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An exhibit that dwarfs most houses.

The Omnicraft Inc. shops on West Ireland Road in South Bend are illustrative of the best of the trade show designer's art.

Omnicraft--its national sales manager calls it "the best kept secret in Northern Indiana"--designs and builds trade show displays and exhibits for multinational corporate clients. A prime example is an exhibit that was this year's Best of Show winner at the TABULAR DATA OMITTED National Association of Music Merchandisers annual conference in Anaheim, Calif. Peavey Music of Meridian, Miss., commissioned Omnicraft to build it a $500,000 display for the show, which Peavey considers to be the year's prime selling event.

Omnicraft built a two-story building for Peavey that encompassed 7,500 square feet and included five air conditioners, a studio and a sound room. Carpeted throughout, the building was considerably larger than most houses, and the structure had to comply with all local building codes and be signed off by an architect.

The display allowed Peavey to simultaneously demonstrate nearly all of its products, including microphones, guitars, keyboards, amplifiers, mixing boards and recording studio equipment. Dennis Hackbarth, vice president of Omnicraft, says the display's 24-by-36-foot performance room featured live rock bands using Peavey equipment, and the music also was fed into an adjacent room where the company's studio equipment was demonstrated. On the second level of the 50-by-90-foot exhibit were a dozen and a half offices, a conference room and a kitchen. A telephone system allowed communication throughout the display.

Charles Sausman, Omnicraft's national sales manager, says planning for the kinds of displays the company builds for clients like Peavey begins "at least a year in advance. It's like preparing for the Indianapolis 500."

Omnicraft crews built the Peavey display in 90 days time, working seven days a week, 12 hours a day. Once the structure had been completed and signed off, crews then had to disassemble it and pack it into four semi-trailer loads for the shipments to Southern California. The display is designed to last several years; part of Omnicraft's job is storing it in the off-season. Hackbarth notes that a crucial part of display design involves assembly and transportation, areas where thoughtful design can save a lot of money.

Founded in 1975 by Hackbarth, Walter Gunn and William Muempher, three area industrial designers, Omnicraft employs 30 people at its South Bend location and does business with clients all over the United States. In recent years, the firm has shipped exhibits to the Paris Air Show, to China and to Japan.

Hackbarth says meeting the needs of clients while staying within their budgets is a challenge, and the real mark of a display's success is the answer to one crucial question that the client can answer after the trade show: "Does it really function in the selling end?"
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Title Annotation:trade show display and exhibit designer and manufacturer, Omnicraft Inc.
Author:Beck, Bill
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Previous Article:Getting the most from a trade show.
Next Article:Central Indiana update: the past year's top business stories.

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