Organising a tradeshow booth? Be the little girl in the red coat.

During the build up for FESPA, in Cologne, now more than two weeks ago, my thoughts drifted away to another German city: Kassel who hosted the trade show ‘World of Trophies’ back in 2006. Two things have changed since 2006: Featured imageme, in almost 10 years I have learned many things about tradeshows. For one: that service deadlines when organizing a show are always extended – a valuable lesson. The second thing that has changed is my approach. One rule: Make your Stand stand out.

Trade shows are like school playgrounds in winter: the one with the red coat is the one that gets noticed. When organizing a participation at a trade show and putting a booth together you want to be that girl in the red coat. You can be the tall boy, who will be seen by everyone, just because he’s tall. You can be the loud girl, everyone can hear. You WANT, however, to be the girl in the red Featured imagecoat who gets noticed.

Everything starts with a stand building company that understands your briefings. If you ask our stand builder (please do: Expo Z, Belgium) they will probably tell you we’re not their easiest customer and that they do have their work cut out with us. If you’ve seen the booth, you’ll understand why. We do not have a “13-in-a-dozen” concept and needed a version 2 of the stand design, but the result was undoubtedly successful.

What we tried at FESPA this year was not to show the products, but the possibilities. I must admit: we have flexible products to work with. MDF panels become wardrobe doors, Featured imagea headboard for a bed or a picnic table. Aluminium panels of 5cm wide become art. The table tops were a launched product, the floor panels a prototype, but all these applications together created a complete world of sublimation possibilities.

What helps me is to pick a theme: we had 5 at this booth of 104 square meters – I love to make my life complicated. Picking a theme is possible for almost all products and prevents you from being the 5th indistinguishable company selling printers in the same aisle. Think about the little girl in the red coat.

When the stand is there, it’s the details that will make it work: thank you Unisub for providing the tools to finish it: coasters and serving trays in our Fruitorama bar, picture frames in the space theme, to go in the Featured imagespacey teen bedroom.

Last but not least: a strong team makes a strong booth. Our designer Liese did a great job inventing a Juicebar from scratch, our sublimation specialist Eva had nightmares of 5 cm bars in 6 different finishes, our warehouse team packed our samples so they arrived in the best possible way in Cologne, my sales colleagues helped putting all the samples up, our American CEO told FESPA-visitors about Large Format Sublimation during an educational seminar… A great team makes a great show. Thanks everyone!

Featured image

Featured imageCarolyn Krekels is jr Marketing Manager at Universal Woods EMEA, in Schelle, Belgium. She has been taking care of the EMEA marketing for the Universal Woods products for 9 years so far, first working for the EMEA distribution partner of Universal Woods. In 2012 she joined the Universal Woods EMEA team. In Carolyn’s posts, she will give you insight in the marketing actions organised by Universal Woods EMEA and can give you useful hands-on tips on how to bring your product to the market. Contact her via


Liese van den Broeck is happy to announce the birth of a catalog!

In January I got the interesting task to create a new catalog for our products. The deadline was clear: we would launch it at Fespa Digital in Cologne. We were talking about creating a new catalog for a while now. Our mother company Universal Woods Inc in the US had always created the catalog but we decided to start creating a catalog for our EMEA sales region, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Not an easy decision, as that would mean there would be 2 different catalogs in circulation.

Featured image

What convinced us to go for the EMEA catalogue was the fact that the cultural differences between the US and Europe are to important. The images that our colleagues in the US sometimes choose to put on our items are not always that familiar for us. American football for example is a sport that is not common around here. Also weddings look different in the US, graduation or prom are a big deal in the States, but we know it only from films, … When we show our products to our customers, we want them to relate to the images, we need them to get inspired.

We needed a catalog that really spoke to our EMEA customers.

Featured image

We didn’t have product shots of every item, which was a first step to take care of. For the new catalog it would be essential to have pictures of all our products so I insisted on hiring a professional photographer to take nice pictures of every item we have. This was quite a challenge, because we had more than 450 products to take a picture of.

The job took a lot of preparations: First we had to collect all items and label them with the right item numbers, then we had to put some items together like the clocks or serving trays. We also made sure we took all the foil off and all dust was removed.

Taking the pictures took 3 days and putting a path around them in Photoshop another 4 days.

We chose to make pictures of the blank products (not sublimated), because it would take less time to photoshop images on the product shots than really sublimating them. Also if clients would like to receive pictures of our blank products, this would be possible. Photoshopping pictures on the product shots took another few days.

Then it was time to think about the layout of the catalogs. We decided to make 3 different catalogs: 1 for every brand we have. Featured imageIt makes it clearer to people which item belongs to which brand. Our main goal was to make everything as clear as possible. No more lists you have to search in, but all images with matching item numbers.

So I did. I made 3 catalogs all with the same lay out and style, but clearly separated for three different brands. The repetition in layout and style provides for recognition, ease-of-use and clarity.

The next step is to make a box to put the 3 catalogs in for an extra professional look.

It was a big job and the time pressure was high, but the result lies on the table now and as a team we are very happy with the result and we hope that you will like it as well!

Take a look!

ChromaLuxe catalog

Unisub catalog

SwitchCase catalog

Featured image Liese van den Broeck trained to be a graphic designer. She joined the Universal Woods EMEA team in 2013 and has grown out to be a sublimation expert ever since. She has spent a lot of time working hands on at the heat press and designs all flyers, brochures and catalogues but also all samples that are shown at trade shows. Don’t hesitate to contact Liese with graphical questions at

Snow White would like to connect to you on LinkedIn

Once upon a time when the animals could speak, lived in magic forests and ate little girls with red riding hoods, no one had heard about the internet, let alone LinkedIn. All foresters were still using their filofaxes for keeping the names, addresses and facts on all people they saved. Snow White was under the W and Little Red Riding Hood under the R. Tom Thumb had never been saved yet, but was under the P of ‘prospects’.

Many manuals and webinars exist that can teach a forester about LinkedIn and they will take him far. But maybe further than he needs to get. They’ll tell him about recruiting and making sales using the tool. It’s however very important to learn to walk before wanting to run.

The sublimation business is an interesting one with many markets and also many sidetracks. Being in this business brings you in contact with many people. Some of them are interesting for you now, but others can be later. Without being an expert, LinkedIn can help you keep in touch and ‘store’ the potential ones.

3 tips I would give to anyone new on LinkedIn – you’ll soon notice it becomes an addiction – but a healthy one!

  • Take care of your profile:

Turn it around: if someone who doesn’t have a (decent) image and who’s not showing any information wants to connect with you, are you tempted to accept? We want to know the people we’re dealing with and that goes both ways.

  1. choose a good professional picture, no holiday, kids or drinks ought to be in it, just you, looking friendly.
  2. Pick a title and company: you can be proud of the fact that you own your company, but ‘Snow White, owner’ just doesn’t satisfy anyone’s curiosity.
  3. The more complete your profile is, the better. As a beginner on LinkedIn you might not be worried about it, but you’ll start to be when you want others to look for you and find you. If our forester is looking for a new forest, one that happens to have a lot of fairy tale creatures going missing, it’s very interesting when he mentions he rescued both Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White.

  • Build your audience:

You don’t need to have thousands of contacts, but as a business man/woman you want more than 31. There’s some good news: after 500 LinkedIn stops counting and you get the 500+ status.

When looking for people to connect with, start with your colleagues or competitors (if you’re on a friendly base, because they might be reading this post and know what you’re up to). Also think about people you used to work with. Even family and friends are nice to get your number up. (be careful about aunts who call themselves head of their handicraft group – if you have too many of these, they might not be so good for your credibility)

  1. Once you’re connected to them – you might need to wait until they accept you – it gets more interesting. Now you can have a look at the people they are connected to. This can be interesting in two ways:
    1. These are people you know too and you wouldn’t have thought about looking for them, but now they are just within reach.
    2. These are people you might not know personally but want to get to know – this is why it’s interesting to be connected with people working for companies like your own. If there is a possibility they know your company, or if your profile is complete, you can ask them to connect. If they have a look at your profile and find the synergy, they will accept.
  2. Don’t only look for people in the same type of business as your own. Have you been in contact with a magazine? Look for the editor. Have you dealt with a freight forwarder for a trade show? Look for your contact person. Have you taken pictures for an architect? Look for the owner of the building. You might need to introduce yourself, but you will build a heterogeneous network this way.

  • Start to use your LinkedIn!

If you followed step one and two, there’s nothing more you need to start using your LinkedIn. Post about what your company is doing, which shows you’re attending and which projects you’re working on. Or, if you’re in need of info: ask for it! Your network has possibly the information you need, and – double the points! – as they are in your business, they even perfectly understand your needs!

Let me give you an example: I recently launched a post about special designs for the Universal Woods booth at FESPA. I got them, thanks to a UK contact that exactly knew what I was looking for.

The fact is, with LinkedIn, never let anyone tell you they’re better in it than you are. If you use it for your purposes and you get the results you expect, you’re doing a very good job. Only the top of the LinkedIn iceberg are users that can be posh about it because they are probably using the tool better than most of the others are.

Another fact is that, if you’re not a frequent user, there probably are features that could come in handy for you. That’s why I’d like to suggest you work on the first two tips above and force yourself to once in a while do the third.

Connect to me and have a stroll around my contacts. Let’s see how many people we have in common.

Featured imageCarolyn Krekels is jr Marketing Manager at Universal Woods EMEA, in Schelle, Belgium. She has been taking care of the EMEA marketing for the Universal Woods products for 9 years so far, first working for the EMEA distribution partner of Universal Woods. In 2012 she joined the Universal Woods EMEA team. In Carolyn’s posts, she will give you insight in the marketing actions organised by Universal Woods EMEA and can give you useful hands-on tips on how to bring your product to the market. Contact her via

A whole new world: European Photographers in Trieste

When I was about 8 years old, I read the book ‘The Witches’ by Roald Dahl, a truly terrifying but magical story about an annual convention of witches from all over. Not that I expected photographers to be similar to potential dangerous creatures, but the comparison sprung into my mind when I was travelling to Trieste last Friday for the Photography Masters Conference of the Federation of European Photographers. I was on my way to attend my first FEP event.

Featured image

I must admit that it wasn’t an entirely black hole to jump into. As ChromaLuxe has been partner of the Belgian National association for Professional Photographers who are a very active and interactive group of photographers, for a few years now, meeting up with the European Federation didn’t seem a very big leap. Being a partner of the Belgian association had taught us a lot about the profession of the photographer, how they think, what they need and how many differences there can be between all those who call themselves photographers. We’ve introduced ChromaLuxe over the last few years to the Belgian members and were able to convince them of the quality of our product. The positive feedback of our fellow countrymen made us decide to become a partner of the Federation of European Photographers: one step beyond!

This was what happened before. Now, in Trieste, I was entering a whole new world and I had one official objective and one personal. The official one: networking. The FEP represents 17 European countries; in some of them we’re very active already with ChromaLuxe Labs. The others were the subject of objective n°1. I’ve met people from Georgia, Russia, Slovakia, Ireland, Denmark, Portugal… Different backgrounds, but all great, interesting people.

My second objective was personal: suck in as much information as possible. In between the networking opportunities during breaks and dinners, there was an actual event going on: speakers from the photographic world followed one another talking about lighting, portraits, photo manipulation and photo combination. I’ve learned by listening, by talking to photographers and by being honest: I don’t have a background in photography, but I want to build a sound understanding. It was amazing how far you get by doing these three things. If you want to sell a product to someone, first get to know them. Then become a partner, and prove to them that you don’t just want to sell.

A thought on networking:

The key is: take your time. Don’t throw your cards around; never give one when people simply aren’t interested: better wait for the next occasion. It’s like dating, really, if you’re too keen you’ll end up alone because they will simply run away from you. When you enter a room, don’t jump the first person you see, go and take an interesting position, by the bar for instance: a place where people will end up anyway and mostly are open for an introduction. Don’t work your way around the room, don’t let yourself get caught as business card sponger. Take your time: never move too fast from one to another. Treat your potential business partners as friends, don’t interrupt them when they are talking to someone else, don’t give them the impression you want to make the deal tonight but get to know them. Take. Your. Time.

One free extra tip: Use your LinkedIn! What I do when returning from an event like this is connect to my ‘new friends’ on LinkedIn. This is when they become business relationships.

I went home on Monday with new friends, their business cards, the promise to be in touch to talk about ChromaLuxe but above all a mind filled with new insights in photography. Thank you members of FEP for the warm welcome, for the interesting weekend but mainly for the acquired knowledge: it will surely help us become even better partners.

Featured image

Featured image Carolyn Krekels is jr Marketing Manager at Universal Woods EMEA, in Schelle, Belgium. She has been taking care of the EMEA marketing for the Universal Woods products for 9 years so far, first working for the EMEA distribution partner of Universal Woods. In 2012 she joined the Universal Woods EMEA team. In Carolyn’s posts, she will give you insight in the marketing actions organised by Universal Woods EMEA and can give you useful hands-on tips on how to bring your product to the market. Contact her via

Nothing ever happens in Belgium

‘Nothing ever happens in Belgium, right?’

Our fatalist taxi-driver managed to insult me and freak me out, while manoeuvring us through the busy London morning traffic. It was a week after the Paris attacks and a day after the foiled one in Verviers.

‘Who would have thought so, in Belgium… We all know, an attack in London is imminent: they know it will happen, just not when and where. But when your time has come, it has come, right?’

Welcome to London…

The Hilton Metropole Hotel in London hosted the SWPP (Society of Wedding Featured imageand Portrait Photographers) Convention and Trade Show from January 16th to 18th: the place to be for any wedding or portrait photographer in the country. Many master classes succeeded one another, with an opportunity for the attendees to stroll around the trade show booths during the breaks.

We are not from the UK, not a lab and hence not selling direct to photographers and we have four of the best UK labs selling our product, so why were we here with a booth of 4×2 m? Only one answer: Brand awareness and visibility. When a photographer turns to a lab for the printing of his images, we want him to ask for a ChromaLuxe, not a canvas, an acrylic or Dibond, but a metal print, printed on ChromaLuxe!

I have to admit: convincing a photographer to go for a ‘new’ and ‘undiscovered’ printing technique isn’t easy. They have a vast clientele who like their canvasses or framed photo paper and might not want to risk adding a new and more expensive material to the mix. However, with the right images at the booth, you will be able to attract and awe the ones looking for the novelties on the market.

Looking for great images toFeatured image display at a booth? One tip: forget about iStock and Shutterstock, but look for real photographers willing to share their images with you. You’ll find out three things working this way: 1) the extra time spent on looking for ‘real’ images will be largely compensated by the enthusiasm of photographers once they discover ChromaLuxe, 2) the visitors of your booth will be attracted by real photos of real people, in contrast to the ‘look how naturally I can smile’-family portraits you pay €5 for on image databases. 3) before you know it you’ll have a database of photographers eager to have you use their images, as for them it’s publicity too! And there’s even a number four: these photographers will talk and tweet about you and make your music. Now that’s a return on investment!

Where to find them, these photographers, you ask? They’re all around! Six weeks prior to the show, we launched a tweet, a couple of times the same one, for optimal reach:

Featured image

With the reactions we got, our graphic designer started to make the puzzle: portraits, weddings, some commercial photography. Contacting photographers, getting the high res files, sublimating the panels. Everyone who ever planned a booth knows how hectic this can be.

And for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, all of this is done from our offices in Belgium. So nothing ever happens in Belgium? No, not right.

Featured image Carolyn Krekels is jr Marketing Manager at Universal Woods EMEA, in Schelle, Belgium. She has been taking care of the EMEA marketing for the Universal Woods products for 9 years so far, first working for the EMEA distribution partner of Universal Woods. In 2012 she joined the Universal Woods EMEA team. In Carolyn’s posts, she will give you insight in the marketing actions organised by Universal Woods EMEA and can give you useful hands-on tips on how to bring your product to the market. Contact her via

Guest blogger Eva Annys: ‘Where has sublimation taken me so far?’

Universal Woods EMEA is growing fast and the company keeps expanding: I am the latest new colleague since January. I am writing after only three weeks of experience in the sublimation process and I’m aware that I am the new kid on the block. Although this might sound strange, I feel that with my background and constant eagerness to learn, I found the perfect job!

It is actually so, that the sublimation technique brings me back to the precision and approach which I am usFeatured imageed to from my conservation and restoration days. To obtain a successfully sublimated print a lot of factors need to fall into place. I have learned that once you have a suitable picture (of which I am sure an article about this will appear on this blog sooner or later) a special printer and compatible paper and inks are required. With these steps taken, my job at the heat press begins.

Right from the start I decided to keep track of important data for every panel I sublimate, a good tip if you want to get to know your equipment. I list the following parameters: date | item number | material | finish (White gloss, White matte, Clear gloss, …) | size of panels | number of panels under the press | temperature | time | remarks.

With these data I will come to a conclusion for the best pressing time at the best temperature and this for every material and product size. In the future one of my tasks will also be to give you detailed advice on this matter. So far I have discovered that it is not always straight forward as to how long you need to heat a panel. Under-sublimation gives a blurry and cloudy result. Sometimes only 30 seconds can make the difference!
In my brief time at Universal Woods I helped prepare for two exhibitions, made sample kits, prepared and sent sample requests for clients and prospects. Sometimes I was so carried away by these activities that days flew by.

Before I end I want to give you a small tip on how to remove the foil from our coated panels. A video was sent to us from our manufacturing plant in the US, showing how a colleague removes the protective foil that protects our products in a few seconds, using double sided tape. It involves placing a short end of double sided tape to your working surface and then sliding a foiled panel over it. This unleashes a little corner so you can easily grab the foil with your fingers and pull it off. I have tested this technique on several materials and coatings and found out it works well for MDF or Hardboard panels. For aluminum it is not always timesaving though!

Any questions on our materials or in need of a good tip to help you out with a specific product? Don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail at!

At thFeatured imagee beginning of January 2015, Eva Annys joined the Universal Woods EMEA marketing team as Sublimation Specialist. As a hands-on technical marketing team member her career path leads to one goal: sublimation! Eva obtained a master degree in conservation-restoration studies in 2005 at Hogeschool Antwerpen (recently listed under University of Antwerp). For many years she was active in this field, both in teaching and cooperating in various prestigious art conservation projects in Belgium and abroad.

All well that starts well !

Starting a blog is like starting a relationship: it’s exciting, fun and you hope it will last forever. Above all: to keep everyone happy, you need discipline. All well that starts well though. I’m happy to welcome you to Configuration_46this blog which will be all about sublimation in the EMEA-region (Europe-Africa-Middle East), about bringing your sublimation business to the market and we’ll also be offering you a bunch of technical tips and tricks. The blog will be powered by ChromaLuxe, so do excuse us when we take live examples to pimp our story. ChromaLuxe, Unisub and SwitchCase might not be far off on many occasions.

We, I say, because I also want to welcome my co-bloggers. Every week of the month we have another writer that talks to you from his/her field of expertise. Charles Henniker-Heaton will write every second Tuesday about sublimation, looked at from the perspective of an expert in the world of photographic printing, but a relative newcomer to sublimation. I know he recently sublimated his very first Unisub items at a Christmas Fair, I’m very sure he’ll be happy to share with you how that went.

Steven Roesbeke is our Technical Support Engineer: the person to follow when you want to learn more about the do’s and don’ts of (large format) sublimation. Steven will write about how to get perfect results when sublimating, but also which accessories to look at. He might also throw in some free tips and tricks. Mark your agenda the 3rd Tuesday of every month!

The 4th Tuesday we’ll have a guest writing the blog, a different one every month. We try to look for fun, interesting or surprising stories from the sublimation business.

4 times during 2015 there is a 5th Tuesday in the month. These weeks our Managing Director Erik Wiegman agreed to end every quarter with a story about the most remarkable encounter he had, area he visited or lesson he learned during the last 3 months.

We are sharing this information to let you have a look inside our exciting world of sublimation. Please follow us, share us, ask us questions and make suggestions. We always appreciate a peek back!