» Catching Up with Featherlite’s Graeme Nelson

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Graeme, pictured left, at the Featherlite booth at Exhibitor2015

Over the past few years FrontLine Exhibits has had the pleasure to represent product lines from Featherlite Exhibits in our markets. Featherlite’s Medallion product line has quickly become a favorite of both our employees and more importantly, our clients. Featherlite has become the go-to supplier for tension fabric displays and structures in the trade show industry.

I was able to recently catch up with Featherlite’s president, Graeme Nelson, and get some of his thoughts on his company and the industry overall.

CH: Our clients generally do not get to meet those that we work with behind the scenes to build their displays, so let’s introduce you. How long have you been in the trade show industry, and how did you end up with Featherlite?

GN: I grew up in the trade show industry. My Father started the company in 1965 as Media/Graphics. He was a pioneer in the portable trade show industry.  He invented Port-a-Splay, one of the first portable products to be introduced to the industry. Media/Graphics became Featherlite Exhibits back in the late seventies. My experience began with sweeping the shop floors when I was 7 and it has culminated into a 35 year career with the last 25 as President. It continues to be a family business. My brother is V.P. operations, my wife manages the sewing department and my daughter is in sales.

CH: I don’t think many people realize how much of our industry is comprised of family run operations. One of the best parts about it in my opinion.

What is the most popular Featherlite product, and why do you think that it is?

GN: We specialize in system based, lightweight technologies, and tension fabric graphics plays a significant role in that… We didn’t invent tension fabric technology but we sure made it more interesting. Our Medallion fabric portable product line is probably our most popular seller. I think that’s because it’s appealing on so many levels.

CH: What new products have you had come out recently?

GN: We have added some new designs to existing products and we have ramped up our rental offering, particularly in the popular 20 x 20 arena.

CH: Why have tension fabric displays in general become so popular?

GN: It’s because of the low mass high impact results that are unique to fabric. Tension fabric structures tend to translate into a lower cost of ownership experience. They also have a clean, sleek design that contrasts the more structural look of some of the industry’s other displays.

CH: What do you feel are the benefits of a Featherlite product compared to the competition?

GN: I think one of our most significant differentiators is design. We have a distinct style that accommodates both form and function while keeping the user experience simple and friendly.

CH: What do you see as the keys to a successful trade show booth?

GN: Speaking about the physical attributes, I would say the messaging/graphics are most critical.

CH: What industry trends have caught your eye?

GN: The growing popularity of renting versus purchasing.

CH: What does the future hold for Featherlite Exhibits?

GN: The company is well positioned for growth. And Featherlite will continue to pursue moderate growth strategies that are “on market trend”, that are manageable, sustainable, and within the scope of our family unit.  Our quest is to provide the best possible customer experience in the industry, and to do so with an ongoing commitment to continued improvement in that regard.

CH: We certainly enjoy our experience with Featherlite and look forward to a continued partnership into the future. Thank you for your time Graeme.