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Quality over quantity

by Nicola Macdonald

Partner content from Showlite.

EN meets Anthony Smith, sales director at Showlite, the company passionate about delivering on its promises, and providing a world-class service.

EN meets Anthony Smith fresh from a successful build at the International Security Expo and International Disaster Response Expo, two shows organised by Nineteen Group and co-located at Olympia London.

Smith is sales director at Showlite, a company with its historic roots in electrics but with a growing reputation for providing a quality across the board as a full-service provider. The company built the Nineteen Events shows through the night due to a tight turnaround between events at the venue, which Smith says had its challenges.

“The problem you have with very tight builds is that, like a stack of cards, it can go wrong very quickly,” he explains. “You have to be up on the game and get everything done that you’ve said you’re going to do.

“That was a challenge, in terms of getting everything set and ready for the exhibitors and then servicing them when they arrived, but we did achieve that. You’re only as good as your last show. It was a big challenge, but it all went to plan.”

Showlite has been undergoing significant growth in recent years, establishing itself as a high-quality full-service provider with a skilled and professional workforce.

“As we got bigger and had more products, our staff were very key,” continues Smith. “There was a whole flood of people who were looking to move out of their existing roles and came on board with us.

“It’s a handpicked team of specialists to bolt-on and deliver our shows. We were clear from the outset that our whole growth would be reliant on reputation. It’s a small industry and if you don’t deliver then you’ll be in trouble very quickly.”

Showlite has settled into a specific niche within the industry, aiming to provide a true partnership to organisers and to support and encourage new launches and young shows.

“We give a lot of attention and help to take a strain off an individual who has an idea but doesn’t want to be worried about the contracting side,” says Smith. “We heavily support new organisers in terms of our knowledge of venues, floorplan design, account management and exhibitor customer service . As they grow, we grow.

“It’s a complete partnership. They can tap into our extensive knowledge of the industry.

“A lot of people talk the talk at the pitch and don’t deliver. That’s not the Showlite way. If you don’t deliver what you say at the beginning, then people will question you. We deliver what we say.

“We are selective about who we work with and when we take the work on. We’re not in a position where we have to take on more and more work as during very busy times that might compromise the service.”

Earlier this year, Showlite further expanded its offering with Evolve, a series of turnkey feature and custom build packages for organisers and exhibitors. In addition to adding another string to the company’s bow, enabling it to provide an alternative to standard shell scheme, the new department also allows Showlite to take on a wider variety of shows looking for more creative stand and feature solutions.

Going green

For Showlite, sustainability is top of the agenda and impacts on every stage of a show cycle.

“We’ve made a heavy investment in LED lighting. We recycle 100 per cent of the carpet,” Smith explains. “With shell scheme we try and recycle everything; it’s an ongoing refurbishment programme. If metalwork is damaged, and it’s beyond repair, it’s then cut down into different sized poles. All the FoamEx panels are reused as much as possible. Because we’re predominantly using modular structures the stock is continually either reused or recycled.

“We also carefully plan transportation. If we can share transport, whether that’s stock or individuals, we will do that. That includes contacting other contractors. There are contractors near our office in Wales and if we’ve got an empty lorry coming back from Olympia London, for example, we may contact other nearby companies. 

“There’s very little waste, and it’s not just about the environment but also cost; it’s in our interest to reuse what we supply.”

In an industry like exhibitions, reputation is everything. Showlite has managed to evolve into a reputable and reliable full-service provider by focusing on quality of product and service above all else, and – despite the received wisdom – good news travels fast.

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