(Left to right) Josh and Fred Axelberd accepting an award
at the 1996 International Business Products Convention
and Expo in Chicago.
Logo from Exhibits-to-Go.com in 1998.
See a screenshot of the old site.
Josh and the Displayit Truck. Yeaaah Baby!
40,000 square foot in-house production facility in Buford, Ga.
2016 - Displayit named one of the top places to work in Atlanta.
Though we offer well over 1,000 products today, Displayit was pretty much a One-Trick Pony when we started. Our founder, Fred Axelberd, opened the doors in January of 1996 with A Simple Idea: sell tri-fold table top displays on a wholesale basis by distributing a catalog to office products stores.
In the summer of 1996, Fred asked his son Josh to fly with him to Chicago to help him work the International Business Products Convention & Expo. Most of the 72 hours at the show were a total dud, but towards the end of the show, Fred and Josh were introduced to who would become the biggest client in Displayit’s history. But was that A Lucky Break, or was it Excellent Trade Show Marketing? We believe "Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity." As it turned out, this client gave Displayit a firm foundation for growth over the next few years.
By 1998, virtually all trade show displays were still sold one-on-one by 100%-commission sales people. Displayit decided to go in a totally new direction with The Radical Idea, and launched its first website,
ExhibitsToGo.com, with no salespeople. Fred and Josh were so excited when the first e-commerce order from the website rolled in across the company fax machine.
In 1999 Josh quit his day job to join Fred full-time, and the two slowly built the business, adding their first full-time employees in 2004. In 2005 Fred figured, "The kid's got this, so I think I'll retire." Retirement meant "enlisting" with the Coast Guard Auxiliary and patrolling the pristine waters of Lake Keowee in upstate South Carolina. Goodbye, Fred. Thanks for everything.
Displayit enjoyed solid double-digit annual growth through most of the 2000s until... The Great Recession. In the fall of 2008, the company had 6 employees and was riding high. Then everything went south very quickly. While other companies were cutting staff and retrenching, the Displayit team figured out how to stick together and stay the course during this challenging time. Though sales declined in 2009, the Company still managed to expand into a new larger facility at the height of the economic downturn.
Double-digit growth was again the norm for 2010 through 2012 when Josh thought it might be time for The Major Investment. Since the beginning, Displayit had strictly been a reseller of other suppliers’ products. But now, Josh thought Displayit was in a position to invest in equipment to set up a dye-sub printing operation and bring production in-house. But who would set all that up and run it? Fortunately, Fred had just decided that 7 years of retirement was enough -- boring, as the story goes -- and offered to help Josh in any way possible.
Boom! After bringing production in house, Displayit has grown from 12 employees in 2012 to over 50 today, with over 40,000 square feet of operating facility. With our expanded capabilities we've been able to help over 28,000 clients (so far!) all across the USA, by printing and fabricating your orders right here in the USA (Buford, Georgia to be specific). We do that by maintaining our Purpose and Core Values that include Fun is our Secret Weapon! while we deliver on our client's need for Perfect Speed.
In 2016, the Company's 20th Anniversary, Displayit was named one of Atlanta's Top Workplaces. From 160,000 area businesses, over 2,500 companies were nominated. From those, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (our local newspaper), selected Displayit as one of the 150 Best Places to Work (actually, we are #43 on the list).
When you decide you'd like some help getting ready for your next trade show, please, let us be a blessing to you.