Staying Competitive in a Crowded and Fast-Changing Marketplace
By Larry Ragland
It’s been just over a month and my trip to China is still very vivid in my memory.
I landed in Shanghai on Tuesday, July 9 and the only thing familiar was the weather. Surprisingly, it was in the mid-90s with near-100 percent humidity. Early July summers in Virginia seemed to follow me halfway across the world. If I had spent a little more time looking at a globe before going, this heat and humidity would not have been a shock!
This trip however proved to be an important expedition for Mark Bric Display-US. Our Swedish headquarters personnel have done a fantastic job over the past few years of establishing a base of operations in China to make sure we remain competitive in this fast changing marketplace. All of our More Expo product line is carefully sourced directly from the Chinese factories. This was my first opportunity to meet with our people in China and explore first-hand the many opportunities (and challenges) available to us there.
China and areas around Shanghai and Guangzhou, in particular, now seem to be at the epicenter of much that is happening in the world of portable displays. This means there is no better way to get a quick overview of products and manufacturers in this industry than to spend time at what is likely the largest related trade show in China, the APPPEXPO in Shanghai. Working directly with Adovo, the Mark Bric Display company formed for the purpose of sourcing and controlling the quality and secure supply line for any products we choose to bring in from China, we had on-the-ground contacts and were ready to get to work.
APPPEXPO took place at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC). My Adovo contacts, Sam and Selena, met me the morning of the first day of the show and with their help, we started gathering intelligence on exhibits and portable displays.
It didn’t take long to realize that this would be a fairly overwhelming undertaking. Beginning Wednesday and continuing over the course of three days, we spent time at the booths of at least 30 producers of portable display products. Out of those 30, we targeted a few with what seemed to be the best, most promising displays, and spent additional time at their booths as we continued to gather information.
Not surprisingly, rollups were everywhere at the show. First introduced about 13 years ago, these retractable banner stands are easily the most popular portable display product of the past decade. Our BannerUp line of retractables, with the original Quick Change system, was first introduced in 2001 and has been amazingly successful for us. Now our More Expo line of rollups, led by our Campaign Extra, has added some great low-budget choices for our customers. Surveying the wide range of budget rollups now available from Chinese manufacturers, I am convinced that we will soon be making new product selections and introductions that will offer our dealers some great new alternative winners in this competitive arena.
Beyond rollups, we were also on the lookout for innovative yet cost-friendly new products in all segments of the portable display market. The good news is that many great prospects were identified, with sampling, testing, and factory inspections now well underway. I am confident that our More Expo line of displays will soon be expanded to include some of these exciting new products. And thanks to our feet-on-the-ground operation at Adovo, our customers can rest assured that we will continue our focus on quality, consistency, and dependability.
In addition to touring the expo, I had the chance to visit several factories—not all of which are created equal! This was another vivid confirmation of the importance of our own operation at Adovo. Without trained local personnel in place, it would be virtually impossible to build a secure relationship with the right, best manufacturing companies—companies where the policies and procedures are well established, and where quality of products goes hand in hand with the quality of the people involved.
After a little sight seeing, (even a little Karaoke!), it was time to head back to the United States. I rode a sleek, fast, and efficient train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong, where I had a lovely afternoon with Mr. Y.T. Tang and his wife, longtime Mark Bric partners in Hong Kong. On my flight back, I reviewed pages of notes, with growing conviction that we are on the right path. With our dual commitments to premium, best in class products such as BannerUp, ISOframe, Flexiframe, and others, alongside our commitment to the ‘best of the budget’ products under the More Expo umbrella, we will continue to provide complete, comprehensive product selections to all of our value-added partners. It’s important for us to confirm and to constantly reaffirm that our customers and dealers are making the right investment when they purchase from us.
So, next time you consider making that purchase, think of my trip to China, and rest assured that Mark Bric Display has done its homework and has your best interests in mind.