Morris Exhibits Design
Morris graduated from Grand Valley State University in 1988 with a degree in marketing and did what any smart graduate does; he looked for a job in his area of study.
“I had many interviews and there were a lot of offers but nothing that looked good, nothing that really fit. So, I kept looking,” Morris said.
Much against the persuasion of his family and friends, Morris continued to do what he did in college: wait tables. Through a college friend he eventually found himself in an interview with a display company and left the office with a display and brochures in hand. The company was looking for someone to cover Michigan territory and Morris seemed to fit the bill.
Out of his parents’ home, he ran a couple of phone lines and became a distributor of exhibit display resources. The only problem was he needed to get out of the house and position himself in the correct market to obtain the level of customers for whom he was looking.
The correct position turned out to be the Amway Grand Plaza, Shops on the Grand, a spot he obtained in 1990. It took two years before Morris was able to expand, but in 1995 he was able to move to a 10,000 square foot space on Monroe.
The business that started in a small shop in the Grand Plaza with one employee is now housed in a 44,000-square-foot space on Patterson, with 32 employees.
While the expansive offices are impressive, its mission statement is what gave Exhibit Design Consultants its third rank as a national display company.
“We are different from a marketing standpoint,” said Morris. “We can build the same designs as another company, but we go into the process and create a marketing plan, for the tradeshow, for the customer.”
With this idea in mind the company has increased sales of custom modular and portable exhibit displays, which in turn suggests that tradeshow interest among West Michigan companies is growing more rapidly than the marginal increase indicated by national statistics.
According to the industry’s Tradeshow Week, the first quarter of 2000 showed a mere increase of 3.1 percent in net square feet of tradeshow exhibit space over 1999 levels. Exhibit space is one of three key indicators of industry growth.
Other indicators during the same period showed 2.4 percent growth in the number of new exhibiting companies while attendance rose by just 3.1 percent. Show managers attribute the slow growth to the ever-increasing focus on the Internet to reach a wider audience.
Because of this turn, EDC has decided to follow the customer and is the process of operating and updating a virtual showroom. With InVision EDC has created the first phase of a system that will allow customers to view the progress of their designs, accept design changes, browse design options, and track the location of their exhibit.
Phase one has been operational for almost a year and phase two is in the works now. Each client is provided with a sales order number and password to keep in touch no matter where they may be located.
“It sounds simple but a client needs to know if they have to go to the trade center right away or if they have time for a beer. By making the entire process easy for them to access, it takes all of the problems out of design travel,” explained Morris.
A trouble-free delivery process and display arrival readiness at show time are ensured by two new customer service programs, Total Care and Super Care.
Total and Super Care are similar in terms of fixed costs on installation and dismantling services as well as for exhibit materials management services. However, Total Care seeks to raise the bar on customer service, offering an exclusive quality assurance provision that ensures an exhibit is maintained in professional conditions at all times – and will be replaced if damage occurs, no charge.
“Our commitment to customer service has helped us to manage our growth,” said Morris. “Tradeshow marketing is such an important element to business today. I know our clients appreciate knowing that under our Total Care program, their exhibit will be ready when they need it.”
With these services, Morris, the 1999 GVSU Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, feels his company has the power to go forward and establish a physical presence in Detroit. EDC has been dabbling in the Detroit market for several years and has established several major clients.
However, Morris believes it is time to expand and establish an east Michigan showroom to provide better service to his existing clients and begin developing opportunities with potential clients.
“It makes sense to make our products and services more accessible to our current customers there. We offer some very effective, dynamic marketing solutions for trade show exhibitors,” said Morris. “A Detroit area location will give us the opportunity to show new clients, first-hand, how EDC can help them achieve their marketing goals.”
EDC received two Citations of Excellence Awards from the West Michigan Ad Club in 2000 and has been recognized with a manufacturer’s award from Nomadic, a display manufacturer.