American Image Displays is a trade show equipment company based in Seattle, WA. The company offers a wide variety of products including pop up booths , gazebos, table covers, banner stands, and even used displays.
BusinessInterviews.com: What inspired you to launch your business?
Charles Dugan: The business was started over 30 years ago. I purchased it from the original owners almost 10 years ago. I was a client of theirs, and, because I used to attend a lot of trade shows in my previous business, I thought it would be interesting to be on the other side of the trade show industry. It’s fun to help people prepare for trade shows, understand how to market themselves, and chat with them about their trade show goals. I appreciate the human connection that goes with face-to-face marketing.
BusinessInterviews.com: Do you have any recent success stories that you’d like to share with our readers?
Charles Dugan: We recently won a very large order with a toy manufacturer, to provide the custom displays and Point Of Sale counters for their entire self-hosted event. The win helped us redefine our expectations and goals by reinforcing the fact that even with large companies and large projects, individuals and personalities are key, and doing the right things matters.
BusinessInterviews.com: What issue does your core product help solve and how so?
Charles Dugan: We provide premium quality trade show equipment and accessories like gazebos and custom display. So much business is conducted online today. We help companies take advantage of face-to-face marketing. That meets connecting with other individuals in their industry at events and trade shows so they can network with the right people and grow their business. I love the human component of our products. It’s refreshing when so much work is done digitally now.
BusinessInterviews.com: What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and business owners? What do you wish someone told you?
Charles Dugan: My recommendation to other entrepreneurs and business owners would be to hire the right people. Your staff will have a tremendous impact on the company culture and quality of work that is done. Who you hire is probably the most important decision you can make when it comes to the success of your company.
BusinessInterviews.com: What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?
Charles Dugan: The biggest risk I ever took was buying the business. I acquired American Image Displays in March of 2008, right before the financial crisis hit. Our sales dropped by more than 50% in a year as companies cut back on their trade show investment. We had unlucky timing and almost went out of business. I had to put up all of my savings and even borrow money from one of our suppliers to keep the company afloat. Any time you buy an entire company, it’s a big decision and financial commitment. Fortunately, it has worked out well as a long term investment but there have been plenty of challenges along the way.
BusinessInterviews.com: Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?
Charles Dugan: Our company pet is “Lady”, a black lab-mastiff blend who enthusiastically greets all visiting clients. She’s so friendly we have clients in the same business park who stop by to visit with her, even when they don’t need anything from us humans!
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