Midori Connolly of Pulse Staging & Events
Mike McAllen of Grass Shack Events & Media http://grassshackroad.com/
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Copyright 2009 MeetingsPodcast
Midori Connolly: Hello everyone and welcome to another edition from Meetingspodcast.com. This is Midori Connolly covering All Things Green in the meetings and events industry. Today I have one of my very good friend and a fellow speaker, Lia Lucero who was from Showpiece Enterprises. I had the great honor of speaking with Lia and this year Atlanta MPI Meeting. It was the Meet Different meeting and we had a great time speaking about some new innovations in the green navy world.
Specifically, Lia covers pretty much any materials that are use in event that would be considered green or eco-friendly. So, I’m going to go ahead and introduce you to Lia. Lia if you wouldn’t mind, telling us a little bit about Showpiece Enterprises and what type of services do you provide.
Lia Lucero: Hi, Madori and everyone listening. Thanks for having me. Showpiece Enterprises produces environmentally sustainable exhibits signage displays and interiors. We’re base out of Charlotte North Carolina and up to about 18 months ago, I would say that there weren’t a whole lot of options in terms of sustainable and green materials to be use. We’ve seen a lot of innovation, just in the last year or so, so there are a lot of options and the price point on them has falling dramatically within that same timeframe. So, we produce them, we store asset. We retrofit exiting exhibit which is sort of another arm if you will of recycling, so that we tried to get as much lifespan out of existing exhibits as we can and we are also introducing a recycling program for responsible disposal of those exhibit and signage component.
Midori Connolly: Very exciting stuff. Now, I’m just curious about what do you think has happen, you mentioned 18 months ago and I’m wondering, is there something specific that you might have seen that has spark a lot of this innovation and any development?
Lia Lucero: Yes, I would say on several front for us as a company I had a read somewhere that the convention and trade show industries where second only to construction in contribution to land-filled, making it one of the worst offenders environmentally that’s out there and we as a company decided that we wanted to be part of the solution and not part of the problem anymore and we literally turn overnight into a green company. Stop using things like traditional acrylic and adhesive finals you know, the list kind of goes on and I think that, that’s kind of in that same time period as when there was sort of a slow drum beat if you will in the convention and trade show industry, about that time also Tim Morris founder of Eco-Systems was asked to produce a white paper on best practices for the United Nation on their event actually a white paper being unveiled at the Environmental Summit and Copenhagen later this year in June. So, I think there was kind of a collective ground swirl around trying to be more environmentally responsible which evolve into not only the exhibit and trade show industry but also meeting planning, conventions and the like.
Midori Connolly: Absolutely. That’s kind of interesting, so you also mentioned something about the price points and I know you and I have discussed this before and I’d love how you reference that being your favorite little dirty secret of the green exhibit and environment industry. If you would touch on that a little bit more, I think we’d all like to know about – well the dirty little secret.
Lia Lucero: Right and I’ve said this before or probably it doesn’t made me very popular in the production industry but there is quite a bit of mark-up in retail sales of exhibits and event component of, sometime to the tune of up to 300%. So, the first question that I’m always ask or I guess the first objection to overcome in the sales process of green materials is how much is going to cost me, for some reason the collective figures seems to be – it’s going to be twice as much for me to go green and it’s simply not the case.
So, Showpiece has decided that we’re not – we’d rather have the materials on the street and being used rather than taking a huge profit margin on it. So, we are price very competitively sometimes even lower then traditional materials simply because we’re willing to take the hit on the wallet if you will, that hit on the bottom line. In order to get the product in use and to get people educated about it. We subscribed to the triple bottom line, people plan it, profit. So, we’re giving equal ground to both people and plan it along with the very important profit side of things.
Midori Connolly: That’s fabulous and I think more and more in my experience we have seen that happening you know, it’s been pretty amazing and I just have to add you know, we’re suppose to be green event experts, me personally my company and you know too a certain degree perhaps we are – when I spoke with Lia, she just had some of the most amazing and interesting materials and more and more we’ve been able to do incorporate some of this ideas you know, substituting some of your materials that you have or a acrylic even and we had never even considered it so.
Lia Lucero: Right.
Midori Connolly: Well, what are the main – I mean what are the main things also and you touch on the substitute for a acrylic. We use the material that is called Eco-glass and it’s a acrylic substitute, it’s comes in a variety of thicknesses, clear, frosted, no colors yet. I think it’s probably coming down the pike and it’s made from a 100% recycled soda bottle and there are number of application for that material. We can use eco-glass as a sub-straight. It can be routed out for 3D lettering but not to mention the 100% recycled soda bottle material can also be melted down and woven into fabric and dye sub with graphic images for banner stands, table clothes …
Midori Connolly: Sodium.
Lia Lucero: … I mean it really goes on and on and one of the things that I find sort of most exciting about this whole industry and the materials that we’re working is getting to educate people. I hear every single day I had no idea that this was even an option that I could even go green and I’ve joke around with people saying, it’s not Burlap and Birkenstocks. It is just as high impact, just as beautiful whatever you imagine your event to be we can do it out of environmentally responsible material and especially you know, the economy like we’re facing right now everybody wants to do the right thing but they don’t want to have to sacrifice in their own budget and also for their client, for those event planners who are listening. A lot of times you got a client that knows exactly what they want and they don’t want to stray from that. So, we’re so pleased to be able to offer products and materials that don’t compromise you know, sort of the overall vision of – of what the client want or as an event planner you know, the imagine that you want to put out there.
Midori Connolly: Right – and on that note as well, I mean I can’t even remember what the darning stuff was called. When we spoke at Atlanta you mentioned something really cool, some type of signage material, I mean.
Lia Lucero: Yes, yes. It’s called Eco-EL and the EL is short for Electroluminescent Technology and what’s interesting about EL is that it’s not new at all. It is not new technology. In fact, it’s been use in the automobile industry since the early 1970 to light the dashboard and it’s the application that we’re using it for is quite new and that is for advertising and marketing signage. It could be way finding signage at an event. It could be produce as large as a billboard and basically picture – if you picture a light box which uses a lot of materials, there’s a lot of weigh involve in it and imagine that about the thickness of a credit card and it can be bent, it can be wrap around a column for example and we can have an image light up the 100% lit like a light box or it can be animated in pieces. So, for example a directional sign, exit is to the right. So, you could have EXIT lighting individually maybe with the blinking arrow. So, it’s really cool stuff and we’re enjoying finding a bunch of different application for it from Pure Flash for casino for example to uses for safety and do not enter sign, things that need to be noticed at night and the reason it’s green is because the images can be printed biodegradable material and also the luminescent technology itself is made from nature phosphorus.
Midori Connolly: Wow, wow.
Lia Lucero: And it also uses 90% less energy than traditional lit or neon sign. So, it’s green on a number of levels.
Midori Connolly: Fantastic.
Lia Lucero: Yes, it’s great stuff.
Midori Connolly: Yes, I’m so excited to see more of that. I’m looking forward to be able to use it myself.
Lia Lucero: Yes, absolutely. In fact we just got an order from well-known energy company that starting to use it in their trade show exhibit.
Midori Connolly: Great. Excellent and on that note another really kind of neat development that you – just your – I guess your latest green child that you had mentioned to me maybe a week or two ago and I want to ask more about, this is the million pound plan, very curious what is this and …
Lia Lucero: Indeed. Well, one of the reason – I mean I touched earlier on the statistics with regards to the waste produced by the meeting and convention industry and while we take great pride and educating and offering sustainable products, something for example called Fermacell which is a Centra substitute is made from a 100% recycled PVC and a 100% recyclable, PVC not my favorite thing but again it is going full circle. However, if I sell signage or a trade show booth in the neighborhood of a thousand pound let’s say worth of signage made printed on this Fermacell and at the end of the event it goes in the land-filled, well it’s going to fit in the land-filled or a thousand years, I mean we’ve completely defeated the purpose.
We’re trying to make being environmentally responsible as simple as we can, again not wanting the client to have to sacrifice convenience for – to go green. So, the million pound plan is our reincarnation recycling program and we – once we produce the signage we will arrange to have it pick up and dispose of in a responsible way, for a very small fee so that we can get this signage back in rotation and not in the land-filled. So, ideally we’re going to sort of race to see you know, how much is going to take for us to get to a million pound of a signage and event component recycled. I’d love to see this program grow quickly to where we are recycling a million pound annually.
Midori Connolly: Right, wow. That’s exciting, that’s great.
Lia Lucero: It is, it is. I’m very excited about it. I think we’re going to be partnering with some international organizations that produce a thousand of events a year. So, that would really help get the word out there and we are working on a website but launching somewhere in the neighborhood of Earth Day this month.
Midori Connolly: Oh, great so, not too far away.
Lia Lucero: No.
Midori Connolly: And it’s very useful and you know I really love the fact – I love the fact that you’re making it more convenient I mean you know, if there’s anyone complaint that I ever hear is – I had more work you know, we’re not sure if we can do it. So, you are I think right on target with that and that will be pretty exciting to see.
Lia Lucero: Right. Well, you know, everybody want to do the right thing as a mentioned earlier but it kind of like do you do to the ATM on the corner where you’re standing and pay the extra buck to get your money out or are you going to walk two blocks to your hometown bank where there is no charge?
Midori Connolly: Right.
Lia Lucero: For me, I’d paid the buck for convenience. So, we’re really trying to – really just trying to make this – an easy transaction and the great bonus about it is that you can feel good about being environmentally responsible at the same time.
Midori Connolly: Well, and you have a measurable outcome you know.
Lia Lucero: Absolutely.
Midori Connolly: You’re going to be able to say, hey today you diverted extra amount of pound from the land-filled.
Lia Lucero: And we feature that also, not only on our website but in press releases. You would be surprise at how many clients we have that don’t think to sing their own prices and so we really do try to give them all the tools for example with our display fax. We custom produced kind of the nutritional fax list of everything that we’ve used in their particular exhibit, so that they printed out, share it, hand it out, make – build a press release around it, whatever it takes to let their constitutes know that they are walking to talk.
Midori Connolly: That is great. I mean really that’s outstanding.
Lia Lucero: Thanks.
Midori Connolly: Well …
Lia Lucero: We’re really – we’re excited about it.
Midori Connolly: Good. Well, for the sake of time I’m going to go ahead and try to wrap this up with one of my famous random and some fact.
Lia Lucero: Great.
Midori Connolly: From my interviewee and today I would like to know who was your favorite superhero either growing up or maybe even now?
Lia Lucero: Well, I would say growing and now and hopefully it’s not too cliché but Wonder woman, hands down will always my very favorite. She looked great. She got stuff done and I remember when I was a little girl, I thought man if I could get my hands I wanted those true glasses.
Midori Connolly: I love it, that’s great.
Lia Lucero: I could use that now, that would be great.
Midori Connolly: That’s fabulous and then one final thing, I want to make sure everybody can find you. So, where do folks find out more about Showpiece Enterprises?
Lia Lucero: Sure the easiest thing to do is go to ecoshowpiece.com, it’s E-C-O-S-H-O-W-P-I-E-C-E.com and you can also find us on Twitter under Showpiece and also on Facebook.
Midori Connolly: Fabulous, that’s great – keeping up on the social networking. Well, I want to thank everyone for joining us today. Again we’re going to be covering all things meeting – all things green in the meetings and events industry and you can always find this interview at Meetingspodcast.com. Thanks again everyone.
Lia Lucero: Thanks so much for having me.
Brought to you by Grass Shack Events & Media
Copyright 2009 MeetingsPodcast
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