When Being Agile Means Saving Lives — and Jobs

The Trade Group quickly shifted from creating trade-show booths to manufacturing safety equipment for health-care workers during the pandemic. Here’s how it is adapting to a post-pandemic meetings industry.

Author: Barbara Palmer       

trade shows

The Trade Show Group, a Dallas-based design firm pivoted from designing trade-show booths to manufacturing face shields for frontline healthcare workers.

Like many others in the meetings industry, The Trade Group, an event marketing and experiential design firm, found itself in a sink-or-swim situation this year when the live-events industry came to a halt, said Robin Barhydt, a senior design consultant at the Dallas-based company. They swam, she said, pivoting from making award-winning trade-show booths to manufacturing face shields, which were in short supply and desperately needed by frontline health-care workers. “Not only did we have the capacity to manufacture the shields,” Barhydt said, “but our team was also able to quickly acquire the resources needed to make PPEs [personal protective equipment], so we could get them out in the field right away.”

The Trade Group donated thousands of face shields to individuals and organizations, including to Brandi Carney, BSN, RN, an operating room manager from Denton, Texas. Carney took the face shields with her as she traveled from her home to New York City in April, where she worked in hospitals in the Bronx and in Brooklyn during the height of the outbreak when the city was the global epicenter of the epidemic. More than 21,000 people have died of the virus in New York City, many of them during the month of April, when infections were at their peak.

“We were lucky to have the shields” provided by the Trade Group, Carney said in a press release. “Most workers at the hospital that I was assigned to in Brooklyn only had one at the most. The risk of reusing them is dangerous if not sanitized correctly. We didn’t have to worry as were able to use a new protective face shield every shift, thanks to The Trade Group.”


An exhibitor shows attendees products at the MBC Architecture Show. All exhibitors at the May event in South Korea were required to wear face shields.

Face shields — first manufactured to protect health-care workers — are now making their way to trade-show floors: For instance, all exhibitors at the MBC Architecture Show, held May 10–13 at the Korean Exhibition Center (KINTEX), in Goyang, South Korea, were required to wear them.

In addition to manufacturing PPE, the Trade Group— recipient of 2020 World Exhibition Stand Awards in five categories, including the games industry, health care, travel and tourism, and food and drink — also shifted to designing products for post COVID-19 retail, workplace, and meeting environments, including custom signs, awareness and safety banners, floor decals to promote social distancing, reception and cubicle guards, sanitation stations, and other products.

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