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Astound Group Exhibit House

by Calanit Atia, Exhibit City News

 

ASTOUND Group, with offices in Toronto, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee, has been astounding customers since 2001. The company designs and creates immersive exhibits for tradeshows, events, and experiential marketing campaigns. They provide end-to-end solutions for businesses seeking to make a significant impact at tradeshows or other promotional events. ASTOUND Group focuses on creating memorable brand experiences through innovative design, technology integration, and strategic planning.

Their Las Vegas location is particularly impressive, boasting a 350,000-square-foot state-of-the-art production facility. This facility includes a metalworking shop, a paint shop, cabinetry, laminate shops, and an LED department. It also houses graphics and fabric departments and has a massive large-scale sublimation fabric printer. Moreover, the site offers 100,000 square feet of full pre-assembly and staging areas and over 400,000 cubic feet of storage space for custom and semi-custom exhibits.

Exhibit City News sat down with Dale Morgan, Founder, to discuss ASTOUND.

Dale Morgan founded ASTOUND, an award-winning creative agency with state-of-the-art fabrication capabilities across North America. A finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award, Dale and the team at ASTOUND have brought projects to life for global brands such as Google, NIKE, Shopify, MasterCard, and Coca-Cola while expanding their services from tradeshows, events, and experiences into retail strategy, design, outfitting, and architectural project development. Under his leadership, ASTOUND has repeatedly been recognized as one of Canada’s top employers, a top 50 Best Managed Company by Deloitte, and among the 500 fastest-growing companies ranked annually by Profit Magazine.

Q: How did it all start?

A: At 16, while still in high school, I had friends who were a bit older than me. They would send me postcards from different locations around the world. They’d say things like, “Hey, I’m in Africa,” or “I’m in Asia,” and I thought that was very cool because I’d always wanted to travel.

I began working in tradeshows whenever I had the time—on weekends, during summers—I would eagerly go and offer my help. Then, at 19, I started doing installations for Skyline Displays.

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I’m the kind of guy who always had a side business, such as a floor cleaning business. I was drawn to the tradeshow industry because of my love for design and my passion for creating new ideas and bringing them to life. I’m the “let’s do it” kind of guy.

It all started when I went to SEMICON Asia. I was sent there to set up a booth, and as I looked around, I noticed that while the exhibits were decent, they lacked a high standard of design and fabrication. That’s when I saw an opportunity—there was a hole to be filled.

In 2001, I started from my bedroom in Burlington, Ontario. I worked with clients, figuring out their functional requirements and some design ideas. The execution side was just about expecting a higher standard and making sure that we executed meticulously.

From there, the business grew very quickly, with one client and another, and then all the shows around Asia and Europe. Next, I tried a different industry, and that worked as well. The company has been growing ever since.

Q: How did you decide on the name ASTOUND?

A: Initially, I didn’t have this brand in mind. I enjoyed design, doing excellent work, and executing tasks effectively. I deliberated on encapsulating all these passions into a business that truly mattered, something with significance. That’s when the idea for ASTOUND came to me because that’s precisely what I want to do.

When you attend a show, it’s all about evoking emotions, right? I didn’t want the focus to be on me; I wanted it to be about the clients. I aimed to impress them thoroughly, to blow their socks off, and eventually, that became our standard.

I wanted to establish a benchmark. Our design, execution, and service had to be the absolute best. All of this ethos is embodied in the name. The expectations were set very high. One of my initial clients, who was with me even before ASTOUND, expressed some concerns, saying, “Whoa, I don’t know if you want to call it that because now everyone’s going to expect this.” My response was simple: “I chose the name because I want everyone to experience that same amazement and satisfaction.”

Q: What sets you apart?

A: Starting with our strategy, we will identify business objectives during a discovery phase with the involvement of our strategy team. Our digital fabrication guarantees high quality, which is equivalent to architectural-grade standards, as well as our process. We delve into business goals with the account manager leading the charge.

From there, our strategy and creative teams collaborate to define the desired experience and make it exceptional for your customers.

Design follows suit, focusing on translating these objectives into functional elements. While the in-person experience is vital, we also extend our reach digitally to align with broader objectives.

While some clients may seek booth design, we emphasize robust discovery to ensure we craft the best possible experience for them and their customers. Our philosophy revolves around setting and maintaining the highest standards. We differentiate ourselves by handling everything in-house, striving to execute every aspect flawlessly.

Q: How do you like living in Las Vegas?

A: I absolutely adore Vegas. It’s like a perfect fit for a company such as ours. I genuinely believe there couldn’t be a better place to be, especially considering the city’s trajectory and its people. Everyone has preconceived notions about Vegas, but you can’t grasp its essence until you live here and truly understand it. For me, this is home, and I’m fully committed to Vegas.

We established our office in Las Vegas in 2005, intending it to be the headquarters for ASTOUND. It’s not just about tradeshows and events; that’s the core, but we’ve expanded into much more. We’ve been building numerous branded spaces, including designing the fan experience for all of the founding sponsors, Allegiant Stadium, and even crafted the iconic flame sculpture seen during Super Bowl 2024.

Q: Super Bowl 2024 in Las Vegas, the flame structure was prominently displayed; how did you conceive the idea?  

A: They desired something beyond just a lighting effect; they sought an architectural element. The concept was to design and create a flame-like structure that would serve as a visually striking architectural feature and a functional element for displaying content. Given that a real flame was impractical and unsafe for the entire roof structure, we aimed to develop a captivating architectural look while being technologically advanced to integrate with the stadium’s media systems.

Our vision was to craft a sculpture that resembled a flame, incorporating LED technology to synchronize with the stadium’s other media displays. This concept encapsulated ASTOUND’s approach: to provide a solution and innovate and elevate the stadium experience. We handled all aspects of the project, from technical design to fabrication and delivery. The flame stands as a testament to our expertise and craftsmanship. It is our creation, emblematic of ASTOUND’s commitment to excellence.

For more information, visit https://www.astoundgroup.com/

 

Calanit Atia, an award-winning event planner and entrepreneur, is an Air Force Veteran and the Founder and President of A to Z Events, a Las Vegas DMC Entertainment and Booth Activity Agency. She can be contacted at 702-212-2500 or via email at Info@AtoZevents.com. Connect with her on www.twitter.com/CalanitAtia, www.linkedin.com/in/calanit, www.instagram.com/calanitatia

 

This story originally appeared in the Q2 2024 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 20. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_q1_2024.

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