ADM Two has been one of our clients for years and we feel like we’ve become a part of the family. We love working with them because of their incredible creativity, fine craftsmanship, and awesome gigantic warehouse space that we get tours of every chance we get. They design and fabricate trade show booths, corporate signage and interiors, and museum cases and displays. It’s a really fascinating business, so we are honored to feature Shannon Bennett, VP of Sales & Marketing at ADM Two.
VP Sales & Marketing
What inspired you to pursue a career in exhibit design?
I kind of fell into the industry. I studied mass communication – programming and production – and intended to work in the new media. However, I had my first business job with ADM Two (the original one). Once I started I was hooked. It was much like the industry I studied as we too were putting on a show, but it was just a 3D show.
What is the first assignment you remember? Why?
I remember my first time on the show floor. It was Supershow in Atlanta. We were working on the Nutmeg Mills booth. They are the licensed sportswear company that is on Linebaugh and has the stadium-like building. Their booth replicated the look of their building. Ray Butterfield, our founder and my mentor, was supervising the installation. I found it very impressive seeing all these large companies whose names I see in stores. I felt like I was in on the secret of the new items to come out. However, it was most memorable because during the install, one of the labor guys dropped a beam and hit Ray on the head and he had to be seen by the medical staff onsite. Not only was I worried about Ray; we still had a booth to get up as the show had to go on. However, Ray was fine and everything went up without a hitch.
What do you like most about the exhibit design industry and community?
I like the change every day brings. There is always a solution that needs to be found to meet an objective. The creative vibe of the community is what inspires me most. There are very talented people who love what they do and it shows in their craft. The people make the difference in this industry. One you are in you never seem to leave which lends itself to long lasting business relationships and friendships.
What challenges does your industry face?
Our industry faces many challenges that change based on the business climate at the time. During the economic downturn, we had to determine the best way to help our clients exhibit most cost efficiently without sacrificing their brand. This meant extra efforts on our part to determine everything from layouts to materials that would reduce the cost of attending shows.
Another challenge in our industry is how to maximize the experience beyond the trade show floor. A client’s success at a trade show is determined by the overall experience they have inside the booth space as well as before and after the show.
How do you measure your success?
I measure my success by my client’s success. If they do well then I feel we have done our part of the job.
What has been your greatest accomplishment in your career?
My greatest accomplishment is balancing family life and my work life. Both parts of my life allow me to achieve greater success in the other.
What do you think is the biggest mistake companies make when working in exhibit design?
I find that companies try and rush through the process of design focusing on a final look prior to doing their homework and determining the overall objectives. I think it is important to include decision-makers in the process rather than just delivering a design that meets parts of the objectives. More time should be spent on understanding the branding goals of the company, the budgetary costs of the exhibit as well as cost of exhibiting, the functional needs of the exhibit and how a new design impacts the overall trade show program.
What is the most interesting trend you see in exhibit design?
The increased use of rental components in the design for various types of events – trade shows, small private meetings (Yara) and private events (PSCU, NexTech). By integrating rentals into the program either as a complete solution or in combination with existing or new components, clients can achieve more with less and not have the commitment and cost of ownership for parts they may only use once a year.
How has technology helped/hindered your work?
Just one of the ways technology has helped is it allows us to quickly and easily look up show information. Back in the day (15+ yrs ago) they communicated information about a particular show to the exhibitor through a show manual. The pros of the old exhibit manual were that it were usually accurate and received in a timely manner. Today’s technology makes it easier and more cost effective to provide the information online. However, I have found that the information is not provided as early as the old style manuals were. Additionally, I have found that the information from year to year is only updated and often the dates/days etc are not changed in their entirety, making important dates not 100% accurate. You may have the right date but not the correct day of the week noted.
The second way I think technology has hindered our work is in the delivery of information. We tend to get pieced information rather than a well thought out delivery of complete details. We then have to spend additional time compiling emails to ensure we have all the information and that any changes through the e-chain are caught. Information is not provided in a timely manner, pushing us to change our internal schedules and rush to meet client needs.
Technology has helped immensely in the search for specific or specialized materials needed for our various projects. It also helps in the speed of communication, conveying images and transferring data. However, the speed of communication can also be a hindrance.
How do you stay on top of your field?
- I attend various trade shows to see what is the latest and greatest in the field
- I read industry magazines, blogs and studies
- I look at new product innovations to see how they may impact my clients
What resources do you recommend? (Books, magazines, web, etc.)
I read Seth Godin every morning as in inspirational start to the day, as well as:
- Exhibitor Magazine
- If in the Healthcare industry – Healthcare Convention Exhibitors Association – www.hcea.org
If you could give one piece of advice to Tampa Bay companies, what would it be?
Invest in your community resources. Use local companies as there are very talented people and companies just around the corner from you. Build relationships.
What are your hobbies?
Traveling, reading, learning about healthy eating/lifestyle, wine, and I’m in a Krewe – Queen Anne’s Revenge.