Eleven Questions for a Trade Show Exhibit Construction Manager



1. How did you get involved in the trade show industry?

I originally worked in retail interior construction, and I was offered a job at an exhibit house in the 80s. I have been in this industry ever since.

2. How have the techniques and equipment changed over the years?

The CNC machining of components has sped up the building process, and I think our designers are pushing the envelope with new materials and approaches to booth design.

3. Would you say these changes are for the better, or do you prefer an old school approach to construction?

Trade show exhibits are like a magic trick, a lot of smoke and mirrors, but designs are becoming much more artistic. It’s nice to build different, eye-popping components

4. What would you say is your favorite aspect of your job?

I like to build something from nothing, and have others appreciate it.

5. What is the least favorite aspect of your job?

This industry is notorious for playing itself close to the deadline, so waiting for answers on construction criteria is my least favorite thing. I’m kind of an impatient person; I like to get the job done, and move onto the next project.


6. People tend to focus on the booth design, rather than its construction. What are some things exhibit managers should consider when looking at a design and its relation to how it’s constructed?

Designers live in the computer world where there is no gravity. Exhibit managers should understand how something is built in relation to size and weight. We, as builders, are limited by physical aspects of the materials we use and the design itself.

Thankfully, the tradeshow exhibits I’ve constructed are as close as possible to replicating the original design concept. It’s something I am very proud of, and one of the aspects our clients are most impressed by.

7. What are some methods you use in construction to ensure the durability of an exhibit, while still being flexible?

Birch plywood is used for our case construction, and it provides the strength to support and protect our cabinetry. We also use a roto-lock panel system that is ideal in this industry, and decreases set-up and knock-down time drastically.

8. What are your favorite materials to work with? Are there any materials you would like to incorporate into a future exhibit?

I can’t really say I have a favorite because every job is different. We like to experiment with different materials to make each exhibit unique. We regularly work with various woods, metal, fabric, plastics and stone.

9. How do you handle the increasingly tight deadlines for custom trade show exhibit construction?

Plan as best we can. Anticipate where delays will occur and work around them.

10. What has been your favorite exhibit you have constructed?

We built a booth for Fairway & Greene that had a fake roof, slate shingles and lots of displays. It reminded me of my old retail days.

11. What hobbies do you enjoy when you’re not at work?

Kayaking and biking.


Paul Castner is the New Construction Manager at exhibit design and fabrication firm Loran Associates, Inc.

One Response to Eleven Questions for a Trade Show Exhibit Construction Manager

  1. The CONSTRUCTION of the exhibit is SO IMPORTANT – a design on a monitor can look fantastic – but how it is built is crucial – especially if you plan on trying to use the structure more than once!

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