You never know when you might be able to help someone. You also never know when you might be able to put your trade show experience to use while away from the office or as the guys I helped incorrectly assumed, "on vacation". I know that most of you who also work in trade shows often are envied by family and friends of all the great resort and vacation cities we are traveling to, envisioning someone of means and class, jet setting around the globe. If you’re like me, in your head you're thinking out loud, "uh, not so much".
Don't get me wrong, we do get to "work" in some great places and often the venues are really outstanding. There might even be a half day during that 8-day road trip that you get to actually take a photo of the swimming pool so you can show your spouse what a great place this would be for someone actually "on vacation". But usually that half day is used to catch up on some sleep or maybe just rest those aching feet. Maybe, I'm all wrong about all of this because our company now just passed our 30th Anniversary in business. So, we've been doing this a long time; which also means, for some of us, that the glory days of being a road warrior are long behind us. But after 8 days in Vegas for Exhibitor show followed by an immediate stopover in San Diego for AAOS, I can tell you, that I'm ready for a vacation. Preferably, anywhere but Vegas! (I don't gamble and I've seen every show on the strip, but I could come back every day to have dinner at the Foundation Room at the top of Mandalay Bay Hotel with its’ outstanding food and even more magnificent views of Las Vegas.)
So, this brings me back to the point of this story. I left Vegas early this morning for a non-stop to San Diego to meet up with the rest of my team for the break of AAOS. We were fortunate to be staying at the Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island in San Diego. Our show was at the Convention Center and we don't normally enjoy as nice a property as this off site. After I checked in, I decided to take a stroll and check out the property as I've never been here before. This blog probably should be about the history and beauty of this fabulous property, but it's not. It's about.... wait for it..... SEG graphics! Yes, that is the excitement of my world here on a Thursday workday in sunny and warm I might add, California. Why I continue to live in Illinois, I don't know.
As I'm walking outside on a sidewalk that surrounds a grass covered lawn area where a crew is setting up an outdoor event for Purina. I could see it's a large event and crews are busy setting up A/V, taping down power lines, setting up serving table and various other tasks. As I walked further, I see four workers standing around a 12’x12’ SEG logo graphic, that I've learned will become the back wall for a small performance stage set up on risers. Two guys are on their hands and knees, one guy is looking at the frame and I KNOW, what he's thinking. The last guy, is scratching his head because try as they might, they are convinced that the graphic is too large for the frame. Been there, done that! Who else is with me on this one?
SEG graphics while beautiful and clean and lightweight in all its large format fabric glory, represents some sort of voodoo for the uninformed as to how the heck you can get that whole thing to fit into the frame without at least one bunched end remaining. These guys I ran across today had three bunched ends that hung out about 3 inches beyond the frame. “The frame is wrong!” “It's too small”, another exclaimed. Yet another just says, he hates this stuff and it's always a struggle. Call me nosey, but I could feel their pain. Until you understand the "voodoo" of installing an SEG graphic that fits perfectly in its frame, it will frustrate you and everyone else who attempts to rationalize the installation out with you. You'll then be embarrassed when your forced to "send it back" to the graphic house because, no human being can install this ill-fitting piece of fabric until you watch a pro install one in about 5 minutes.
Ok, where's the sleight of hand? There's got to be a secret panel about 3 inches long that you removed so that you can appear superior in front of all your peers and colleagues. Nope. You just have to know a few simple tips and all will be right with the world very soon and you too will be able to amaze your peers, colleagues and friends with your ability to fit a 12-foot, 3-inch fabric graphic into a 12-foot frame. Of course, I jest, because it only appears to the untrained eye to be larger than the frame you're installing it into.
I stopped and walked into the lawn and got down on my hands and knees to show the guys installing that first, you have to roll the SEG under the fabric to insert it into the extrusion channel. “Ah ha!” “I knew that” at least one exclaimed. We all agreed, “that's going to save a bunch of overhanging fabric.” Then, tuck in about 6 inches of each of the four corners. Then start in the middle of each end and tuck in about 6 inches of fabric and repeat for each end. Then split each untucked end going around the frame and finally finish tucking the remaining fabric in to make a tight, un-warped graphic image. It doesn’t seem like this should be provide any difference in the way the fabric is installed, but it does, and it’s the ONLY way to to make it work, especially with a frame this large.
Within, a few short minutes the 12-foot logo was now properly installed and all the guys working on that graphic, scattered to go back to the other myriad of things left to do before the event that evening. Two men were left to lift the large frame and graphic to hang it from some piping to create that backwall. I offered one last piece of advice since this wasn’t necessarily an “outdoor” graphic and recommended that they securely tie down this frame on the top and bottom or this now properly installed SEG logo graphic will soon become a hang glider that may or may not make it off the lawn area before it comes crashing back to the ground. Not the kind of impression you want to make with guests when they see that logo flying overhead and they realize that this wasn’t an elaborate fly over to promote the brand logo.
One of the men came over and earnestly shook my hand and thanked me for my assistance, telling his remaining coworker how nice this guy was, who was on vacation, to stop and help out.
I responded that I was glad to help a fellow trade show buddy in need, but that comment about being on vacation just has to stop!