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Meet Candy Adams of The Booth Mom

Today we’d like to introduce you to Candy Adams.

Candy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was working for a technology company in Sales Administration and was asked to open two new sales offices — finding commercial property and building it out with offices and demo centers. After two successful (on time and on budget) office openings, I returned to HQ and was told I’d been promoted in my absence to trade show exhibit manager since it required all the same skills I’d exhibited building out offices. That started a 25+-year career in exhibit management. 21 years of it as a freelance project manager and trainer. My mentor (who saved my butt when a lot of things went wrong at my first show) told me to pay his kindness forward, and true to his request, I’ve been training rookie exhibit managers for over 20 years. I’ve been working with EXHIBITOR magazine (penning an award-winning monthly column since Oct. 1996) and as a member of their conference faculty at their exhibit management conferences (EXHIBITORLIVE & EXHIBITOR FastTrak) training thousands of exhibit managers since the mid-90’s (focusing on exhibiting best practices and cost-cutting for rookie exhibitors who don’t have the luxury of years to learn the ropes of exhibiting). I’ve earned 5 event-industry certifications and love sharing my hard-learned lessons with new exhibit managers. I was nicknamed “The Booth Mom®” by one of my exhibit staff because I believe that they’re the most critical element of a trade show exhibit’s success; I do whatever I can to make them productive and comfortable, including comprehensive “boothmanship” training, foam insoles for their shoes, lots of fluids for hydration, and last (but not least), by baking and distributing 40 dozen homemade cookies at every show. I am truly a “trade show junkie”, who loves helping exhibitors successfully navigate the trade show maze!

Has it been a smooth road?
In my second corporate job as an exhibit manager, I was managing over 50 shows a year and, being obsessive about detail and not being willing, or able, to lower my standards, I lost my health. As I was contemplating opening my own business, I was approached by a number of past co-workers who’d moved on to other companies who wanted me as their freelance “Booth Mom”, so I left my corporate job and sold my home to start my consulting business in 1996 after 5 years as a corporate exhibit and event manager. This was the best decision I ever made. (But I never had to touch the proceeds from my house sale and this was my “sleep-well fund”.) Next came the pressure of starting up and running a business — marketing to get clients, administration to run the business, and consulting and project management to run success exhibits for my clients who hire me because they want to offload their trade show strategy and logistics. (Luckily, I have a very high energy level and my passion for my career keeps it there!) Long hours took their toll on my personal relationships as I put in lots of hours (and lots of nights on the road) to be successful and always say “yes” to my client’s requests, regardless. I am not driven by money, but rather by clients who keep coming back because they see the value I bring to program with improved show results at lower costs and with less hassle.

Raising my project management/ consulting fees, charging crazy mark-ups and fees with little value and not doing detailed billing to make sure I’m charging fairly have all been challenging for me. A big personal challenge of mine is working with the questionable ethics of industry vendors who take advantage of unknowing rookie exhibitors, and I go from “Booth Mom” to “Mama Bear” protecting my “cub” clients from predators. I feel I’m always looking over my shoulder…

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I specialize in providing two main services:

1) hands-on consulting and exhibit project management and 2) exhibitor training.

Consulting is an integral, not stand-alone or separate part, of every project. I manage all phases of exhibiting — from trade show selection to strategy, budgeting, messaging, promotion, exhibit and graphic design and production, through onsite exhibit set-up, exhibit staff training, working the exhibit during the show and playing “booth mom” to the staff keeping everything running smoothly, exhibit dismantle and post-show follow-up, but my client companies have different needs so all of my services are available as a full-service package or a la carte. I’m most proud of never having compromised my quality standards and giving 110% to every project and client. What sets me apart, I believe, is really caring on a personal level in the success of my clients driven by their trade show exhibit programs.

While project management is my bread-and-butter, my passion is in doing exhibitor training – one-on-one with rookie exhibit managers from show planning to onsite implementation; in blogs, on webinars and in person for trade show managers who want their exhibitors to elevate their exhibiting experience using industry best practices; and doing exhibit staff training to improve exhibit staff professionalism and the attendee experience.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I have clients all over the US, and the world, so the location of my office isn’t that important.

Many of my clients are what I call “international inbound” — companies exhibiting in the US who don’t understand the nuances of the business model here (of union labor, material handling, etc.)

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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