The Long and Short of It
Displayit Inc. Born in a garage in 1998 by the ingenuity of 3 young, but extremely focused entrepreneurs – Dane Buck, Rob Ripley and Mike Zimmerman. What began as a side job by building tradeshow booths at nights and weekends (while all 3 worked demanding day jobs; Buck as a General Contractor, Ripley in production and Zimmerman in finance / operations, at a Snowboard Manufacturing Company) would turn into a “you dream it and we will build it” full service Company.
These three guys in their 20’s would cross each other’s paths in the 1990’s while working at a snowboard company Joyride Snowboards (“Company”). No one would have known it, but it was at this time a long time business partnership would be developed.
The first project! The Snowboard Company owner asked Mike, Dane and Rob to lead a project for the company’s largest annual marketing initiative at the Ski Industries Association (SIA) Convention. Collectively, they were assigned the task to engineer, construct and manage this project. This project was to build a tradeshow exhibit. This wasn’t an ordinary tradeshow exhibit – this was an elaborate two story (double decker) exhibit that had been hand sketched on a piece of note book paper by the owner of the Company. This exhibit was in the shape of a big boat, no…a ship, in fact this was a cruise ship. This cruise ship would come to be known as the “LOVE BOAT.” It was a double decker exhibit with lots of detail, requiring all the bells and whistles – port holes, wood decks, games on board, an authentic ships wheel, railing along the upper deck and upstairs and downstairs cabins with meeting rooms.
The big debut! The [Love Boat] exhibit was built out of standard construction materials in a way it could be shipped and set up at the SIA convention center. As it was being assembled, many onlookers would ask questions and wonder how such a project was being accomplished from simple construction materials and not typical exhibit materials. The exhibit was also noticed by the show organizers – so much so that it was awarded top honors at the SIA convention by being awarded 1st prize for Best Show Exhibit. With the notoriety from so many at the show, different companies were asking and wondering who constructed the exhibit. It didn’t take long for people to find out it was built, not by a professional Exhibit house, but internally at the exhibiting Company’s facility.
The repeat! The following year was much like the first year. The SIA show came around again and the owner of the snowboard company came up with a new sketch. It was very similar to the year of the “Love Boat” except this year was a “Piano Bar” theme. With the first year’s success, the owner would ask the same leadership team to take on this project. Second go around was much like the first. Lots of accolades and notoriety – with the exhibit again being awarded top honors with 1st prize for Best Show Exhibit.
Displayit Inc. was BORN – Let’s do it! After the back to back best of show awards, other Companies took an even greater interest in who the Exhibit manufacturer was. So much so that one Company asked if their Exhibit could be built by the team who built these award winning exhibits. A lot of discussion, analysis and “what ifs” happened for the next 24 hours, however, it was at this pivotal moment the individuals who were charged with building the Snowboard Exhibits (the “Love Boat” and the “Piano Bar”) came together to form the company “Displayit Inc.”
Each of the 3 founders carried a strong professional skillset in their field of expertise. The diverse, yet complimentary skillsets allowed Displayit Inc. to start and build upon a firm foundation of (i) design, (ii) construction / manufacturing and (iii) business strategy. The notion we took forward was based on 1 simple idea: “Image is Everything”
Getting Started! With only a single project and 3 people it was challenging to move the business forward. We were young and naïve – up days, nights and weekends finding ways to uncover opportunities. Working out of our garage, people said we couldn’t do it. No doubt it was hard – really hard! We would have 18 wheelers (trucking companies) that would refuse to pick up from a home garage. Can you blame them? Driving something larger than a moving truck up small streets only to arrive at a home garage with no way to load 4’ x 8’ crates (that weighed thousands of pounds each) proved to be testing. Well, that was just one of many obstacles – we got it figured out – and that first exhibit left our 2 car home garage.
Each time we hit an obstacle we would press forward with more vigor, more drive and even more commitment to succeed. It was not easy and took a tremendous amount of sacrifice, time & energy with a “we can and we will conquer” attitude. The garage was our platform, our spring board, our foundation. The Company started in a garage with 3 people, now Displayit Inc. has more than 100 people and 300,000 square feet of worldwide manufacturing to serve our clients.
BTW – We also have loading docks for trucks to pick up!