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New Exhibit Technology in B2B Marcom

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  • Indium Corporation
  • Amazing! Two exhibits in one tiny box.

    Amazing! Two exhibits in one tiny box.

    Three pieces of fabric, neatly folded. That's it!

    Three pieces of fabric, neatly folded. That's it!

    Our 10 x 20-foot SEMI exhibit. This required two pieces of fabric, with one small seam.

    Our 10 x 20-foot SEMI exhibit. This required two pieces of fabric, with one small seam.

    Our 10-foot SOLAR exhibit. A simple backwall.

    Our 10-foot SOLAR exhibit. A simple backwall.

    I've been involved with designing, installing, and paying for all sizes and styles of exhibits for decades. I've always been about looking great, being functional, and minimizing costs. Well, I've just enjoyed all three elements, in a new and exciting way.

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    INDIUM CORPORATION  just exhibited at Semicon West (10'x20')  and Intersolar (10'x10'),  held concurrently at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Fresh on the heels of our highly-reduced expenses (with tremendously positive results)  at APEX, we set out to keep our costs way down while looking super. As usual, I turned to my team of experts for guidance and ideas. I hit the jackpot.

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    As usual, we turned to Catalyst Exhibits for advice, creation, and construction of our exhibit (we co-design our exhibits with our trusted agency, The Paige Group). Catalyst knew that, during these challenging economic times, we had to drastically cut costs but NOT sacrifice our image. They also knew we were taking a comprehensive approach, and not targeting any one particular line item. They did such an excellent job for us that I interviewed our contact, Catalyst's Senior Account Executice, Mary McMahon.

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    Rick: I was amazed to see my complete TWO exhibits arrive at my office, after the show, in one small box (see images). Excluding the structure (frame) and the tables & chairs, how much did our total exhibit weigh?

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    Mary: About 30 pounds.

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    Rick: This is something new to me. Is it new, and what is it?

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    Mary: Using fabric graphic over aluminum structure is by no means a new technology.   That said, what is new, is the aluminum structure itself, fabricated exclusively in-house by Catalyst, called InnerSpace.   Innerspace is a 6 inch squared high gauge aluminum structure available in a variety of lengths that provides extraordinary flexibility of design.   It provides the stability and strength of a custom exhibit structure on a rental basis and is far superior in quality and craftsmanship than your ordinary corrugated aluminum systems available for rental.   The structure is fitted with strong floor posts hidden under carpet and padding, and provides complete wire management to conceal wires from lighting, plasmas, etc…   It provides the design with a clean, sleek look and can be fitted with translucent or opaque fabrics.   The coated finish allows for a finished look, even if exposed.

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    Rick: We really like it. What evolutionary steps led to this technology? (printing, inks, fabrics, production capabilities, etc.)  

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    Mary:  Catalyst Exhibits has recently invested in a major printing technology upgrade.   We now use a UV printer which prints on just about any surface, from fabric to laminate to Plexi.   The new process is now a one step process that prints and cures the ink all in one step.   In the past, we have used wide format inkjet printers which required quite a bit more processing time and steps.   For example, to print on a standard sintra substrate, the image was printed, then mounted, then left to dry, then laminated.   This is all done in one step now, allowing us to process more graphics in house, saving our clients money and making the use of graphics far more economical.   Not only that, it allows our graphics department to process last minute jobs needed on the spot.   When a forklift runs over one of your graphics the day before a show opens, it is comforting to know that Catalyst can print a replacement and have it to you before the show opens the next morning.

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    Rick: What percentage of your clients are using it?

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    Mary: The beauty of custom exhibit rental is the flexibility of design.   With our vast inventory of rental parts and pieces, our clients enjoy the use of several different types of building materials, which can be easily fit together to create a unique design for every show.   A large percentage of our clients use some elements of our InnerSpace along with other materials, such as robust wood construction, custom laminated surfaces, as well as different colors and styles of Plexiglas panels.

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    Rick: What percentage, in your opinion, SHOULD be using it?

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    Mary: It is difficult to say how many of our clients should be using InnerSpace, as the needs of our clients vary greatly-not just from client to client, but from show to show.   I do think that any client that is looking for an upscale, clean and lightweight solution should consider a design using our custom rental InnerSpace.   It allows the client to say costs on drayage and shipping, as well as provides for an easier setup, which reduces the amount of labor needed.   The other advantage is that the client merely rents the structure, but gets to keep the graphics, which create the walls of the exhibit.   The graphics can be shipped in a small container to the client's facility, or stored at Catalyst for reuse in future projects.

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    Rick: Why was this good for the INDIUM CORPORATION to switch to?

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    Mary: Indium has actually used InnerSpace in many of its projects in the past, but this is the first time the actual structure of the exhibit was made  exclusively with aluminum and fabric.   In the past, we have created a hard wall construction, which does indeed cost more to ship, build, etc…   This is not to say that InnerSpace and fabric will be the only perfect solution in the future.   It does have limitations, in terms of being able to fasten shelving and plasmas.   Sometimes, a hard wall construction is necessary, depending, of course, upon each individual situation.

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    Rick: Please detail the specific reasons why this technology saves us so much money.

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    Mary:

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    • Reduced shipping cost: Innerspace is skidded and takes up less room than crates on a truck.   Fabric is rolled up in a bag and can even be carried by hand.
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    • Reduced manufacturing expenses: Since the materials are all rental, there are no visible manufacturing expenses.   That said using aluminum and fabric allows you to stretch the materials you are using in the design, and therefore lower the overall costs
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    • Reduced manufacturing time: Same as above
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    • Reduced installation time: Not so much here. Installation time of InnerSpace vs. hard panels is actually quite similar due to the time of installing graphics.
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    • Reduced installation staff: No savings here. The number of staff is probably about the same as in other construction materials.
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    • Reduced drayage costs: Yes.  Since InnerSpace and fabric weighs far less than traditional hard panel construction, it definitely saves on drayage costs.
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    • Reduced storage costs: Since both InnerSpace and hard wall panels are both rental properties they require no storage fees.   Many other costs of ownership are completely eliminated from the equation as well, such as refurbishment, repair, handling, shipping crates, and insurance, just to name a few.   The costs associated with rental solutions can also be used as a tax write off, whereas a custom booth is an investment and must be amortized.   With rental, you don't end up married to your exhibit, trying to reconfigure it from show to show and purpose to purpose to fit into a space for which it was not designed.   Custom rental allows complete flexibility and an entirely new look for each show.
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    Rick: Is this technology changing the exhibition industry?

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    Mary: Our technology is not changing the exhibit industry.   We are merely adapting to a changing exhibit industry.   Long gone are the days of excessive spending on architecture.   What good is architecture anyway?   The questions are, "What is your message?", and. "What is the most efficient and cost effective way of getting the message across?"     Our most recent challenge has been the rising costs of shipping and drayage.   This has provided us with the challenge of offering lighter weight solutions that still provide that same high end custom look-hence InnerSpace.

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    There you have it. The who, what, where, when, why, and how of reducing costs, maintaining image, and optimizing ROI in today's challenging exhibition world.