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Follow the Leader: Nomadic Display introduces a series of firsts

From the moment Theodore “Ted” Zeigler founded Nomadic Display in October 1975, ‘flexibility’ arose as the heart of its operations so it could better serve customers.

Founder Theodore “Ted” Zeigler
Founder Theodore “Ted” Zeigler

Zeigler, a graphic designer inspired by R. Buckminster Fuller’s creation of the geodesic dome, launched the first self-locking pop-up display – the Instand – and began manufacturing it in the Washington, D.C. area. This system immediately freed exhibitors from the status quo at tradeshows.

“We are proud of the legacy that Ted set up. What’s revolutionary about his invention is it turned control over to the exhibitor and gave them DIY capabilities. They could participate in tradeshows and exhibitions. Without the need for crated shipments or union labor, they could wheel Instand into the show and set it up themselves,” stated Gwen Parsons, senior vice president, Nomadic Display.

Even after the 17-year patent on Instand expired and knock offs followed, Nomadic Display continued to be a leader by offering more system configurations and design options.

“We added a lifetime warranty — the first introduced in the industry. We upgraded it to a ‘No Questions Asked’ lifetime warranty. Even if the customer damaged it, Nomadic would replace it or fix it for free. That’s a testimony to the system’s quality and a unique selling point,” added Parsons.

After 40 years in business, Nomadic Display now features a much-expanded product line, including portable, modular and custom solutions.

“Initially, we only did pop-up manufacturing, and then we grew into modular design. We opened Solutions Design Studio to do speculative design. We now have project management, a rental division and an in-house graphics production team, all to better serve clients and end users,” she said.

Nomadic Display currently owns $1.4 million in rental inventory. Its Las Vegas depot serves the western U.S., and its Washington, D.C. area facility serves the eastern part of the country. The company started offering rentals in 2004.

“I think [rentals] were a natural movement in the industry. At first, rentals were generally cookie-cutter designs that came out of a service manual. There were exhibitors who wanted the freedom to rent but look like they owned, so custom rentals evolved,” Parsons explained. “Some exhibitors like the flexibility — the freedom of having different designs year after year. If you don’t own, don’t pay for storage, repairs, taxes or disposal.”

Instand 1970s
Instand 1970s

Instand 1990s
Instand 1990s

Instand 2000s
Instand 2000s

Additionally, Parsons explained that the reconfigurable nature of rentals allows exhibitors to have a small footprint at multiple regional tradeshows but who can easily expand for the one large national show they do each year.

On the other hand, other Nomadic Display customers have owned their properties for years. Generally, they come back to Nomadic to update their graphics or buy new accessories. All of the company’s systems connect with each other as do its new products, which are made with current and new customers in mind. This is especially important in times of change.

“How does a marketing manager doing tradeshows handle an exhibit program when a merger is on the horizon or a division is about to be sold? They have to change their marketing message and tradeshow presence, so they need a flexible product. We are proud to offer display solutions designed to address changing business needs,” she said.

The Nomadic team celebrates their 40th anniversary with cake: Back row: Doug Turpin, Jim Casper, Gwen Parsons 2nd row: Stacy Barnes, Pat Goeke, Dave Evensen, Mike Rill Front row: Eric Hedge
The Nomadic team celebrates their 40th anniversary with cake: Back row: Doug Turpin, Jim Casper, Gwen Parsons
2nd row: Stacy Barnes, Pat Goeke, Dave Evensen, Mike Rill
Front row: Eric Hedge

Nomadic Display also takes the flexibility it offers internationally. The company has offices in Ireland, the UK and Germany. Although they do business independently, the leaders often collaborate with those in the U.S.

“If the German office has a client going to an exhibition in Las Vegas, they know who to coordinate with,” Parsons commented. “It’s easy for us to serve exhibitors here and abroad. What sets us apart is that these [offices] are company outlets. Exhibit houses often need to develop partnerships abroad to help with customers. We have that built in.”

Also differentiating Nomadic Display is its longevity. The company celebrated its 40th anniversary at EXHIBITORLIVE this year with a party thanking its customers.

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