June 18, 2024 5:56 AM
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In Memoriam: Bill Dixon, A Quiet Industry Giant

by Larry Kulchawik

Bill Dixon passed away on October 25. He served the exhibit industry for more than 55 years.

Bill was a 6’6” giant of a man who quietly grew his business. In many ways he was humble and never wanted overt attention focused on him. He empowered his team, supported by excellent company resources, to guide each project to success. He also supported the idea that a team member would be present at the set up of each exhibit. Personal service matters. As a manager, he was a coach and team builder, who encouraged those around him. As a friend and fellow employee, he was always aware and concerned about his employees and industry associates personally. Upon retirement, he continued to arrange lunch meetings with fellow work associates to celebrate the great industry that we each grew passionate about. Bill Dixon quietly made significant and enduring contributions to the convention industry with a focus on strong customer service. He will be missed by so many he has touched. His spirit lives on!

Bill started with Premier Exhibits in Chicago in the early ’70s as an AE and built his book of business with tenacious cold-calling skills. He then joined Three Dimensions/Award Exhibits as an AE before it was purchased by Greyhound Exhibitgroup. Bill then grew to be one of the top sales people for the eight divisions of Greyhound Exhibitgroup, then one of the largest exhibit companies in North America. Bill was one of the first AEs who managed his accounts with a team, starting a trend toward the account manager concept that is followed by many exhibit companies today. Bill anticipated change within the convention industry and adapted strategies to incorporate them into 3D Exhibits. Bill’s philosophy was to provide top design, with talented people providing support services, at a reasonable cost. In 1995 Bill broke away from Exhibitgroup Giltspur to start his own company he named 3D Exhibits. Starting in a 50,000 sq ft facility, with five key employees, 3D was profitable in the first year. Several years later he moved his company into the same building that had been occupied by Exhibitgroup for 25 years. It provided all the needs a full service exhibit company could ask for. The company evolved with great success and eventually was sold to Gene Faut, a key employee, who then grew the company to over $100 million in sales. It was Bill’s dedication to excellent service and creative design that Gene Faut continued to provide and create the 3D Exhibits brand of excellence. Today, 3D Exhibits is a division of Sparks Exhibits with continued opportunities for success.

Bill often said, “Whatever it takes to satisfy the customer.” In order to do this, he started his own business he named 3D Exhibits. He believed in a team management approach. After working together at Exhibitgroup for 25 years, I appreciated his support and encouragement each passing year. He truly made his mark on the face of our industry.

Several of Bill’s colleagues shared their experience of his loss.

It was always a pleasure working with Bill and always looked forward to seeing him. He was a special person who always took time to ask about my family and even remembered my boys’ names. A special man who touched a lot of lives in a good way. – Frank Grossman, installation supervisor/EG San Francisco
My first day at EG I met Bill and he told me that I would fall in love with this business. Right from the start I liked his positivity. A real gentle giant. Always sharing his knowledge with wanting nothing in return except good results for you. Great man. – Neil Curran, AE/Exhibitgroup
Loved working with Bill back when it was a lot more fun. He was a great role model for many. You will long be remembered. – Richard Erschik, Owner/Leads to Sales
Hard to lose one of trade how industry’s leaders. First a sales giant having sold the Nintendo and Sega tradeshow business and then to start 3D Exhibits. Great legacy…great guy…RIP. – Chris Kappes, AE/Exhibitgroup
I enjoyed every minute of my time with Bill. He accomplished so much and remained so humble. So sad that he is gone. – David Hardbarger, past president/Exhibitgroup
He was a great man! I thoroughly enjoyed working with Bill when he would come to shows in the LA area that we would handle for him, and also ones in NY as well. A real gentleman and a true pleasure to be around. I’m sure his spirit will be with all of us who knew him always, but my heart breaks for his close friends and family at his loss. – Della Dale Smith, I&D manager/Exhibitgroup
Sad to hear this. One day early on, my Dad also a salesman, came to EG to visit me for the first time. By the time I got to the lobby, Bill had already shaken my father’s hand and was having an engaging conversation with him. He liked people and realized everyone was a prospect. – Doug Stevenson, AE/Exhibitgroup
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