EDITOR’S UPDATE: After this story ran, Roy Muller emailed us on June 4: “Last week was very busy but I was feeling the love from all of you as I was sifting through the host of emails full of warmth and best wishes. Then, my phone rang… and it was a management team interested in acquiring the critical assets to continue to build and support our product lines into the future. We’ve since spent hours and hours together hammering out a deal but just as importantly how to move forward so you all are least affected. The new team has some great ideas on how to improve our products, yet remain committed to the quality and values that has made this company great. They come with a tremendous amount of experience in trade show manufacturing and supporting a dealer network…there will be some down time, but bear with us as we take the next step. More details to follow soon.”
Trussworks is turning the page to a new chapter, moving on from the past and embracing the future, co-founder Roy Muller says with mixed emotions. As of May 28, Trussworks will stop taking new orders. The last products will be shipped in early June, and by the end of the month, Trussworks will have vacated its Oakland facility.
Muller started Trussworks in 1991 with a business partner in his girlfriend’s two-car garage in Daly City, Calif.. Over the past 28 years, the company enjoyed many successes and endured some failures. “As we say in this industry, we’ve had our ups and downs,” Muller says. “We’ve been extremely proud of the systems we’ve developed and manufactured over the years, always making sure we’ve delivered value on high quality products.”
But times are changing. Trussworks’ valued shop employees, many of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years, are aging out of the workplace. The truss look is not “in” right now, Muller notes, and more of the small display houses have built rental inventories to fulfill growing demand from companies that prefer to rent their exhibit instead of owning and managing the assets. Cumulatively, these factors have combined to help Trussworks make the decision to close its manufacturing facility.
“OK, so that’s it for the obituary on manufacturing,” Muller says. “What we’re truly excited about is our turnkey exhibit rental operation. As many of you know, and have incorporated into your business, we’ve been producing turnkey rentals since shortly after our inception in the early ’90s. In 2004, we created a separate corporation for this part of the business and later renamed it Trussworks Turnkey. It’s accounted for about two-thirds of our gross revenue for a number of years now and it’s time that it becomes our sole focus as a company. This renewed focus will allow us to build upon and improve what we are already doing well.”
Over the years, the exhibit systems rented through Trussworks Turnkey have changed, Muller explains. Early on it was the tri-truss systems with grid wall. Trussworks incorporated Nimlok systems and popups in the mid-’90s, and then it evolved around 2005 to be predominantly EZ6 box truss displays before adding double decks and wall systems about six years ago.
“While the systems and products change, what remains a constant is our service and value proposition,” Muller says. “We warehouse modular components in Las Vegas that make up the designs we rent. We pack per job, deliver to advanced warehouses and do the I&Ds. We do all this for set prices and offer distributor discounts as we only work through distribution.”
Moving forward, clients can expect the same great service from Trussworks rental department and can anticipate that rental offerings will continue to evolve with the times. While having factory support was great, Trussworks was also somewhat “captive” to its factory capabilities, he explains. This will no longer be the case, and Trussworks’ design evolution will reflect that as current offerings lose their luster.
“Looking back, I will always have fond memories of Trussworks, the manufacturing company, but I am excited about the future and if you aren’t already, I hope that you will consider giving us an opportunity to help you serve your rental client base,” Muller says.
Since 1991, Trussworks has produced high-quality steel truss systems for the display industry known for superior strength, ease and speed of assembly and clean, stylish looks. Over the years, Trussworks added a number of product lines to its traditional systems. Every system design adheres to the four principles which embody Trussworks product lines. For more info, visit www.trussworks.com or www.xibits.com.