There’s something to be said about nurturing the next generation. In the exhibit industry, it’s a priceless way for experienced employees to share knowledge, gain fresh insights, and facilitate success. This intergenerational approach becomes even more valuable when performed in a strategic, motivating mentor-mentee environment. The mentor teaches industry specifics while providing personal long-term support, and the mentee maintains confidence while learning to effectively build skills and navigate the system.
Diverse Benefits: From Company to Client
Efficient operations and meeting high expectations are a must for custom exhibit fabricators, which is why they are always in need of quality support. That’s where mentoring new help comes into play. It encourages proficient problem solving and contiguous workflow to ensure maximum productivity. Mentoring is clearly an asset to an established company, but what’s in it for the important clients behind the projects? Should clients even care about who’s working on their project or how it’s being built?”
“Without a doubt,” says Alfonso Gonzalez, K2 Engineering Detailer and mentor. “Client satisfaction is everything to us, which is why we’re extremely selective when it comes to bringing new individuals on board. Establishing and practicing mentor-mentee relationships helps ensure we maintain quality and uphold our client commitments. It also ensures we utilize modern technologies, increase productivity and avoid confusion, which are benefits for everyone involved,” he says.
Strong Company, Satisfied Clients
K2’s mentoring strategy is designed to create a culture of learning based on reciprocity, mutual respect, clear communication and accessibility. Mentors become strong leaders focused on bridging the generational gap and passing on their legacies, and mentees share ideas without fear of repercussions. Moreover, competition is eliminated or utilized in a positive way and feedback becomes an expected exchange. When this happens, job satisfaction increases and project expectations are exceeded, both making for internal unity and satisfied clients.
Alfonso, who has three decades of experience in the exhibit and display industries, is mentoring Jacob Kling, K2’s newest engineering detailer. Alfonso is teaching Jacob essential design, engineering, CAD and CNC computer skills used to create exquisite 3D structures. In turn, Jacob, who has a background in the mill work industry, has introduced innovative CAD skills to enhance K2’s existing process. Both schools of thought are married creating stronger professional paths for Alfonso and Jacob, as well as contributing to the tradeshow industry’s future.
Mentoring for a Strong Future
As the tradeshow, exhibit and display industries evolve, the importance of sharing intergenerational skill-sets, challenges, set-backs and triumphs in a collaborative environment becomes critical. The established skills of yesterday have proven to be much more effective when infused with fresh viewpoints and approaches. The industry as a whole – clients included – all reap limitless process and product benefits.
“Mentoring just makes sense,” says Alfonso. “I’m not only teaching Jacob industry responsibilities and skills, but also the value of team spirit and inclusiveness. Being a role model is an incredibly rewarding and respected experience. It’s nice to know that what I’ve learned in my career will benefit the future.”
For Jacob, the benefits of mentoring are just as rewarding: “I’m learning the tricks of the trade in a trusting, engaging environment and preparing for a successful career in exhibit fabrication,” says Jacob. “Everything I learn from Alfonso is focused on high service and product standards. I couldn’t ask for a better way to grow.”
Exhibiting at a trade show is one of the most valuable marketing platforms available to showcase your brand. It provides an exclusive environment jam-packed with viable business prospects who are hungry for meaningful interactions and solutions.
If you fulfill their product or service needs, it can mean impressionable returns and future growth for your company. In fact, statistics show that 77 percent of executive decision makers found at least one new supplier at the last trade show they attended.
Exhibitor Stories Create Powerful Impressions
One of the biggest challenges of being an exhibitor at a trade show or expo is that you’re vying for the same attention as some of your biggest, brightest competitors. So how do you overcome this obstacle to become one of the most memorable experiences at the event?
“It’s all in the design,” says K2 Design and Fabrication Creative Director Tony Zorrilla. “It isn’t about dollars spent on a trade show exhibit or being focused on how to one-up your toughest competitors. It’s about telling your story. It’s also about being strong, authentic and intensely selective about how you create brand awareness, engage your potential clients, and build customer commitment.”
Ready to Get Started on Your Trade Show Exhibit Design?
A trade show booth, custom display or permanent installation is a large investment, so ensuring the process starts off efficiently is crucial. Whether you’re new to the trade show circuit or a seasoned player – or have a slim or sizable budget – the design process is where the magic begins. It’s also essential to your exhibiting success and one area of marketing, advertising and branding where you shouldn’t skimp.
If new to the game, you can expect your first meeting with an exhibit account executive, graphic designer or creative director to be extremely informational so that you feel comfortable moving forward. If seasoned, it’s a chance to update, upgrade and make other changes to enhance the impression, interaction and functionality factors of your existing exhibit.
“It’s vital that clients bring as much information to the table as possible in the beginning of the product design process,” says Tony. “This ensures the final exhibit design hits the mark by meeting all of the client’s logistical needs, as well as being significant enough to attract and engage valuable prospects.
10 Points to Discuss During Your Exhibit Design Meeting
Designing a trade show exhibit is all about identifying your needs and determining the most efficient way to meet them. In order to accomplish this, essential information needs to be discussed to ensure your event goals are translated aesthetically and effectively through design.
When you begin the design process, you may be asked:
1. Why you are exhibiting at the trade show(s) – launch a product, brand recognition, connect with new prospects, etc.?
2. What are your products and services?
3. Who are your competitors (and location at show) and prospects?
4. Do you have design character, style, structure and color preferences?
5. What are your branding guidelines?
6. How would you like to incorporate your logo and tagline?
7. What are you exhibit needs – signage, product displays, meeting rooms, interactive displays, modular structures, speaker platforms, demonstrations?
8. Would you like to incorporate graphics, interactive technology, video and television?
9. What is your budget and timeline?
10. What are your future exhibit goals and needs?
How a Creative Exhibit House Ensures Your Design Needs are Met
The exhibit company, account executive and creative director behind your design are just as important as your company and what you bring to the table. As a client, you shouldn’t have to do all the heavy lifting. In return, you should receive honest and valuable feedback on how your design project will be realized.
“One of the most important elements of a successful exhibit design is the relationship behind it,” says Tony. “It takes trust on both sides to ensure an honest, supportive and strong exchange. Information regarding a feasible budget, expectations, relative goals and obstacles should always be discussed.”
As an example, at K2 Design and Fabrication, we:
Listen, think and then act.
Immerse ourselves in your brand, culture, consumer behavior patterns, and competitive landscape.
Gather relevant insights and information on product/service categories and target audiences.
Strategize a marketing and messaging position, and develop ideas and tactics to fulfill the strategy.
Envision and create meaningful architecture and engaging storytelling devices.
Apply research on trends, motifs, building techniques, light and sound.
Ensure timeline and budget are achievable.
Meet K2 Creative Designer Tony Zorrilla
K2 Design Director Tony Zorrilla is a seasoned professional with 29 years’ proven experience exceeding client’s design expectations. He prides himself on taking an old school approach, such as providing hand drawn preliminary sketches and visiting client’s companies to get a feel for their product, service and culture. Tony is also a proud recipient of the Disney Thea Award, as well as a highly requested design lecturer at many top local universities and art schools.
Tradeshows have existed for hundreds of years, evolving from local merchant trade fairs to today’s mega, multi-hall conventions held worldwide. Nothing has come along to replace them. Nope, not even the internet. In fact, digital marketing has done the opposite. Rather than replace the need to meet, greet and sell in person, it’s actually revolutionized the way we do it.
Online Interaction Increases the Need for Human Touch
Despite naysayers who spout that tradeshows are dying, the industry has not only stayed strong, it’s intensified. Strategic, open-minded businesses – ranging from start-ups to established behemoths – are still powered by their need to personally connect. They’ve learned to tap into rapidly developing social, technological and economic trends to attract attention, qualify leads, and beef up their customer base. It isn’t a vain move based on wanting to be the biggest and best; it’s actually a thoughtful strategy essential to survival and success.
Businesses that have dropped out of the tradeshow circuit due to falling profits may blame their loss on the fear that exhibitions are fading, when in fact, it may have resulted from a lack of strategic planning. If so, how does a business execute an exhibit program that builds them up, not tears them down?
5 Tradeshow Tactics to Build an Effective Exhibit Program
1. Objectives and metrics.Review new tradeshow objectives and past show metrics regarding booth attendance, qualified leads, meetings booked, sales generated and total ROI, location and demographics, media engagements, and show crossover to make sure you’re attending the right shows. Measurements are everything. Tradeshows that worked for you in the past may not work now. Many shows have evolved to meet the demands of more precise, targeted and vertical markets than in the past. Whether you attend small shows or more prominent shows like CES, NAHB or NAMM, brand positioning, quality exhibit fabrication, and engagement opportunities are crucial.
2. Invest in exhibit design.Present your product or service in an environment that is strikingly different than the competition, and precisely representative of your brand. Create a culture using an engagement-centric approach with 3D experiences, lighting and sound, speaking platforms, product demonstrations, special guest activities, and staff environments for private and group meetings. Interactive environments are critical for products and brands to be fully embraced. Use an experienced exhibit designer, engineer and production manager to help create a memorable exhibit that showcases your story, culture and brand within your budget.
If you used an old booth at your last tradeshow, evaluate its effectiveness. Did it support your marketing objectives? Was it conducive to attendance volume and product display? Did it wow your customers? If your old booth didn’t quite hit the mark, now’s the time to invest in a quality refurb or purchase a new one. Evaluate your customers’ motivating trends and skepticism, and make sure you evolve and innovate to meet their needs at future shows.
3. Promote before the show. Invite customers, prospects, vendors and media to experience your brand first hand. Recognize the value of using social media, live streaming, media distribution, and other digital venues to introduce yourself, promote your presence at the show, and compel customers to come. Online communications can be isolating, which has intensified the need for face-to-face engagements. Decide what resonates with your audience and motivates them to crave in-person connection.
4. Prepare staff and content.Just as you spend time on measuring, designing and pre-show promotion, make sure to focus on your booth reps and sales force. Make sure they become brand ambassadors who know your exhibit’s capabilities, integrated activities and experiences, and incentives inside and out. They should also be fully capable of demonstrating your product and worth quickly and effectively to viable leads. Also, ensure your promotional and graphic content is striking and refined, and your brand message and story are engaging enough to gain competitive advantage.
5. Post show review.Follow up on leads, and review metrics and performance. Question whether you fostered networking opportunities, nurtured relationships, felt relevant against the competition, and generated brand awareness. Also ask: Did your tradeshow experience align with your strategic vision? Did your experiential marketing tactics meet objectives? Did you reach and inspire your targeted demographic? Forecast your needs for the next show.
Just as history shows, tradeshows are evolving and here to stay. Make sure to capitalize on your digital marketing momentum by investing in an exhibit program that perpetuates interest, engagement and trust with your audiences.
Think back to the last time you walked a massive trade show. You probably don’t remember the blur of booths sprawled across miles of crowded isles; however, you most likely walked away with visions of a few spectacular standouts. If so, what set these one-of-a-kind winners apart from the others? Were they created from a perfect plan or did their magic happen by chance?
“Show standouts develop from an extraordinary plan and vision, striking design and elements, expert fabrication, and always embracing creative energy,” says K2 Account Executive Carol Bjorn. “Each of these criteria are essential to creating a powerfully wowing product.”
Doria Wins. Again.
The K2 team took this strategically creative approach to produce a client’s award-winning, cool-vibe standout at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. K2, in collaboration Santa Monica-based Doria, International Inc., created a captivating exhibit that was named on Exhibitor’s Magazine’s 2019 CES most remarkable exhibits list.
There were 4,400 individual exhibits featured at the 2019 show; 20 of them, including Doria, were selected as being the most impressive. In fact, this is actually Doria’s second win. Doria also made the 2018 CES top 20 list after K2 fabricated a style-centric, loft-inspired booth for the company.
“Creating a winner is never about having a rigid plan and hefty budget,” says Carol. “It’s always about becoming one with a client so that everyone’s creative vision, ideas and knowledge come into play. With Doria, it was about utilizing their amazing expertise in industrial design, as well as using vibrant color and modern elements to showcase their high-grade technology products. It was also about being confident in our ability to support and contribute to the company’s extraordinary dream.”
Hot Presence, Cool Vibe.
Doria’s 2019 award-winning, 20 ft. x 40 ft. exhibit was based on the company’s stylish, drama-like vision to use repurposed shipping containers in an L-shape configuration. Inviting kiosks and sturdy visual elements were incorporated into the design to effectively showcase products and captivate customers. The robust, black-and-red overhanging sign was internally lit to powerfully present their brand. The show space, including the shipping container interiors, offered a uniquely masculine, yet soothing respite for customers to browse, relax, and talk product and sales.
“The exhibit was downright fabulous,” said Eddie Lee, Doria’s Design Director. “The exhibit style clearly reflected our desired ambiance and no-frills brand, which was essential to promoting our precision-made phone cases. Attendees were drawn to our environment making the show not only an astronomical success, but unbelievably exciting, as well. Our products soared and so did our customer relationships. We definitely left a prominent footprint at this year’s CES. This was our dream and partnering with the K2 team helped make it happen.”
K2’s design and build for Doria International Inc. for CES 2019 was named one of the top 20 most impressive exhibits by Exhibitor Magazine.
According to Exhibitor Magazine,”held annually in Las Vegas, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) isn’t just the largest trade show in the United States by every measure; it also sets the bar for global exhibiting trends at the beginning of each calendar year. The 2019 show featured 2.9 million square feet of show-floor space and more than 4,400 individual exhibits. And EXHIBITOR editor Travis Stanton viewed every last one of them (and has the blistered feet to prove it), including everything from big booths representing major multinational brands to small spaces where startups made their trade show debuts. After four days, more than 50 miles of aisles, and thousands of booths to consider, Stanton and the EXHIBITOR editorial team arrived at a list of the 20 most impressive exhibits from CES 2019.”
Corona, Calif.,March 7, 2019 –Southern California-based creative agency and exhibit house, K2 Design and Fabrication, has been named an Exhibitor Magazine “Top 40 Exhibit Producer” for 2019. K2 is honored to continue to be recognized in the industry as a leader in design and fabrication.
According to Exhibitor Media Group, more than 100 exhibit houses with offices in the United States and/or Canada applied. All applicants were subjected to an exhaustive evaluation process including more than 50 individual criteria, all weighted to reflect how Exhibitor Magazine readers and Editorial Advisory Board members value them when vetting and selecting potential partners.
Led by CEO David King and CFO Claudia King, K2 has been delivering high quality custom and modular solutions to clients across the country for more than 17 years. The company places a strong emphasis on company culture and strives to provide exceptional service to veteran and new clients alike.
“We are honored to be named a top exhibit producer for 2019. It’s been a true pleasure serving our clients in this space with a full 360 degree approach to exhibit design, production, execution and storage solutions,” says David King. “We are continually looking at our ways to make our customer experience seamless and eliminate any obstacles or stressors related to showcasing their amazing products and services at some of the country’s top expos and trade shows.”
According to Exhibitor Magazine, all companies who made the top 40 list will be featured via an online portal that will launch later this year, as well as in the June issue of EXHIBITOR magazine. For more information, visit: https://www.exhibitoronline.com/Awards/Top40/
K2 is thrilled to welcome Account Executive Katherine Minicucci to our sales team. With over 20 years’ experience in the exhibit industry, Katherine has in-depth knowledge of what it takes to cultivate long-term client partnerships and deliver trade show environments designed for maximum impact.
Katherine’s client experience is remarkably universal, including working with companies specializing in automotive, pharmaceuticals, health, aerospace/defense and more. Her strengths lie in the creative development of custom exhibits and goal-based marketing solutions; utilizing interactive and experiential booth elements to heighten engagement; and diligently managing projects to guarantee quality and budgetary requirements. Katherine has been instrumental in developing custom award-winning exhibits and is committed to continuing that same level of success at K2.
“I’m so excited to be part of the K2 family,” says Katherine.” “I have the flexibility and freedom to work with clients from a wide range of industries, while being extremely confident that I’ll deliver the highest quality exhibit product possible.”
When asked what specifically attracted her to the K2 team? Katherine said, “K2 invests the necessary time and energy in ALL projects, which is extremely important to me. It doesn’t matter if the project is $5,000 or $500,000, the commitment to quality is always there. In today’s busy business culture, that is definitely a winning attraction.”
Katherine can be reached at KMinicucci@k2fabrication.com.
Production processes in the exhibit industry require a high level of communication and creativity to ensure projects move fast, on track, and are delivered as promised. But, in an industry where constant hurdles and hiccups are the norm, can this type of service be guaranteed? “Absolutely,” says K2 Production Manager Mark Miller.
“Interfacing with the entire project team from creation to completion is crucial to ensure our clients’ stories are told exactly as envisioned – on time and on budget,” says Mark. “It also takes a commitment to excellence that never falters, fails or forgets our clients’ ultimate project goals.”
Overseeing multiple projects at any given time, Mark is the lead production communicator responsible for planning, coordinating and directing the delicate details specific to each custom fabrication project.
“It’s a collective experience based on bringing a client’s branding message to fruition through efficient quality control operations,” says Mark. “I direct the short- and long-term project logistics to guarantee building capacity is maximized at all times, while adhering to schedules designed to meet even the tightest of deadlines.”
On a daily basis, Mark oversees all K2 team members by delivering immediate problem-solving skills, ensuring all necessary supply chain resources are ordered and available, and creating an achievable schedule that keeps projects moving to avoid backups. And, he never lets a finished product leave the facility unless it meets all of K2’s high-quality standards.
Mark’s ability to focus on each project’s successful outcome stems from 28 years’ experience in the trade show and theater set building industries. From setting up exhibits to managing labor and constructing visual structures, Mark is well versed in the intricacies of industry processes and accompanying branding strategies.
A Strong Team
At K2, Mark is highly respected for inventing creative solutions to assist the team in overcoming unexpected challenges, as well as for his in-depth knowledge and unlimited access to essential resources. He is also known for his commitment to constant communication to effectively optimize and streamline outlined project duties. Moreover, Mark’s follow-through abilities? Impeccable.
“I’m so grateful to work with such an excellent team of builders, project managers, designers, engineers, and account executives,” says Mark. “They rely on my services, and I relay and theirs. We function like a family by supporting each other in efforts to always deliver the highest quality products possible. I can honestly say that our clients are continually happy and so are we.”
When not overseeing K2’s projects, Mark can be found dirt bike riding, metal detecting, and spending family time with his wife and two daughters. He’s also having fun modernizing the family’s newly purchased home.
For more than 15 years, K2 Design and Fabrication has been a trusted partner of James Hardie. As the world leader in fiber cement siding and backerboard, James Hardie participates in over 200 shows and events annually. There are times when James Hardie will have fifteen events in a given weekend, explains David King, CEO of K2 Design and Fabrication. In-depth knowledge of the client properties and marketing strategy is key to optimizing the program.
The partnership began in the early days of K2 and has grown and developed as both the organizations’ have grown. Both K2 and Laurie Gizer, Associate Marketing Manager for James Hardie, agree a long-term strategic partnership provides exceptional value.
Familiarity with the program, allows all team members to stay ahead of the game.
“I honestly can’t live without them (K2),” admits Gizer. “Their expectations are superior, they think outside the box, manage issues before I even hear about them. They 100 percent know our installation requirements and are knowledgeable about our products.”
Gizer manages 150+ plant tours a year in addition to the 200+ trade shows and industry expos, so she credits K2 Design and Fabrication with helping her manage an extremely busy workload as a “partner, not a vendor.”
Keeping inspiration alive.
At James Hardie, innovation is vital to maintaining their pre-eminent position in the fiber-cement industry. Jay Tinen, Marketing Manager, provides on-going direction to showcase the continuous stream of new products. The interaction between product design and exhibit fabrication at K2 remains a key element to showcasing these products in new and innovative ways.
K2 Design and Fabrication maintains a project team that is closely familiar with the client products, their market development strategy and show program schedule. A continuous feedback cycle means that the team at K2 is already working on improvements for the upcoming season as the current show circuit winds down.
In the spring all the custom booths and modular properties will come back “home” to K2 headquarters in Corona, CA for the team to refurbish and upgrade. Some of the booths on the shows circuit for James Hardie have been in use for years—a true testament to the K2 commitment to quality.
Open and consistent communication.
Identifying key issues through open and consistent communication enables the program to grow and flourish. K2 is currently implementing an online ordering system for James Hardie regional events. This will empower the James Hardie Representatives across the country to order complete display solutions throughout the year. For Gizer, this streamlining enables her to work more strategically in managing the multiple responsibilities she has at James Hardie. Additionally, the online ordering system provides more effective use of resources resulting in optimized program management.
“They always find a way to think outside the box,” Gizer explains. ‘They have my back as much as I have theirs!”
Integrity isn’t something one can mimic according to Nancy Risher, Accounting Manager and Controller for K2 Design and Fabrication.
“Integrity has to be part of who you are, it goes back to your convictions about your values and what’s important,” explains Nancy. “It’s more than making sure that the money is handled correctly, it’s when you say you are going to do something, you do it.”
Simply put,“Your word is your word.”
Nancy has more than 25 years of experience in various aspects of accounting. She has worked for K2 Design and Fabrication for five years. Her trust in her faith assures her that she has become a part of the K2 family for a reason.
“God has a purpose for everyone and I definitely feel being at K2 is part of his purpose for me,” she admits.
The journey for Nancy has been full of ups and downs. K2, like others, suffered due to the Great Recession of 2008. She worked diligently to ensure that its vendors understood payment terms and lengths. Five years later despite the tough time, K2 maintained great vendor relationships.
When not working, Nancy leads a bible study at her church and spends times being a surrogate parent to her 11-year-old grand nephew.
Her outlook on her personal life mirrors her professional as she describes the past as a period of “stretching, growth and learning”