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Rochester Chamber Top 100: Company builds its trade show business

A trade show booth is typically built with hard wall or fabric panels, graphic displays and video monitors to showcase an exhibitor’s products or sales pitch. 
 
For Mirror Show Management Inc., the booth design is based on more than its construction. It is also about the experience it delivers.
 
“Attendee experiences that hit home in a personal way (are) what forward-thinking companies are demanding,” said Donna Shultz, president of the Webster company. “We’ve developed a proprietary process called ExperiTech that consistently delivers better customer engagements, longer dwell times and far higher booth registration rates.”
 
ExperiTech was trademarked a year ago. Mirror Show introduced it at the ExhibitorLive 2016 show in Las Vegas, one of the largest events for the trade show industry.
 
Shultz founded her company in 1993 with the goal of solving problems she saw her clients struggle with when she was an account executive at another exhibit company. 
 
A major challenge they face, she found, is developing creative exhibits for several trade shows throughout the year while staying on budget. To answer that, Shultz created square-foot pricing, a first for the industry.
 
“Every trade show company charges hourly,” Shultz said, noting most clients contract to have an exhibit designed for a trade show and then the exhibit is reused at several other shows throughout the year.
 
Typical companies charge for the hours the booth is transported, set up and used at those shows, in addition to the original design.
“I came up with a square-foot pricing rate that is based on what it costs to design and build, based on its size,” she said. “It is a differentiator for us, and clients never pay a penny over that cost.”
 
There is no charge for the additional events, and Mirror Show often uses the booth’s existing components to redesign it for a fresh look.
 
A 30-day guarantee is another differentiator, Shultz said. Mirror Show guarantees that final bills from all vendors and suppliers connected to the exhibit, such as audiovisual, electrical and carpet rental, will be submitted within 30 days of the event. 
“That is extremely important so the client knows where their budget stands,” Shultz said. “We promise 10 percent off our bill if we don’t deliver within 30 days. I can tell you that we have never missed a bill in our 25 years.”
 
A client survey found timely billing was their No. 1 issue, she said.
 
Mirror Show services clients, including Fortune 500 companies, across a wide range of industries such as food, medical and internet technology.
 
One of the largest clients is Cisco Systems Inc., based in California. Mirror Show was selected in 2012 to partner on the company’s premier annual event, Cisco Live, and has designed exhibits for Cisco every year since then.
 
“They manage all our tier one trade shows globally. They have become the partner that keeps us going,” said Jeanne Robb, director of global corporate events at Cisco.
 
Mirror Show consistently outshines the competition with creative, cost-effective booths that “sizzle on a dime,” she said.
“With them we are winning awards, too,” Robb said, noting Cisco recently won an award at the International Broadcasters Conference. “We’re a small player there, yet we won best booth design.”
 
In 2012, Mirror Show became an employee stock ownership plan company. 
 
Its revenues grew 21 percent in 2013, 44 percent in 2014 and 22 percent in 2015. The company is finalizing revenue figures for 2016.
“We believe that giving employees a direct financial stake in our company has helped foster that success, energizing each person to bring extra passion to serving our customer every day,” Shultz said.
 
Employment grew from 72 in 2014 to 75 in 2015 to 80 today. Employees are key to the continued growth of Mirror Show, Shultz said, and recruitment of talent is one of her main challenges. 
 
“We have great local people who graduate college, move to New York City to work for a couple years and then want to come back home,” she said.
 
Shultz is proud to be successful in the $25 billion trade show industry, which is recovering from a decline.
“The industry has definitely come back and should be growing over the next five years,” she said.
 
The Rochester Chamber Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2017 Rochester Top 100 event is slated to be held Nov. 2. For more information, go to greaterrochesterchamber.com.
 
Mirror Show Management Inc.
 
Trade show exhibit and event 
management company
 
Year Founded: 1993
 
Top executive: Donna Shultz, president
 
Current employment: 80
 
2016 ranking: 8
 
Headquarters: Webster
 
Website: www.mirrorshow.com

2/17/2017 (c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

 

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