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fixing snafus
illustration: Regan Dunnick
Signage Carnage
Just as the riggers measured the sign's distance to the ground, all hell broke loose. Or rather, the crimping points gave way one at a time. "Pop, pop, pop, pop..." "Stand back, it's coming down!" yelled a rigger.
Plan A
The Beatles had it right. When your world comes crashing down around you, sometimes you can "get by with a little help from [your] friends." Or at least that's how we made it through a debilitating debacle at the World of Concrete show in Las Vegas.

My company, Zig Zibit Inc., had just built a new booth for a new client. And boy was it a beauty. The ground-floor exhibitry was killer; plus, the exhibit featured a massive hanging sign that would aid awareness and visibility. Thus, we planned to hang the square structure at the maximum height from the ground allowed by show management, which was 24 feet.

Since this was a new client, both owners, i.e., Matt Hylkema and I, were on site during installation. We had assembled everything we could on the ground level, and we only had a few pieces to place, all of which would be added after the riggers hung the overhead sign. So at about 4 p.m. the day before the show opened, the riggers got to work. A single support was attached to the ceiling beam, and eight cables crimped onto this one support were connected to the sign. Just as the riggers stopped to measure the sign's distance to the ground, all hell broke loose. Or rather, the crimping points gave way one at a time.

"Pop ... pop, pop ... pop..." "Stand back, it's coming down!" yelled a rigger, as the last four crimps gave up the ghost. The whole shebang came crashing down, mangling the sign's frame. And as luck would have it, the entire fiasco took place just as the client walked up to survey our progress.


Plan B
Matt and I quickly assessed the damage and ascertained that nothing except the frame was wounded. But the look on the client's face was one of pure shock, which slowly turned to bewilderment and then horror. When it started going a shade of angry red, I grabbed Matt and hid both of us on the other side of the sign. We had to figure out what to do – preferably before the client had a coronary.

We needed a new frame and enough time to hang it before the show opened the next day. Problem was, we hadn't produced the sign ourselves, so I whipped out my cellphone and called the company that had, Fabric Images Inc. As I conversed with my contact, Matt intercepted our visibly nervous client. Within minutes, however, we had a solution. Matt and I would pull together the frame parts that could be salvaged, and the folks at Fabric Images would work through the night in their Chicago facility to create any components that were damaged beyond repair and get them on a red eye to Las Vegas.

By 8 a.m. the next day, a brand new frame along with an installation supervisor arrived at the booth, and laborers hoisted the newly assembled sign into place just before the opening bell. Plus, even though the client initially looked peeved, she seemed pleased with our fast action and the fact that we had partners (and friends) that were ready to lend a hand. Sometimes, a calm reaction to a bad situation can far exceed any damage done by the situation itself.


— Jake Merzigian, president and CEO, Zig Zibit Inc., Raleigh, NC


TELL US A STORY
Send your Plan B exhibiting experiences to Linda Armstrong, larmstrong@exhibitormagazine.com.

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