Exhibiting Wizardry

Categories: Bidding & Workloading

By Graeme Golucki | August 1, 2014 << Back to Articles Exhibiting Wizardry

If you’re a male who has visited the restroom at a recent ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America trade show, odds are you’ve looked down at the floor and had a chuckle at a witty saying written on a urinal mat. The company responsible for such whimsy, WizKid, has only been participating in ISSA/INTERCLEAN shows for a decade now, but is starting to build a reputation of a seasoned veteran exhibitor.

“I’m a minister/pastor full time and do the art direction for an annual Christmas show,” says Jeff Crevier, WizKid president and owner. “I also happened to have a passion for starting new businesses. In 2004, I found myself wanting to do something outside of the arts world when my associate Dean Stickler received a patent for an antimicrobial urinal mat. I told Dean—let me build the product, and I can make this business work.”

And make it work he did. WizKid was officially incorporated at the end of 2004, and Crevier plunged head first into a brave new world. “At the time, we knew nothing about the fibers or matting or to be honest pretty much of anything in the cleaning industry, says Crevier. “How many ministers do you know that know anything about janitorial stuff? Probably not many. We were just two guys with a really good idea and needed to get the word out there.”

First-Time Jitters
Luckily for the future of WizKid, Crevier had a few peers who had contacts within the jansan industry. “Some of my business friends were aware of ISSA and said that WizKid absolutely needed to go to the [ISSA/INTERCLEAN] show,” says Crevier.

Heeding their advice, WizKid attended its first ISSA/INTERCLEAN in 2005 in Las Vegas, NV. The show proved an eye-opening experience. “We were completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of companies represented on the show floor and by the number of opportunities the show provided us,” says Crevier. “I honestly had never seen anything like the ISSA/INTERCLEAN show floor before and had not realized how vast the jansan industry was until I showed up to set up our booth.”

While caught of guard by the show’s scope, the company soon realized it was not too small to compete.“We really were starting from the bottom; I even had members of my church help build our booth and at that time all of our products were manufactured turn-key for us,” recalls Crevier. “But that first show turned out to be a success for us. Our first order that came in directly from the show was for 5,000 mats, which was huge for a company that was only a year old at the time.”

Not only did Crevier have to juggle the demands of his first trade show while in Las Vegas, he also had added stress at the company’s home base in Oakland Park, FL. Hurricane Wilma was just making landfall as the show kicked off. “I remember running to make calls home on lunch and after the show,” he says. “You can imagine the stress we were all under, worrying about the show and then our loved ones, too. “

Luckily, all survived the hurricane, and over the next few years, Crevier and his team at WizKid evolved into a well-oiled machine when it comes to exhibiting at ISSA/INTERCLEAN. The company has grown in leaps and bounds from its modest beginnings, but Crevier has no disillusions about place is in the market. “I still see us as in the pioneering phase; WizKid does not even have one percent of the market,” he says. “That’s why we keep coming to ISSA/INTERCLEAN year after year, so other people will see our products and either purchase it or request that their facility managers buy it.”

Flooring the Customers
One key strategy to assure a successful show Crevier says is making sure WizKid urinal mats are in the restrooms at the trade show. But it’s not just the mats that bring people to the Wizkid booth. Often it the mats’ funny or witty sayings that attract attention. “A few years ago, we realized we have to get our mats under actual urinals at the shows,” Crevier explains. “And we have to ensure they’re noticeable—hence the jokes. We make urinal mats; we take our products very seriously but we don’t take ourselves overly seriously. We try to have fun with what we do.”

That light-hearted approach has lead to some rather memorable moments for Crevier. “I think my favorite show was in 2012 in Chicago. It was an election year, so I came up with a great saying to put on our mats—Shake once for Obama, shake twice for Romney,” he says. “Sure it was a bit edgy, but you know what? Just about every man that went to the bathroom in Chicago that year remembers our mats. Almost two years later, clients will bring that up to me.”

Attitude & Judgment
Crevier is more than happy to share the knowledge he’s gained with other exhibitors: “The first time at ISSA/INTERCLEAN, or any trade show really, can be daunting for a new company. But the best philosophy is to always under promise and over deliver. That applies to dealing with both customers and internally with staff. You can be very small and still be very effective as long as you have the right outlook.”

Another trade show strategy of WizKid’s that Crevier was more than happy to share with fellow exhibitors is to never assume anything about potential clients. “A funny thing about trade show is you never know who you’re going to end up talking to on the floor,” he says. “I’ve chatted with guys looking like a million bucks dressed in a high fashion suit but they only are responsible for one restroom. Other reps come up to our booth looking disheveled, wearing jeans, shirt untucked, and it turns out they’re servicing a million urinals,” he says. “As an exhibitor, you need to bring your ‘A’ game with every single person you talk to on the show floor. You can’t afford to dismiss someone based on how they look.”

This year ISSA/INTERCLEAN takes place in WizKid’s proverbial backyard, just a few hours’ drive north in Orlando, FL. So what does Crevier and his team has planned for the 2014 edition? “Oh this year, our trade show presence will definitely be memorable,” he teases. “I already have plans for our booth and mats to be quite impactful. It will be a good surprise for sure.” So chances are if you see men leaving the restroom at the Orange County Convention Center chuckling a bit this November, odds are WizKid had something to do with the laughter.

About the Author.

Graeme Golucki is ISSA's digital strategy editor and can be reached at [email protected]; phone, 800-225-4772 (North America) and 847-982-0800.