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Tradeshow industry veteran purchases Elements Exhibits

Just a few days before Thanksgiving in the U.S., the founder of S[+]UDIOS, also known as PLUS Studios, purchased Elements Exhibits, a Las Vegas-based firm that creates custom exhibits, events and environments.

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One reason Matt Naert finalized his purchase of Elements Exhibits on Nov. 25 is because its core competencies complemented those of his boutique exhibit design, consulting and management firm, PLUS Studios.

“It worked really well for everyone. PLUS Studios was mostly a design, project management and sales company, and now we have the facility, personnel and fabrication skills of Elements Exhibits to leverage,” explained Naert. “I knew Elements’ quality level and how well they have serviced clients throughout the years, so I pursued the opportunity.”

Having worked with the company and its founder, Timothy Provo, also played a role in Naert’s buying decision. Provo died at age 45 in September 2010 after a battle with Leukemia. Dave Kane and Provo’s brother, Dwayne, stepped into the manager/owner role until Naert took over operations.

“I’ve always really liked the approach Tim took. He built the company around his specific client’s needs,” Naert explained.

“[Tim] really focused on building strong teams to support clients. Many employees have been there for 10 years. He built a devout following of employees. He led by example and gave them nice work.”

Continuing what Provo started also meant retaining all employees, according to Naert. Provo relied on the assistance of his general manager, Alicia Rosen, who is now overseeing clients and accounts as director of client relations.

“We’re in the process of rebranding the current Elements facility, and all employees were retained. That was important because we had worked with them in the past and knew them well. It was critical to keep everyone on,” Naert added. “Since Thanksgiving, we have brought on three new people for production and to gear up for some larger spring projects.”

One of these new employees is Scott Fisher, who is the PLUS Studios production manager. Fisher is a former employee of Trade Show Fabrications (TSF). TSF provided design, construction, graphics, installation and show services capabilities after opening in 1973. The company’s closure in June 2012 led to many of its employees going to work for Derse, a tradeshow exhibit and event marketing agency.

During his 20 years in the industry, Naert has worked in sales and management at TSF, MC2, Lincoln, Heritage and MICE. Before founding PLUS Studios, he also worked as a senior account executive at global event marketing agency, Sparks.

“You have large firms, such as Derse, Czarnowski or Sparks, that are nationwide. PLUS Studios [with the recent acquisition] now sits in the middle; we’re big enough to get 90 percent of the same jobs done. We’re not so large though that covering overhead like that would price us out of the competition. That was the whole idea when starting PLUS Studios,” Naert explained. “With large firms, you can only deal with clients with certain monetary budgets. There are companies that are releasing marketing dollars back into tradeshow industry, but they’re not on the level of Sony or Panasonic. Handling companies with midsize marketing programs is our forte.”

PLUS Studios handles everything from design to carpentry as well as graphics and printing in-house, but it will contract outside the company for installation and dismantle for the time being.

“Installation and dismantle is the one facet of a turnkey we don’t have, but it works out well because you can select who you want to work with for specific projects and pick quality people,” said Naert.

With a few days running the company under his belt, Naert said he plans to expand, but not so much that PLUS can’t work with smaller or midrange companies. In the meantime, he’s merging PLUS Studios’ operations with the former Elements Exhibits team. PLUS Studios will work out of the former Elements’ 55,000 square-foot facility in North Las Vegas.

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