2018 Tradeshow Preparation


Please find some links and notes from the 2 Regular Guys Podcast.  We talked tradeshow preparation for 2018, the good, the bad and the ugly, from the perspective of the attendee and the exhibitor. But we’ll start the show with a conversation with Greg Kitson with Mind’s Eye Graphics, discussing the Orlando ISS Show, and Hurricane Irma.

Sponsored by: SGIA.org | 2017 SGIA Expo in New Orleans – Oct 10-12

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  • Thanks to Greg Kitson of Mind’s Eye Graphics for giving us a full run down of the situation at this years ISS Orlando even that was cut short due to Hurricane Irma.

Tradeshow Preparation

Aaron: Let’s start by saying every owner and manager in our industry should attend at least one trade show each year. And most every vendor needs to do trade shows either in your region or across the country if you sell nationally.


Terry: Attendees

  • Driving distance is a real plus, especially if you plan on purchasing equipment or supplies that will fit in your vehicle. Pickup a heat press or even larger equipment can save you real money. Most vendors do not want to take equipment home with them if they don’t have to.
  • Traffic and parking expense is something you should figure into your travel and expenses.
  • A destination like Orlando or Vegas gives attendees, spouses and families entertainment outside the show.

Aaron: Exhibitors

  • A location with direct flights is a plus.
  • Hotel rates can be a deterrent in a venue like Nashville.
  • A destination like Orlando or Vegas gives attendees a reason to not attend as much of the show as they might. That’s why exhibitors prefer the Indy’s of the world. Restaurants and bars near the convention center but nothing really to draw away attendees during show hours.

The Hall

Aaron: Attendees

  • Food onsite other than the $8.00 convention hot dog is always good, but attendees do have the option of going to nearby eateries.
  • Pickup access after the show can be as easy as driving inside the building to waiting in a long line to get close enough to load your recently purchased machine.

Terry: Exhibitors

  • I’ll list food here too since there’s no option of leaving for a bite during a show.
    • The DAX show provides lunch for vendors which is a welcome bonus on a busy show day.
    • NBM provides coffee and essentials like aspirin, airborne, hand sanitizer, etc. And on setup day they wheel in a keg of beer.
  • Drayage, electric, carpet, tables… these are usually ugly expenses no matter what location, but the attitude of those providing the services varies among venues. Exhibitors spend $1,000’s at the hall, beyond shipping there and back.
  • Let’s list bitter cold or sweltering heat as the ugly side for exhibitors. Only the attendees during regular show hours benefit from heat or A/C. During setup and tear down vendors are left to the elements outside when the bay doors roll up to allow in the forklifts and crates. Atlantic City being the #1 weather extreme with an ISS show in the Winter and a convention center situated to allow ocean breezes to chill the bone.
  • Heavily unionized halls will also “require” exhibitors to employee laborers for anything from turning a screw to climbing a ladder, while you standby and watch. (At time and a half rates most of the time for our shows)



Terry: Attendees

  • The tradeoff of free and paid seminars. (90 Minute Ads)
  • I lived for the seminars when I started out.

Aaron: Exhibitors

  • More full day events before the show opens allows for drilling into a subject.

Show Days & Hours

Aaron: Attendees

  • Most shows roll into a weekend making it easier for small shops to close their doors and attend.

Terry: Exhibitors

  • Experimentation with the number of show days and hours at NBM seems to be working well.
  • Of course, show hours for exhibitors include setup time and of course waiting for crates at the end so you can rush to the airport. Sometimes the wait for crates is hours long.

After Hours

Terry: Attendees

  • Most shows have an after-hours event with either free or cash bars, and sometimes with a little entertainment. The idea is to have a casual setting where vendors and attendees can interact.
  • It’s a plus if restaurants and entertainment are nearby.

Aaron: Exhibitors

  • As an exhibitor, you’re pretty tired of talking shop, and on top of that just pretty tired from talking and standing all day on thin carpet and concrete.

Number of Shows

Aaron: Attendees

  • More shows mean more options on where to go.
  • Most shows are regional other than SGIA and I would say ISS Long Beach is a national show as well.

Terry: Exhibitors

  • More shows mean more shipping and hall expense, more hotels, more flights, more days away from day-to-day in office.
  • But if you miss a show or two in protest of the sheer volume of events, your competitors will point out to every attendee you are mysteriously missing and theorize all kinds of reasons that are never positive. I’ll confess when someone says I came to see XYZ machine I’m quick to say, “They’re not here you know. I’m not sure why not.”

Benefits/Detriments of Trade Shows

Terry: Attendees

  • Education, education, education.
  • Getting out of your shop and seeing the bigger world of the industry.

Aaron: Exhibitors

  • Face-to-face interaction with current and new customers.
  • Some products just need to be seen and demonstrated.
  • If a show is poorly attended, a vendor may end up in the red comparing costs and sales generated at the show and soon after.

Terry: List of shows for 2018

2018 NBM Show Schedule

Arlington, TX March 8-10, 2018
Sacramento April 13-14, 201
Portland May 11-12, 2018
Cleveland June 15-16, 2018
Long Beach, CA August 2-4, 2018
Secaucus, NJ August 24-25, 2018
Indianapolis September 13-15, 2018
Charlotte, NC November 2-3, 2018

Decorated Apparel Expos (DAX) 2018

Kansas City February 23-24, 2018
Minnesota April 6-7, 2018
Chicagoland April 27-28, 2018

Imprinted Sportswear Shows 2018

Long Beach, CA January 19-21, 2018
Atlantic City, NJ. March 15-17, 2018


ThreadX powered by SGIA – Palm Springs, CA – Feb 25-27, 2018
SGIA Expo – Las Vegas, NV – October 18-20, 2018


Atlanta – February 2-3, 2018
Nashville – August 17-18, 2018


Orlando – January 3-4,2018
Dallas – January 25-26, 2018
Chicago – July 25-26, 2018

PPAI Expo – Las Vegas – Jan 16-18, 2018

Other Events

  • Getting Smart with Some Simple Marketing Strategies – ISS Ft. Worth Seminar – Sept 24
  • How to Make Money with Digital Decorating – Mind’s Eye Graphics in Northeast Indiana – Oct 6-7Digital Decorating Class
  • SGIA Seminars – Getting Smart with Some Simple Marketing Strategies and Demystifying Wide Format Sublimation and Cut and Sew Production – October 12
  • Complete Screen Printing Business Course –Workhorse Products – Nov 4-5
  • Complete Screen Printing Business Course – Atlas Screen in Chicago – Nov 11-12

Trade Shows

  • ISS Ft. Worth – Sep 22 – 24
  • SGIA (Specialty Graphic Imaging Association) – Oct 10 – 12
  • NBM Charlotte – Oct 26 – 28

Terry’s Books

Screen Printing: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Direct to Garment: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Scheduling and Estimating Production Time for Garment Screen Printing Just $2.99 as an e-book

Aaron’s New Company

Sublimation just got easier with the launch of sublisource.com, the new US distributor for Best Sublimation. Our mission is to help our partners grow with a different way of doing business compared to all the “Me too” distributors in the United States. We will do this by:
  • Offering products as a single item instead of forcing cases on you.
  • Changing shipping standards.
  • Offering unique products from limited manufacturing partners

This show is brought to you for a full hour by:

Specialty Graphics Imaging Association – SGIA will continually strive to be the foremost resource for information and education within the specialty imaging industry. SGIA supports the digital and screen printing community in the USA and Canada by providing services and activities specific to their interests. While the majority of SGIA services and activities are specific to US and Canada, SGIA will continue to partner with national and regional associations around the globe to continually develop the international community. The SGIA National Affiliation Program brings together a multinational community to enhance awareness and encourage the exchange of information. Supporting the Leaders of the Digital and Screen Printing Community

Equipment Zone, with 20 years experience selling garment printing equipment nationwide. Equipment Zone offers the new Epson F2000 SureColor direct-to-garment printer, their own VelociJet-XL DTG printer, and the all new SpeedTreater-TX automatic pretreat machine with a full 16”x24” pretreat area. Equipment Zone also carries a full line of DTG inks and supplies. Go to EquipmentZone.com

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