It’s hard to tell the difference between stepping into a home improvement store and walking onto the show floor at the National Hardware Show, held annually by Reed Exhibitions in Las Vegas. Almost akin to a Lowe’s or Home Depot, the housing after-market show is a gathering place for manufacturers and retailers of products such as lawn, garden and outdoor living; hardware and tools; plumbing and electrical; paint and accessories; and even pet products.
For some retailers, exhibiting at the show is its own DIY project. Employees at DualTools, a Clearwater, Fla.-based manufacturer of award-winning power tools, not only work as booth staff, but also serve as exhibit designers and builders when the company exhibits its wares. Credited with the concept and design is Creative Director Jeff Bunting while execution is primarily the responsibility of Hardware Category Manager Kyle VanSchoyck.
When DualTools began exhibiting at the National Hardware Show in 2011, it took four employees approximately 14 hours to assemble display cases for a 20 x 30 booth. This year, the team of four DualTools employees went from bare concrete floors to a fully installed exhibit in just eight hours, including burning DVDs, running audio-visual wiring and purchasing candy dishes for the booth.
To cut down installation time by nearly half, VanSchoyck decided to change the booth materials.
“Three years ago, when [DualTools] first started exhibiting, we spent a lot of time putting together stands that were like IKEA furniture. Then I realized we need something more permanent with little assembly that we can just put up, add our products and reuse every year,” shared VanSchoyck.
In its 20 x 50 booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center, DualTools turned its exhibit space into a retail showroom, business center and employee headquarters.
Moving away from standard retail displays, the manufacturer hired a local set builder to custom build its dual-ended display stands, tool cradles and Plexiglas box for sawing demonstrations.
With more than one target audience at the show, DualTools used innovative retail displays to market to both. Displaying each of its power tools and product packaging on individual stands, the manufacturer was able to target both retailers and end-users. Attendees are able to see the award-winning packaging in black and neon green as well as view and experience the product out of the box.
By replicating TV demonstrations of its products within the see-through booth, the exhibitor visually educates its audience and effectively drives consumers to retail stores to purchase its products, according to VanSchoyck. Standing 4 feet x 6 feet, the aptly nicknamed “Cutting Booth” featured Plexiglas connected by 80-20 aluminum extrusions. Each individual Plexiglas panel folds flat and slides into individual slots of a custom-made crate when disassembled.
To be entered into the Guinness World Book of Records, DualTools partnered with a local builder to create an 18-foot Styrofoam model of its reciprocating saw with moving parts, first debuted in Cologne, Germany, in March 2014 before it was airfreighted back to company headquarters in Florida.
Taking it one step further, DualTools produced dedicated B-rolls with a small production team in-house featuring instructional videos of the power tools in action. Mounted over the top of each of its eight display stands, a 32-inch TV screen provided a visual demonstration. Two 60-inch screens played videos of all products on a continuous loop.
A centrally located accessory stand rotating on a swivel also served a dual purpose of attracting distributors and consumers. Two fully stocked cardboard display stands were brought into the space to show how they would look in-store.
Complete with two individual meeting rooms, the booth space even included a hidden break room for staff to refresh and store personal items. Separated from the “retail” area, the business center was divided by a large pop-up display stand, which served as a backdrop for a step and repeat wall banner featuring the company logo.
Between the pipe and drape dividers lining the back of the two meeting areas is a small space for booth staffers to rest and place personal belongings out of sight.
Horizontal fabric pop-up display banners set at an angle branded each of two meetings spaces, but when moved toward the edge, acted as a screen for added privacy and noise reduction when a meeting took place. To further distinguish the space from the retail portion of the booth, the meeting areas included sofas, chairs and laminate wood flooring.
Creating three spaces in one is no easy feat given that DualTools employees staffing the booth had no prior exhibit design or building experience. Versatile and functional, the design team found inventive ways of repurposing elements of its exhibit design. Bunting and VanSchoyck showed that with creative thinking and a little elbow grease, retailers can succeed in exhibiting on the show floor and even place second in the Innovative New Product Launch contest at the National Hardware Show.