As Showlite approaches 25 years in the exhibition industry, Paul Wicks reflects on the company's recent significant growth and expansion

Posted on Fri 20th May 2016 at 2:45pm

"When Showlite was founded in March 1992 the exhibition landscape was very different to today!

I spotted an opportunity in the early 90`s to provide a reliable, cost effective, service driven company to assist organisers and exhibitors through the process of organising or exhibiting. We were a small team with a strong customer service ethic and we began to develop lasting relationships, most of which I am pleased to say are still going strong today.  Over the ensuing years we built up and earned a reputation as a trustworthy and professional contractor within the industry, renowned not only for our exceptional service, but for our dependability, efficiency and transparency in our dealings.

We started to establish and promote Showlite’s brand - industry knowledge and experience go without saying, but our refreshing (or so I was told) personal service ethic and our ‘can do, will do’ attitude did us very well. We enjoyed controlled growth, quietly going about our business, prospering without courting too much publicity or attention for twenty years.             

Opportunities for growth

It became apparent in 2013 that our industry was changing fast and we grasped the opportunity to expand and develop the business, making strategic appointments and securing key individuals and long term friends from the industry to further strengthen the team.  Personally I was at a crossroads - maintain the status quo or grasp the nettle, settle for a steady existence or go all out and embrace the market?

The thinking time was short with Paul Johnson joining as Production Director followed shortly by Anthony Smith as Sales Director and finally Paul Slaney joining the Board as Managing Director. My colleagues are highly respected in the industry and bring with them an unrivalled depth of industry knowledge plus a range of experience that I still believe is second to none.

My new role now focuses more on financial matters whilst not forgetting the bit I love the most – to ensure we provide a real service to Showlite's clients old and new and to get onsite as often as possible of course!

Gearing up to service significant new business wins

The combination of the new team's contacts, reputation, drive and energy started to deliver results very quickly and today we pride ourselves on being one of the largest independent contractors in our market sector. The business continues to operate with the same service and ethics, whilst presenting a new and visionary face to the industry.

The past 18 months has been notable as a result of considerable and planned investment in personnel, infrastructure and stock to support the new senior management team.

Showlite's Andover headquarters continues its focus on exhibitor sales and liaison, business support and accounts. Anthony Smith heads up the sales, administration and personnel teams based in Hampshire where we have also added additional Account Managers, CAD operators and admin staff to the team.

In June 2015 we opened a warehouse operation in Rogerstone, Newport, South Wales. The production unit was commissioned to centralise all storage, production and manufacturing operations. Investment in this new facility was expressly designed to service Showlite’s business operations with an efficient infrastructure for future growth.

Staffing numbers have risen steadily and within a few months we needed a third unit, increasing the floor space still further. We now have permanent employees servicing graphics, design, workshops and account management, based in Wales, and this facility is managed day to day by Paul Slaney.

London Sales Office opened to service significant contract wins from the Capital

Responding to the demand from London and South East based organisers and venues we opened a new sales office in North London. This is managed by our new Electrical Director, Roger Cogan, another senior figure, who joined Showlite in August 2015 to service recent contract wins and develop further this aspect of our business.

With Paul Slaney now settled as MD the whole team are excited and totally motivated by what is happening within Showlite. Our collective experience is designed to bring new products and service offers to our clients at a time when the UK industry covets efficiency and innovation in our market place.

Autumn 2015 was the most 'significant' period in our history

It was hugely satisfying to see the team's hard work pay off as an extremely significant autumn and winter show season marked the most intensive and exciting delivery phase in the company's history. We worked to support Organisers at all of the UK's principal national and regional venues and event centres. 

Anthony Smith and his team have been instrumental in the substantially increased number of shows on the programme and that, along with the additional business from existing clients, as well as the organisations attracted by prior working experience with individuals now on the Showlite team, make the future look very exciting.

Feedback fuels our future

Positive feedback and testimonials from our clients - large and small - fully endorse our customer service ethic and our desire to go that little bit further! Whether the praise is levelled at individuals throughout the organisation or at the team as a whole, I always read them with great satisfaction because the delivery of events, whilst providing exceptional service to our organisers, is why we are here.

Marking 25 years of growth and achievement

In March 2017 we celebrate 25 years in the business, a milestone that not only gives me great personal satisfaction but also presents us with an excuse to celebrate and thank those that have helped us become the business we are today.

We increasingly occupy a significant part of the middle ground between the smaller contractors and the large global players and we are attracting new business from organisers that might previously have considered Showlite too 'small' to service their requirements.

Substantial investment will continue into our anniversary year as we upgrade our systems and processes - all designed to make life as easy and efficient as possible for our customers.

New colleagues are still joining the team, many of whom have worked with senior team members at various points in our exhibition careers.  This helps us to maintain the company’s `traditional values' that have played such a huge part in our development over the last 24 years.

Everybody on the Showlite team is committed, motivated and hungry to grow the business still further and belief in our ability to achieve this is without question. I personally look forward to the future with renewed vigour as we continue to deliver exceptional service to our clients and engage with organisers who have yet to sample how we do it here at Showlite".

Our Services

“The onsite team is always happy to co-operate with the inevitable last minute changes.”
Natasha Messer, Events Operations Manager, Prospects Events
“Showlite deliver exceptionally high levels of personal service. I know that I can rely on them to deliver throughout all aspects of the pre-planning, build and onsite work”
Mark Mayo, Director, Motorcycle Expo
“I have no hesitation in recommending Showlite as a professional and reliable supplier of contractor services. They are totally trustworthy and in touch with the latest regulations and requirements”
Mirabelle Chatterjee, Head of Operations, Nineteen Events
“We had the pleasure of having Showlite as part of our event team. The staff took the time, care and attention required to make sure that our exhibitors and us as organisers felt valued and looked after”
Diane Sheppard, Event Operations Manager, Quartz Business Media
“Over 1,200 exhibitors, almost 4 miles of aisle carpet plus enough shell scheme to cover two football pitches and it was the easiest get in we have ever had. Quite exceptional”
Andrew Reed, Managing Director, William Reed Business Media
“Showlite worked diligently with great speed to complete the build in the allocated time. We look forward to working with them at our next show”
Karen Harris, Operations Manager, Idex Media
“Showlite have worked hand in hand with us, investing in design, stock and materials developing an innovative product for our customers”
Bill Hammond, Managing Director, 3rd Street Group
“It has been a pleasure to work with Showlite who provided a seamless delivery both presite and onsite.”
Paul Clarke, Organiser, Installer Live
“My sincerest thanks go out to all Showlite staff who played an invaluable part in what seemed the impossible task. It goes without saying that I would not hesitate in recommending their services to others.”
Phil Valentine, Managing Director, ETES, Southern Manufacturing & Electronics
“I can honestly say one of the smoothest builds I have ever experienced on an event in over 17 years”
Nicola Greenaway, Managing Director, Nineteen Events
“We have a longstanding relationship with Showlite. They demonstrate a real professionalism and dedication and I look forward to working with the team again!”
Hannah Webb, Head of Operations, Hemming Group
“A massive thank you for helping us make this year’s Hearth & Home Exhibition a success. ”
Claire Cox, Hearth & Home, Fireplace Marketing Company
“Thanks to everyone at Showlite for a job very well done at The Mayfair Antiques & Fine Art Fair! The event went beyond expectation and there were hardly any glitches at all.”
Ingrid Nilson, Director, The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited
“I really appreciated the positive attitude of your team and the willingness to support unexpected problem situations onsite. It has been a great pleasure working with you both!”
Joy-Fleur Brettschneider, Marketing & Operations Director, Solar Media Limited
“Thank you so much for all your support on PATS this year. Showlite were absolutely brilliant. ”
Jo Scotting, Head of Operations, Impact Exhibitions
“We always know we’re in a safe pair of hands with Showlite. They deliver professional results with attention to detail and focus on service.”
Jo Foreman, Operations Manager, Brintex
“I would recommend Showlite completely from the level of personal service, quality of work and positive work attitude to keep on going until the job is done.”
Emma Barratt, Managing Director, Broadway Events
“Thank you for all your help and support for the NFE show. We had a lot of last minute changes, and Showlite were very accommodating and professional.”
Angela Long, Sales and Marketing Executive, Wesley Media
“Many thanks to Showlite. Everything went really smoothly and the show looked absolutely fantastic.”
Mandie Lavin, CEO, NAFD
“Phex has never looked as good and the build-up and breakdown went really smoothly. Thanks to everyone. I look forward to be working with you again in the future.”
Julie Pollet, Operations Manager, Brintex
“Showlite are the ultimate in prior planning and preparation. We never have any problem and if we do have an issue we resolve it there and then. We love working with Showlite.”
Andrew Reed, MD, William Reed Events & Exhibitions
“Big thank you to Showlite … once again it was a pleasure working with you all again and look forward to 2018!”
Sam Hunt, NMBS Events Manager
“Many thanks for the brilliant job you did on this year’s UKIVA which was a great success. The team pulled out all the stops to make sure everything was ready in time and ran smoothly throughout the day.”
Christine Valdes, Event Organiser, UKIVA, PPMA Group
“We would like to thank you and the team for an excellent build and all your help in the move to Mall Galleries after 25 years. ”
Gay Hutson, Founder and organiser, 20/21 British Art Fair
“The event looked great and the help and advice from Showlite throughout was invaluable. ”
Toby Merigan, Founder, European Sport Fishing Show
“Thank you for being a magnificent partner to Highways UK. Love the Showlite can do attitude and the smiles and personality that come with it.”
Andrew Dowding, Managing Director, Essential Infrastructure Events
“We have had excellent feedback from exhibitors and visitors and this is testament to the excellent partnership we have with Showlite.”
Justine Devereux, Operations & Project Manager, Xmark Media Ltd
“It was great to have Jenni onsite as it really makes a difference having her help to co-ordinate all aspects of the project.”
Joel Swarc, Associate Director, Promotor Events Ltd
“I would like to highlight the outstanding performance of Ross Isolda during the build up of the recent Foodex show at the NEC. I would like to thank him - and the boys on the tools also, for making the whole process as smooth as it was considering the challenge. ”
Phil Birch, Team leader, NEC mains services, NEC

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