Editor’s Note: This article is part of Who’s on Your Crew, a three-part special publication from Exhibit City News. Part two of this publication will examine the unlimeted growth that the installation and dismantle industry has undergone since the early days of I&D. It will be published in the March edition of ECN.
Jack McEntee, Tony Amodeo and Pat Alacqua founded I&D Inc. in 1979 in Atlanta and established themselves as the leaders in the labor contracting service category while instituting a number of innovations on the show floor that are standard practice today.
They defined the independent contractor business and in doing so, made a lasting impression on the industry and changing the way onsite I&D companies treat and service customers at show sites, forever raising customer expectations. I&D also transformed the attitudes and behavior of on-site carpenters at the tradeshow installation process. The I&D installers were trained not only to get the job done, but to make it a pleasant experience for everyone. In turn, I&D created a distinct advantage for the people who worked for them: a safe working environment.
The I&D leadership understood that the exhibit industry is supported at many different levels within exhibiting companies and that relationships abound throughout the exhibiting process, from the decision to acquire space to the tear down. Corporate exhibitors were charged with showing their companies in the best possible light while working within a budget. Meanwhile show management hadn’t really begun to probe the possibilities in the operational end of tradeshow much beyond what they learned from the GC.
I&D knew how to make marketing opportunities out of innovation. This was the first independent labor contractor to bring gang boxes of supplies and tools on the show floor to service their customers. Additionally, their ladders, painted and stenciled with the company logo, were visible throughout the convention centers around the country and functioned as an identifier of premium labor. As a matter of fact, when custom exhibits became more elaborate, I&D was the first contractor to routinely bring 14-foot ladders to the show floor.
I&D was so successful that the company name, like or Kleenex, became synonymous with the service. Some other features that the company introduced to the industry were:
• Training in customer service and skill enhancement
• Using the same leadman on both install and dismantle
• Establishing sales and marketing efforts
• Participating in the annual meetings of industry show organizers
• Serving exhibitors internationally
In the 1996, I&D changed its name to Nth Degree to reflect the company’s expanded geographical and service offerings, pushing to the “nth degree” to do whatever it takes to meet customers’ global tradeshow and event needs. Five years later, in 2001, the company was sold to private equity investors.