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On The Front Lines of COVID-19: Tradeshow Industry Firms Building Portable Exhibits, Part 1

(Pictured: Agam Group has transformed its shop into a production facility for temporary structures. This outdoor build is designed for use as a drive-up testing site.)

by Amadeus Finlay

At a time when events and conventions have come to a grinding halt, incredible examples of selflessness and resilience continue to radiate from all branches of the tradeshow industry. Last week, this series reported on convention centers being converted into temporary hospital and nursing facilities to ease the burden brought about by the COVID-19 crisis. This week, we will feature some of the companies making a difference by providing portable exhibit structures to medical institutions needing additional, customizable workspaces.

Of the nations affected by the pandemic, Italy has been one of the most badly hit. More than 17,600 fatalities have been reported since the first death on February 20. The country remains on a complete lockdown, bar essential business and movement, with the situation set to remain critical for the foreseeable future.

Tanya Miller, COO of Allspace and Synapse Exhibits, is based in the Mediterranean nation. Despite the extreme difficulties she faces, Miller has ensured that her firms’ focuses have shifted towards combating the crisis while keeping an eye on the far side.

“In Italy, the need for temporary structures has been enormous,” says Miller. “The tradeshow industry is at a complete standstill, so it totally makes sense to offer your resources to the community and help where you can. This is a situation where we all are in the same boat. To get over this we need to stand together, reach out and help—there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Lenny Talarico Blueprint StudiosMiller’s sentiments of togetherness are echoed back at home. California- and Vegas-based service event design, rental furnishings, and custom fabrication firm, Blueprint Studios, tells a similar story of unity and empowerment. Director of Sales Lenny Talarico (pictured left) explains, “During this challenging time, we are happy we can play a role supporting our courageous health care professionals by assisting them with these emergency triage environments critical for them in delivering services. We have provided products and services working within our customers’ budgets understanding the expenses they face are completely unexpected.”

Presenting a mirror image on the East Coast, aluminum-based wholesale exhibit manufacturers, Agam Group, Ltd., in Elkridge, Md., has been focusing almost all production on temporary structures, and the response has been remarkable.

Brian Kaltsas Agam“It started when the first stimulus package was released,” says Brian Kaltsas (pictured right), Agam’s vice president of sales. “We saw there was a specific section under temporary structures, and we took up the challenge. Our first thought was designing an outdoor structure that could service as a drive-up testing site. We built a prototype and put it up in our parking lot. But, at the time, no one was sure where the money was coming from to move them forward. We, like many others, had to let people go and make pay cuts.”

But from misfortune came determination. “That’s when our team took up the challenge of creating different offerings to get to a point where we could bring our co-workers back to work and get the products in the hands of our distribution network. The new goal was to not just help bring our people back but to help our dealer network save their companies. Our new line includes outdoor structures, temporary hospital rooms, hygiene barriers, room dividers, etc.

“One of our partners probably said it best, ‘Once we get through this, we are going to have one hell of a story to tell.’ The people and teams in this industry are strong and they will survive this.”

Next week’s installment of “On the Front Lines of COVID-19” will feature more companies building temporary structures, creating masks/gowns, providing shields for retail clerks, building test sites, donating food, etc. If you’d like to see your company featured for how they’re helping during the COVID-19 crisis, please email us at newsdesk@ExhibitCityNews.com and amadeusf@ExhibitCityNews.com.

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