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


MD Erik Wiegman: Now it’s my turn.

When Carolyn shared her plans with me to start a blog I first had some doubts. My first question was how a blog can contribute to help you growing your business.

Now we are a couple of months later and I can tell you that we have received multiple positive reactions from many of you, telling us that the information we have provided did enable you to look for new opportunities to expand and grow your business.

This is very encouraging and I want to thank Carolyn, Steven and Charles for their 3-weekly contributions. I also want to thank our guest bloggers for their interesting, positive and very helpful stories.

Now it’s my turn. Carolyn asked me to close each quarter with a blog sharing some information about our business. As so many things are going on, it fortunately is not difficult to pick a subject.

For my first blog I have opted to provide a quick overview of the period from the start of Universal Woods EMEA in July 2011 till today. Universal Woods is the company that manufactures the Unisub, ChromaLuxe, SwitchCase and Resindek brands.
I can tell you that this has been a very exciting period full with interesting adventures.
A journey I wouldn’t have missed!

Universal Woods with Headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky USA was till July 2011 represented in Europe by a distributor. As sublimation was growing very fast and required a stronger focus on the many new markets and applications, the decision was made to establish a European entity looking after the business in EMEA (Europe- Middle-East and Africa). From our EMEA office in Schelle, Belgium we also provide customer service and marketing support to Japan and South-Korea.

This was the best decision that could have been made, which has been proven by the fact that since the start in 2011 our business has grown significantly. In July 2011 we started with 3 people, today we employ 15 people. Due to this growth we already have moved one time and are planning for another move to larger premises early 2016.Featured image

Of course we have worked hard, but we also have a group of fantastic people to thank for our success! We are very grateful that we have so many dedicated and loyal partners, distributing and using our Unisub, ChromaLuxe and SwitchCase products.
Without all of you out there, making the efforts promoting, selling or and buying our products, we would have never been where we are today.

Our road to growth however didn’t come for granted. We also face challenges that we need to tackle and overcome.

One of the major challenges today is the volatility of the euro versus the dollar rate. Since the beginning of 2014 the euro has lost 28% of its value to the dollar.

As a company, we support our customers with all our capabilities to deal with this in their markets.
With all the investments we have made to further improve our quality and reducing the costs of our manufacturing processes, we are very confident that we will be able to protect the business that has been built up so carefully.

We are very busy preparing the Fespa which takes place in Cologne, Germany from May 18th till May 22nd.

We will have a +100m² booth and will show a lot of new materials and applications. You can find us in Hall 7, booth number K15.
At the Fespa we will also have our 2015 EMEA catalogue ready for you.Featured image

I hope to have the opportunity meeting many of you again, catching up and sharing thoughts and ideas how we can further grow our mutual business. If you have never visited our stand before, please make sure you do in Cologne so we can introduce you to the exciting world of sublimation.

Thank you all for your business and I sincerely hope working with you in the coming years and take advantage of the fast growing market for sublimation.

Please keep reading this blog, sharing it and reacting to it. As we all know: feedback is a gift! We highly value your input.

Erik WiegmFeatured imagean’s career in the Sign and Engraving industry started over 30 years ago. With experience in signage and personalization for many years, in 2005 Erik got involved in sublimation. In 2011 Universal Woods established its own affiliate in Belgium of which Erik became Managing Director. Together with a dedicated team he successfully worked on further expanding the Unisub brand in the EMEA region and bringing ChromaLuxe to the market.
You can contact Erik at

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