Plan Locally. Present Worldwide.

Mark Johnson

16 March 2017

How do you do your best work for your clients—anytime, anywhere in the world?

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 12.45.47 PM-1.pngThat’s one of the biggest challenges—and opportunities—facing exhibitors today, according to a soon-to-be-published survey conducted by Exhibitor Magazine. Respondents reported that clients are increasingly asking them to exhibit outside their home countries. As the world gets smaller and markets get larger, sometimes spanning across entire continents, the ability to design, build and execute across borders is more important than ever.




In fact, following EuroShop, I delivered a presentation on this exact topic in Stuttgart, Germany, to the members of OSPI (Octanorm Service Partner International). Founded by Octanorm, the leading provider of extruded metal exhibit systems, OSPI is the world’s largest network of exhibit builders and event contractors. The organization’s philosophy is “Plan locally. Present worldwide.” and Star has been one of OSPI’s 150 members since 1998. 

Held every three years immediately after EuroShop, the OSPI meeting is an opportunity to explore how all of us can better serve clients by helping one another build our designs on-site in the countries in which our events take place. The advantages of doing so are huge and our clients have benefitted in several ways:

  • Found in translation: OSPI partners help us interpret our designs to local cultures and markets.
  • Less transport, more environmental awareness. Building locally helps us reduce carbon footprints; OSPI even provides a calculator to help us determine the environmental savings.
  • Consistent quality worldwide. OSPI members must qualify as experienced, full-service companies with high standards of professionalism, ensuring that the vendors we work with in other countries can meet our quality standards.

But there are challenges to this global network, including the fact that construction and exhibit rules vary from country to country. Many exhibitors in Europe and Asia, for example, are bewildered by American restrictions on union and non-union work, our inability to guarantee fixed prices for on-site builds and, especially, the concept of per-pound costs for drayage.

Oh, then there’s the matter of time zones. My OSPI colleagues and I brainstormed this year on how we could better support each other when we’re at our busiest and time is of the essence. For example, the engineers working at Star on construction drawings are some of the industry’s best…but they still need to sleep. What if we could begin our drawings here in the U.S., then pass them to our experienced global partners so they could be completed and delivered to local construction facilities in record time? (That’s one of the proposals I presented in Stuttgart.)

Having a global network of partners has been important to Star from the very start. In fact, in our first year—more than 25 years ago—we produced three international shows. And exhibiting internationally is a growing market need. This week, I’ll be attending two shows at which Star exhibits will help clients shine, the International Dental Show in Cologne and the European Association of Urology Exhibition in London.

I look forward to reporting back!


Mark Johnson



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