An unfavorable forecast meant the booth wouldn't make it to Las Vegas in time for the show – unless the driver could find a huge sleigh and eight massive reindeer.
In March of 2017, I was looking forward to the arrival of green grass, warm sunshine, and wine on the patio. Unfortunately, nature dumped a few feet of snow on my spring dream. As director of creative design for Nimlok New York City, I had spent several weeks working with a client to build a 10-by-10 exhibit for Shoptalk, a retail show at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The booth had a clean, modern look featuring a pair of custom display units, a sleek reception counter with a stool, some flex flooring, and a 50-inch monitor mounted below a branded printed graphic.
The exhibit left New York in plenty of time to reach the Aria by Saturday, go through an easy setup, and be prepared for the show's opening on Sunday morning. However, soon after our driver rolled out, blizzard warnings rolled in, as Mother Nature was brewing a serious Nor'easter.
Before the truck left the northeast, the storm was dropping mountains of snow along the route. We talked about having the driver rerouted around the system, but it was too massive, and he was already smack-dab in the middle of it. So he pushed on. By the time he pulled into a weigh station somewhere in middle America, he was moving at a glacial pace. There he halted because the Department of Transportation closed the interstate. An unfavorable forecast meant that the booth was not going to be anywhere near the warm sands of Las Vegas in time for the show – unless the driver could find a huge sleigh and eight massive reindeer. So I needed to somehow recreate the same booth from scratch, pronto!
I flew about the office whipping up a tempest of my own as I assembled our team. Our first call was to our friends at Nimlok Las Vegas, who could handle reprinting our graphics but didn't have the inventory of extrusions I desperately needed. We tried our Chicago location. Bingo! It was fully stocked, and since the blizzard had largely stayed east of the Windy City, the staff there got our materials en route immediately. The flex flooring that was chilling in the back of our stranded truck was replaced through a Las Vegas flooring vendor, our show floor partner purchased a 50-inch monitor on our client's behalf, and I arranged for a new stool from a local furniture rental company.
My biggest challenge was replacing the custom display cases. There was no way I could replicate them within our time limit, so I had to get creative. Working with the Las Vegas team, I was able to coordinate some off-the-rack components and end up with a fair approximation.
As quickly as snow would melt off an asphalt road on a summer day, the on-site labor crew started receiving replacement materials. More substitute components arrived during the next several days, and on Saturday evening the exhibit was turned over to our client. Despite some minor compromises to the original design, the client was pleased. In a situation that could have snowballed out of control, I'm happy to say that we kept our cool and plowed through.
— Jeff Ocasio, director of quality control and creative design, Nimlok New York City, Fairfield, NJ