Trade Shows: Ten Things that Happen Behind the Scenes Before the Show Opens

Trade show booths are like a giant set of Legos, and like the iconic building blocks, when assembled these 3D creations can be awe-inspiring and thought-provoking brand statements. But what happens behind the scenes to bring these ideas to life? Eric Troy pulls back the curtain to reveal how it all comes together.

1. How is a booth design decided?

Coordination and conversation between the exhibit house and the client must take place before a design can be decided. The client describes aspects of the booth they would like to a project manager, who then relays those ideas to the 3D design team.

The 3D designers then create a computer rendered image of the booth and discuss the concept with the engineering department. This is where the imagination of the booth designer meets the practicality of the engineering department. The engineering department helps narrow down design features that are impractical or that simply cannot be created.

Following this, the design can be brought to the client for review. If they are satisfied, then the booth can be brought to life!

2. What makes up the structure of a booth?

The structure of a booth is largely made up of hollow wood panels. While some booths are exceedingly large, they are nothing more than many smaller parts brought together. These panels range in size to accommodate any booth design and can be made of flexible substrates to allow curved panels, and thus, curved walls.

3. If booths are made of wooden panels, why isn't there always wood seen?

Plastic laminate is what is seen on the surface of the booth (unless it has had vinyl graphics or other objects adhered or affixed to its surface). Plastic laminate can be textured or smooth and comes in a nearly unlimited selection of patterns and colors. After a panel has been built, both it and the back of the plastic laminate are sprayed with contact cement and joined together.

4. How are panels held together?

Although there are exceptions, two essential parts for the joining of panels are rotolocks and a combination of wingnuts and carriage bolts.

Rotolocks are a two-part fastening system installed on the thick side of a panel. Adjacent panels will have different rotolock components. One will have a male rotolock and the other a female. When the male rotolock is turned it extends and interlocks with the female, thus binding the two panels together.

Carriage bolts are set in predetermined locations where holes have been drilled at equal measurements. Once the carriage bolt has passed through both panels, a wingnut is threaded onto it, bringing the two panels together.

5. How are arches put in elevated locations?

Some booth configurations boast large arches. Raising these arches into position with manpower alone is simply not possible, so how do assemblers get that archway in proper position?

Fork trucks are used to raise the arch into position until fasteners that join the arch and supporting walls are put into place. If the arch is very large, two fork trucks may have to raise the arch into position by lifting the arch at an even rate.

6. How do booths acquire color?

Though there are many ways a booth can achieve its colorful appearance, vinyl graphics are a vital element in achieving this task. Vinyl graphics can be categorized into two general types. Cut graphics and printed graphics.

Cut graphics come on rolls in nearly any color and size.

Printed graphics are custom creations that can be adorned with company names, logos, and catchphrases, but the possibilities of images printed on the vinyl are nearly endless.

7. How are vinyl graphics applied?

Once the booth's structural components have been built and assembled, the graphics can be applied.

Vinyl graphics are made up of two sides. One with the image or color that shows on the booth, and the other with a thin layer of adhesive. Transfer paper is attached to the adhesive side of the vinyl graphic.

Vinyl graphic applicators start by marking the location the vinyl will be applied. After this has been determined, they tape the vinyl as close to where it will be applied as possible. Next, they peel back the transfer paper, exposing the adhesive.  Graphic applicators work from the center of their desired vinyl location outward, adhering the vinyl to the surface. This allows them to remove air that may have come between the graphic and the surface by pushing it toward - and eventually out of - the edges of the graphic.

8. How is a trade show booth transported?

Crates are storage containers for the pieces that comprise an exhibit and serve as storage containers for the booth when the exhibit is not on the road. Typically, crates are moved with a fork truck into the trailer of an eighteen wheeler which delivers the booth to its destination.

9. How are items in crates kept from moving during transportation?

Crates are fabricated to accommodate each component of a booth. To do this, jig sticks are installed in specific locations inside the crate. Jig sticks are pieces of plywood wrapped in a thick foam that prevent movement of booth components held inside. If improperly installed, the contents of the crates can move, hitting other items and damaging the contents of the crate.

Properly jigged crates are essential for the longevity of a booth's life.

10. How are exhibit components accounted for after a show?

When a newly made booth is ready to be disassembled and the crates have been properly jigged, workers create a content list for each crate. These lists are very involved and account for every piece of the booth down to the nuts and bolts.

When the booth has been returned to its resting location, workers inspect the content of each crate and cross-reference them with the list to see if any parts are missing or damaged.


Standing Desks: The Benefits

Standing desks have been gaining popularity in the workplace in recent years but what could motivate so many people to give up that nice cushy office chair? Below are five benefits of standing desks that have motivated many to make the transition from sitting to standing in the office.

1.Reduced back pain and improved posture

It's all too easy to slouch in the comfort of our office chairs, but this improper posture can inflict a multitude of harmful effects on the body. Back pain is distracting and can be distressing. It detracts from our ability to focus on the task at hand. When properly adjusted, standing desks minimize the opportunity for slouching that is ever-present while occupying an office chair. This can greatly reduce back and neck pain for standing desk users.


2. Increased energy throughout the day

Who isn't looking for ways to increase their energy levels in the workplace? In a study called the "Take-a-Stand Project", workers using standing desks reported a decrease in fatigue when compared to those using conventional sitting position desks. The increased energy levels reported by standing desk users returned to normal levels upon return to a sitting position. Don't let the participants of this study be the only beneficiaries, save the money on that break-time coffee and give a standing desk a try!


3. Improved mood

Studies have shown that sedentary time is directly linked to anxiety and depression. Keeping active, in itself, improves our mental state. This alongside the benefits of reducing back pain and higher energy levels surely give standing desk users a reason to smile.

4. Increased calorie burning

When we keep our bodies in a sitting position, they burn fewer calories. A standing desk can keep our bodies active and although the amount of calories burned can vary between individuals, it is proven that active bodies burn more calories than those which are sedentary.

5. Increased productivity

A concern some have with standing desks is that they will detract from a worker's focus on the task at hand. On the contrary, with improved mood, reduced back-pain, and higher energy levels, focusing on the task at hand becomes much easier. Reducing bodily distractions allow workers to perform at the best of their ability and has a good chance of increasing workplace productivity.


By Eric Troy

Ten Minutes with MedDevice Innovator, Richard Paxman

Richard Paxman is CEO of Paxman Scalp Cooling, a British medical device firm pioneering innovative approaches to combat and prevent chemotherapy-induced alopecia. Inspired by his passionate approach to healthcare, our Director, Business Development Dawn Marie Raczka, HMCC invited him to tell her about his story. 

Dawn Marie Raczka: I know this is a family owned company; can you tell us how the firm came about?

Richard Paxman: Back in the early 90’s, my mom was diagnosed with quite advanced breast cancer; she was only 34 years of age. She had four young children, I was only 10 years old at the time in fact, and she wasn’t given a very good prognosis. One of her biggest concerns was her hair, she had beautiful curly blonde hair. She was offered a scalp cooling treatment that could potentially stop her hair from falling out. So she decided to give it a go, very positive- at this point she hadn’t really got upset or cried. She was determined she was going to beat it. But three weeks after her first chemotherapy treatment, her hair started to fall out. That was the first time she was visibly upset.


Seeing how devastating this was for my mother, the family started to try to understand why didn’t it work for her. We had expected that it could work, so why didn’t it work? My dad took the lead, but his interest went beyond a medical product; his family had a long history of refrigeration, and back in the 1950s my grandfather invented a beer cooler. Taking the knowledge of cooling technology, Dad, along with his brothers, started looking at developing a scalp cooling system that could do the same and improve what is currently out there. And that’s where it all began.

DMR: Tell us more about your history once the company launched. 

RP: We launched our first prototype into the market in 1997, and it trialed at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary where my mom was treated initially. We also installed a number of systems in the places like the Christie, which is a very well-known cancer center in Manchester.

A venture capital firm invested in the business around 2000-2001, gaining us greater traction in more markets across the UK. This allowed my dad to spend some more time with my mom, seeing how she was getting unwell again. She had managed to get through her first five years of cancer, but when it came back again, it came with a vengeance. Unfortunately, this time it wouldn’t go away and she eventually died back in 2000. That created a reason to be even more passionate about what we are doing, and as of today we are in about 25 markets actively, and have about two and a half thousand installations around the world.


DMR: What an emotional story, leading to a thriving business that does good. So, is this growth due to just yourself going to different hospitals and medical centers, or do you have a sales force?

RP: There are only twenty of us, from sales and marketing to manufacturing. But there is a lot of passion in power in that group! I have held the position of Chief Operating Officer since 2012, and I am also responsible for the international activity of our business. Back in 2010, the focus was on creating new export markets and trying to grow our export, but now exports equate to 50% of our business turnover. Our major focus over the last 3-4 years in terms of growth is the U.S., that is the number one market, and second to that is the Japanese market.

Another important consideration is access to stronger clinical data as well as a real shift in attitudes in the clinicians. Supportive care is  incredibly important, and we are seeing more and more medical professionals understanding it’s not only the cancer we need to treat, but also the patient holistically.

Managing all side effects of that patient is critical. If the patient is living longer, we need to make sure that quality of life has really improved. This new approach has been really beneficial to us as a business, and ultimately beneficial to the patient.

DMR: So where, did it all come from? What is the history of scalp cooling?

RP: Scalp cooling has been around for about 40-50 years. Historically, patients used ice packs and then in the 80s, gel caps were developed similar to the ice gel that you put in the freezer at home. Unfortunately, there is a lot of negativity towards that type of scalp cooling, and in my own experience if it’s not done correctly, there is no control in temperature and therefore it is not effective.

In addition to that, the actual nursing requirements and workload is very, very intensive. Usually, this type of scalp cooling equipment needs to be changed every 20-30 minutes. That means you get very extreme cold temperatures, it warms up and then you change it again. So, really not pleasant for the patient and really not pleasant for the nursing staff.

DMR: You are anticipating FDA approval here in the U.S. to be sometime in the spring. Is that still on par?

RP: Back in December 2016, we submitted for clearance with the FDA. It went then for substantive review quite soon after its submission, which was positive. We now have had our first feedback from the FDA with what they call deficiencies and therefore asking for additional information. This is very normal. So we will work on these deficiencies in the coming few days or few weeks and then it will go back in to final review. We are still on target for the first half of 2017 to – hopefully – have FDA clearance. I’d like to think by June we will be starting to put our first machines in the U.S., but that’s dependent on a number of things.


DMR: That is hopeful! Back to your personal involvement; was your plan always to join the family business, or did you have other ideas? 

RP: My intention was to never work with the family business, that’s not because I wasn’t interested in it, but I always had other ideas of doing something different, probably working for a larger corporate business and which when I was younger seemed more interesting. Originally, I went to Manchester University to study business, and planned to go traveling around the world once I graduated. When I finished uni’, dad asked if I was interested in working with the family for a bit to save up some money to allow me to go on my adventures.

As I started working for the family business and really began to understand its dynamics, I decided not to go traveling. It’s a decision I don’t regret, and  although I may have not wanted to work for a family business when I was younger, I could not have wished for a better and more satisfying job role. Ever. I get to meet some wonderful people, travel the world, and most importantly we really make a difference to patients which is incredibly special.


DMR: What type of charity work does Paxman do?

RP: We are involved mainly in local charities, including the Huddersfield Town Foundation. We support them financially on a monthly basis, which provides breakfast for children at school who may or may not otherwise have breakfast in the morning. We’ve been doing that for the last few years and we also volunteer every Thursday, so we go into schools to actually provide these breakfasts.

We also support Forget Me Not Trust which is for young children who may have illnesses, may not have very long to live, have very rare diseases and other such devastating circumstances. Recently, I was asked to join as an ambassador for The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust, which is a teenage and young adult’s cancer charity that provides support and help for teenagers going through cancer treatment.