & Reduce Errors
We are human, and human beings make mistakes. It’s just par for the course in any industry.  However, when timelines are compressed, stress increases and stress can sometimes lead to errors. Creating and sticking to a comfortable timeline ensures we catch any mistakes along the way and have the time to fix them before they become a serious problem. 

As an added bonus, this can bring peace of mind, project readiness, accurate and dependable delivery, and ultimately our client’s overall fulfillment of their project. 

4.    Inspiring Perpetual Learning
The best thing any of us can be is a student of life. This means allowing ourselves to learn from our mistakes while also finding new ways to produce a better outcome. We are always learning and we are always making changes to streamline processes, increase profitability, and ultimately deliver a seamless experience for our clients. 

With dozens of tasks attached to each show’s timeline, trade show managers rely on our ability to maintain cohesion between each stage of the process. Exhibit Concepts’ transparency with each task helps our clients identify, participate, and take ownership in the timeline. The result is a successful show for all involved.  And like The Rolling Stones also said, “You can’t always get what you want.” But if we embrace timelines and stick to them, we can get a good outcome.

Inspiring Spaces Drive Inspiration

Exhibit Concepts February 09, 2017

There’s a saying: changing your perspective changes your experience.

As a company focused on the design and production of branded environments, we believe that statement to be true; and that is one of the main drivers behind our strategic business investments. Our sales and leadership teams recently headed to Aileron in Tipp City, Ohio just north of Dayton to do just that: discuss the current state of our business and collaboratively forge a path to continued growth.

Specifically, Exhibit Concepts is aggressively growing our commercial interiors and international trade show business. These segments of our business are led by Jeff Hannah, VP of International Services & Commercial Interiors. Jeff joined Exhibit Concepts during the summer of 2016 after leading multicultural teams in the strategic development of complex projects in over 50 countries for many of the world’s top brands.

Jeff oversees the strategic growth of ECI’s business in these categories. He helps clients develop a comprehensive and strategic approach to their face-to-face marketing programs outside the U.S. In addition to being a wealth of knowledge about exhibiting in a host of international cities and venues, Jeff brings a unique focus on the cultural aspects of working across borders. His work in commercial interiors combines a designer’s deeper understanding of the unique requirements of executive briefing centers (EBCs), retail build-outs, corporate lobbies, showrooms, and mobile marketing vehicles with a passion for enhancing the brand experience.

Aileron is an organization with a mission to “unleash the potential of private business through professional management” with business advisors and a unique facility that provides endless inspiration for small businesses, supporting business owners, presidents, and CEOs that are forging a path in their respective industries. We believe it’s just good business to strategize in a meaningful way in order to grow with purpose. And the Aileron facility is just that inspirational space to bring our team together.

Aileron has a special meaning to our company, as we had a role in the build and installation of many design aspects of the building’s interior. We are proud to partner with such an innovative organization that does so much to support the men and women working to foster and grow their small businesses. 

2 Crucial Considerations: How to Understand What Goes on in the Boardroom

Exhibit Concepts February 02, 2017

By Ellen Campbell-Kaminski, VP of Marketing 

It’s a question that has plagued event marketers for decades: what happens behind the scenes in the companies you work with to pitch your product or service? Why are some projects green-lighted and others that seemed a “sure thing” canceled altogether? This question was recently posed at the EDPA ACCESS 2016 annual conference. The good news: it is possible to demystify this issue with a better understanding of how companies operate and decision-making models.

Consideration One: Get a better understanding of the organizational characteristics of the company.

Think about a particular client and ask yourself: which resources are dedicated and which are shared? Exhibit managers and Event marketers are typically shared resources, managing multiple priorities and the (often conflicting) expectations of internal stakeholders.

Many of these individuals are drowning in data and responsibilities. So, what are they looking for? It’s a partner that is:

•    Empathetic - Most people just want to be heard and understood. 
•    Proactive - Help keep them on track by reaching out about upcoming projects well in advance.
•    Solution-Oriented - Always offer new ideas and suggestions for improvement.

Also, think about who in the organization is responsible for achieving revenue targets. Larger organizations tend to be highly matrixed which often means that multiple people have revenue goals and often there are both vertical and horizontal and shared goals.  This can lead to conflicts, especially when one group is not performing according to plan.

Understanding organizational structures and how different divisions are performing can help predict when last minute changes to the tradeshow plan are likely. For example, when a division is underperforming, you might get last minute requests for extra demo stations. Tracking and researching your clients and their philosophy is the best way to become familiar with how an organization operates. 

This is best achieved by:

•    Asking questions - Ask key contacts and senior leaders how the company is doing, on a regular basis. Are new products in the works?
•    Reading the company’s annual report
•    Tracking data and news

Consideration Two: Understand common event scenarios that compel a company to have or modify their tradeshow presence and conduct stakeholder analysis to anticipate their likely perspective.

•    Major new product launch: The Company has a new product that will be introduced at an industry-specific trade show. 
•    Acquisition/Integration: Company A was purchased by Company B, introducing recently integrated Company C to the industry. 

The Takeaway:

•    What implications do the different characteristics of the target company have on your account plans?
•    What questions can you ask during discovery to identify organizational structure and decision-making culture?
•    Who are the key decision makers and how can you positively influence them?
•    What signals can you look for to indicate a deal might be veering off course?

You can’t always discern what goes on in the boardroom. But if you think through organization structures, analyze how decisions are made and how success is measured, and track a company’s news, you will be far better positioned when the inevitable changes come.

Top 5 Trade Show Trends for 2017

Exhibit Concepts January 20, 2017

By Jeff Korchinski, VP of Sales & Creative

If there is one constant in the trade show industry, it is this: there is always some new development or trend emerging. As the new year is well underway, I’m excited for another great year of innovation in the trade show industry. Here are five (5) trends that I think are here to stay. As you work your events and walk show floors, keep an eye out for these.

Trend One: It’s All about Technology

It will come as no surprise that incorporating technology into trade show spaces will continue to be a major trend in 2017, as it has in years past. It’s the topic on everyone’s mind. We are a highly connected society and the tradeshow floor is no exception; visitors are expecting information to be delivered in new, innovative ways.

Technology doesn’t need to be complicated, however: it can be as simple as a touch screen or the incorporation of small devices like Bluetooth® beacons that integrate with client’s products. Bringing these items into a space helps draw people in, while also gathering data and delivering a brand’s message in a compelling way.

At Exhibit Concepts, we have an Engagement Strategist on staff who actively works to assist our account executives in incorporating technology into trade show environments for our clients.

Trend Two: Keep a Human Touch

Creative BriefWhile technology is can be paramount in attracting visitors to your booth, it should never be at the expense of quality human interaction. An authentic conversation is still your most valuable asset. It should add another layer to what a company brings to the table. There is no better way to uncover and understand customers’ needs than by properly staffing trade show spaces with the right people who are excellent listeners. And make sure that they are properly trained on your brand story.

Look for booths that draw visitors in with unique elements that engage the senses while also delivering a meaningful message delivered in an honest and compelling way

Trend Three: Make it Personal

Every client wants to stand out from their competitors. They need solutions that are crafted to their specific needs in order to step up their presence and be noticed. A custom exhibit is the best way to deliver a truly personal, unique experience for visitors. A unique problem requires a unique solution that captures the essence of a brand while also delivering key messages to the audience.

2017 will be the year to focus on innovative booth designs that support and enhance a brand’s promise and stands out on the show floor- and from the crowd.  

Trend Four: Mind the Budget

While custom exhibits work for many clients, others face tight budgetary challenges. The good news is you don’t have to sacrifice your presence at shows for the sake of the budget. You can leverage rental solutions and unique engagement approaches in a truly memorable way. It’s true: you can stand out without breaking the bank. Rental solutions allow brands to repurpose and reuse materials and properties. When done right, with fresh graphics and other elements, rental solutions appear custom and add great value to your company’s marketing efforts.

Keep an eye out for trade show spaces that deliver meaningful messages without big investment- and still produce compelling results.

Trend Five: Find New Ways to Engage

2017 will be all about engagement. The focus will be on finding creative ways to get people out of the aisles and into the booth with fresh, new ideas. Whether it’s incorporating technology or acquiring data in a unique way, booths should draw visitors in and get them talking and keep them wanting more. Delivering a compelling user experience is all the rage- and for good reason.

The team at Exhibit Concepts recently brought engagement into a trade show space with a social aggregator for Kellogg's. This engagement successfully increased social media traffic and pulled visitors into their space with a creative solution. The concept was simple but effective for the brand: booth visitors took a photo with Tony the Tiger, and then entered their information into a social aggregator to share with friends on social platforms. Engagement doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be compelling.

I’m excited to see how these trends and others progress throughout the coming year; what trends are you seeing as you walk the show floor?

Making Change that Matters

Exhibit Concepts January 17, 2017

By Kelli Glasser, President & CEO

Investing in yourself and your team is always a wise decision in my book. As I reflect on the last year and look to the year ahead, growth has been a consistent thread throughout. I’ve outlined some of the high points of last year and our direction moving into the New Year. 

It has been said that you need to spend money in order to make money, and as a leader I find this to be true. I believe in Exhibit Concepts. I believe in our people. So much so, that we have made a concerted effort to invest in our business to not only grow as a company but to expand our presence in the branded environments industry.

Here are the highlights of 2016:

One of the biggest changes to our business was the completion of buyout of ownership shares from my father Ned, who founded the business in 1978. This not only represents a complete transfer of ownership, but also that of decision making and cash to invest in the business.

In order to continue to fuel our growth, we have grown our team at ECI to continue to effectively serve our clients. In 2016, we hired 25 new employees that brought diverse talents to the table, including marketing, creative, and sales. To put this number in perspective, 2016 was our largest hire year to date. We currently have 115 employees, our highest company headcount in history. 



Another major investment made by the company was the purchase of a new direct printer and two additional CNC machines. This direct printer uses ultraviolet (UV) inks, which means there are no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released during printing, making it a greener and safer process for the environment. It also utilizes LED technology for UV curing, which means less energy consumption and faster warm-up times than previous techniques. It’s a hybrid printer, printing on both rolled materials and flat substrates, allowing us to find new ways to meet our clients’ needs.

Having two new CNC machines will double our capacity for use in fabrication as well as our graphics and museum departments, allowing us to improve efficiency and accommodate today’s speed of business.

Our focus for 2017

As I think about the New Year and goals for our business, we aim to continue our growth and to drive change by expanding the services we offer our clients. 

A major focus for ECI is on building our International and Commercial Interiors side of the business. These departments, led by Jeff Hannah, are areas that represent tremendous opportunity and where our clients are looking to invest. The addition of Jeff and other members of the team to our current capabilities mean that we can offer our clients a full suite of face-to-face branded marketing solutions both in the United States and internationally.

Technology is a topic that is always on our minds, as is finding new and innovative ways to integrate it into the spaces we design, build, and install. Our team is focused on meeting the needs of customers through compelling engagement experiences that bring an environment to life. We have an in-house Engagement Strategist who actively works to educate and assist our sales staff to bring technology like Bluetooth® beacons or innovative lighting solutions into spaces.

We believe in the importance of offering a total brand experience to our clients. We strive to successfully deliver our clients’ messages in the most compelling ways to enable them to connect with their audiences. That may include tradeshows, but also could effectively incorporate an innovation center, a proprietary event, or a mobile tour.  Our goal is to be that partner who helps our clients determine the most beneficial cohesive package for their face-to-face marketing spend.

I am so proud of what Exhibit Concepts has achieved in 2016 and I am confident that 2017 will be even more successful!  

Common Mistakes Made by International Exhibitors: Preparation (Part 2 of 4)

Exhibit Concepts January 12, 2017

By Jeff Hannah, VP of International Services & Commercial Interiors

Are you staffing your exhibit with the right people? Is your team trained on how to interact with the local (foreign) attendees? Is your team using your exhibit to its full potential? Many companies who exhibit at international trade shows fail to properly PREPARE before they attend. PREPARATION MISTAKES fall into three main areas: design, staffing, and training.

In this 4-part series:  Common Mistakes Made by International Exhibitors, we are identifying these mistakes and suggesting tactics to avoid them in the future. You can read Part One, Awareness, here.


Your exhibit is the first thing people experience, so it must be interesting and inviting. Every exhibit needs to have a clear focal point to tell your story. Often exhibits are cluttered with too many things—too many design elements, too much copy, too many products— all competing for attention. As a result, the exhibit fails to communicate your message clearly.

Exhibits are also communicating subtleties about your brand –expressed by your specific look, feel, and architecture. Your exhibit should be tailored appropriately to engage with your local audience – whether through live presentations, hospitality, demos, or other methods. Too often, companies take the same approach they use in their home country and expect it to work just as well overseas, which is rarely the case. For example, hospitality is a crucial aspect of a trade show space in Mexico City.

Strive to have consistency in your branding with relevance to the local audience.

Must Knows For Global Exhibiting


Should your salespeople work the booth? Sometimes they are not the best people for the job because the show floor is more about marketing than selling. Generally, this is top of the funnel activity – engaging with lots of people who may know little or nothing about your company.

I recommend staffing your booth with people who have the ability to quickly and comfortably engage with people of all types of backgrounds. They are friendly, professional, and knowledgeable. They have a true appreciation for cultural differences and are familiar with the local culture and country. They are good listeners and have the ability to communicate well (especially in multiple languages). They desire to educate and inform. They aren’t looking to close a deal, but rather to cultivate a relationship.

Having the right team members in the booth can make a world of difference!


Have you invested in training staff members on how to work the trade show floor? Internationally, it becomes even more important that your team is trained not only on how to work in the exhibit, but on how to interact and engage with locals.

For international shows, you should train your staff on things like:

·         Basic greetings (verbal and physical)

·         How to engage with local attendees

·         Appropriate conversation/topics to avoid

·         Local and national current events

·         Local cultural norms, values

·         Hospitality expectations / preferences

Sometimes, we assume that everyone intuitively understands how the engagement process is intended to work for a particular exhibit. Training can solve that problem quickly – as well as many others.

For more content on exhibiting internationally, visit Global Exhibitor.

This is part 2 of a 4 part series on common mistakes made by international exhibitors. Part 3 of this series will focus on COMMUNICATIONS MISTAKES: Messaging, Engagement, and Evaluation.

Jeff Hannah is VP of International Services & Commercial Interiors for Exhibit Concepts. He consults, writes, and speaks about engagement strategies, cultures, and trade show differences between countries. He has founded companies in the UK, UAE, and USA, and has produced trade show exhibits, interiors, and events in over 50 countries for many of the world’s top brands. You can find Jeff on Twitter: @jeffnuance. 

Common Mistakes Made by International Exhibitors (Part 1 of 4)

Exhibit Concepts December 21, 2016

By Jeff Hannah, VP of International Services & Commercial Interiors

You come from a unique background that shapes your view of the world. But what if your approach did more harm than good? What if you really didn’t understand your customers like you thought you did? And, what if your strategy was flawed? Many companies who exhibit at international trade shows make these AWARENESS MISTAKES every day. The good news: there are ways to avoid these pitfalls. In this four-part series, we will identify these mistakes and help you understand how to avoid them.

Approach Mistake:

Do you have an ethnocentric view of the world? Perhaps it’s lack of exposure or even lack of interest, but when working internationally it can become a barrier to success.

An ethnocentric approach means looking at another culture through the lens of your own and making value judgments. It is the belief in the superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture. Often, we are so surrounded and engulfed by our own culture (particularly in the USA) that we cannot see past or outside of it.

It’s a dangerous way to view the world and can lead to major problems in both personal and business settings. If not carefully managed, ethnocentricity becomes poison. 

Ethnocentricity causes you to misread signals, misunderstand culture, and ultimately miss opportunities to engage with others. This can also lead to a misunderstanding about what someone else wants.

The good news is there are specific ways you can avoid this issue, by being willing to expand your horizons and strategize your approach.

Must Knows For Global Exhibiting

How to Avoid Cultural Mistakes:

Do Your Homework

Often, companies fail to acknowledge the local cultures that they are targeting which can lead to a major miss. This is why cultural homework, even simply the basics, can lead to big results.

Don’t Ignore Intangibles

Never ignore the subtleties in international interactions. Body language, communication styles, and authority structures can be difficult to read. But these aspects of culture should inform choices, strategies, and decisions along the way.

Adapt, Adapt, Adapt

Think about how much emphasis marketers put on customer engagement and the funnel. This same care should be applied to understanding or adapting to cultural concerns, preferences, values, enigmas, and nuances.

Strategy Mistake:

Every successful venture begins with a solid plan. It is important to formulate a strategy before you begin, which will help identify and prevent potential downfalls along the way.

Bucketing your Approach

The first potential downfall is lumping “international” into a single bucket. This would be similar to saying the United States is all one culture, when in fact, we are unique within regions and states. The same goes for international; every culture is unique and has its own distinct history, values, and preferences. One size does NOT fit all! It is important to recognize that your approach needs to change - based on both country and region.

Cultural Context

All business is conducted within the context of a cultural framework, which means that you must see your business dealings (marketing, selling, and negotiating) through the lens of culture. Study and approach these cultures without judgment or preconceived notions in order to create the best strategy.

Don’t Assume

Finally, recognize that you are outside of your home country and culture, which means aspects of your experience will be very different and could feel outside of the norm. Leave your assumptions at the door and arrive prepared.

This is part one of a four-part series covering the common mistakes companies make when exhibiting internationally. You can read the second installment, about the importance of preparation, here.

Jeff Hannah is VP of International Services & Commercial Interiors for Exhibit Concepts. He consults, writes, and speaks about engagement strategies, cultures, and trade show differences between countries. He has founded companies in the UK, UAE, and USA, and has produced trade show exhibits, interiors, and events in over 50 countries for many of the world’s top brands. You can find Jeff on Twitter: @jeffnuance.  

Honoring America's Heroes: The Cold War Gallery

Exhibit Concepts December 09, 2016

The National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida works to educate the public on the history and importance of Naval Special Warfare. The organization preserves the history of the SEALs through educational, interactive exhibits that tell the history of this brave group of men.

Exhibit Concepts (ECI) takes great pride in our partnership with the Navy SEAL Museum in order to bring this important story to life. In 2016, we partnered with the museum to develop exhibits which include the role Underwater Demolitions Teams (UDT) and SEALs played during the Cold War. In 2014 and 2015, we partnered with Van Sickle & Rolleri and Northern Light Productions to design and build exhibits for the Modern Day Gallery, also part of the National Navy SEAL Museum.

Our team worked alongside the museum to design and build all the exhibits in the Cold War Gallery, which opened its doors on November 4, 2016.

The Cold War was a state of political and military tension after World War II between powers in the Western Bloc (US and NATO allies) and powers in the Eastern Bloc (USSR) from 1947 to 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed. The term “cold” is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, although there were major regional wars supported by the two sides.

ECI partnered with the museum to develop, design, and install exhibits which include the role Underwater Demolitions Teams (UDT) and SEALs played during the Cold War.

To see more of our museum exhibition work, visit our portfolio page

An Illuminating Rental Exhibit Solution

Exhibit Concepts December 07, 2016

We believe a rental shouldn’t look like a rental- it should embody a company’s message.

When Adwerx, a digital marketing agency for real estate professionals (referred to us by Take Success), approached ECI about their tradeshow booth design, they had a specific vision.

The primary goals were:

  •  Reinforce their “Shine a Light on Your Brand” Campaign
  • Keep the Budget in Mind
  • Deliver a Big Impact on the Tradeshow Floor

ECI had the perfect solution from our own inventory. We created a custom booth in early 2016, using it for our own tradeshow presence at Exhibitor LIVE 2016 and the WBENC Conference , with an industrial angle.

The use of rental exhibits is a great way to design an innovative space for clients and repurposing this booth was the perfect fit for Adwerx. Smaller organizations or those with small booths can benefit from our vast inventory of rental components.


“I heard the client’s needs and realized we had property sitting in our building that was designed perfectly for the Adwerx campaign,” said Account Executive Stephanie Matlock. “The ECI booth was a great fit for them, and it was something that could simply be repurposed to meet their needs.”


The booth, constructed of reclaimed lumber, incorporated Edison bulbs and custom graphics to deliver the Adwerx message to booth visitors.

"Exhibit Concepts was able to interpret our vision for a booth that was warm, inviting and representative of our company culture. We wanted to bring this authenticity to the trade show floor and bring a piece of Adwerx Durham on the road. We won fans and new business alike because our booth's glow pulled people in. Thanks to Stephanie who used her expertise to offer a solution that fit the budget and our big expectations." 

When clients have a big dream and small budget, there is always an innovative solution to their problem.



Come shed some light on your brand at Booth #285 😄 #NARAnnual

A post shared by Adwerx (@adwerxre) on

ECI Names Ellen Campbell-Kaminski as VP of Marketing

Exhibit Concepts November 28, 2016

download (4).jpgExhibit Concepts, Inc. (ECI) has named Ellen Campbell-Kaminski the Vice President of Marketing. Campbell-Kaminski is working to drive marketing strategy and branding, demand generation, content marketing, analytics, marketing operations and corporate communications for the company.

“We’re thrilled to add Ellen to our executive team,” said President and CEO Kelli Glasser. “Her vast experience in marketing and business development is a huge asset to ECI as we look to drive growth and increase our presence in the branded environments industry.”

As part of the ECI executive team, Ellen develops and oversees the company’s marketing activities, corporate strategy and development of new and emerging products and services. The company has an outstanding reputation for creating branded environments for trade shows, events, and museums. Campbell-Kaminski will work to leverage that strong reputation to grow the company.

Ellen Campbell-Kaminski is an accomplished B2B Marketing Executive with demonstrated ability to grow revenue and deliver results through innovative go-to-market strategies, customer insights, analytics, data-driven marketing and continuous improvement initiatives. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Georgetown University. 

The Latest and Greatest Exhibit Concepts, Inc. News