by Amadeus Finlay
Spring is in the air, and in the halls of government, hopeful whispers skirt along the cool marble corridors hinting that the national shutdown might over before the end of the summer. In the tradeshow and convention industry, similar senses of hope and determination have been driving stories of inspiration and selflessness as the community continues its united battle against COVID-19.
Wisconsin. The response to the virus has been generally strong in America’s Dairyland, and its heroes have come in many forms. One of the midwestern state’s champions is tradeshow industry veteran, Derse of Milwaukee. On April 27, the venerable firm announced that it had entered the fight against coronavirus by sourcing, fabricating and installing 530 temporary 10×10 patient rooms at the alternative care facility within the Exposition Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park.
Working in partnership with tradeshow service and labor cooperative, Sho-Link, and general contractor Gilbane Building Company, the temporary rooms were assembled and installed in eight days, with more than 100 workers leveraged across multiple shifts to complete the project.
Asked why Derse decided to shift focus to civic endeavors, Director of Marketing Julia Haas, says, “First, we wanted to be part of a solution to help our community be prepared to treat COVID-19 cases. Second, we were able to put many of our employees back to work. We knew we had a unique set of skills and resources to help our local community and complete a project of this type and scale.
“With the completion of the facility,” continues Haas, “we were able to create a solution that gives our community the capacity to handle any significant increases in COVID-19 cases.
“Like many of our peers and partners, we are passionate about tradeshows and the power of face-to-face connections. We know that if we focus each day on making informed decisions in our clients’ best interest, we’ll put our company and our employees in the best position to thrive once live events and tradeshows resume. We’re definitely using this time to become a stronger and more resilient organization.”
And in Norcross, Ga., just 800 miles to the southeast of Milwaukee, is the North American headquarters of Belgian modular building firm, beMatrix. The company has been offering its extensive range of quick-to-assemble solutions without cost to communities across the nation, and the impact has been huge.
“beMatrix is uniquely positioned to provide hope and leadership to our industry while supporting our front-line workers,” says Tara Ericson, VP of sales and marketing. “Our designs are being provided for free, as are our coordination efforts. It is the least we can do for our partners and for the communities in this fight. They have supported us, and we are now supporting them. We take pride in our product and know we have an ideal solution to some of the challenges facing our country.
“A single piece of aluminum is weak, but put a few together and you have a strong frame. Combine those frames and you can create something special. beMatrix is still here and like the frames that bear our name we will remain stronger together.”