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fixing snafus
illustration: Regan Dunnick
Shift-on-the-Fly Exhibit
My partner returned about 10 minutes later, carrying an armful of cafeteria food trays. He figured we could stick one of the 1.5-by-2-foot trays under each support post and slide the double deck across the booth carpet.
Plan A
Trade show setup is a kind of miracle. One day the venue is a big empty space, and then days later it's a city unto itself, filled with often hundreds or thousands of exhibits. It's no wonder that people – including everyone from installation crews to show-floor supervisors – can get turned around every once in a while.

My company's setup crew and I got a little discombobulated at an energy-industry show several years back. A client had rented one of my firm's 16-foot-diameter ExpoDeck double decks to use within a roughly 40-by-40-foot exhibit. The install crew and I arrived in plenty of time to get the deck erected before the end of setup. We were almost to the point of patting ourselves on the back when the exhibitor arrived with new booth plans showing an orientation different from our original marching orders. After carefully consulting the new exhibit layout, we accepted reality: Our 5,000-pound double deck was in the wrong position within the booth –and facing the wrong direction.

Dismantling the structure and erecting it in a different location wasn't an option, as doing so would throw a wrench into the installation plans. Some way, somehow, we had to move this fully assembled double-deck behemoth across the booth space and rotate it 270 degrees.


Plan B
The installation supervisor and I sat down to brainstorm. We considered getting a small army of forklifts to pick up the structure and slowly move it to the proper location, but that sounded both expensive and unsafe. As we banged our heads for other ideas, my mind wandered to a massive antique desk my wife and I had purchased at an auction. To move it through our home with ease, we bought some furniture-slider discs. I realized regular sliders wouldn't work here, but I voiced my idea anyway. "You know what we need?" I told my partner. "Industrial-sized furniture-slider discs."

After my words had sunk in for a second, my partner's face lit up and he bolted toward the show's cafeteria. I figured maybe he was hungry and could think better on a full stomach, so I stayed put in the exhibit.

He returned about 10 minutes later, carrying an armful of cafeteria food trays. "Industrial furniture sliders!" he proclaimed, as he held up the trays. He figured we could stick one of the 1.5-by-2-foot trays under each support post and slide the structure across the booth carpet.

So with the help of a long-handled pry bar, we lifted each support column just a fraction of an inch and slipped a tray underneath. Then, we enlisted the installation crew to slowly push the double deck over the carpeting and rotate it into its correct position.

The ease with which we moved the structure surprised all of us. It was like pushing a pad of warm butter across the top of a stack of steaming pancakes. In fact, the client was so impressed with the solution that he kept the lunch trays and now ships them to every show just in case someone or something gets a little turned around during setup.


— Matt Andrews, vice president of sales, western territory, Highmark TechSystems, Fort Wayne, IN


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

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